In our third article in the series about Port Union heritage, Don Allen, Scarborough Historical Society and Archives, writes about the Annis House.
By Don Allen
The Annis family first arrived in America and settled in Massachusetts in 1670. Descendant Charles Annis arrived in Upper Canada in 1793 and settled in the area between Whitby and Oshawa. During 1808, he moved his family to Scarborough and settled on Lot 16, Concession C and D. His son Jerimiah’s 1867 stone house still exists on the north side of Kingston Road, east of Golf Club Road, as The Olde Stone Cottage Pub.
The land that the Port Union Annis house sat on was an original Crown Grant of 200 acres on Concession 1, Lot 1, granted to Joseph Ketchum on March 23, 1798. Ketchum sold the property to John Small who sold it to Thomas Adams in 1802. Andrew Annis purchased a 100-acre tract from Tommy Adams in 1851 and in the autumn of 1856 Andrew finished building a fine stone house on the northwest corner of what is now Lawrence Ave. and Port Union Road. At this time, the Port Union area had a population of 47 people.
It was not until the death of Andrew’s youngest son, William, better known as Billy, in August 1949 that the old stone house passed out of Annis family ownership. In 1950, the house was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. T.W. Eaton. Mr. Eaton was the general manager of the Canadian Johns Manville Plant, located directly south of this house.
During 1962, the house was purchased by a Mr. and Mrs. Donald Weir who planned to restore the old structure. The address at that time was 244 Colonel Danforth Road, as Lawrence was only a road allowance at that time. Mrs. Weir’s mother was the wife of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.
In early 1970, a new branch of the Bank of Montreal was opened in the Annis house. The new “Centennial Branch” was to be located into the adjacent plaza upon completion.
During May 1971, the Annis barn that was located directly north of the house was lost in a fire.
By early 1972, the western section of the plaza was under construction. Windward Development Company had purchased the property and applied for and was granted a demolition permit to remove the Annis structure by January 21, 1974, to allow for an addition to the shopping centre. As reported in a January 17 issue of The West Hill News, Mayor Paul Cosgrove said there was some question as to whether the original 36’ x 24’ house with 36” stone walls could actually be transported to a location in Adams Park.
A four-person citizens’ committee ruled out this alternative because of the cost, which was an estimated $175,000 to move the structure. The other alternative was to purchase the building and approximately 1/3 of an acre of property for $90,000 with another $35,000 in repairs required to bring it up to current building code.
The Bank of Montreal moved its operations out of the building in January 1974 and into the present location. At a Planning Board meeting on February 7, the board approved a bylaw amendment to allow for a Brewers Retail outlet to occupy the property. Rather ironic as the Annis clan were long-time temperance people.
The Annis house was demolished in March 1974.
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