Where does the name "Sarah Ashbridge" come from?
It honours one of the early settlers of Toronto
After the American revolution there was a wave of immigration to Canada. People who had remained loyal to the British Crown--The United Empire Loyalists-- fled political persecution. Sarah Ashbridge and her extended family, 2 unmarried sons, 3 daughters--one unmarried--2 with husbands and family in tow, came from Philadelphia hoping to escape both political and religious persecution, they were Quakers.
After first coming to Niagara-on-the-Lake by way of the Susquehanna River, in 1793, the family moved on to farmland just East of York, the newly established capital of the province of Upper Canada. Sarah Ashbridge, the matriarch, was a widow. There is a record in the books of the Ontario Crown Lands Office, that on May 16, 1799 a land patent was granted to Sarah Ashbridge, All of Lot 17.
One of the first duties required after a grant of land was to clear the land and this is what the Ashbridge family did. The property had some water frontage on what soon was called Ashbridges' Bay. Their land, 200 acres, extended from Woodbine Av to the East all the way to Cherry Street. There was marshland near the water but this has mostly been filled in.
In 1853, Jesse, Sarah's grandson, commissioned Joseph Sheard, (who later was elected mayor 1871-1872) to design a small brick cottage. This was built in 1854 and fronted on what is now Queen Street East but was then known as the Kingston Road, because it went to Kingston! The brick cottage was gradually expanded and now stands as a rather fine historic building, gracefully blending its various expansions and styles. Jesse's second wife Elizabeth is responsible for the original landscaping. A log cabin dating from as early as1794 was recently excavated on this site. The excavation also found traces of prehistoric occupation dating back several thousand years.
The Beach neighbourhood has been popular for a long time!
The Ashbridge family prospered and we find records of various Ashbridges over the years. Isaac Ashbridge was a councillor on the Scarboro Township Council in 1853 and again in 1859. Ashbridges lived on their land continuously for 200 years-- quite a record! In 1972 – Dorothy Bullen and her sister Elizabeth Burton – who were the last Ashbridges on the property, donated the Estate, to the Ontario Heritage Trust. About 2 acres of land, buildings, and artifacts. Dorothy also bequeathed her collection of artifacts to the Ontario Heritage Trust. This included a large collection of historical documents.
Nick Boothby, Maddy Dennett and Greg McDowell
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