Morse Street: By The Numbers

18 Morse St 19020702GL Two Coronations

18 Morse Street Globe, July 2, 1907

Morse Street opens and first house built Globe July 24 1883

Morse Street

John Brickenden lived on Morse Street. Toronto Star March 11, 1899 The Brickendens were well known butchers, carriage makers and builders.

Alderman Stewart lived on Morse Street and improved his grounds and painted his house in 1894. Toronto Star July 27, 1899 Before the soap factories, tanneries and other heavy industries moved in on Eastern Avenue, Morse Street was a desirable middle class location.

“There is considerable stir in real estate east of the Don.” George C. Gilmore purchased 102 Morse and a Mr. Tarlton bought 111 Morse for their own residences. Toronto Star Oct. 25, 1900

The population in the area around Morse Avenue boomed in the 1890s as heavy industry moved in and workers came to be near their job sites. Referring to schools, the Toronto Star noted, “The most crowded districts in the city are east of the Don, and in the neighborhood of the Gladstone avenue school.” Toronto Star March 12, 1901

”A progressive euchre party was given by Mr. Wm. Booth, of Morse street, at his home last evening.” Toronto Star March 15, 1901 Local butcher, ice merchant and builder, William Booth, was the source of the street name Booth Avenue.

“Mr. John Beamish, of Morse street, who was injured by falling off a load 18 Morse St 19020702GL Two Coronations2of barrels Thursday evening, is somewhat improved.” Toronto Star April 15, 1901 Many new immigrants, primarily from Britain, moved onto Morse and the nearby streets. However, many old Leslie families like the Beamish also had a continous presence early on. The Beamish had worked in George Leslie’s nurseries in the early days.

”Miss Kingston, of Morse street, and Miss Clifford, of Louis street, are leaving to visit Niagara Falls friends.” Toronto Star April 27, 1901 Newspapers were full of items like this before 1920 as were small town newspaper right up into the 1960s.  Full of what we consider gossip, they are valuable sources of genealogical and local history.

Miss and Master Arthur Ayre, of Morse street, will return from Hawkstone to-morrow.” Toronto Star June 25, 1901 The Ayres owned the hotel at Eastern and Morse for many years.

Toronto Star June 25, 1901“Mr. and Mrs. W. Fitzgerald, of Morse street, will leave this evening on a …” Toronto Star Aug. 9, 1901 It wasn’t always wise to announce when you would be away, considering, that is, if the 18 Morse St 19020702GL Two Coronations3burglars were literate.

”For the convenience of East End residents, a four-foot sidewalk and a railing is being carried out from the end of Morse street, to Ashbridge’s Bay, to reach the Island boat.”Toronto Star Oct. 16, 1901 Lol Solman, operator of the Toronto Island ferries and the baseball stadium on the Toronto Islands, ran a ferry for a short time from the foot of Morse Street. However, Ashbridges Bay was too shallow and it kept grounding on shifting sand bars. The service didn’t last long.


Letta Fox, a 15-year old staying with her family on a summer’s cottage on the sandbar on Ashbridges Bay, saved a man from drowning in the deep water at the foot of Morse Street. She was on Morse Street and ran out to the end of the sewer pipe which extended into the Bay and pulled a drowning man’s head to the surface.

18 Morse St 19020702GL Two Coronations4“The girl had not the strength to draw the victim to the wharf, but pluckily held on and shouted until assistance came.”

She had also saved another man the summer before. Her family, including father Robert Fox, were known for rescues:

“Other members of the Fox family have also rescued persons from drowning and an uncle holds the Royal Humane Society’s medal.” The so-called “water rats” of Leslieville and Fisherman’s Island were skilled boats operators, fisherman and strong swimmers — lucky for those who weren’t.

”The East End merchants are decorating for the Christmas trade.

“Mr. James Frame, of Morse street, is likely to be a candidate for alderman.”


There was a special meeting of the members of the True Blues last night at the residence of the Grand Master, Mr. W. Fitzgerald, Morse street, to discuss important matters to be brought up at the Grand Lodge meeting next week in Barrie.”

It must have come as a deep shock to her employers when Mary O’Connor, a “drummer’ or travelling sales person, was deported back to Canada from the US on very flimsy grounds despite the fact that she had become an American citizen. Clearly misogyny was at work as the US Customs official De Barry had no valid grounds for his decision. Unmarried women were unusual in the sales business back then. Her employers, J. H. Farr and Company, had a large soap manufacturing plant at the foot of Morse Avenue on Ashbridge’s Bay near what is now Lakeshore Blvd. O’Connor had been working as a “drummer” for Farr’s in the States for some time but, as the Toronto Star sarcastically reported, “Inspector De Barry of buffalo fancied that her presence would paralyze the trade and commerce of the whole United States” and come back to Toronto, “And Miss O’Connor had to return to the land of freedom from the land of guff”.

191 Booth Ave, City of Toronto Archives, Billie Hallam, Miss Toronto 1937

191 Booth Ave, City of Toronto Archives, Billie Hallam, Miss Toronto 1937

178 Morse Street Toronto Star July 27, 1899

178 Morse Street Toronto Star July 27, 1899

176 Morse Street Toronto Star, Sept. 21, 1905

176 Morse Street Toronto Star, Sept. 21, 1905

176 Morse St., Toronto Star, Sept. 19, 1905

176 Morse St., Toronto Star, Sept. 19, 1905

174 Morse St. Toronto Star, March 28, 1904

174 Morse St. Toronto Star, March 28, 1904

66 AND 168 Morse St will Toronto Star Aug. 22, 1904

66 AND 168 Morse St will Toronto Star Aug. 22, 1904

152 Morse St. Toronto Star, Dec. 3, 1901

152 Morse St. Toronto Star, Dec. 3, 1901

148 Morse Street Ald Stewart Toronto Star Jan. 8, 1900

148 Morse Street Ald Stewart Toronto Star Jan. 8, 1900

148 Morse St., Toronto Star, Oct. 16, 1901

148 Morse St., Toronto Star, Oct. 16, 1901

148 Morse St., Toronto Star, Dec. 23, 1905

148 Morse St., Toronto Star, Dec. 23, 1905

142 Morse St. Toronto Star, Oct. 19, 1904

142 Morse St. Toronto Star, Oct. 19, 1904

131 Morse St.  Toronto Star, Sept. 11, 1907

131 Morse St. Toronto Star, Sept. 11, 1907

129 Morse St. Toronto Star, Nov. 5, 1914

129 Morse St. Toronto Star, Nov. 5, 1914

128 Morse Street  Toronto Star, Nov. 1904

128 Morse Street Toronto Star, Nov. 1904

125 Morse Street Toronto Star, Dec. 28, 1908

125 Morse Street Toronto Star, Dec. 28, 1908

123 Morse Street  Toronto Star Sept. 12, 1903

123 Morse Street Toronto Star Sept. 12, 1903

123 Morse Toronto Star Oct. 23, 1902

123 Morse Toronto Star Oct. 23, 1902

122 to 132 Morse St Toronto Star June 24, 1902

122 to 132 Morse St Toronto Star June 24, 1902

121 Morse St Toronto Star, Sept. 11, 1907

121 Morse St Toronto Star, Sept. 11, 1907

120 Morse St Toronto Star March 12, 1901

120 Morse St Toronto Star March 12, 1901

112 Morse St. Dec. 16, 1938, City of Toronto Archives

112 Morse St. Dec. 16, 1938, City of Toronto Archives

111 Morse St Toronto Star May 3, 1894

111 Morse St Toronto Star May 3, 1894

103 Morse St, Toronto Star, Oct. 28, 1905

103 Morse St, Toronto Star, Oct. 28, 1905

103 Morse Howard Ayre Toronto Star Oct. 25, 1900

103 Morse Howard Ayre Toronto Star Oct. 25, 1900

102 and 111 Morse St Toronto Star May 3, 1894

102 and 111 Morse St Toronto Star May 3, 1894

100 Morse St Toronto Star Aug. 17, 1909

100 Morse St Toronto Star Aug. 17, 1909

94 Morse Street Toronto Star April 15, 1901

94 Morse Street Toronto Star April 15, 1901

88 Morse St Globe Jan 31, 1914

88 Morse St Globe Jan 31, 1914

81 Morse St Toronto Star June 25, 1901

81 Morse St Toronto Star June 25, 1901

61 Morse St. Globe, Aug. 4, 1930

61 Morse St. Globe, Aug. 4, 1930

49 Morse St,Toronto Star Oct. 28, 1903

49 Morse St,Toronto Star Oct. 28, 1903

49 Morse St Toronto Star Oct. 27, 1903

49 Morse St Toronto Star Oct. 27, 1903

45 Morse St Toronto Star, April 27, 1901

45 Morse St Toronto Star, April 27, 1901

39 Morse Street, Toronto Star, Aug. 12, 1905

39 Morse Street, Toronto Star, Aug. 12, 1905

29 Morse Street, Toornto Star, Oct. 02, 1906

29 Morse Street, Toornto Star, Oct. 02, 1906

22 Morse Street, Toronto Star, Nov. 6, 1911

22 Morse Street, Toronto Star, Nov. 6, 1911

18 Morse St 19020702GL Two Coronations3

18 Morse St 19020702GL Two Coronations4

Craven Road: By The Numbers

19090101 Goad's Atlas 1908

City of Toronto Directory 1908

Erie Terrace was renamed Craven Road officially in 1924. There were houses on the street from the spring of 1906 onwards, but the Directory canvassers did not cover them. They probably thought the shacks not worthy of mention. Each Directory reflects the year before its publication date. So the 1908 Directory reflects the street as it was in 1907.

