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The Beach Triangle Residents Association, Toronto, Ontario

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Home History: 1864 Queen Street East

By John Ellis

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If not derelict, definitely unloved. This is how one may view the curiously shaped, flat-roofed building on the northeast corner of Rainsford Road and Queen East in the Triangle. Now threatened with demolition to make way for a possible condo development, I decided to look into the history of this home before it is too late.

1864 Queen Street East - Late 2008

1864 Queen East was one of the first homes built in the Triangle. It is clearly visible in the photo of the southern part of the Triangle taken from the top of the fire hall, and one of only four or five homes visible along Queen. At that time, it didn’t have the addition on the front, probably added later to be retail space.

Probably built in 1906 by the owner, Samuel G. Thompson of 239 Jarvis Street, at a cost of $900 and a total assessed value of $475, 1864 Queen East was a frame building. The connecting street was then called “Hanover Road”, later named “Rainsford Road”.

The first tenants were Seth and Jane Evelyn (or Eve) Station Mawson, who lived there, somehow crammed in with their five children. City of Toronto Assessment Roles confirm them living there from 1906 to about 1918, when it was taken over by George Wong to be a laundry. Seth Mawson, the youngest of five children, was born in 1872 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. The same year, Evlin Marseilles was born to William Marseilles, Ph.B., and Mary (Queen) Marseilles in Grey County, Ontario.

In 1883, only 11 years old, Seth sailed with his father, Henry, and several of his siblings from Liverpool aboard the Sarmatian, arriving at Quebec on 9 July (no record was found of his mother coming to Canada). The family settled in Hastings County, Ontario, with several of the offspring marrying and raising their families there. Seth’s father, a tanner, died there on 22 July 1884.

On 14 December 1893, Seth and Eva Marseilles were married at 296 Church Street, Toronto. He was a printer, 21 years old and she was 20. They lived on Church Street, where they became the parents of William Frank Davis Mawson (1894), Evelyn Hildred Mawson (1896), and Gladys Viola Mawson (1899).

Note the versions of Mrs. Mawson’s name: “Evlin” when born, “Eva” when married, “Jane Evelyn” at the birth of their second child, and “Jane Evelyn Station” later. The 1901 Canada Census shows the family living in Ward 2, probably at 279 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, with Egbert Henry Mawson being a new addition. Seth was a printer with one employee, worked a full 12 months in the previous year and made $525 (quite a good income in those days). The 1904 City Directory lists Seth as a compositor (type-setter) at Hunter, Rose & Company, at a time when most printing was done by letterpress from handset metal type and engraved printing plates.

The children grew up at 1864 Queen East and some went on to be married: Evelyn Hildred to Joseph Norris in 1914, Gladys (“Bridget”) Viola in 1917 to William Henry Stevens at St. John’s Church, Norway. The Assessment Roles indicate that Seth and Jane Evelyn Mawson had moved on by 1918.

1864 Queen Street East Highlighted in 1905 Photo Queen Street East, looking west from the top of the fire hall, c. 1906. 1864 Queen East is in the centre-left. Photo courtesy of the Toronto Archives

Street East comes to an end. No death records have been found for Seth or Jane Evelyn Station Mawson. The building had many uses in later years, including a used car dealership, a vacuum cleaner shop and a pet grooming business. Once planned to be a restaurant, the patio was added on the west side, but this dream never came true.

And now 1864 Queen East sits vacant and weatherworn, perhaps with its moment in Triangle history drawing to a close.

In 2009, the BTRA will be 25 years old! I plan on honouring this occasion by more articles on the first homes in the Triangle.