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In every issue of the DMRI newsletter we profile a neighbour or business that makes Don Mills a great place to live. Profiles have included Edie, an original Don Mills home owner, who in her mid 90’s still lives here, the Ballantyne’s who have chosen to raise their 3 boys here, the bee keeper who works with the seniors at the Donway Place, and Greg Thompson a volunteer at the Civitan Hockey League, who also lives and works in Don Mills, a true Don Mills neighbour.
In this issue of the DMRI newsletter we thought it would be great to do the neighbourhood profile on “Don Mills”. This newsletter is going to all the homes in our community, so for those of you who are fairly new to Don Mills it will serve as a piece of our history and for those who have lived here a long time, it may be a walk down memory lane.
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.
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 Centre. 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 builders’ 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 the 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 sizable 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.*
Home construction began in the spring of 1953, the Don Mills Collegiate was opened in 1959, the Don Mills Civitan Area has been a staple in our community since 1957 and although it will be relocating to Don Mills and Eglinton in the near future, it will be staying in the Don Mills community. Today we know the mall as The Shops at Don Mills but back in 1954 in it was the Don Mills Centre. In 1978, a major renovation was undertaken to enclose the mall and in 2006 the centre was closed and demolished for the redevelopment as the Shops at Don Mills.
Although Don Mills is starting to change, newer house styles, higher condos, more traffic but at its core, Don Mills is still very much the same. Ball hockey in the streets, Saturday night card games with the neighbours, a trip to Metro to pick up milk that takes an hour because your catching up with local friends that you haven’t seen in a while.
A beautiful community that works together to have their voices heard.
*information taken from wikipedia