Monday, May 30, 2016

Montgomery Inn

Tom hosts Tuesday's Treasures.

May 2016 - Toronto ON

We went to visit the Montgomery Inn as part of Doors Open. I had never heard of this museum until the Doors Open lineup. And I had turned the corner before it for years going to work!!

The museum is located at Islington and Dundas W. From the photo the address is Islington Ontario.

The Village of Islington was originally called “Mimico” after Mimico Creek which ran through the village at today’s Islington Avenue. While proximity to Mimico Creek was one factor in attracting settlers to the area, of much greater importance was the opening of Dundas Street, a road designed to connect York (now Toronto) with all of southwestern Ontario. It was cut through the forest by Lt. Gov. John Graves Simcoe’s Queen’s Rangers in 1793.  

Islington Village quickly became the hub of a road network that consisted of Dundas Street, Islington Avenue (put through from Dundas Street north to Albion Road in 1844,) the Etobicoke and Mono Sixth Line Plank Road (a toll road incorporated in 1846 that ran from Dundas Street, along today’s Burnhamthorpe Crescent and Burnhamthorpe Road, northwest to Mono Township,) and Montgomery Road (built by Thomas Montgomery as a shortcut for his customers to use on their way to and from grist mills on the Humber River at Bloor Street.) The conjunction of these roads made Islington an ideal service centre for the surrounding farming community and for travellers – a place to locate stores, services, taverns, a post office, churches and schools. 

Thomas Montgomery (1790-1877) was born in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. Family tradition holds that he came to Canada when he was about 25 years old and spent his early years working in the salt trade and as a surveyor. In 1829 Thomas married another Irish immigrant, Margaret Dawson (1808-1855).

Long before the Inn was restored, a neighbour named Evelyn Gradon spotted the original Montgomery’s Inn sign discarded outside the building and said to her husband, “We should take that home!” It was lucky they did! Later, during the restoration, the Gradons returned the sign to the Inn, where it is now on display.

On the sign, below the word Inn, is a small picture of a farmer with a plough drawn by a team of horses. On the reverse side is a larger painting of a plough. The Tavern Licence issued in 1848 confirms Montgomery’s use of this symbol and gave him permission “to keep the House known by the sign of the Plough.”

Montgomery’s Inn was built about 1830 for Thomas and Margaret Montgomery. As the business prospered, a new bar room, ballroom, and a second kitchen were added in 1838 (the east and south wings). The Inn served as a meeting place for the local community and also provided food and shelter to travellers.

The kitchen

The dining room where guests could have a formal meal.

I would call this the Scullery.

The years 1847-1859 marked the heyday of the Inn. This was a momentous time for the Irish, with the highest ever immigration from Ireland to Canada, due to the potato famine and typhus epidemic. Many thousands died en route to Canada, and in the summer of 1847 nearly 1000 Irish immigrants died in Toronto itself.

The office or library

The Montgomerys had seven children, but only two sons, William (1830-1920) and Robert (1837-1864) survived to adulthood. The household also included various servants, farm labourers, and billeted workers from local businesses. The family employed Irish famine refugees and emancipated American slaves.

The bar is still in operation today.
The last Thursday of every month is Thirsty Thursday tavern night at the Inn. Enjoy live traditional music with a glass of beer, wine, or a Thomas Montgomery speciality by firelight in our restored 1847 barroom.
Admission: Pay What You Can, cash bar, $5 for a bowl of stew with fresh-baked bread.

The Montgomery land extended from Bloor Street north to Dundas Street West, and from Kipling Avenue in the West to Royal York Road in the east. The 400-acre property served as a farm, which provided food for the family and customers and for sale. It was farmed by the family, and later by tenants until the 1940s.

The bedrooms upstairs. You could book a private room or sleep in a room with several beds. If money was tight and you just needed a place to sleep before heading "downtown" on market day then you could share a bed with one or two others.

A bootjack

A private commode in the family bedroom.

Who knows what this is for???

Montgomery’s Inn operated for about 25 years, until the mid 1850s, closing shortly after Margaret died. Today, thanks to the foresight of local citizens and to ongoing government support, the Inn remains a tangible link with the early days of Etobicoke and a significant heritage resource for visitors from near and far.

The family sitting room although I doubt they ever had time to just sit and relax. I am sure Margaret would be busy darning.


  1. I have no idea what that tool could be for. I love the look of the place, inside and outside, and it's wonderful that it is preserved. This is the sort of thing that Doors Open does really well. Ours is this coming weekend.

  2. what a history and wonderful fortunate that that lady took the sign from the trash!

  3. I loved this post. I live in Lincoln country in Ky. and we have many historic places preserved that were part of the Lincoln story. I love history and love to see preservation.

  4. A fascinating piece of history!

  5. Jackie, I love the first shot with the modern building looming above this treasure! I am always thankful that places like this are restored and cared for. Thanks for sharing this week and I hope that you stop by again.

  6. Great photos of a fantastic piece of history. You're lucky that they allow you to take photos inside. (I've gone to a few historic buildings in Connecticut, US, and they don't allow one to take photos.)

  7. I think the tool might be for tightening the ropes for the beds??

  8. Didn't know about this one. Next time I head to Ontario, I need to visit this museum. Thanks for posting.

  9. I do love anything that reminds me of Ireland, and these photos do. But I guess a trip to Ontario would do just fine, since I don't like long flights (to Ireland). Thanks for sharing...and here's MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST

  10. Wonderful photos! I love the history you've captured in this post. Thanks for sharing these snapshots.

  11. This is awesome--and exactly the kind of thing I like to visit in new cities. Thanks for sharing!


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