19100101 Toronto City Directory 1909

1909 City of Toronto Directiory

19130101 Goad's Atlas 1912

1913 City of Toronto Directory

19150101 Goad's Atlas 1914

1915 City of Toronto Directory

19220101 Toronto City Directory 1921

1921 City of Toronto Directory


1 CR 19111023TS Lost Fox Terrier

1 Erie Terrace October 23, 1911 The Toronto Star

Steele Briggs

Steele Briggs catalogue, 1896.

19221028TARCH Queen St E Melba Theatre also known as Roxy photo by Alfred Pearson

Melba Theatre also known as the Roxy Theatre. Photo by Alfred Pearson, City of Toronto Archives.

19250520GL Theatre Queen and Craven

Globe, May 20, 1925

My apologies, dear readers, number 5 is not the Shim-Sutcliffe House, not 1007 Craven Road IS! I really must get to the other side of the tracks more often! For more about the Shim-Sutcliffe house go to:


7 CR 19170308GL Horses for sale

7 Erie Terrace  March 8, 1917, Globe

7 CR 19170331TS Queen and Golden Glow horses 7 Erie terrace

7 Erie Terrace  Globe, March 31, 1917

7 Craven Road

7 CR 19441205GM Coles KIA

7 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Dec. 5, 1944


15 CR 19190630GL Accident blamed on streetcar strike

15 Erie Terrace Globe, June 30, 1919

17 CR 19150517GL Evangelism

17 Erie Terrace  Globe, May 17, 1915

25 CR 19180624TS Tobin wounded

25 Erie Terrace Globe June 24, 1918

27 CR 19281029GL Child injured piggy back

27 Craven Road  Globe, Aug. 29, 1928

33 CR 19140817GL Drowning Small's Pond

33 Erie Terrace – Globe, Aug. 17, 1914

47 Erie Terrace Toronto Star Sept 2 1919

47 Erie Terrace Toronto Star Sept 2 1919

47 CR 19190902TS Middle baby Albert Thompson

47 Erie Terrace The Baby Contest at the Exhibition Globe, Sept. 2, 1919 Baby Albert Thompson in the middle

47 CR 19190902GL Baby Contest

47 Erie Terrace The Baby Contest at the Exhibition

19200115TS Victim of misfortune fire Erie terrace

47 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, Jan 15, 1920

19200115TS Victim of misfortune fire Erie terrace1

47 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, Jan 15, 1920

19200115TS Victim of misfortune fire Erie terrace3

47 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, Jan 15, 1920

19200209TS Subscription for Earl Thompson

47 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, Feb. 9, 1920

19200326TS Blind Man in New Home

47 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, March 26, 1920

51 CR 19190725GL Men off the Regina

51 Erie Terrace Globe, July 25, 1919 Returning soldiers at the end of World War One. These men arrived in Halifax or Quebec by troop ships and then took the train to Toronto. They arrived at the North Toronto Station on Yonge Street, now an LCBO outlet. Here they were met by cheering crowds, including many wives and children.

51 CR 19370507TS Negro Progressive Club

51 Craven Road Toronto Star, May 7, 1937

53 CR 19290911GL Thief Craven Rd

53 Craven Road Globe, Sept. 11, 1929

59 CR 19430717GM Injured playing with bullets

59 Craven Road Globe and Mail, July 17, 1943

69 CR 19260930GL obit

69 Craven Road Globe, Sept. 30, 1926

83 CR 19121116TS One hundred fifty dollars New house

83 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, Nov. 16, 1912

89 CR 19140424GL Football

89 Craven Road Globe, April 24, 1914

91 CR 19140316GL Piano mover injured

91 Erie Terrace Globe, March 16, 1914

109 CR 19130623GL Aiken explosion fog torpedo

109 Erie Terrace Globe, June 23, 1913

111 CR 19341117GL Grieg family 5 generations

111 Craven Road Globe, Nov. 17, 1934

113 CR 19180218TS Returning vet Smith child dead

City of Toronto Directory 1908

119 CR 20091017FM House for sale

119 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Oct. 17, 2009

19390708GL Heat wave death

129 Craven Road Globe and Mail, July 8, 1939


155 CR 19180129GL Streetcars collide

155 Erie Terrace Globe, Jan. 29, 1918

167 CR 19351014GL Out of work tried suicide

167 Craven Road Globe, Oct. 14, 1935

173 19230601GL Wilson obit

173 Erie Terrace Globe, June 1, 1923

181 CR 19441116GM Coltman KIA

151 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Nov. 16, 1944

217 CR 19441128GM Myles KIA 1

217 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Nov. 28, 1944

217 CR 19441128GM Myles KIA 2

217 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Nov. 28, 1944

221 CR 19330628GL Tire thieves

221 Craven Road Globe, June 28, 1933

267 Erie Terrace Hugh Garner221 Erie Terrace. Hugh Garner also lived at 267 Erie Terrace.

225 CR 19260104GL Hold up corrected

225 Craven Road Globe, Jan. 4, 1926

225 CR 19260104GL Hold up2

225 Craven Road Globe, Jan. 4, 1926

233 CR 19151116GL Men on the Metagama wounded

233 Erie Terrace Globe, Nov. 16, 1915 These soldiers are returning because they “caught a Blighty”. In other words they were so seriously wounded that they had to be evacuated to hospitals in Britain (Blighty). These men came on a hospital ship home. One of the myths historians used to promote was that the average man or woman had no real idea of what was going on in the trenches. This reflects a certain contempt for uneducated people. However, letters from overseas snuck by the censors, returning soldiers told stories like these and, above all, the casualty lists spoke for themselves. And still men enlisted.

237 CR 19120326GL Boy loses foot

237 Erie Terrace Globe, March 26, 1912

247 CR 19550425GM Winner Dominion stores contest

247 Craven Road Globe and Mail, April 25, 1955

247 CR 19550425GM Winner Dominion stores contest2

247 Craven Road Globe and Mail, April 25, 1955 The Magic Words: “Dominion Stores, Stokely’s Honeypod Peas”.

249 CR 19320423GL Mortgage sale

249 Craven Road Globe, April 23, 1932


259 CR 19240407GL Dexter dies gas fumes

259 Craven Road, Globe, April 7, 1924

259 CR 19240408GL Obit

259 Craven Road Globe, April 8, 1924

267 Erie Terrace Hugh Garner

267 Erie Terrace. Hugh Garner also lived at 221 Erie Terrace.

281 CR 19180405TS Why Pay Rent

City of Toronto Directory 1908


283 CR 19161201 Threlfall info

283 Erie Terrace George Threlfall died of influenza in a Halifax hospital on Dec. 1, 1916

285 CR 19180405TS Why Pay Rent

281 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, April 5, 1918

307 CR 19280904GL Canadian Babyhoodfinal

307 Craven Road Globe, September 4, 1928

19280903TARCH CNE Baby Show Muriel Evans 807 Craven Rd 2

Toronto Archives, September, 1928 Baby Muriel Evans

19280903TARCH CNE Baby Show Muriel Evans 807 Craven Rd

Toronto Archives, September, 1928 Baby Muriel Evans

315 CR 19770809GM Loses life savings

315 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Aug. 9, 1977 Note that there are three families living here plus a roomer.

