Jesse Ashbridge

Section VNG, Lot 98
Toronto Necropolis

The Ashbridge family were English Quakers who lived in Chester County, Pennsylvania in the mid-18th century. Jonathan Ashbridge had been disowned by the Chester Meeting sometime after the American Revolutionary War and died in Pennsylvania in 1782. Jonathan’s wife, Sarah, arrived in Upper Canada in 1793 with her two sons, John and Jonathan, three of her daughters, and their families. In 1794, the family began clearing land east of present-day Greenwood Avenue on three plots laid out by John Graves Simcoe, on a country trail which became the Kingston Road. As United Empire Loyalists fleeing political persecution in the United States, the family were officially granted 600 acres (240 ha.) of the land in 1796, known as Part Lots 7, 8, and 9, stretching from Lake Ontario to present-day Danforth Avenue. A log cabin was built on the trail about 60 m (200 ft.) from the shoreline of Lake Ontario, on a bay formed by the mouth of the Don River. While clearing the land for farming, the family subsisted on fish and waterfowl from the bay and pigs that they raised. The family grew wheat as soon as they were able, which they transported to market. In the winter they sold ice cut from the bay. Sarah Ashbridge died in 1801. The brothers, John and Jonathan, each married in 1809, and began construction on two-storey frame homes for their families the same year. These houses were completed in 1811, and located west of the present estate. John and Jonathan served as pathmasters of the Kingston Road from 1797 to 1817. Both participated in the War of 1812 and the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. Jonathan’s son, Jesse, inherited Part Lot 9 upon his father’s death in 1845. The house known as the Jesse Ashbridge house was built on the family’s land beginning in 1854. It was designed for Jesse Ashbridge, by prominent local architect, Joseph Sheard, who many years later would later serve as Mayor of Toronto. The cottage was designed in the Regency style, built with red brick laid in a Flemish bond, with a hipped roof and treillage veranda. Jesse married in 1864 and died in 1874. As Toronto’s suburbs began to encroach on the family’s property in the late-1800s, Jesse’s wife, Elizabeth, began subdividing the lot in 1893. A second storey in Second Empire style was added to the home in 1900, with a mansard roof, while maintaining the original veranda. The house was built to the east of the old frame home, which was demolished in 1913. Elizabeth continued to live in the home until her death in 1918. A further addition was designed in 1920 by Elizabeth’s son, Wellington, who trained as a civil engineer. This was in the form of a two-storey addition to the house’s north wall. A number of localities in the area are named after the Ashbridges. Just to the south of the house is Jonathan Ashbridge Park (named after Sarah’s son), while slightly to the east is Sarah Ashbridge Avenue. The bay that marked the southern edge of the property is now known as Ashbridge’s Bay, named for John Ashbridge. On the east and north sides of the bay is the large Ashbridge’s Bay Park. Ashbridge’s Bay Park North, to the north of the bay, is the site of the Ashbridge’s Bay Skate Park, opened in 2009. The west side of the bay is the location of the Ashbridge’s Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant, Toronto’s main sewage treatment plant and the second largest such facility in Canada.