A Brief History
Thomas Montgomery (1790-1877) was born in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. Family tradition holds that he came to Canada when he was about 25 years old and spent his early years working in the salt trade and as a surveyor. In 1829 Thomas married another Irish immigrant, Margaret Dawson (1808-1855).
Montgomery’s Inn was built about 1830 for Thomas and Margaret Montgomery. As the business prospered, a new bar room, ballroom, and a second kitchen were added in 1838 (the east and south wings). The Inn served as a meeting place for the local community and also provided food and shelter to travellers.
The years 1847-1859 marked the heyday of the Inn. This was a momentous time for the Irish, with the highest ever immigration from Ireland to Canada, due to the potato famine and typhus epidemic. Many thousands died en route to Canada, and in the summer of 1847 nearly 1000 Irish immigrants died in Toronto itself.
The Montgomerys had seven children, but only two sons, William (1830-1920) and Robert (1837-1864) survived to adulthood. The household also included various servants, farm labourers, and billeted workers from local businesses. The family employed Irish famine refugees and emancipated American slaves.
The Montgomery land extended from Bloor Street north to Dundas Street West, and from Kipling Avenue in the West to Royal York Road in the east. The 400-acre property served as a farm, which provided food for the family and customers and for sale. It was farmed by the family, and later by tenants until the 1940s.
Montgomery’s Inn operated for about 25 years, until the mid 1850s, closing shortly after Margaret died. Today, thanks to the foresight of local citizens and to ongoing government support, the Inn remains a tangible link with the early days of Etobicoke and a significant heritage resource for visitors from near and far.