325 CR 19181008 J Hansen KIA

325 Erie Terrace J. Hanson killed in Action, Oct. 8, 1918

329 CR 19230618GL Confidence man

329 Erie Terrace Globe, June 18, 1923

333 CR 19190910GL Building Permits

333 and 335 Erie Terrace, Sept. 10, 1919

385 CR 19290821GL Gangs fight girls baseball game1

385 CR 19290821GL Gangs fight girls baseball game2

385 Craven Road Globe, Aug. 21, 1929

403 CR 19281119GL Man injured on bike

403 Craven Road Globe, Nov. 19, 1928

407 CR 19370312GM Veteran obit

407 Craven Road March 12, 1937 Many veterans of World War One died prematurely as a result of their wounds, of being gassed and of the sheer stress and misery of the trenches.

411 CR 19161020TS William Jones wounded

411 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, Oct. 20, 1916 William Jones died from his wounds.

19161024TS William Jones killed

411 CR 19360409GM Welfare cheat

411 Craven Road Globe and Mail, April 9, 1936

417 CR 19180401TS Willie Clare Erie Terrace child injured

417 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, April 1, 1918

417 CR 19220718GL Gladys Durant runaway

417 Erie Terrace, Globe, July 18, 1922


435 CR 19190206 Fitzgerald Vet Home Erie Terrace

435 Erie Terrace, Feb. 2, 1919 Pte. Fitzgerald also suffered badly from “shell shock”.

437 CR 19421216GM Dieppe Casualties

437 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Dec. 16, 1942 William Albert Rutherford Killed in Action

441 CR 19161024GL Casualties2

441 Erie Terrace, Globe, Oct. 24, 1916

447 CR 19160317 William Clare KIA

447 Erie Terrace (The family is also listed at 417 Erie Terrace) William Clare, with his flaming red hair, freckles and blues eyes, was a hard working man much loved in the neighbourhood. The boys were photographed in the Roden School playground.

449 CR 19160616GL Canadian Casualties2

449 Erie Terrace Globe, June 16, 1916

461 CR 19171016TS Pvt Wilks Dead 461 Erie terrace

461 Erie Terrace, Toronto Star, October 16, 1917

465 CR 19241213GL Hockey

465 Craven Road Globe, Dec. 13, 1924 The T.H.L. was the Toronto Hockey League.

465 CR 19430619GM Sold

465 Craven Road, Globe and Mail, June 19, 1934

487 CR 19311001GL Juvenile delinquents

487 Craven Road, Globe, Oct, 1, 1931

19401204GM Women clear snow Gerrard

19230719GL Ice service station

Globe, July 17, 1923 The Udupe Palace occupies the site of this gas and ice service station at the north east corner of Gerrard and Craven Road. Most households did not have electric refrigerators yet — only ice boxes.

19540517GM Garage Gerrard and Craven

Garage Gerrard and Craven Globe and Mail, May 17, 1954

507 CR 19290319GL Child head injuries

507 Craven Road, Globe, March 19, 1929

519 CR 19190617GL Men off the Royal George2

519 Erie Terrace Globe, June 17, 1919 Returning soldiers off the troopship Royal George

523 CR 19210205GL Inquest W W Ward

523 Erie Terrace Globe, Feb. 5, 1921 The veterans looked out for each other and felt that William Walter Ward had not received adequate medical treatment.

532 CR 19210203GL Death Walter Ward

523 Erie Terrace Globe, Oct. 20, 1921 A starving veteran had to walk to the hospital when both the ambulance and the doctor refused to come. This was long before OHIP (introduced 1963).

525 CR 19391219GM Mortgage Sale

525 Craven Road, Globe and Mail, Dec. 19, 1939 The Great Depression did not really end until the Second World War was well underway. Munitions plants and other war time industries created virtually full employment, often with good wages. However, this drew in many from outside of Toronto and created a housing crisis.

529 CR 19181024TS Blind man helps Mrs Hunter W Priestly

539 Erie Terrace Newspaper seller William Priestly had a booth at Greenwood and Gerrard where he sold newspapers and magazines. Blind men often ran newstands and after World War One they banded together to form the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). The CNIB trained veterans to become news agents. Neighbours rallied behind William Priestly and C. Lightfoot to help Phoebe Hunter and her children after the death of Harry Hunter from the Spanish Flu. Toronto Star, Oct. 24, 1918

529 CR 19181127TS Hunter 539 Erie Terrace

539 Erie Terrace Home the Hunter Family. A call for volunteers to help finish the house that “love built” at 617 Erie Terrace. Toronto Star, November 27, 1919

539 CR 19460925GM Wilson birth announcement

539 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Sept. 25, 1946

551 CR 19160706GL Moore casualty

551 Erie Terrace Globe, July 6, 1916

551 CR 19160706TS George Moore dies

551 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, July 6, 1916

551 CR 19170828TS Moore Family

551 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, Aug. 28, 1917

551 CR 19171022TS H W Farrow

551 Erie Terrace, Toronto Star, Oct. 22, 1917

557 CR 19250514GL Concussion ball game

557 Craven Road Globe, May 14, 1925

557 CR 19350506GL Obstructing police

557 Craven Road Globe, May 6, 1935 Neighbours, like the Powells, stood up for each other. The police often laid a heavy hand on the people of Craven Road, often unfairly. Poor people in neighbourhoods with reputations like Craven’s often found themselves on the receiving end of a police night stick.

569 CR 19371216GM For rent 16 a month

569 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Dec. 16, 1937 $16 a month rent.

573 CR 19240814GL Trampled by horse

573 Craven Road Globe, Aug. 14, 1924

593 CR 19430723GM Injured in fall

593 Craven Road Globe and Mail, July 23, 1943

617 CR 19190116TS Mrs Hunter

595 Erie Terrace home of everyday hero W. Priestly  Toronto Star, Jan. 16, 1919

615 CR 19280910GL Obit

615 Craven Road, Sept. 10, 1928

617 CR 19181216TS Mrs Hunter Building Permit

617 Craven Road Toronto Star, Dec. 16, 1918 Building permit for a new home to cost $1,500.

617 CR 19190116TS Mrs Hunter

617 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, Jan. 16, 1919

617 CR 19190117TS Hunter House

Toronto Star, Jan. 17, 1919

617 CR 19231015GL Theft Auto Tires

617 Erie Terrace Globe, Oct. 15, 1923

619 CR 19181108TS Sgt Blenkhorn ill

619 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, Nov. 8, 1918

681 CR 19450405GM Died of injuries Pte Lucas

681 Craven Road Globe and Mail, April 5, 1945

703 CR 19500712GM Landlord charged excessive rents

703 Craven Road, Globe and Mail, July 12, 1950

739 CR 19300811GL Woman run down

739 Craven Road Globe, Aug. 11, 1930

739 CR 19430828GM 739 Craven sold

739 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Aug. 28, 1943

743 CR 19330518TS Bailiffs repulsed by 50 veterans

743 Craven Road, Toronto Star, May 18, 1933

759 CR 19190113TS Returning soldiers woundedB

759 Erie Terrace Last paragraph – Little Erin Boyd has never seen his dad. Toronto Star, Jan. 13, 1919

763 CR 19170427GL Child hurt on tracks

763 Erie Terrace Globe, April 27, 1917


763 CR 19340302GL Wife beating

763 Craven Road Globe and Mail, March 2, 1934

775 CR 19170504TS James Dell

775 Erie Terrace Toronto Star, May 4, 1917


775 CR 19221223GL Judicial sale

775 Erie Terrace Globe, Dec. 23, 1922 The house is “a detached frame, tar-paper-coverd dwelling house”. Note: “The chicken house at the rear of the lot does not form part of the subject matter of the sale.”

777 CR 19820608GM Sale by Tender City of Toronto

777 Craven Road Globe and Mail, June 8, 1982


785 CR 19180831GL Casualties5

785 Erie Terrace Globe, Aug. 31, 1918 The use of chlorine gas and mustard gas so damaged the soldiers’ lungs and hearts that many died “before their time” or were disabled for the rest of their lives. Many died of lung cancer.

785 CR 19221208GL Real estate sales

785 Erie Terrace Globe, Dec. 8, 1922

799 CR 19240828GL Man hit by train

799 Craven Road Globe, Aug. 28, 1924

821 CR 19171102GL Casualties

821 Erie Terrace Globe, Nov. 2, 1917

825 CR 19160930GL Courcelette casualties1

825 Erie Terrace Globe, September 30, 1916 After the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the casualties covered pages of newspapers. For more info go to:

827 CR 19560104GM Quieting Titles Act

827 Craven Road Globe and Mail, Jan 4, 1956

829 CR 19220707GL Jenny Smith missing

829 Erie Terrace Globe, July 7, 1922

1031 CR 19261022GL Bookie arrested

1031 Craven Road Globe, Oct. 22, 1926 Craven Road seems to have had an unusually large number of bookies and bootleggers. I have only included a few examples of the criminal activity reported but it would be fair to say that Craven Road’s reputation wasn’t entirely unearned.

