1851 JO Browne Map of the Township of York

Ad for Browne’s map via
Rowsell’s 1850 city directory 
‘The early 1850s were a time of general prosperity and rapid growth. Hoping for quick profits, speculators bought. and sold land, subdivided and resubdivided lots. This land "boom" flourished until 1857, when the market collapsed.

The maps made during the boom years reflect the commercial enthusiasm of the times in many ways. They were produced to advertise property for sale, to promote the city, and to record new subdivisions. The map-makers themselves were no longer primarily civil servants or military engineers, but provincially licensed surveyors who ran their own businesses. In addition, this map was printed locally, an indication that the printing industry in Toronto had come of age.

York Township had more forest in 1851 than most townships. The delay in clearing the land was due in part to the number of lots held as investments by prominent Toronto families. In addition, the ravines of the extensive river systems made many areas difficult to farm.

Note that more township road allowances had been opened, while many early roads that did not follow the grid system had disappeared. Many villages, all later absorbed into the metropolitan area, had sprung up on the outskirts of the city.’

- Isobel Ganton & Joan Winearls, MAPPING TORONTO'S FIRST CENTURY 1787-1884

Click the image to view a full-size version (7 MB).

Map of the Township of York, by J.O. Browne

Map of the Township of York in the County of York Upper Canada. 1851. Compiled and Drawn by J.O. Browne FSA. Civil Engineer & D.P. Surveyor. Toronto. Engraved and Printed b Jno Ellis, 8, King St.

Original image scan courtesy City of Toronto Archives: Series 443, File 40. Winearls, MUC no. 2215

Large version liberated by W. Xavier Snelgrove.

‘John Ownsworth Browne (1808-1881), formerly a railway engineer in England, became a Provincial Land Surveyor in Toronto in 1848. He surveyed 50 subdivision plans in Toronto during the boom period and also produced and published several important general plans, such as the York township plan of 1851 and the compiled city plan of 1862. His son, Harry John Browne, worked with him initially and later went into the partnership of Wadsworth, Unwin, and Browne, later Unwin, Browne, and Sankey.’ - Ganton/Winearls, ibid.

Supposedly the TRL has a copy of this map (912.71354b68) which promises to be a lot less faded, but I have not been able to find it:

“This detail from an 1851 map of York Township shows the varied stages of development of the Park Lots nearly 60 years after they were first granted. The shaded yellow line enclosed the City of Toronto and Liberties—which in 1850 included the area from today’s Dufferin Street in the west to the Don River in the east, and from the Toronto Harbour north to Bloor Street. Only the most southerly 400 feet of the Park Lots 1 to 18 were within the actual city limits. The Liberties included Park Lots 1 to 28.”

- Ontario Genealogical Society, Simcoe’s Gentry: Toronto Park Lots

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