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Don Mills is a residential neighbourhood in Torontomarker, Canadamarker, and claims to be the first "new town" planned and fully integrated post-war community developed by private enterprise in North America, and the blueprint for post-war suburban development in Toronto and contemporary residential neighbourhoods. It is part of federal and provincial electoral district Don Valley West, and Toronto electoral wards 25: Don Valley West (North) and 26: Don Valley West (South).

Early history

The Don Mills area was first settled by Europeans in 1817. The area was a considerable distance from the town of Yorkmarker, but the Don River provided a easy means of transportation, and also a source of power for a number of mills along its length. While the city of Toronto steadily expanded, the Don Mills area remained rural until after the Second World War. It was cut off from the city be ravines to the south, east, and west. Only two roads connected to the area York Mills Road and Don Mills Road. In 1950 the area consisted of about 20 farms.

Don Mills project

This combination of emptiness and proximity to the city attracted the attention of industrialist E.P. Taylor. His original plan was to erect a brewery on the site, along with a small community to house the workers. Taylor has limited previous experience in the property development business, but had built a project named the Wrentham Estates in York Mills. Seeing the profit to be made with such projects, Taylor abandoned the brewery idea and decided to simply build a new town on the he had acquired.

In 1951 he began planning the Don Mills community, and it was announced on March 11, 1953, by its financial backer, businessman E.P. Taylor. and built on about 8.35 square kilometres (2,100 acres) of farmland centred at the intersection of Don Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue East. Development was headed by the Taylor-owned Don Mills Development Company with an expected cost of $200 million.

Design principles

The design of Don Mills was influenced by Ebenezer Howard's Garden City, and by the principles of two American town planners, Clarence Stein and Henry Wright, who developed the garden city community of Radburn, New Jersey. Design of the project was entrusted to Macklin Hancock, the son-in-law of Taylor's executive assistant. Still in his mid-20s Hancock had been studying at Harvard when approached for the job. At Harvard Hancock had studied under a number of the founders of modernism and new town planning including Walter Gropius, William Holford, and Hideo Sasaki. These studies lead Hancock to envision a self-contained community distinguished by consistent design principles and a modernist style. Several names were proposed for the new development, including Eptown after Taylor. It was for called Yorktown at its initial unveiling, but the name Don Mills was finally adopted at the suggestion of Hancock.

The design was based on five planning principles, which had not been implemented in Canada before:

  1. The neighbourhood principle – which broke down the community into four neighbourhood quadrants, all surrounding a regional shopping centre, Don Mills Centremarker, at the southwest corner of Don Mills and Lawrence. Each quadrant was to contain a school, a church, and a park.
  2. Separation of pedestrian and vehicle traffic – which was accomplished through the creation of a network of pedestrian paths providing easy access through parks to area schools and the town centre, while roads were designed to slow vehicular traffic through the use of winding roads, T-intersections, and cul-de-sacs.
  3. Promotion of modernist architecture and the modern aesthetic – Don Mills Development controlled the architectural design, colours, and materials of all buildings in Don Mills. As well, the corporation insisted that builders use company-approved architects who had been educated according to Bauhaus principles, to prevent the project from deteriorating into a typical post-war subdivision of builder's homes.
  4. Creation of a greenbelt – linked to a system of neighbourhood parks that would preserve the beauty of the surrounding ravines.
  5. Integration of industry into the community – which followed Howard's ideals for the Garden City. Planners felt that it was important for residents to live and work in the same satellite town so that Don Mills would not become a bedroom community. A sizeable number of high residential densities—rental townhouses and low-rise apartments—was essential if the town were to attract a cross-section of residents working in local industries.


Landmarks

The local high school is the Don Mills Collegiate Institutemarker, which opened in 1959. In 2003, the parkette at the corner of Don Mills and Lawrence was renamed the Macklin Hancock Parkette. An area elementary public school is Norman Ingram Memorial School, located on Duncairn Rd.

The main shopping centre is the Shops at Don Millsmarker, a large mall located at the southwest corner of Lawrence Avenue and Don Mills Road on the site of the former Don Mills Centremarker. There is also a strip mall southwest of Don Mills and Barber Greene Road, and a Loblaw Real Canadian Superstore northeast of Don Mills and Eglinton.

Parkland includes Bond Park which has sports fields and an arena, and Moccasin Trail Park where a remote, undeveloped section of ravine can be reached by a pedestrian tunnel under the Don Valley Parkway.

Demographics

The city places Don Mills in a community called Banbury-Don Mills. In 2006, it had a population of 25,435.

Major ethnic and cultural groups (by ancestry) in 2001: The percentage of population below the poverty line dropped from 13% (in 1996) to 12% (in 2001).

References

  1. "Plan town of 45,000 on Don Mills farms; Will cost $200,000,000", Paul L. Fox, Toronto Star, March 12, 1953, p. 3.
  2. City of Toronto Demographics for Banbury-Don Mills
  • Sewell, John. "Don Mills." The Second City.



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