1049 CR 19250915GL Chloroformed and beat mother in law

1049 Craven Road Globe, Sept. 15, 1925

1069 CR 19181221GL Police help Erie Terrace boy hit by streetcar

1069 Erie Terrace Globe, Dec. 21, 1918


The Fence



Craven Road today

How did the Craven Road fence come to be? Why is it there? What is the big deal anyway?

Fences go back to the first settlers. They brought the idea of the fence with them, splitting cedar stumps to make rail fences that snaked over the landscape, cutting the earth into neat rectangles and walling out the forest with stout barriers made of the giant stumps of the White pines they destroyed for their fields and for the masts of the British navy. The Ashbridge Estate stretched from Queen Street to Danforth Avenue and Ashbridges Creek flowed through it down to Ashbridge’s Bay. The Ashbridges lined the creek with fences to keep the cattle from polluting the water. What is now Craven Road was part of Lot 8, a long north south field running from Kingston Rd to Danforth (1st Concession), part of the original grant to the Ashbridges Family and their kin.

Ashbridges Cabin

The cabins of John and Jonathan Ashbridge, brothers who settled here in 1794 and never built a fence between them. Digital art, 2016, Joanne Doucette


An old snake fence, probably the original fence from the 1790s, on the Asbridge farm. Photo taken in 1906 by Wellington Ashbridge, looking south from about Fairford towards Queen Street in the distance across the farm fields. His border collie, Jack, is running in the “Old Stump Field”. Ashdale Ravine is at the left of the picture. Craven Road would be built just to the east of the Ashdale Ravine. Toronto Public Libary.


1906 Woodfield Rd USED

The fences along the farm lane through the Ashbridge’s apple orchard. The farm lane was probably 18 feet wide, like the other farm lanes nearby. This one became Morley Avenue, later known as Woodfield Road.  Toronto Public Library.


The picket fence in front of the “double house” that John and Jonathan Ashbridge built around 1811. Photo taken by Wellington Ashbridge in 1906. The house was torn down around 1911.  From The Ashbridge Book.

Ashbridge House

Fence between the 1854 Ashbridge House and the ravine of Ashbridge’s Creek. The creek is now buried underground as part of Toronto’s sewer system. However, water still ponds their in the spring and after heavy rain and ducks still frequent these ponds. Photo taken by Wellington Ashbridge in 1906. From The Ashbridge Book



Ashbridges House

Picet fence in front of the 1854 Ashbridge House. The fence was recently torn down. Photo by Joanne Doucette.

19540609GM Pluck and Piety first

The 100th Anniversary of the Ashbridge House. The Ashbridges gained a reputation as United Empire Loyalists. However,  Jonathan Ashbridge Sr. fought for the Americans against the British in the War of Independence. They were not United Empire Loyalists unlike some of the other early families such as the Robinsons and Mosleys. Globe and Mail, June 9, 1954

The first 200 feet east of Greenwood Avenue and the land west of it to Danforth Avenue were incorporated into the City of Toronto in 1884 along with a narrow strip 200 feet north of Queen to the Beach. The Ashbridges family passed down portions of the original estate to various descendents resulting in narrow strips of farm fields running north south from Queen Street, bounded by more fences. By 1861 Lot 8 was divided into five smaller farms as each heir got a piece. From east to west the lots belonged to:

  1. Samuel Hill,
  2. Levis Ashbridge,
  3. Samuel Ashbridge,
  4. John Ashbridge,
  5. and George Ashbridge.

West of that, Jesse Ashbridge and west of Vancouver Avenue, Captain Neville (part of this was later purchased by Jesse Ashbridge).

18510000 Leslieville Map

1851 Map. The lots east of the Don were long and linear, stretching from the lake to Danforth Avenue. Queen Street is at the bottom of the map and Danforth Avenue is at the top. The lots were numbered from east to west, starting at Victoria Park, the boundary with Scarborough Township. The Government granted lots 8 and 9 to members of the Ashbridge family, including Sarah Ashbridge’s son-in-laws. Leslieville is the subdivided area on Lot 11 and at this time was only that one subdivision and the farms strung out like beads along Kingston Road (now Queen Street).

18610000 Map2

1868 Tremaine’s Map. Lot 9 was divided into two half lots: one given to Parker Mills, the son-in-law of Sarah Ashbridges. That land was sold to a British officer, Captain Neville (Neville Park is named for him). Later Jesse Ashbridge bought back most of that lot, returning it to the Ashbridge Estate. Lot 8 has been cut up into even smaller farms, each with frontage on Ashbridge’s Bay and Kingston Road (Queen Street).

Leslieville 1868

1868 map showing the brickyards of Leslieville and the Toronto Nurseries of George Leslie. Greenwood Avenue is the first street on the right with The Puritan Tavern showing. It was at the north west corner of Queen and Greenwood. The fields on the right, east of Greenwood Avenue, are Lots 8 and 9. The Wesley Chapel was the Leslieville Methodist Church at Queen St E and Vancouver Ave. Ashbridge’s Creek is shown as well as the farm buildings.

Map for overlays

1878 County Atlas Map

The farmers used deeply rutted, narrow farm lanes to drive their farm equipment onto these fields. The average cart road was 18 feet wide, but the average country road was 33 feet wide. The farm lanes ran beside the fences at the boundaries of the properties. When the properties were developed, a road network followed the pattern of the farm lanes and fences along the edges of these strips of farm field. These farm lanes became Coxwell Avenue, Rhodes Avenue, Craven Road, Ashdale Avenue, Hiawatha and Woodfield Road. An 1868 map shows Lot 8 as farm fields with sand and clay and as thickly wooded north of the railway line. The 1878 County Atlas map shows from east to west first lot Sam Hill, next two lots, no name, then J. Platt, George Ashbridge and west of that Heirs of Jesse Ashbridge.

Speculators were counting on the expansion of Toronto to make their fortunes. One was Edward Henry Duggan, Vice President of The Ontario Industrial Loan and Investment Co.

18840000 Arcade Guide and Record E H Duggan Ontario Industrial Loan and InvestmentArcade Guide and Record, 1884

Redwood Avenue marked the eastern boundary of the 1884 extension of the City of Toronto. Glencoe Avenue (now Glenside) ran through a brickyard, later used as a garbage dump. It was not filled in and used for housing until after World War II. In 1884 Goad’s Map shows everything east of the Ashbridge Estate to Coxwell as belonging to S. Hill (5 narrow farm fields formerly from east to west: Samuel Hill, Levi Ashbridge, Samuel Ashbridge, John Ashbridge, George Ashbridge.).

18840000 Goad's Map

1884 Goad’s Atlas

Goad’s Atlas, 1890 shows E H Duggan as the owner of the 5 narrow fields between Woodfield Road and Coxwell Avenue. The field immediately to the west of Coxwell Avenue had already been subdivided by E H Duggan into small lots and registered as Subdivision Plan 655 but not built upon. The lane on the west side will become Rhodes Avenue. The lane on west side of the lot adjacent will become Craven Road.

18900000 Goad's Map

1890 Goad’s Atlas

18930000 Goad's Map

1893 Goad’s Atlas The pink line is the boundary with the City of Toronto. Everything east and north of that boundary is in the Township of York.

E. H. Duggan, real estate speculator and promoter, could be called the founding father of Erie Terrace. As a case before the Supreme Court of Canada in 1891 (Duggan v. London & Canadian Loan Co.) indicates, he was a bit of a “wheeler-dealer”. He was sued in 1891 for using trust funds to back real estate deals. Duggan was involved with the Toronto House Building Association which had developed Parkdale in 1875. One of the goals of the Association (later called the “Land Security Company”) was to allow low income families to own their own homes or perhaps more accurately to sell as many lots as quickly as possible to poor immigrants and make a lot of quick money. It made money by selling the lots but also because it held the mortgages on the lots.The Goad’s Atlas, of 1893 still shows that E H. Duggan had laid out Coxwell Avenue and Rhodes Avenue (Reid Avenue), but the lots had not been put on the market yet. The 1890s was a time of economic depression and he waited for better days and higher real estate prices even for this land outside of the City of Toronto. The City of Toronto’s boundary was east-west 200 feet north of Queen and 200 feet north-south east of Greenwood Avenue. He owned the land from the Ashbridge Estate over to Coxwell Avenue all the way to Danforth Avenue. But he had more freedom to develop them as he wished without the constraints of City Bylaws since Duggan’s holdings were in the Township of York (East).

