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Chapter 7
The Neighbours at Mid-Century
Table of Contents

Title Page
Author's Preface
1 The Road through Richmond Hill
2 First Peoples on the Land
3 The European Settlers Arrive
4 From Miles' Hill to Richmond Hill: The Birth of a Community
5 Tories and Reformers
6 Stagecoach Lines and Railway Tracks
7 The Neighbours at Mid-Century
Beyond the Village Centre
Assorted Residents of Langstaff Road West in the Early 1840s
Hallowe'en Pranks at Langstaff Corners
Elgin Mills
Entertaining Girls at Twickenham Farm
Jefferson, Bond Lake, Oak Ridges
"The Passing of Headford Mill"
Headford and Dollar
Carrville, Patterson, and Temperanceville
Markham and Whitchurch, Vaughan and King
8 Fire Brigades and Fence Viewers
9 Picture Post Card Village of the 1880s and 1890s
10 Rails through Richmond Hill
11 The Flowering of Richmond Hill
12 The Village Transformed
Table of Illustrations


John Langstaff, who gave his name to the settlement of Langstaff or Langstaff Corners, and whose son, grandson, and great-grandson dispensed medicine in Richmond Hill from 1849 to 1973.
Two sideroads south of Richmond Hill, where Highway 7 today intersects Yonge Street, stood Langstaff, or Langstaff Corners. This community took its name from John Langstaff, who arrived from New Jersey in 1808, married Abner Miles' daughter Lucy, and eventually took over his father-in-law's property on the northeast corner of the intersection. Initially, Langstaff taught in the first area school south of the sideroad. Then, after service in the War of 1812, he developed a number of small businesses at this crossroads location - woodworking shops, a pail factory, a general store, and a blacksmith shop.

As the site of Toll Gate No. 3 on the Yonge Street highway, Langstaff Corners by mid-century had become a major stopping place for travellers on the road between Richmond Hill and Toronto. The tollhouse and gate stood on the southwest corner, and there too was Langstaff's first post office, opened in 1870. On that same corner, for some years, the Langstaff family enjoyed riding around an oval half-mile racetrack.
Cook's Hotel, on the northwest corner of the Yonge Street/ Highway 7 intersection, from a pen and ink drawing attributed to Bernard Joseph Gloster. Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library
On the northwest corner stood the Yorkshire House, under the management of William and Jane Cook. And on the southeast corner, where Balsar and Katharine Munshaw had moved after their 1794 pioneering start north of Elgin Mills, the Munshaw family farmed through much of the nineteenth century.

If the Munshaws linked Langstaff Corners with eighteenth-century Richmond Hill, then the Langstaff family itself linked this crossroads community with twentieth-century Richmond Hill.James Miles Langstaff (1825-1889), the fourth son of John and Lucy, was one of the earliest Ontario-born and predominantly Ontario-trained doctors. James studied medicine in Toronto in the mid-1840s, did post-graduate work in England, practised briefly in Unionville, then opened for business in Richmond Hill in 1849. Dr. James Langstaff, and his wife, Mary Ann Miller Langstaff, founded a mini-dynasty of Richmond Hill medical practitioners. Their son, Dr. Rolph Langstaff, and his wife, Dr. Lillian Langstaff, carried the practice into the twentieth century, and eventually handed it on to their son, Dr. James Rolph Langstaff.

Meanwhile, at Langstaff Corners itself, the original Langstaff property remained in family hands until 1893, when it was purchased by the Boyle family. Just prior to the First World War, this land on the northeast corner of what are today Yonge Street and Highway 7 was purchased by the City of Toronto and became part of the city's Industrial Farm, more commonly known as the Langstaff Jail Farm or simply the Jail Farm. Today, with the widening of both Yonge Street and Highway 7, most traces of this corner's colourful past have been wiped off the map. The old toll-gate and the Langstaff and Munshaw properties exist only in memory.


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Copyright Richmond Hill Public Library Board, 1991