Samuel Jarvis’s Estate, “Hazel Burn”

Samuel Jarvis’s Estate,
“Hazel Burn”

This pen-and-ink drawing shows the two-storey brick house, “a handsome structure of the early brick era of York,” with its wide verandah, surrounded by ten acres of well-kept lawns, orchards and gardens, built at what is today the intersection of Jarvis and Shuter Streets.

In front of the house are hazelnut trees. Behind the house are the large stable (northwest of the house), a coach house, a large hen house and rabbit warren, and a smoke house (northeast of the house), all built of brick. According to Lucy Booth Martyn’s Aristocratic Toronto, the smokehouse had a bad reputation with neighbouring small boys. “They were locked in it for some hours when caught stealing fruit from the orchards.”
Queen Street runs below the bottom of this picture. The drive up to the house began at what is now the intersection of Jarvis and Queen Streets.
Inside the house were fittings of solid black walnut. Before the building was torn down, Col. Arthur Carthew bought the walnut doors, panelling and window frames to install in his new house, Lawton Park, in the Deer-park property on Yonge Street.
Jarvis Street was built through the centre of Hazel Burn (later spelled ‘Hazelburn’), destroying the estate only 21 years after the house was completed.

T he 100-acre lot between Queen Street and Bloor Street had been granted to William Jarvis, Samuel’s father, upon being appointed first Secretary and Registrar of Upper Canada. This kind of land grant, known as a “park land” lot, was a perq given to York’s first officials in the 1790s by Governor Simcoe. By 1803 Wiliam Jarvis had cleared only twenty acres of his park lot, which was mostly pine forest. Each official also received a “town lot,” closer to the lake, where he was expected to build a house.
Samuel Jarvis inherited his father’s land in 1817. About 1822, soon after getting married, he began clearing the southern 50 acres of the 100-acre lot. He named the estate “Hazel Burn” after some hazel trees on the property and a little trout stream flowing from Davenport Hill (possibly Taddle Creek, which still runs under the University of Toronto?). The stream is visible at the bottom of the picture. In 1824 the house, facing south but set back from Queen Street, was completed. Nearby was a swamp where one could shoot snipe, and deer were plentiful in the forest behind the house. On the northern 50 acres, a farmer worked the fields, living in a log cabin with his family.
With a household of five sons and four daughters, Hazel Burn was a hive of social activity. “The Jarvises were renowned for their hospitality, and often held readings, musicales, and theatrical performances in which friends and neighbours took part.” (Liz Lundell, The Estates of Old Toronto, 1997, p.54.)

S amuel’s financial problems forced him to subdivide Hazel Burn. A survey was done between 1846 and 1851, laying out Jarvis Street, an access road to enable the new owners to get to their lots, on a grand scale, 80 feet wide, including a 36-foot road, 16-foot boulevards and 6-foot sidewalks. Jarvis Street was the first street to be paved in Toronto. (In order to widen the road to 50 feet, the trees lining the street were cut down in 1947.) Mutual and George Streets were also laid out. Most of the Hazel Burn house was demolished in 1847, since it was located in the middle of the proposed Jarvis Street. A few rooms on the west side were converted into a residence and the stables remained on Jarvis Street for years.
Traces of Hazel Burn remained for many years. In 1873 Henry Scadding wrote in Toronto of Old, “A large fragment of the offices attached to Mr Jarvis’s house was utilized and absorbed in a private residence on the west side of Jarvis Street, and the gravel drive to the door is yet to be traced in the less luxuriant vegetation of certain portions of the adjoining flower gardens.” (Trivia test next week.)
Samuel Peters Jarvis died in 1857.
The southern 40 acres, developed by William Cawthra, provided small lots for working-class housing. Further north on Jarvis Street were large lots for wealthy citizens. The Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of York (1878) declared, “Jarvis Street is the handsomest avenue in Toronto and cannot perhaps be equalled on the continent. The well formed road, the boulevarded borders, and the delightful villas with their well ordered grounds, present to the eye a very attractive picture.” Many of these mansions were demolished after World War II.

A lthough Samuel Peters Jarvis’s estate lasted only 21 years, the name Hazel Burn returned half a century later, applied to two other large houses owned by Samuel’s descendants. The location of Hazel Burn II and Hazel Burn III was at 34 Prince Arthur Avenue, on the north side of the street, in an area of the city now bordering the University of Toronto and known as The Annex. The original house there was built in 1872 but purchased in 1896 by Edward Aemelius Jarvis, grandson of Samuel Peters Jarvis. He renamed it Hazel Burn.
A traditionalist—his morning routine included standing in his conservatory every morning and saluting the Union Jack as it was raised on a pole at the rear of the house— Aemelius Jarvis named his youngest son Samuel Peters Jarvis. In 1910, to make room for his growing family, Aemelius replaced the house with a new, larger mansion, also named Hazel Burn. In 1927, after the death of his first wife, he remarried and moved into the country north of the city, to Aurora, where he named his new property Hazel Burn Farm. The Hazel Burn on Prince Arthur Avenue became a hotel for 14 years, then a place of business for several decades, finally being demolished in 1966, replaced, as Lucy Booth Martyn puts it in Artistocratic Toronto, by “a tall white apartment building (which rather resembles the Aswan Dam).”


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