Exploring the ‘burbs: Ebenezer

In one of the newest parts of Brampton is one of several juxtapositions that occur when Toronto’s urban sprawl takes over small villages and hamlets, where traces of a once proud village have been consumed by Toronto’s rapid growth. There are several examples that come to mind — at Finch and Don Mills in North York, at Derry and Dixie in Mississauga, and at Ninth Line and 14th Avenue in Markham. Only where a village was large enough, have these villages survived — Streetsville and Unionville remain charming parts of much larger suburbs.

At The Gore Road and Ebenezer Road at the far eastern end of Brampton several subdivisions have engulfed the hamlet of Ebenezer, in what was once a quiet agricultural township called Toronto Gore. In 1974, that oddly named little township was amalgamated into Brampton, but it wasn’t until the past few years has it been completely been swallowed. This area though is cut off from the rest of Brampton by farms, light industry, a conservation area and the massive CN intermodal yards. The only Brampton Transit bus route here leads not to the rest of that city, but to Humber College in Etobicoke.

Right at the corner of these two streets are two survivors of the recent past — an old Methodist Church and cemetery, and a community hall on the opposite corner. While it looks unlikely that the 1858 church remains in its intended use (though it is fortunately well-maintained), the community hall, built to serve the farmfolk of Toronto Gore Township, is now maintained by the successor City of Brampton. It is also well kept, though unfortunately hidden on one side by a wooden fence. When I was there, a South Asian senior’s group had just wrapped up their social meeting. It was pleasant to see the old hall still used for its intended purpose.

On another corner was a brand new shopping plaza. The brick pattern of the plaza buildings seemed to mimic the old farm houses and community buildings of the late 1800s that the new subdivisions are replacing. Nearly every business had signage in an Indic script (such as Urdu, Hindi or Punjabi).

Visible just about anywhere in these new subdivisions is the Hindu Sabha Temple, an elaborate building of glass and granite, towering over the neighbourhood like the spires of Catholic and Anglican churches. It was remarkable to find such a large and interesting building in such a new suburb, still yet to be established.

More change is coming to Ebenezer as the urban frontier advances. There are few clues that this was all farmland just a few years ago, but an old barn sits out a fallowed field, awaiting the inevitable.

3 comments

  1. I used to live at 9th and 14th for a few years when it was still farmland and fields…it was a failed experiment in seeing if the suburbs would suit our needs…and we moved back to Toronto less than 2 years later…now that area is all subdivisions and concrete…and everybody drives everywhere, even a few blocks to get milk…it was frightening…

    I could only walk to the gas station as the other retail was practically out of reach except by car..

    I took quite a few “before” pictures and looking at then now shows how heavily that area has been damaged forever…

  2. We were some of the earliest to move into the new subdivisions in this neighborhood. Unfortunately, most of the land in the area is being covered with houses. The area behind the Ebenezer Church now has an extremely unattractive “Gore Centre” which was built in 2004. There is very little vegetation on this gigantic plaza, which is still only half occupied. I was sad to see the city not take action to preserve the charm of this heritage neigborhood. If this place were built as a small downtown-like destination area, it would have been so more beneficial to the residents who live there now.

  3. It seems that everywhere you go, a new proposal is bein put up, signs seldom seen by those who should.

Comments are closed.