From a native settlement to a bustling metropolis, area of Scarborough Ontario has seen it all. You wouldn’t think the district played a significant role in Canada’s history, especially when you learn that Scarborough was demoted from a city to an administrative district in Toronto, but Ontario’s history and that of the country is firmly rooted in Scarborough.
Scarborough’s history started in 8000 BCE when natives established a settlement in Fenwood Heights. An archeological dig in the area revealed that the first humans there lived a nomadic life, hunting, and foraging. They never established any permanent settlements, but all that changed when the Seneca came into the region in the 17th century. The Seneca people lived off the Rouge River that not only provided fertile soils for farming but also all the fish they could eat.
The good fortunes of the Seneca didn’t go unnoticed. Soon the Mississaugas would overrun the Seneca village of Ganatsekwyagon. The Mississauga didn’t have to enjoy life on the sandy beaches of Rouge River though. In less than a hundred years, the first European settlers had displaced the Mississaugas. After the British Empire surveyed the land in and around modern Scarborough, they opened the area to settlers.
The first land patents were issued in 1796 and David and Andrew Thomson, both stonemasons, settled in the area. David and Andrew were kind of a big deal having already worked on the parliament buildings in York. In Scarborough, they’d do what they did best. They constructed the mills that would propel the settlement into an agricultural hub. They also assisted in the construction of the first village in Scarborough, which was aptly named the ‘Thomson Settlement.’
There was no turning back now. After Thomson Village got its first post office in 1832, it was renamed to Scarborough Village. It didn’t take long for Scarborough to be incorporated into a township. In 1850, following the incorporation of Scarborough, the local administration of Upper Canada appointed the first reeve (mayor) of the budding township. The Great Depression had quite the effect on Scarborough, slowing economic growth and almost bankrupting the young township. It would take the intervention of the Ontario Municipal Board to prevent the total collapse of the Scarborough’s local government.
During this time, Scarborough had expanded quite a bit. Housing stock on Kingston Road and the Danforth Road corridors were the first signs of the growth that lay ahead. The growth of real estate encouraged the creation of the first transit line in Scarborough, which connected it to West Hill. By 1983, Scarborough was recognized as a city in Toronto, but that status did not last. In 1998, Scarborough and downtown Toronto were amalgamated into the present city of Toronto. That doesn’t mean Scarborough lost all of its charm and prestige in Ontario. It is still used by the municipal government of Toronto as a civic center.