Road tolls are not a new idea for Toronto


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Mayor John Tory’s proposal to introduce tolls on the Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway expressways has been a controversial one to say the least, but in the 1800s road tolls were a part of everyday life in the city of Toronto.

The Tollkeeper’s Cottage at Bathurst Street and Davenport Road — Canada’s oldest surviving toll house — hearkens back to an era in which vehicles drawn by two horses or cattle had to cough up six pence apiece. 

A time when at least one local tollkeeper was known to collect tolls by using a half coconut attached to a stick.

By the mid-1800s there were five tollgates along Davenport Road. This cottage, which housed the tollkeeper and his family, was located at tollgate three. Built in the 1830s, the cottage was moved to several locations before finally settling into its current spot, where it now operates as a museum.

Davenport is one of Ontario’s oldest roads, with a history tracing back to the end of the ice age, when it was a footpath used by First Nations people travelling from Montreal to Niagara.

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