A Lakefront Estate Residential
As stated, this brief discussion of the development of the south part of lot 20, concessions B and C is merely an introduction. Doubtless, public records may enlighten us as to why the several early attempts at development failed. But more importantly, a thorough treatment of this particular subject may help us to better understand the general economic conditions in southern Ontario during the period 1890-1940.
Ultimately, however, our purpose in writing history should be solely to provide us with input data for future decision-making projects. Overly-ambitious and premature real estate development schemes may harm the local economy as much as they may harm the economy of the private investors. Communities, are now given the opportunity to measure development schemes against certain standards and planning principals. But how can the community measure potential effects of a scheme's possible failure when so little data -- historical data -- is typically available? Conversely, land developers would be wise to use historical data to show that their own projects will indeed succeed and benefit the local economy.
Consider, for example, "The Bellamy Subdivision" proposals at the turn of the century. Inspired by the prose of the American Edward Bellamy in 1888, "Looking Backward, 2000-1887", the Bellamy subdivision proposal perhaps failed in Scarborough at least partly because the developer failed to prove to the taxpayers that Bellamy's dream of an ideal socialist state by the year 2,000 had any real merit and application at Bellamy Road and Eglinton Avenue in 1900. Dreams, theory and "good" intentions are no substitute for thorough research and analysis of "historical" case studies that were an acknowledged success. The question begs: were William McCowan and Alex Muir also inspired by Bellamy to create a "paradise" by the Scarborough bluffs?
Sadly, however, people are generally loathe to rely on "history", often dismissing the "historical data" as outdated, unreliable and irrelevant. It is the duty of historians to place the historical facts in the correct context, express any constraints and assumptions, draw conclusions and present practical "modern" applications. Only then will history be taken seriously as a tool for planning our social and economic future.
But the question arises: "How can our few professional historians possibly cope with the multitude of data -- collected and uncollected -- that awaits reduction, analysis and application to our many social and economic planning problems?" Quite simply -- "without the assistance of you and I, they can't." It is incumbent upon us to record our personal experiences -- what we saw, what we heard, what we felt, how we worked, how we played, how we learned and how we worshipped. This data, together with public records, diaries, letters, family histories, genealogies and community histories may be analysed, assembled together, rearranged and published to show that the past has indeed a place in social and economic policy planning. A prosperous future depends on how well we have learned from the mistakes of the past.