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The Beach Triangle Residents Association, Toronto, Ontario

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Home History - Eight Rainsford Road

By John Ellis

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Eight Rainsford Road is a classic Beach Triangle home. As you walk past you note the original roofed verandah and white Doric columns, the stained glass window over the large living room window and another to the right of the front door, the brick richly aged by almost 100 years of weathering. Looking up and you see the original second storey windows and a third floor dormer (wait, no it is an attic window with pretensions).

As you enter, there is a large foyer with a cloakroom to the right with an original beveled glass mirror on the back of the door. To your left is the entrance to separate living and dining rooms. Ahead is a hallway under the stairway, past the dining room to the kitchen. On the right is the stairway to a landing, with a turn to the left, to the second floor hall. The upstairs hall is spacious and, to the left, ends in a point with angled doors - one to each of the front bedrooms.

The third (master) bedroom is to the left at the back, with access to a sun porch. To the right is a modernized and spacious bathroom, probably the result of two smaller rooms made into one. There is a large closet between the bathroom and the stairway, which has capped plumbing. It is very likely that this was originally the toilet - many homes of this vintage had a toilet and sink separate from the bathroom.

There is a north side-entrance, leading up into the kitchen and down to the basement and nanny's quarters. The kitchen was quite small but has been modernized and enlarged by removing part of a wall and enclosing what was probably a sun porch that opens on the left to the outdoor porch. There is now room enough in the kitchen for a small table and chairs, with lots of afternoon sunlight.

The wonder of Eight Rainsford is how much of it is original after all these years:

Today, Ingrid Furtado and Warren D'Souza live here with their children, Mia and Lukas. With Ingrid, it was fun to discover little clues to what the interior originally looked like. For one example, in the doorway between the hall and the dining room, the floor and upper doorjamb showed holes that would have held brass fixtures to hold a spring-loaded swinging door (a handy thing when carrying a loaded platter from the kitchen!). For another, the doorframe between the foyer and the living room showed indentations that would have been made by a curtain rod - another dressy element in this fine, old house.

Ingrid and Warren aren't newcomers to the Triangle - they lived for 6 years in a semi-detached house on Dixon Avenue before moving to Eight Rainsford in 2006.

What do City records tell us about Eight Rainsford Road?
There is no clear Building Permit for Eight Rainsford. In the early days of development, permits were often issued with no clear address numbers (often not yet assigned) and sometimes with no Lot Number, either. Of two permits that may apply to Eight Rainsford, I prefer the second, #31295, dated October 27, 1911, issued to the Grimshaw Brothers of 459 Avenue Road, for three detached 2 storey brick dwellings, "West side Rainsford near Queen". The Grimshaw brothers were very active developers. Between 1911 and 1914, they were granted Building Permits for nine houses in the Triangle.

Eight Rainsford Road first shows up in the 1913 Assessment Roll (information for 1912) listed as "Vacant Lot", with a value of $625. The 1913 City Directory (also information for 1912) listed the house as "Unfinished". The house appears in the Chas. F. Goad Company atlas, copyright 1914. It was one of about the first fourteen homes on the west side of the block.

With the house complete by the fall of 1912, the assessed value soared to $2,825.

Who were the first owners of Eight Rainsford Road?
In 1912, the first owner, Annie M. Taylor, sold the property to Henry Turner Smith and Anne Selina Smith. Henry was 27 years of age just a week before his marriage to 26-year-old Anne Taylor on August 31, 1912, at St. John the Baptist Norway church. Probably in attendance was Henry's father and mother, Donald and Flora, who lived on Dufferin Street, and Anne's mother, Minerva. Anne's dad, James Henry Taylor, had died at age 43 on December 26th, 1901. James and Minerva Taylor lived at 85 Degrassi Street, near Queen and Pape. He was a butcher in a shop on Kingston Road, and his son, James Henry junior, also was a butcher. The proximity of this business to the Triangle may have made him aware of the fine new houses being built there - a good place for his sister and her new husband to begin their lives together.

In 1912, Henry worked as a foreman. In 1921, at age 35, he received a promotion to Department Manager. He was a Methodist, while Anne was Church of England (Anglican).

There were children at Eight Rainsford. The 1919 Assessment Roll indicates one child between ages 5 and 21 and another between 5 and 16. However, at least the older of these children couldn't have been Henry and Anne's, and it is quite possible that these were children of tenants.

In 1915, Henry and Anne apparently had taken in three tenants, for a total of six residents - a full house! Too full, perhaps, because by 1916 there were only four residents, a number that persisted until 1921, when there are five residents, including only one child between 5 and 16. It is possible that that the eldest child, now at least 19 years old, had left home (perhaps to fight in World War I). The record indicates two children between ages 5 and 16 in 1922.

In any case, the record shows five residents from 1921 to 1928, when the current HOME HISTORY research on Eight Rainsford pauses. More will follow.

Henry was listed as a freehold owner, and Anne also as an owner, from 1913 to 1917. In 1918, inexplicably, Anne's name appears as an owner, while Henry is listed as a "Tenant" thereafter.

By 1928, the assessed value of Eight Rainsford had increased to $4,025.

On a hunch that members of this family may have been buried at St. John Norway Church Cemetery, I got a lot of exercise searching thousands of tombstones and was delighted to find Henry's, indicating his death in 1950 at about 65 years of age.

The real pleasure in visiting Eight Rainsford Road was finding a home that has defied the years and enjoyed the respect of several owners in retaining its original, classic features.

Do you have any historical records for your Triangle home? Please share them with us so we can build on our knowledge of the very special part of the Beach in which we live. Contact John Ellis at ellisjohn@rogers.com or by mail at 52 Rainsford Road or by phone at 416-694-3288.