Roncesvalles History


Roncesvalles was originally settled by Colonel Walter O’Hara in 1850.O’Hara was a soldier in the British army prior to immigrating to Canada.O’Hara was wounded and captured by the French in the Roncesvalles Gorge in northern Spain; hence the name Roncesvalles. O’Hara,who was originally from Ireland,named the streets here after family members including: O ’Hara, Geoffrey, Constance, Marion a nd Sorauren. Fermanaugh is the province in Northern Ireland where the O’Hara clan originated.

The development of the present-day neighbourhood was spurred on by the street-car, which came to this area in the early 1900s. Roncesvalles was a family-oriented neighbourhood right from the start. Nearby industries offered employment to the many British immigrants that settled here.The landmark St.Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church on Roncesvalles was the spiritual centre of these first residents.

Following the Second World War an influx of Eastern Europeans,predominantly Poles,settled in Roncesvalles.They built their own church:St.Casimir’s.Sir Casimir Gzowski, a Polish patriot, settled in Toronto in the early 1850s and was instrumental in the building of Toronto’s roads and railways.