Toronto Neighbourhood Guide

North York


History of Lansing

Lansing was first settled by Joseph Shepard, who built a log house on Yonge Street at Sheppard Avenue in 1798. Shepard was a swashbuckling character who traded furs with the First Nations people, fought in the battle of York against the Americans and operated saw and grist mills on the banks of the Don River.

Shepard was a close friend of William Lyon Mackenzie, who led the Toronto rebellion in 1837. Shepard passed away just prior to the rebellion, however his four sons were active participants in the revolt. Joseph and Jacob were captured and spent time in prison, while Thomas and Michael escaped from the Kingston Penitentiary and fled to the United States.

In 1813 the Shepard brothers were pardoned by the Queen and returned to Lansing to carry on their fathers business. In 1860 Joseph Shepard built a general store and a residence on the northwest corner of Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue. He added a post office in 1866. This post office was given the name "Lansing" by Shepard's daughter Saida.

The Lansing general store and post office - later known as Dempsey Brothers Hardware Store - was a fixture in this neighbourhood until 1966 when it was moved to its present location at 250 Beecroft Road, where it now serves as a public museum and office for the North York Archives.


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