The archaeological remains of the Colonel Samuel Smith homestead are located on the school grounds of the former Parkview School - currently known as St. Josaphat Catholic School - at 85 Forty First St. in Etobicoke. The colonel's house was located in the middle green space in the photo.
The Ontario government announced on August 25, 2011 that it would provide $5.2-million in funding to enable the French public school board Conseil scolaire Viamonde to purchase Parkview School from the Toronto District School Board. A new French elementary school is slated to open in the future. Another school board has classes under way at the school in the meantime, starting in September 2012.
The school has been extensively renovated and the grounds have been cleaned up. The grass in the green space is now neatly trimmed; the entire property communicates a sense of renewal. The grass was cut in the past but now the work is done with additional care. It's a delight to walk by the school and see the changes. It's a delight, as well, to see schoolchildren at play on the grounds during recess periods. It was nice to see two basketball nets on the east wall; neighbourhood children enjoyed using the nets for several weeks on weekends in June 2013 before they were removed.
After military service with the Queen's Rangers in the American Revolutionary War, Colonel Samuel Smith was granted a large tract of land in 1793 in Etobicoke. Originally a log cabin to which extensions and siding were added, the colonel's house was in continuous use on what are now the school grounds (green space in photo above) for about 152 years from 1797 until around 1949. When the house demolished in 1955, the original log cabin was discovered inside the building.
The site was thoroughly razed, to the extent that little archaeological evidence of the existence of this particular building remains.
Like the Ashbridge Estate east of the Don River, the colonel's property began as a rural farmstead that was transformed into an urban farmstead surrounded by a growing city. The two farmsteads are mirror images of each other. As archaeologist Dena Doroszenko has noted regarding the Ashbridge Estate, as the years passed the occupants of both farms observed a dramatic change in their surroundings, without having travelled anywhere.
The sale of Parkview School has turned out to be a 'good news' story thanks to the efforts of Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Laurel Broten; Ward 3, Etobicoke-Lakeshore TDSB Trustee Pamela Gough; officials at the Toronto Lands Corporation; the large numbers of people who wrote letters in support of keeping Parkview School in public hands; and several key individuals who shared strategic advice.
We owe thanks as well to Jim Gill, a former president of the Long Branch Historical Society who arranged for the preliminary archaeological dig at the school in 1984.
The video features archival photos of the house including a November 1949 aerial photo and ground-level views from the early 1950s. It also features photos of artifacts uncovered in the archaeological survey of 1984.
The site has been highlighted in local Jane's Walks in May 2013 and 2014 organized by Jaan Pill and Mike James.
In a talk at the Long Branch Library in October 2011, Jaan Pill spoke about the colonel's homestead. Steven Toepell of Bohemian Passport Services at bohemianpassport.com edited sound and video for this video. Jaan Pill, whose website is at preservedstories.com was director and producer.
Correction: At the end of the video Pill speaks of looking forward to serving as president of the Long Branch Historical Society starting in January 2012. He was in fact elected president at the March 20, 2012 meeting of the Society. An earlier election had been held on January 17, 2012 but the vote had ended in a tie. A second vote had also resulted in a tie. Having encountered significant organizational issues affecting the society, Pill resigned as president on June 19. 2012.
If you have a slow connection and the video sputters, download the file to your hard drive. That should provide a smoother playback.