In 1896 May 7 Cranford Craven died. He was very probably the source of the name “Craven Road”, although it could also have been named for a “Craven Road” in London, England.

Cranswick Craven photo

Cranswick Craven, Principal of the public School at Norway, Kingston Road and Woodbine. Craven Road was probably named after this much loved local man and his large family or possibly after Craven Road, a fashionable terrace in London.

Craven Road London England1

The 1903 Goad’s Atlas shows a right of way across the Ashbridges Estate and E. H. Duggan’s five lots. Gerrard Street has been opened a short distance east of Greenwood (200 feet to the City limit) and a short distance west of a new lane running north south off of Queen. This new lane or road opened along the edge of the old farm fields to Gerrard. This would become Reid and then renamed as Rhodes Avenue.

They Were All As Happy As Clams

19040924GL Erie Realty new company

Globe, Sept. 24, 1904

In 1904 the Erie Realty Company, Limited, was incorporated with capital of $40,000; Head office, Toronto and Directors, F. McMahon, C. W. Winyard, G. H. Sedgwick, Alex. Fasken and Wm. Henry Syms of  Toronto. Around this time E. H. Duggan sold his holdings for $75,000 to the new Erie Realty Company.


19051108TS Erie Realty Co Sunlight Park

Globe, April 19, 1906

In 1905 the Erie Realty Company launched what was their first big project, the Sunlight Park industrial subdivision between Eastern Avenue and Queen Street. They wanted a rail siding and fought for it against the objections of the Sunlight Soap Company. They won the siding into their property in 1906. Their next big project was the Reid Avenue and Erie Terrace subdivision which went on the market in 1906.

19060529TS New street Erie terrace

Toronto Star, May 29, 1906

Frederick B. Robins and his real estate company acted as agent in the sales. Their target market in 1906 was not potential home owners but smaller investors. His advertisement of May 5, 1906 states “Where Investment is Best”

19060505TS Where Investment is Best.jpg


In the past few years the value of Toronto Real Estate has increased from 50 to 100 per cent. THE OUTLOOK in the Real Estate Market was never better than now. Houses are scarce – how many families are now boarding and paying storage for their furniture because they cannot get suitable houses? What does it mean? It means that there is going to be expansion; vacant land is going to be bought and houses are going to be built by people who are sick of having their rent raised or of having houses sold over their heads. (Toronto Star, May 5, 1906)

Land on Reid Avenue was sold for $3.00 to $10.00 per foot of frontage with $5.00 cash down and a mortgage offered at $5.00 per month. The interest rate is not mentioned, but was probably around six per cent. Most mortgages at the time had a term of only three to five years.

Erie Terrace was only 18 feet wide, the width of the original cart way, not the full 33-feet of a country road. At about the same time or a little later, Jesse Ashbridge and his brother Wellington Ashbridge decided to sell most of the estate that been in their family since the 1790s. While real estate agents handled much of the business, the Ashbridges brothers kept a close watch on developments. Jesse Ashbridge opened up Ashdale Avenue in April 1906 and named it after the valley or “dale” and his own last name.

In August, 1910, the Standard Loan Company (later becoming the Standard Loan and Mortgage Corporation) purchased Erie Realty Company. W. S. Dinnick was Vice President and General Manager of the new bigger development company.

19060810GL Erie Realty

Globe, Aug. 10, 1906

19060810GL Erie Realty2

Globe, Aug. 10, 1906

The Erie Realty Company has been in the habit of purchasing large blocks of land, and reselling in lots. In this way the old baseball grounds, the extensive property on Queen street east, Reid avenue, Gerrard street, Danforth avenue and on other streets in that vicinity have been dealt with. The frontage on the various streets runs from 18,000 to 20,000 feet. All the property is sold, and the Standard Loan Co. has taken over every one of the mortgages… (Globe, Aug. 10, 1906)

The developers felt that they were meeting a real social need at a time of an acute housing crisis:

 “We have 500 people coming in here and paying their $5 each every month now,” said Mr. W. S. Dinnick, the manager of the Standard Loan Co., as he explained the deal to The Star. “This plan has solved the problem of the workingmen’s houses. I drove through this section, and found that most of the people were Old Country immigrants, and the heads of the families all had permanent positions. They were all as happy as clams in their little homes.”

Four hundred of the lots have been built on, and the other hundred owners are intending to erect their houses immediately.

The deal was negotiated by Mr. F. B. Robins. The property was originally purchased by the Erie Realty Co. for about $75,000. (Toronto Star, Aug. 10, 1906)

19060810TS Erie Realty Happy as Clams

Toronto Star, Aug. 10, 1906

Robins was also involved in The Dovercourt Land Company, in which E. H. Duggan had interests. Eventually both The Dovercourt Land Company and Erie Realty Company would be subsidiaries of the Standard Reliance Mortgage Corporation. Frederick. B. Robins acted as the real estate agent for both the Ashbridges and the Erie Land Company. Robins was instrumental in selling lots and houses from Greenwood to Coxwell and from Queen Street to Danforth Avenue.




John Wilson Bengough, cartoon, Globe, March 9, 1908

In this way Erie Terrace and Rhodes Avenue was intentionally developed as a “Shacktown”, outside of Toronto, in 1906, at virtually the same time as the Ashbridge’s Estate further west was subdivided for housing.  Shacktown also developed on the newly-opened Ashbridge’s Estate subdivision to the west, but not to the density of Erie Terrace. Now Craven Road, it has many tiny owner-built houses, most of them the original shacks put up by the “Shackers”. The developers maximized their profits by subdividing Erie Terrace into as many small lots (some only 10 feet wide) as possible and selling them quickly to poor people desperate for housing even though that housing came with none of the amenities necessary to support a densely populated subdivision. The development offered no water mains, no sewers or drains, no paved roads or sidewalks and almost non-existent police or fire services. It appeared as if the Township was happy to collect the taxes but reluctant to provide any services beyond a four-roomed school.

However, in York Township taxes were low and the Township Bylaws seemed non-existent. Even the very poor could afford to buy lots at mortgages that cost less than monthly rent.

Ashdale Avenue was subdivided into larger lots and the Ashbridge brothers had a different strategy. They sold larger lots at a higher price to slightly more affluent buyers. Those larger lots backed onto the west side of Erie Terrace. How the Jesse and Wellington Ashbridge, brothers,  controlled the Sam Hill Estate and how they were involved with the Erie Realty Company requires further investigation, but it is clear that the brothers acted as trustees of the Samuel Hill Estate, on behalf of their close relative, Sam Hill’s heir, William Hill.

19121014 Poster lecture on Canada


Eight Shacktowns, like that on Erie Terrace, developed just outside the Toronto’s limits where City of Toronto, regulations did not reach. They formed a horseshoe of poverty just outside the City limits. Erie Terrace became a linear slum perched in sand on the edge of a deep a ravine called the Ashdale Ravine. Shacktowns were full of young couples, new immigrants from Britain. In many cases they were very poor. Their ship passage to Canada was subsidized by “the British Bonus”. York Township, just outside Toronto provided cheap building lots where they could build their own homes from whatever they could scavenge or scourge:

This shacktown is that part of the town where the building of shacks and shanty residences goes on in a mushroom-like style, and is where the latest arrivals of the English immigrants are striving to get a habitation for the winter. (Toronto Star, Nov. 1, 1907)

For many on Erie Terrace their first Canadian summers, those of 1906 and 1907, were the best of their lives, and the first winter was mild. Mostly young couples with children, they quickly got to know their neighbours. They had picnics; formed churches; enjoyed playing sports (especially soccer); and revelled in the woods and fresh air here. They co-operated to build each other’s houses in house-building bees. Many were tradesmen such as carpenters, plumbers and electricians, with the skills to do the work.

Thanksgiving Day was the busiest of the year in Shacktown…the outer fringe of the east and the northwest district. (Globe, Nov. 1, 1907)

There was one last holiday before winter to get work together to put up each other’s homes.

Brick, roughcast, clapboard, plain board, cement blocks, shingles, tar-paper fronts and roofs, glorified packing cases, are all to be seen in the streets of Shacktown. The work seems to be done largely on holidays, on the “bee” principle. A group of bricklayers can be seen here and there rushing up a brick front, while around frame structures that rise while you wait carpenters are swarming—quite properly, if it is a bee.

