David Rowntree

Section 8, Lot 391
Prospect Cemetery

A native of Cumberland, Northumberland County, David Rowntree was brought to Canada at the age of 12 by his parents. He lived on his father’s 100-acre lot in Etobicoke until he married Sarah Lee of Yorkshire in 1840, and acquired his own substantial landholding of 200 acres, whose present-day boundaries are Eglinton Avenue to the north, St. Clair Avenue to the south, and Keele Street to the west. In 1851, his father made him a gift of a fine horse, “Cumberland,” on his return from a visit to England. David Rowntree imported and bred prize-winning Clydesdales, and became a judge of cattle and horses at Toronto exhibitions. Among the awards he received was that for the best Canadian one-year-old draft colt, in 1878. The first Rowntree house, located just east of Old Weston Road and south of Rogers Road, burned down. The second home, still standing, was built at the north-east corner of Old Weston Road and Rowntree Avenue in 1887. Numerous progeny ensured the continuance of the Rowntree name and holdings. Following the death of his first wife, who had borne him 11 children – two of them girls — David married her niece, Sarah Rossiter, in 1866. They had five sons and four daughters. David Rowntree was active in Davenport Methodist Church; elected school trustee for section 13 in 1874; and served as pathmaster for York County. At his eightieth birthday celebration in 1899, David was surrounded by 60 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. He specified in his will that ¼ acre of his property was to be used as a family burying ground forever — a wish which was not complied with. He set aside $1,000 for each son, on reaching the age of 21, to assist in setting up business ventures. He had also authorised the lease or sale of clay from the farm, for brick-making purposes. Despite his provision for the subdivision of the farm to be registered in 1921, by that time it comprised less than 100 acres. Small portions had been sold off as early as 1897, when the Baptist Convention was offered lots for the nominal fee of one dollar. In 1921, most of the remaining land was incorporated in an “affordable housing” subdivision scheme developed by the enterprising real estate whizz, A. E. LePage. Elijah Rowntree (1897 – 1957), the twin brother of Elisha and son of David, Sr., inherited the family homestead near St. Clair and Old Weston Road. David died on March 30, 1904.

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