Toronto Feature: Gibson House | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Toronto Feature: Gibson House

This article is from our Toronto Feature series. Features from past programs are not updated.

This content is from a series created in partnership with Museum Services of the City of Toronto and Heritage Toronto. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

David Gibson, c 1850s
(courtesy Gibson House Museum)
Gibson House, present day
In 1851, Gibson House was home to David and Eliza Gibson and their family. Today it is an active historic house museum offering numerous programs and events (courtesy Gibson House Museum).
Gibson House, c 1967
(courtesy City of Toronto Archives/Fonds 217, Series 249, File 90)

Toronto Feature: Gibson House

"Reluctant Rebel Rebuilds House on Yonge Street"

David Gibson was a successful surveyor, farmer and reform-minded politician. His quiet leadership contrasted with that of his ally William Lyon Mackenzie. Disturbed by the escalation to violence during the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, Gibson attempted to exert a moderating influence on Mackenzie. But he paid a price equal to Mackenzie's; branded as a traitor, he had to flee to Rochester, NY, as his house burned and his family was left stranded.

Gibson worked as an engineer on the Erie Canal and brought his family to Lockport, NY. Pardoned in 1843 and still owning his Yonge Street property, he and his family returned from exile in 1848 to re-build and prosper again.

Today, Gibson House Museum is one of Toronto's living history sites. Once a farm lane led to the Gibsons' yard; now urban development surrounds the family home. A significant contrast to their 1850s life, busy Yonge Street is a reflection of Gibson's role in Toronto's settlement and the rise of the North York community.