…The settlement is the newly-arrived Britishers’ answer to the demand for $18 and $10 a month for working-class houses. With a couple of thousand feet of lumber, two or three lengths of stove-pipe and the help of his chums on such a holiday as yesterday the shacker becomes his own landlord. (Globe, Nov. 1, 1907)

But storms lay ahead, both literally and figuratively. In October 1907, a financial crisis struck as stock market players tried to corner the market on a copper company’s stock. When nervous people drew out all their savings, banks began to collapse. The economy nose dived and soon the Shackers would find themselves “last hired, first fired”. Whiles the Shackers had high hopes for themselves, their children, their neighbours and their tarpaper houses, most would soon become unemployed, without food, fuel and proper clothes for the first hard Canadian winter. The British immigrants began to suffer intensely.Through no fault of their own the Shackers were unemployed and broke. Unfamiliar with our weather, they began to freeze in unheated shacks as a fierce Canadian winter began.

Some clearly saw the suffering that lay ahead and wanted out. A Toronto Star classified ad of Nov. 2, 1907, indicates this:


19071102TS FOR exchange

Toronto Star, Nov. 2, 1907


FOR exchange, 100 feet, on Armadale avenue, 50 feet on Erie terrace , for house not over $2,000, balance cash, 42 Blake street.

Small contractors and builders were in trouble as well. Most houses were either built by the Shackers themselves or by builders who put up houses cheaply using kits or plans. They usually only bought five to six lots and put up a hand full of houses at a time. Prices fell lower as builders tried to sell in December.

19071210TS Seven dollars Three new detached

Some of the smaller investors who had hoped to make a quick buck on their half dozen lots, even offered free lumber:


19071221TS Ten a foot

Toronto Star, Dec. 21, 1907

$10 A FOOT – Erie Terrace, 100 feet north of Gerrard street cars, no money down, lumber supplied to build. Davis, 75 Adelaide east. (Toronto Star, Dec. 21, 1907)


But by that time, the worst winter in living memory swallowed up the wonderful summers of 1907. In late January, 1908, the Globe received a tip that people were starving. The Globe described Shacktown as having no government, no charities, men out of work, women worn out. Reporters found families without fuel or food, children with frost bite, and people critically ill without a doctor, medicine or even blankets. They launched the Shacktown Relief Fund on January 27, 1908. In the first day of the Globe’s appeal over $1,100 was sent. (Most factory male workers bought home about $7 a week.)

One reporter describes the desolation:

The sound of little children crying was yet in the wind that whimpers and blow over the land of tar-paper homes when The Globe reporter visited it last night. (Globe, Feb. 1, 1908)

The Globe’s campaign was successful from its inception. Donations began pouring in from across the Province within a week of the Fund’s birth. The Globe promised that, “None will go without food in Shacktown District”. On its first day the fund received $1,138.

St. George’s Hall was the headquarters for the Shacktown Relief Fund where donations were received, sorted and distributed. The depot acted like “a wholesale dry goods establishment” with clothing pouring in and volunteers sorting the food and clothing. Warm winter clothes were as welcome as cash. The early courier companies (called “Express Companies”) offered to pick up and deliver donations from across Canada “for the purpose of affording relief to the immigrants.” All someone had to do was mark on the parcel “Shacktown Relief Fund” and call either Canadian or Dominion Express Companies and it would be delivered to Toronto and quickly distributed to where, “The cry is for more”. (Globe, Feb. 6, 1908)

Shacktown that winter shocked even experienced social workers (known as “relief workers” then). It changed how they thought about people in need. People were quietly keeping “the stiff upper lip” the British were known for and suffering intensely behind their tarpaper walls.

A clergyman [Rev. Robert Gay, St. Monica’s Anglican Church] in an east end division, who is an untiring worker in the campaign of relief, told The Globe yesterday that he once thought he had had all the experiences that could come to anyone engaged in that kind of work. His conclusion had, he said, been rudely shattered when on the previous evening he found five families of his own parish who he believed to be independent of any charity in dire distress. The thought of taking relief to them was almost embarrassing to him, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that he could induce them to tell their circumstances. In two cases his offer of orders on the grocer was refused. “What,” exclaimed one woman in sobs, “What would ma people in Scotlan’ think if they heard o’ this?”

The Poor Divide Up With the Poor.

Rev. Robert Gay, who is in charge of district 7, in the eastern territory, writes: — “I came across a case recently of a man and his wife who had scarcely any food and no money. The man was out of work, and the wife’s efforts to get work were of no avail. They were hard pressed, but were not so poor that they could not help those worse off than themselves. They took in two friends, a married couple from the city, who had been turned out by their landlord for failure to pay the rent, and together the household had been putting up a brave fight. It was a case of the poor helping the poor. (Globe, Feb. 7, 1908)

The children of Shacktown risked life and limb to obtain fuel for their stoves. The kitchen stove was usually the only source of heat in the tarpaper shacks. They scavenged along the railway tracks where bits of coal fell off the trains. The fireman shovelled coal into the furnace on the locomotive, creating the stem that powered the engine. Sometimes unburned chunks flew off, but half-burned pieces called “clinkers” also flew through the air. The first children on the scene when a train passed were the most likely to get some free fuel. This created a rush of boys and girls along the tracks north of Erie Terrace and Rhodes Avenue, a dangerous situation. A number of children met gruesome deaths, mangled by trains.

St Monicas

St. Monica’s Anglican Church

Robert Gay, the minister of St. Monica’s Church on Gerrard at Ashdale, was deeply distressed by the condition of his parishioners. This Anglican mission church sat where the Toronto Public Library’s Gerrard-Ashdale Branch is today and most of the people in that Shacktown were Anglican though there were a number of Presbyterian Scots and Irish who attended Rhodes Avenue Presbyterian Church. As well there were a few Methodists who went down Morley Avenue (Woodfield Road) to the old Leslieville Methodist Church at Vancouver and Queen. Robert Gay described his experience:

“I visited a home yesterday and found a man with his wife and eight children, living on what the oldest girl, aged eighteen years, could earn. The husband was out of work, as was also the oldest boy, a lad of sixteen years. I had great difficulty in eliciting any information from the family. I found them lacking bed clothing, food and fuel. So cold had the house been that there had been ice on the walls of the bedrooms. With the assistance of a neighbor we moved the solitary stove, so that its heat would be evenly distributed. Stovepipes were bought and blankets and food supplied. The coal was delivered later.” (Globe, Feb. 7, 1908)

The Globe visited another Coxwell-Gerrard area house where the father of the family had been out of work for 11 weeks. There four little kids in that family. The mother was pregnant with one more and there was no food or fuel in the house. The Relief Fund supplied food and coal, as well as calling in a doctor and nurse for the expectant mother.

By mid February, 1908, Shacktown or “the Tar Paper Region” was beginning to feel the impact of the Shacktown Relief Fund. Contributions of both goods and cash were flowing in. With just under a thousand dollars a day coming in, the cash fund was at over $13,000.00. The welfare state as we know it today simply did not exist. Thousands of families were dependent entirely on the Shacktown Relief Fund for food, clothing and fuel.

Shackers like those on Erie Terrace were vulnerable not only to the cold, but to fire. This house on Reid Avenue (now Rhodes Avenue) illustrates the danger of living in Shacktown where there was no fire department to put fires out. Fire fighters from the City of Toronto would, if they were available, come out to fight Shacktown fires, but they were not always free to do so. The Shacktown streets had no water mains and no water hydrants. Water to fight the fire had to come from the small creeks such as Ashbridge’s Creek and ponds in brickyards.

Most houses were not as well constructed and most Shackers had no fire insurance.


Fierce Fire in Reid Avenue – Woman Outside When Fire Started, Couldn’t Get In.

A fierce blaze, which wiped out the contents and badly damaged the home of Robert Kenmare, 2 Reid avenue, broke out at 10.20 this morning. It burned for less than an hour, and when the flames were extinguished the walls, floors, ceilings, and furnishings were about burned away.

The house is a four-roomed, two-storey one, of frame, built by Mr. Kenmare during the year. When the fire broke out, Mrs. Kenmare was hanging clothes in the yard, and although the smoke attracter her attention at once, she found that the fire was too hot to allow her to enter her home. 

A coal stove, placed temporarily beneath a staircase in the hall, on the first floor, is believed to have overheated.

