The A.W. Miles Story

Arthur William (A.W.) Miles (1874 - 1956)

1901: A.W. Miles Establishes Business
Arthur W. Miles opens his first funeral home at 282 College Street (at Spadina), where he also lives; there are 27 undertakers in Toronto at this time. 

1905: A.W. Relocates Business to 396 College Street
 [Pictured at left circa 1910: Brandon Henry, A.W. and Lily Miles, and two unknowns]

1910: A.W. expands business to another branch in the Beaches area at 2193 Queen St. East, which remains open until 1912 or 1913.

1911: The First Motor Ambulance in Toronto
T. Eaton Co. Ltd. builds the first motorized ambulance in Toronto for A.W. Miles.                                                                

1912: A.W. Builds Miles Park in Mimico
A.W. builds lakefront summer estate "Miles Park" in Mimico; the property (spanning two acres) contains a small zoo and amusement area, and is open to the public free of charge. 

The zoo contains: an elephant, two camels, two giraffes, about 40 donkeys, several monkeys, ostriches, and other exotic birds. The amusement area includes: a dancing pavilion, picnic area, snack kiosk and baseball diamond.

[Pictured at left: Number 11 Miles Road, the home of Arthur W. Miles, which remains today in tribute to Mimico's past]

1914: First Motorized Hearse in Toronto
A.W. Miles commissions James Cunningham Builders of Rochester, NY to build him the first exclusive motor hearse used in Canada.

1914: First Motorized Funeral Procession in Canada
 A.W. Miles conducts the first motorized funeral procession in Canada at St. James Cemetery.

1914: Empress of Ireland Mass Funeral

The Empress of Ireland sinks in the St. Lawrence River near Father's Point (Pointe-au-Père), Quebec; A.W. arranges a mass funeral for the 109 Torontonians lost in Canada's worst maritime disaster, including the entire Salvation Army Band.

1927: A.W. Miles Funeral Directors Opens at 30 St. Clair West
A.W. Miles opens at 30 St. Clair West - the first funeral home in Canada with a fully equipped chapel. 
A.W. Miles Jr. (Bill) lives and works at this location with his father, while A.W. Miles Sr. eventually moves from the College St. location to live full time at his Miles Park estate. 

1933: A.W. Miles Visits Cairo, Egypt to Purchase Animals For Miles Park
[At left: A.W. at top, touring the Sphinx of Memphis near the remains of Memphis, Egypt, south of Cairo]   

1936: A.W. Moves Miles Park Zoo to Erindale
As Mimico becomes increasingly residential, A.W. moves his animals to a 200-acre zoo and farm in Erindale; Miles Road in Mimico is named in his honour.

A.W. still encourages public use, charges no admission, and charters buses to transport visitors. A.W. provides free lunches, ice cream, and transportation for Sunday School classes. 

[At right: Gordon Sinclair, journalist and Toronto CFRB radio news commentator, aboard a camel at Miles Park in the 1940s]

1937: J.R. (Rennie) Graham joins A.W. Miles Funeral Directors.

1937: A.W. Miles Imports Tootsie
A.W. Miles imports Tootsie, a Burmese elephant, to join Miles Park Zoo's new Erindale location.

[Pictured at left: Bill Miles receiving Tootsie as she arrives in New York City by ship with her trainer]                                                 

1950: A.W. Miles Arranges Toronto Funeral Procession for The Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King
On July 26, A.W. Miles greets funeral train arriving from Ottawa at Toronto station; organizes and leads funeral procession for The Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, 10th Prime Minister of Canada, to Mt. Pleasant Cemetery for burial. 

June 18, 1956: A.W. Miles Sr. Passes Away
Bill Miles (A.W. Miles Jr.) becomes second generation President of A.W. Miles Funeral Directors.

1956: A. W. Miles Funeral Directors Conducts Funeral for Air Marshal William Avery Bishop

1958: Bill Miles (A.W. Miles Jr.) passes away; R.C.G. Wilson, Q.C. becomes president of A.W. Miles.

1973: A.W. Miles Funeral Directors Conducts Funeral for John David Eaton

1979: R.C.G. Wilson passes away; part-owner J.R. (Rennie) Graham becomes president.

1981: Humphrey Funeral Home Acquires A.W. Miles Funeral Directors
Humphrey Funeral Home and Chapel acquires the business of A.W. Miles Funeral Directors after acceding to developers at their 30 St. Clair West location. 

The business becomes Humphrey Funeral Home - A.W. Miles Chapel, and J. R. (Rennie) Graham, A.W. Miles President, joins the firm's Board of Directors.

[At left: Graham A. Stein, Thomas A. Humphrey, J. Rennie Graham, and Bruce T. Humphrey on steps of 30 St. Clair West]