The village of Fairbank has come full circle in the last 150 years. Starting as a farming village and becoming a booming centre for retail business, we’ve now come back to our roots as a neighbourhood community.
Fairbank Village began in 1835 when 19-year old Matthew Parsons purchased farm-land that encompassed the current-day boundaries from Eglinton to Glencairn, and Dufferin to Keele, and named it Fairbanks Farm. It was here that he started a family and successfully developed the land, so that by the 1860’s families had purchased land from Parsons to create their own farms and homes.
As the community grew, a one-room school house was erected for the community children, and by 1874 the neighbourhoods first community building and business was opened; a post office. Shortly thereafter, a number of hotels and taverns were also built, establishing the need for further local business. By the 1880’s, Fairbank was declared a suburb of Toronto, named “The Highlands,” after it’s steep and winding streets.
Nearing the end of that decade, in 1889, the Toronto Belt Line Company began the development of a commuter railway. Operations started in 1892, but only ran for two and a half years before ceasing all operations. The only remaining reminder of this endeavor is the Beltway Bridge at Yonge and Davisville.
Fairbanks oldest building that remains to this day was built in 1889, the Fairbank Methodist Church, now the Fairbank United Church at Dufferin and Wingold. Neat Fact: The Fairbank Village BIA Logo was depicted from a carving in the brick on the side of the building.
As residents flocked to Toronto’s suburbs in York Township, businesses sprung up along Eglinton Avenue to support them, and in November 1924, the Oakwood Streetcar operated by the Toronto Transit Commission began running from the Gilbert Street Loop (just west of Dufferin) to St. Clair and Oakwood. By 1954, the Eglinton subway station was finished, attracting even more development.
Prior to the subway opening, in 1953, York Township became a recognized part of Metropolitan Toronto, linking all of Toronto’s former suburbs. Since then, the area has changed designation to “The Borough of York,” in 1966, and was absorbed into “The City of York” in 1983. By 1998, the area was amalgamated under the Megacity, which joined all outlying neighbourhoods to the governmental reign of The City of Toronto. The City of York was abolished, and area Members of Council elected into what we now know as the current system of governance. The City of York council and administrative buildings still stand as the York Civic Centre on Eglinton between Keele Street and Black Creek Drive.
The Fairbank Village BIA was formed in 2007 as a way to brighten up the neighbourhood, and has great plans for the future. After the first Flavours of Fairbank summer festival in 2008, where a small number of vendors set up shop in a parking lot, to a partial road closure of Eglinton in 2010, we’ve seen it grow to an entire street closure full of rides and vendors. Flower planters brighten the neighbourhood, and the BIA is regularly attracting new businesses and making Eglinton a destination for everything our residents need.
Dufferin & Eglinton, City of Toronto Archives, 1919