Downsview originates its name from John Perkins Bull, a Justice of the Peace who settled in the area in 1842. Bull named his farmhouse “Downs View” as his property was situated on one of the highest elevations in Toronto. The Bull farmhouse included a courtroom addition and a jail which was located in the basement of the house. The John Perkins Bull house is still standing today at 450 Rustic Road where it is in use as a nursing home.
For over one hundred years Downsview was a thriving agricultural community with its own general store, school house and post office. The pillar of the community was the Downsview United Church. Built in 1870, this church is still standing in its original location at 2822 Keele Street.
Factory before the war (Canadian Air & Space Museum)
In April 1929, William De Havilland purchased 70 acres of farmland along Sheppard Avenue in order to build De Havilland Aircraft of Canada. They began with a staff of 35 in a 20, 000 sq. ft. plant next to the railway. The factory was Canada’s largest supplier of military, civilian and government owned aircraft in the 1930s, providing the Ontario Provincial Air Service, and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) with the majority of their aircraft. Several record breaking flights were made with aircraft assembled or modified here in Downsview.
Between 1936 and 1938, De Havilland purchased more land and added a hangar and a main building which is now known as the Downsview Park Sports Complex. When World War Two broke out, he acquired more land beside the plant to extend the existing runways and built additional facilities. Throughout the war they produced thousands of Mosquito fighter bombers and other planes. They continued to mark a number of firsts and significant accomplishments until the end of the war.
T.T.C., bus #1904, on Keele Street at Wilson Avenue (1955)
As authentic as they get, fifty years and counting, Mastro’s Restaurant is still located on Wilson Avenue with its original owners Livio and Rina Camarra.
Keele Street and Wilson Avenue in the 1950s – 1960s.