Canada's oldest tollkeeper cottage opens in T.O.
What's thought to be the country's oldest surviving tollkeeper cottage will open to the public as a museum in Toronto on Canada Day.
The 175-year-old structure is a small three-room cottage that sits at the corner of Davenport Road and Bathurst Street.
It was home to the tollkeeper and his family when Davenport was used as a toll road in the early 1800s, according to the Community History Project (CHP).
The local history group learned of the cottage 13 years ago when it was sitting derelict in a residential backyard near the spot of its original location.
A neighbour who had knowledge of the structure's history contacted CHP, but the group was skeptical at first, saying it's rare to find such an old building.
But after conducting an investigation and researching archived documents and photographs, the group concluded that the neighbour was right.
It's believed the cottage was built in the early 1800s and moved a few times to nearby locations. It also underwent several renovations.
During the early 1800s, private companies were contracted to build, improve and maintain roads. In return, the companies were allowed to collect tolls from those who used the roads.
Documents show tollkeepers sometimes collected fares by extending a half-coconut shell attached to a long stick as they sat perched on top of bales of hay.
Since CHP discovered the cottage in 1993, more than 90 volunteers have worked 12,000 hours to restore the building and move it to its original location.
"The restoration of the building has been a team project made possible by people who understand the value of our local history," CHP president Jane Beecroft said in a press release.
The city of Toronto designated the building a historic site in 2003, and it's expected to be named a national historic site.
The museum that opens to the public on Tuesday will highlight the history of tolls, roads and 19th century life for those with modest means. The facility will be open year-round.
The building is furnished with a lecture room and there is a teaching area on the grounds that will showcase period construction and woodworking techniques.
A ceremony will also rename the park that surrounds the cottage as The Tollkeeper's Park.
"The opening is very momentous for residents of Ward 21 and beyond," said Joe Mihevc, the local city councillor. "It has been a long road reaching this point and I commend the hard work and dedication of the Community History Project for seeing it through to completion. The museum will enrich our neighbourhood and the city."