Mr. Kenmare, who is employed as an engineer by the Quaker Candy company, Jarvis street, was notified by telephone.

“Fortunately, both children were at school,” he said, in discussing the occurrence, with The Star. “I intended to build an addition in the spring, but I don’t know how badly the joists are burned.” (Toronto Star, Feb. 26, 1908)

By mid-February 1908, the Relief Fund was meeting Shacktown’s basic needs. Spring would, bring not only flowers but work. The economy recovered as investors intervened to stabilize the stock market and banks. While jobs were one solution to the Shackers’ problems; annexation was another.

The people of Erie Terrace and the neighbouring Shacktown began to ask to be annexed to the City of Toronto. They stood to gain social welfare benefits, meagre as they were. In the Township of York, they were without water mains, sanitary sewers, decent fire and police services and good roads. While technically they were not in Toronto, culturally they were city folk, far more “of Toronto” than rural-dominated York Township. They overwhelming supported amalgamation with the City of Toronto despite the higher taxes entailed. Shacktown would get water, sewers, fire, police and paved streets if they joined Toronto. They voted to join the City.


19100101 Toronto City Directory 1909.jpg

Might’s Directory, 1909

In the spring of 1908 the economy bounced back quickly and with it came jobs. The Shackers stayed and many more joined them, enticed by Robins ads like the one below. Robins was acting on the Ashbridge brothers’ behalf, selling lots, but also giving the credit to buy those lots, with mortgages held by the Ashbridges, at least initially.



19080402TS Home Sites Robins


Toronto Star, April 2, 1908




Our Sub-Divisions For Home Sites.

Our east end sub-division, including lots in Gerrard Street, Morley Avenue, Hiawatha Road, and Ashdale Ave., and several other streets in this location, at from $3 to $15 a foot, present exceptional bargains. We will sell the lots on easy terms, or for $15 down we’ll give a deed to a lot.  You will find salesman at our sub-division office, corner of Woodward Avenue and Queen Street, daily from 1 p.m. to 5p.m.

Credit was cheap and the immigrants had little choice. There simply wasn’t enough housing available. Their solution to the housing shortage was to buy cheap in Shacktown, on streets like Ashdale, and build their own.


When national credit blew its blast on the “hard times” trumpet last October and contraction began her devastating work, our lot and home buyers found themselves in an extremely fortunate position. They HAD their LOT TO LIVE ON, While tenants and rent-payers were being ousted, while unemployed workmen were being dispossessed, our clients, home and lot-buyers, received liberal extensions when required, and were pleasantly tided over the period of depression with their holdings intact, without loss of value and without depreciation. The man who had been paying $16 a month rent was kicked out with his bundle of worthless rent receipts, while our clients, paying $6 a month on a lot, held it at a well-sustained value without loss, inconvenience or humiliation.

During the hard winter of 1907-08, the Ashbridges did not foreclose on people who could pay, hoping that when the economy picked up they would get their money. So while others were being evicted from their rented houses and apartments downtown, the Shackers were still housed, however inadequately.


When you buy a lot from us on our instalment plan it’s YOURS. You may put a shack on it; you may pitch a tent on it; you may live on it. You are assured of the most liberal treatment, and you’ll live to bless the day that you determined to cease paying profits and tributes to landlords. We are offering you delightful home sites in all parts of Toronto, so you had better come and get acquainted with our plan of providing you a home by the simplest, easiest means.

Robins, Ltd. 22 Adelaide Street East North-easterly corner of Victoria Street. Office Open Every Evening This Week.

Shackers found jobs picking fruit or berries. Many men travelled to Western Canada to work in the harvest. With the winter of 1908 inevitably drawing nearer, there was concern about another crisis in Shacktown. Officials from the major charities and City of Toronto Controllers and Aldermen made up the Special Civic Committee for the Relief of the Unemployed. In the summer of 1908, “the worst was feared” by some. However others were less concerned because the summer of 1908 had produced a bountiful harvest and factory work had picked up.

On February 27, 1909, the Globe reported on the final audit of the account of the Relief Fund. Almost $19,000 had been donated, not including donations in kind. The Globe congratulated the Fund’s workers for creating an effective relief system that avoided welfare fraud while delivering relief quietly and quickly at minimal cost. The Committee which had come together “on a few days’ notice” could now wind down. After the Shacktown fund was closed, money raised in fundraisers for Shacktown was donated to other charities such as the Children’s Aid Society. (Globe, Feb. 27, 1909)

The Shackers Stand Together and Demand Better Service From the City

In 1909 Erie Terrace and the Shacktown around it became part of Toronto. Might’s Directory of 1909 reflects the growth in 1908. Houses began to go up again as sales picked up.

 $7-THREE new; detached three-roomed houses, with hall, water, gas, Erie Terrace. Apply 664 Gerrard. (Toronto Star, Dec. 17, 1910)

$800 – COSY three-roomed cottage in Erie terrace, just north of Gerrard street, $50 down, balance like rent. Interest only 6 per cent, North 71 Adelaide. (Toronto Star, June 8, 1911)

Life went on. The circus came to town and little Tommy Beeton, of 119 Erie Terrace, fell out of a tree where he could see the goings-on behind the canvas circus fence. He landed on his head but, after a night in the hospital, seemed just fine. Spot, the fox terrier, of 1 Erie Terrace was lost somewhere near the Steele Briggs greenhouses and gardens at Kent and Queen.

LOST – Fox terrier, on Sunday morning, white with small black spots, dark ears, answers to name of Spot; tag number 1908, is a pet. Liberal reward No. 1 Erie Terrace, near Steele Briggs flower gardens, Queen east, phone Beach 596. (Toronto Star, Oct. 23, 1911)

The Erie Land Company and made fortunes selling lots while the Standard Loan Company collected the mortgage money. This company, like some others, did not generally foreclose on mortgages during the crisis of 1907-08, hoping to get it’s money when the economy recovered. It did. All seemed well in Shacktown, but when the City of Toronto, pushed by Chief Officer Dr. Charles Hastings, raised its standards for housing, many were evicted. Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Hastings hated typhoid fever (a waterborne bacterial disease): it killed his little daughter. Pushed by Hastings, the City of Toronto passed a By-law requiring all houses in the newly annexed areas to have a flush toilet, a wash basin, a connection to City sewers and piped-in City water. Erie Terrace residents protested against being charged for sewage connections. They had no choice but to comply or leave. The Public Health Department closed their homes as unfit for human habitation if they failed to puts in “the modern conveniences”.

Some fought back. Frank Magauran appeared before the City Committee to protest against being charged $20.92 for sewage connection for his house on Erie Terrace. The work cost $11.89, but the City of Toronto charged everyone a flat fee of $18, plus a $2 connection charge, and 92 cents for overhead charges. Magauran claimed he should only pay $11.89, the actual cost. He lost. (Globe, Oct. 23, 1911)

The immigrants brought with them great dreams and great expectations, but, initially at least, their hopes were thwarted by the lack of amenities and services. These were services that these British urbanites took for granted and hoped to get quickly now that Erie Terrace and other streets were officially part of Toronto. The prolonged delay in getting basic services came as quite a shock. They demanded change as they met with their elected representatives in meeting after meeting. The records of one meeting in particular make clear their frustration. On December 2, 1911, the members of the Midway Ratepayers’ Association met with their aldermen in the Orange Hall on Rhodes Avenue.

It was a stormy, roily meeting of the members of the Midway Ratepayers’ Association who gathered last night in Rhodes Avenue Hall to batter with a load of complaints everyone aldermanic who had the courage to show himself within the doors, and at the same time it was a house divided against itself, between loyalty to and abuse of the reigning aldermen.” …”Half of those who live in that district’ he [local resident Mr. Gillespie] stated, “were too lazy to get out and work on a petition. They want water they want sewers, they want everything all at once, and they won’t work for it. I know of men on Erie Terrace who refused to pay the extra 37 ½ up to 75 cents taxes which would have entitled them to vote in the city, and yet they’re the ones who are doing the hollering because the aldermen don’t get them everything in a minute. (Toronto Star, Dec. 2, 1911)

19111202TS Aldermen Talk Plainly1

19111202TS Aldermen Talk Plainly219111202TS Aldermen Talk Plainly3

000 Meeting19111202TS Aldermen Talk Plainly3

19111202TS Aldermen Talk Plainly4

0000 Meeting

Toronto Star, Dec. 2, 1911

They wanted a subway built under the Grand Trunk Railway to improved road access from the neighbourhood to Danforth Avenue and Queen Street East. They wanted a walkway build under the railway track so that children could get safely from the streets north of the rail line to Roden School.


