1862 Queen Street East: Sauvignon Has a Past…

Oct 15th, 2015 | By | Category: Home History, Winter 2013

Stefan Paquet, owner of Sauvignon Bistro at 1862 Queen Street East, told me he had something special – a photo of his premises, when it was Woodbine Market in 1915. This is indeed special – it is the first time in over a decade of researching and writing local histories that I have had an opportunity to document the history of one of our neighbourhood businesses… but to have an early photo to support it was truly special.

Sauvignon Cafe at 1862 Queen St. E. today

Sauvignon Cafe at 1862 Queen St. E. today

Checking the Toronto City Directory for 1915 verified that Thomas H. Clee operated a grocery at this address. But he wasn’t the first. The 1913 directory listed William Henderson as a grocer here, while the 1912 directory shows nothing at 1862 Queen Street East, so the building was probably erected in 1911 (the City of Toronto directories at this time were based on information collected the year before).

Woodbine Market at 1862 Queen St. E., 1915

Woodbine Market at 1862 Queen St. E., 1915

With only the names of the individuals to go on, it was difficult to trace their history. Fortunately, “Clee” is an unusual name, so there are several records that may provide clues.

There is a November 9th, 1909, Church of England (Anglican) Ontario marriage record, which indicates that Thomas was born in 1880 to Richard Clee, a farmer, and Mary Anne Gayther; and his bride, Dorothy, was born in 1888, to Charles Nunn, a farmer, and Agnes Rudd. Thomas had lived at 46 Gerrard Street West and Dorothy at 56 Gloucester Avenue. (These addresses aren’t particularly close to the Beach, but it may be that the developing new neighbourhood drew them here.)

1909 marriage record for Thomas and Dorothy Clee

1909 marriage record for Thomas and Dorothy Clee

The 1938 Voters List for Greenwood Riding produced Thomas Henry Clee, grocer; Mrs. Clee; and Marjorie Clee, bookkeeper. They lived not far from our neighbourhood, on Strathmore Boulevard. The 1957 Voters List for Danforth Riding yielded Thomas Clee, retired; and Dorothy Clee on Hunt Club Road. Finally, the 1968 Voters List for Scarborough West revealed only Dorothy Clee, housewife, at 1 Hunt Club Road.

There is no way to immediately verify that these Clee records are related to the Thomas H. Clee who owned Woodbine Market, but there is good circumstantial evidence that we have found him:

  • First and middle names correspond
  • Birth in 1880 is right
  • Married ‘Dorothy’
  • Lived nearby in 1938,
  • Having retired, moved with his wife, Dorothy, to Hunt Club Road by 1957
  • Having passed away by 1968, left his wife at Hunt Club Road.

We might also have found another family member by virtue of living in our east-end neighbourhood. The 1949 Voters List for York East listed Donald Clee, dentist, and his wife, Isobel, living at 313 Linsmore Crescent. The 1953 and 1957 Voters Lists for Danforth showed them living at 197 Neville Park Boulevard, and the 1968 Voters List had them at 271 Glen Manor Road, along with Thomas Clee, student.

Here again, the dates suggest the possibility that this is Thomas and Dorothy’s son and grandson (possibly named after his grandfather).

Regarding William Henderson, there are far too many such names in the records to be confident of the right one, but the 1940 Voters List for Danforth Riding shows a William J. Henderson and his wife living nearby at 47 Bellefair Avenue. The 1945 Voters List for Danforth Riding lists a William J. Henderson (but not Mrs. Henderson) apparently living with other family members: John, bookbinder, and his wife; Howard E. and John M. Henderson, both listed as “R.C.A.F.”.

The newly-released 1921 Canada Census might have been helpful but records for our part of Toronto are not yet easily usable. Given that Clee is an unusual name, it is curious that Thomas Henry Clee doesn’t show up in earlier census, immigration, birth or death records.

Turning attention to the business neighbourhood, in the 1916 Toronto City Directory, 1860 Queen St. E. appears for the first time (probably built in 1915). Further west, between Lockwood and Brookmount, a handsome building has “1915” carved in stone near the roof. This information collectively suggests that 1862 Queen St. E. was one of the first business buildings in the Triangle.

Lil Rowe of upper Rainsford Road told us about the neighbourhood in the fifties – there was a butcher shop at the corner of Rainsford and Queen (now Sauvignon) run by Mr. Goodwin, and a bowling alley and pool hall on Queen further west, where the condominium is today.

Prior to the café, there was for many years a convenience store at 1862 Queen St. E., run by Mr. Kim.

Queen Street businesses: Let’s continue the momentum established by Sauvignon – please send us your story and photos!

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