Toronto's Historical Plaques
Discover Toronto's history as told through its plaques
2004 - Now in our 12th Year - 2016
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The Rousseaux Family and Early Toronto
This Story Circle, the sixth of 13 story circles on the "Discovery Walks - The Shared Path", can be found on South Kingsway at the top of a paved boat launching ramp at the south end of a gas station. Here's what the Rousseaux Family plaque has to say:
Coordinates: 43.635906 -79.474819
As the nearby Provincial plaque indicates, a French trader named Jean-Baptiste Rousseaux (known as St. John to the British) provided a valuable link among the great powers that shaped what is now Toronto: the First Nations, the French, and the British. In 1770, 11 years after the last French trading post in this area was abandoned, Rousseaux's father began to trade with the Mississaugas at the mouth of the Humber. Perhaps reusing the site of the French fort built by Portneuf, Jean-Baptiste Rousseaux carried on trade here until 1795 - long enough to help the British establish the roots of the modern City of Toronto. Other francophones then arrived to shape the new settlement, including the prominent merchant Laurent Quetton St George.
The exact location of the Rousseaux home and store has not been discovered. In Rousseaux's day and well into the 20th century, the east bank here sloped gently to the river's edge, allowing for travellers to disembark from their boats, engage in trade, and begin the ancient Portage de Toronto or Carrying Place portage along the ridge now occupied by Riverside Drive. Since the 1930s, landfill has dramatically altered this area, filling in marshland and significantly changing the profile of the river bank.
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