We have an active community group hosting conversations and speakers on the history of our neighbourhood, the Heritage Committee. These volunteers work to celebrate our history including through publication of our History Nuggets, host neighbourhood gatherings to celebrate our century homes and research the history of homes in Lawrence Park.
A Short History:
The development of the North Toronto neighbourhood of Lawrence Park began in 1907 under the Dovercourt Land Building and Saving Company, which acquired the north parcel of the park from John Lawrence, after whom the neighbourhood is named. The president of the Dovercourt Land Company was Wilfred Servington Dinnick who envisioned a garden suburb “four hundred feet above Lake Ontario, and Far from the Lake Winds in Winter”.
Lawrence Park’s development was sporadic and occurred over five decades as building of houses was interrupted by two world wars, a recession and a depression. It wasn’t until the 1950s that this neighbourhood was completed.
Stories from our neighbourhood:
The Casson home:
Have you seen the sign on the lawn at 43 Rochester Avenue? This addition, an initiative of the Toronto Legacy Project and Heritage Toronto, arrived in the summer of 2013. It reminds us of the deep history of our neighbourhood.
So what is the story behind the house?
The home was originally built and then lived in for over sixty years by A.J. Casson, one of Canada’s most acclaimed artists. It was subsequently owned by the Waqué family who updated the home to meet their needs yet tried to honour the home’s history. The front of the house remains substantially unchanged, apart from the addition of shutters on the ground floor. And the walk up to the front door is original, boasting beautiful, large pieces of Credit Valley flagstone and a charming wrought iron railing. In the back there is a trellised rose that has been growing there since Mr. Casson’s time.
Shortly after moving into their new home, a photocopy of a thank you note written by A.J. Casson on letterhead featuring a line drawing of the house, presumably drawn by Mr. Casson, was given to the Waqué family. A perfect housewarming gift!
Inside, the studio in which Mr. Casson painted all his large canvases and many of his commercial pieces is substantially unchanged (his “Help Finish The Job” prize winning work is just one of the many pieces created there). The large studio window faces north (looking out over the driveway and on to Rochester), providing ideal working light for an artist. Mr. Casson’s daughter remembers him painting late into the night, smoking constantly, in that studio.
Lawrence Park is full of stories. If you have any you would be willing to share with the neighbourhood, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks to the Waqué family and Mr. Casson’s family for their help in putting this together.