Points of Interest > Rosedale Estate

In the 1830s and 40s, a number of large estates were constructed along Yonge Street north of Bloor and east towards the Don Valley. Best known among these ‘villas’ was Rosedale, built in 1821 by John Small and sold three years later to William Botsford Jarvis. High Sheriff of the Home District from 1827 until 1856, Jarvis was considered a hero in York for his role in defending the town during the 1837 Rebellion.

Dennis, John Stoughton (1820-1885), Plan of Rose – Park, being a subdivision of the Rosedale Estate, adjoining the City of Toronto, Canada. December 20, 1854. Toronto Public Library, TRL, Special Collections, MsX.4. Reproduced from the Toronto Public Library website http://www.tpl.toronto.on.ca.

Rosedale was located on part of an original two-hundred-acre farm granted to Captain George Playter in 1796. As the authors of the Don Valley Conservation Report (1950) report, “the house stood near Rosedale Road across the ravine, east of the bridge over Castle Frank Brook. It was at first reached by a drive which descended into the valley near Davenport Road and climbed up a gully to the house. To avoid the steep hills, Jarvis made a new approach from the south, the present Park Road, bridging the creek and raising an embankment”(78). Jarvis’ wife Mary, granddaughter of Chief Justice of Upper Canada William Dummer Powell, named the estate for the wild roses that bloomed on the property.

The Jarvises had five children between 1827 and 1835, and in 1835 Jarvis used plans drawn by John Howard to add two new wings to the house. The additions contained bedrooms, a morning room, a large verandah, a grape house, a peach house and a conservatory. Orchards, quiet arbours, rose gardens, and masses of flowers surrounded the house.

In 1853, Jarvis sold most of the estate to a developer, who registered a plan dividing the former estate into sixty-two lots on four curving streets: Avondale, Rosedale, Crescent, and South Drive. The subdivision was called Rose Park (Rosedale, incidentally, was one of the first areas in Canada to have curved streets). Jarvis reserved the Rosedale house and twenty acres, and his three married daughters and their husbands lived there after Mary died in 1854. William Jarvis died at Rosedale in 1864, and the remaining estate was subdivided and sold. In 1875, David Macpherson bought Rosedale for his daughter, Christina, who lived there with her husband, Percival Ridout, until it was demolished in 1905 to make way for Cluny Drive. From Sheriff Jarvis's estate had grown a park-like suburb that eventually drew Toronto's elite from their original estates along Jarvis and Sherbourne Streets.

Text: Lost Rivers and Jennifer Bonnell


Crawford, Bess Hillery. Rosedale. Erin, ON: Boston Mills Press, 2000.

Lundell, Liz. The Estates of Old Toronto. Erin, ON: Boston Mills Press, 1997.

Ontario Department of Planning and Development. "Don Valley Conservation Report." Toronto:
Ontario Department of Planning and Development, 1950.

Phillips, William. A Brief History of Rosedale. www.southrosedale.org/docs/rosedalehistory.pdf, accessed 7 May 2009.

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 #245.

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