history of long branch

Lake Shore Boulevard, one of west Toronto's busiest roads, is also one of it's oldest.  Governor Simcoe's Surveyor, Augustus Jones, began working on it as early as 1791.  Prior to that it was a native trail along the shore of Lake Ontario.  But even as late as 1812 there were no bridges over the main rivers and toll ferries were used to cross the waters.  Many visitors traveled between Toronto and Long Branch by steamer.

In 1853, the Toronto and Hamilton Railway laid its tracks beside the lake and boosted the economies of the communities lucky enough to have a station.  The Lake Shore road became Canada's first concrete highway when it was paved and named the Hamilton Highway in 1917.

Prior to 1883, Long Branch was still farmland, but that year Thomas Wilkie subdivided plots of land into a 219 lot cottage community which he called Sea Breeze Park.  He left 10 acres along the lake as an open space for hiking (now the Waterfront Trail).  The plan consisted of a half dozen streets south of Lake Shore Road, with the main route into the area called Sea Breeze Avenue (now Long Branch Avenue).

In 1887, the Hotel Long Branch was built.  It featured electricity, a primitive intercom consisting of speaking tubes, telephone connection to Toronto, and rented rooms for $15.00 a week. Vacationers came by train and steamers such as the Greyhound and the White Star.

By 1923, streetcars were built and many cottages became permanent homes.  Some can still be seen at 282 and 256 Lake Promenade.  The homes at 4 an 14 Long Branch Avenue date back to 1897 and 1890 respectively.  Unfortunately the Hotel Long Branch burned down in 1954 and was replaced by an apartment building.