Points of Interest > Don Vale House

Built in the late 1840s on the west side of the Don River at the foot of Winchester Street, the Don Vale House served briefly as a residence before being transformed into a public house. Before the completion of Prince Edward Viaduct at Bloor Street in October 1918, Winchester Street was an important route into Toronto. Many travellers and farmers on their way to market stopped at the Don Vale House before heading up the steep Winchester Street hill into the city.

Don Vale House, c.1870.  Excerpted from John Ross Robertson, Landmarks of Canada. Toronto: Toronto Public Library, 1967. TRL, Toronto Public Library Local History Publications, 971 T594.2 1967.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the tavern catered to a local clientele of working men seeking rougher entertainment. As George Rust-D’Eye recalls in his 1984 history of Cabbagetown, the Don Vale House was known as the “frequent resort of the sporting fraternity;” boxing contests, crude fighting, cockfights, and gambling were among the activities staged in its various outbuildings.

The tavern changed ownership several times over its twenty-plus years of existence. In 1855, David Priestly is recorded as the proprietor. John Hogg owned the tavern from 1860 to 1865.  From 1865 to 1870 it was managed by George Fox, who changed the name to the Fox Head Tavern. After Fox left the buildings stood empty; by 1876 they had been torn down.

Text: Jennifer Bonnell and Lost Rivers


Rust-D'Eye, George H. Cabbagetown Remembered. Erin, Ontario: The Boston Mills Press, 1984.

Toronto Historical Association. A Glimpse of Toronto's history: Opportunities for the Commemoration of Lost Historic Sites (Toronto: Toronto Historical Association and the Maps Project, City of Toronto Urban Development Services, 2002), MPLS # 083.

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