Ashbridge Estate

The Ashbridge family was one of the founding families of Toronto (formerly York); they immigrated to York from Pennsylvania in 1793. They are also the only Toronto family to occupy their land continuously for 200 years. Two acres of the original homestead and house have been preserved to tell their story.

The oldest house remaining on the site, the Jesse Ashbridge House was built in 1854. In 1972, the last remaining Ashbridges – Dorothy Bullen and her sister Elizabeth Burton – generously donated the two houses, several outbuildings, the surrounding property containing beautiful gardens, and a significant collection to the Ontario Heritage Trust in recognition of the historical significance of the site.

In 1987 and 1988, the Archaeological Resource Centre of the Toronto Board of Education conducted public archaeology programs on the west side of the site, where a 20th-century residence once stood. During May and June of 1998, 1999 and 2000, the University of Toronto's Department of Anthropology held archaeological field schools at the property. Students excavated the area of the earliest houses on the property. These consist of a log cabin (dating from as early as 1794) and the 1809 house – both of which stood until they were demolished in 1913. Evidence of the cabin cellar has been recorded, along with tens of thousands of artifacts dating from the late 18th century to the late 19th century. In addition, evidence of prehistoric native occupation was recorded. These consisted of ash pits and artifacts indicating that settlement in this area extended back several thousands of years.