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The Beach Triangle Residents Association, Toronto, Ontario

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Home History: The Hidden Twins... 1878 and 1880 Queen Street East

By John Ellis

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Two of the oldest houses on Queen Street in the Triangle, 1878 and 1880, are now almost totally hidden by urban growth. These houses show up clearly in the photo taken in about 1906 from the fire hall tower but now barely discernible.

1905 Picture: 1878 and 1880 Queen Street East
1905 Picture: 1878 and 1880 Queen Street East

The c.1906 photo reveals only four buildings on the north side of Queen, a barely discernible building in the distance, 1864 Queen, and 1878 and 1880. A few hours at the Toronto Archives confirms the place in Triangle history occupied by these houses.

In 1901, James Lumbers of 67 Front Street acquired two lots at this location. By 1902, he had an "unfinished house" at 1878 Queen. The lot was valued at $150 and the house at $600. By 1903, the house at 1880 (an exact twin to the one at 1878) was complete and occupied by tenants.

Renting 1878 in 1903 was William Hogan, 31 years old, with his wife, Mary Kyle, and five children. He was born in Ireland, she was born in Canada and they were married in Egmondville, Huron County, 2 June 1896. Hogan was a jeweler. By 1904 they had moved on. William Hogan died on October 29 1931 at 60 years of age in residence at 22 Alhambra Avenue and was buried at Park Lawn Cemetery.

Discovering that a jeweler lived in the house solved a puzzle for Ruth, the current resident. She wrote me: "I found a ruby ring embedded in a wall shelf in our pantry that was engraved 'Birmingham, England', and my guess is that it was lost by Mrs. Hogan while working in the pantry”.

The next tenant, in 1904, was Thomas C. Greenwood, an editor (we have so far found nothing of his history), who lived there with someone, perhaps his wife.

In 1905, Peter C. Parker, a Baptist clergyman, moved in with his wife, Jane, and their five children. Peter Parker was born in Scotland in about 1856, although his parents were born in England. He and Jane immigrated in 1884 and settled for a time in Peterborough. Their children, Agnes, Welmer, Evlyn, Clifton and Ishbel lived with them at 1878 Queen.

By 1907, the Parkers had moved on and 1878 was rented by Charles K. Miller, a 23-year-old jockey (he was probably attracted to this location by being able to walk across the street to Woodbine Race Track!). Although we found nothing of his history, there were seven people living in the house. The value of the property was now $250 and the house $1,100.

We now turn to 1880 Queen, also a rental property at this time. A true twin to 1878, the lot and house values were identical. Through the entire period 1903-1907, 1880 was rented by Elizabeth M. Smith. In 1903 and 1904, she lived there with her husband and two children. By 1905, her husband had died and she lived on at 1880 with her children until the end of our study, in 1907.

1878 and 1880 are, possibly the oldest two homes in the Triangle, with 1878 having the edge. These twins were lost behind storefronts, and now may become further lost in the shadows of the proposed condo development spanning 1864-1876 Queen.