Alderman Sam McBride, who came down upon a special invitation, made an attempt to smooth the troubled waters, and explain to the Midway ratepayers just what position they occupied with respect to the rest of the city. Without censuring the district, he stated that the Midway should congratulate itself upon the city having taken it in considering the condition they were in when annexation was broached… (Toronto Star, Dec. 2, 1911)

City politicians were not about to put up with ingratitude from Shacktown.

Alderman Chisholm responded:  “You came here because this land was cheap. If you expect the city Council to put in waters, sewers, etc., and make your land valuable in a minute, you are mistaken, it can’t be done. Erie Terrace wants the city to bear the expense of its widening. Other streets don’t get such concessions, and as for your aldermen, we have far, far exceeded any promises we ever made to you.”  (Toronto Star, Dec. 2, 1911)

In essence the politicians told the disgruntled ratepayers that they should be happy that the City of Toronto took the neighbourhood in at all given the bad shape it was end. Being told that they should be grateful for their lot and not complain did not go over well. Erie Terrace was getting a reputation like Regent Park or Jane Finch has today. The poor, apparently, can only be seen as deserving for a limited period of time. Pity quickly slides over into disdain and gratitude at hand-outs becomes anger at dispossession. How quickly brave and courageous Britishers could become good-for-nothing, dirty immigrants with juvenile delinquents for children – at least in the minds of money!  The very lay-out of Erie Terrace was blamed for the poverty there not the fact that it was laid out for people who were poor.

The Great War: Father of The Fence

In December, 1911 the Board of Control for the City of Toronto authorized the widening of Erie terrace. This would cost $6,000 and the city would pay $2,400 of that but the residents of the street were expected to pay $3,600: money they didn’t have. (Toronto Star, Dec. 16, 1911) They may have authorized it, but no one on Erie Terrace could pay for it. The Midway Ratepayers’ Association tried to push both residents and the City to improve conditions on Erie Terrace (Globe, Jan. 6, 1912), but the problems seemed insoluble.

The Works Department has a number of vexatious street problems on hand, and the committee made personal investigation into some of these yesterday. One is on Erie Terrace in the Midway. It runs north from Queen street to Danforth avenue and the width varies from 15 to 22 feet. There are small frame houses along one side and on the other are the backyards of houses which front on an adjoining street. It is proposed to add about ten feet to the width of Erie Terrace, taking the land from these yards.

But what then? Who will pay? The houses now built on the Terrace will have to pay their share, the city will have to pay its share, but what about the share which would ordinarily be paid by the properties on the opposite side of the street? The people whose back yards are taken get no benefit from the street improvement, for their residences front on another thoroughfare. Erie Terrace is their back lane and they don’t care whether it is ten feet wide or thirty-five. There is no room to build houses on both sides of the Terrace and the city will have to find some way out of the difficulty. (Toronto Star, February 1, 1912)

George R. Geary, Mayor of Toronto from 1910 to 1912, even suggested that the City buy up Erie Terrace, presumably to clear it of houses and residents. (Toronto Star, Sept. 25, 1912) This strange little laneway with houses on one side only and backyards on the other bewildered City politicians and bureaucrats:

The City Fathers have decided to put Erie Terrace in better shape, but the problem which confronts them on that street is difficult of solution. It came into the city with the “Midway” district, and has puzzled municipal authorities ever since. Although it extends from Queen street to Danforth avenue, and is thickly built up on from Queen to Gerrard, it is only from 18 to 23 feet side, and the houses, mostly wooden shacks, are built on only one side of it. On the other side are backyards of properties fronting on Ashdale avenue. A two-plank sidewalk was laid on Erie Terrace, but the road is so bad that wagons have been driven with two wheels on the walk, which has become badly smashed in consequence. There is no sewer. It is thought inadvisable to put a pavement on a street only 20 feet wide, yet if it were widened, the residents along the one side would have to pay for the widening and for the whole of the pavement. The other side cannot be built upon, as there are nothing but backyards on it, and 20 feet taken off these would not leave room for houses. What will the city do with Erie terrace, which threatens to become a permanently undesirable street a mile and a half long? (Toronto Star, Oct. 2, 1912)

Meanwhile more houses were going up as the first water and gas mains were laid south of Gerrard:

$200 CASH, new cottage, water, gas, south Gerrard, Erie Terrace, balance eight hundred, ten monthly. One hundred cash, cottage, three nice rooms and hall; houses rented ten dollars monthly. 168 Morley. (Toronto Star, Aug. 28, 1912)

The Province, meanwhile, had passed an Act to prevent more Erie Terraces:

The Act passed last year restricting the narrowness of streets within five miles of cities was enacted with a view to protecting the cities against conditions which encourage slums when additional territory is annexed. Thus, if streets 33 feet wide are permitted in the county, they become eyesores when the district in which they exist is taken into the city and becomes more thickly populated. Toronto has already problems of this type on hand. When the city annexed the Midway district, Erie Terrace was brought within the limits. And Erie terrace is in places only 18 feet side. It has houses on one side and back yards on the other – back yards too shallow to permit the widening of the street and construction of houses. (Toronto Star, Oct. 2, 1912)

While City Council pondered the problem and even visited Erie Terrace to see for themselves (Toronto Star, Oct 15, 1912) new houses were going up and the sanitary conditions, with polluted wells from over-flowing outhouses and large numbers living in close quarters.

$150 – NEW house, three large rooms, hall, water and gas, balance $825, at $12 monthly. 62 Erie terrace (Toronto Star, Nov. 16, 1912)

No one should have surprised when typhoid visited from time to time and even smallpox.


No Typhoid in O’Keefes,Toronto Star April 1, 1911


Toronto Star, April 1, 1911

Hastings Eviction

Cartoon of Dr. Charles Hastings and the Eviction of a Family in Shacktown, Source Unknown

Case of Smallpox.



A smallpox case has been discovered at a house in Erie terrace. The patient is a young woman 20 years of age. Three inmates of the house have been quarantined and the patient is now in the Swiss Cottage Hospital. (Toronto Star, Dec. 7, 1912)

More Smallpox.

Another case of smallpox has been taken from the house in Erie terrace which has been under quarantine since December 6, when a woman was taken to the Swiss Cottage. Her husband has contracted the disease and was removed on Saturday night. A woman and a baby are left in the house. There are now four smallpox patients in the hospital. (Toronto Star, Dec. 16, 1912)

Smallpox Quarantine Lifted.

The quarantine has been lifted from the Erie terrace house from which two smallpox cases were taken. The house was closed for three weeks and one day. Providing no other cases develop in the Booth avenue house, the quarantine will be raised on New Year’s afternoon. (Toronto Star, Dec. 30, 1912)

The calls to clean up slums, both in the inner city and in the suburbs, grew louder and louder. The infamous Ward downtown was a prime target, but so was Erie Terrace. Some residents hoped to escape the stigma by changing the name to Erie Avenue, but that got nowhere as the City Street Naming Committee could not have been fooled. (Toronto Star, Nov. 11, 1911)

Widening the street was seen as a magic wand, but unfortunately there were obstacles, namely the inability of Erie Terrace residents to pay for the work and the reluctance of Ashdale Avenue residents who would lose a significant portion of their backyards in the process. Erie Terrace residents supported the widening and were willing to pay both the costs that would normally be assigned to those home owners on the west side as well as the costs they faced as home owners on the east side. Given the poverty they faced, this would entail considerable sacrifices by those families.

Cleaning Up Erie Terrace.

Erie Terrace, with 6,000 feet of frontage exclusive of street intersections, is the biggest problem the city has to face in the shape of a narrow street. It was taken in with the Midway, and its present condition is no fault of Toronto’s. At some places it is only 15 feet wide, at others it is 30. But there are houses on only one side of it, the other side being back yards of houses which front on Ashdale avenue.

What is the city to do with the place? No building permits have been issued there during the past two years, and city conveniences cannot be put in until the street is put in some kind of shape. city Hall officials groan whenever they hear the name.

Ald. Robbins had had the courage to undertake a solution. He wishes the city to buy 15 feet or thereabouts off the back yards in question, so that Erie terrace can be made 45 feet wide. It will be a street with houses on one side, and the owners of these will have to pay the share of local improvements which would be borne by neighbors across the street in ordinary cases. It is said, however, that they would rather do this than have the place remain as at present.

Some people on Ashdale avenue are said to be willing to sell the piece off their back yards for $3 per pruning foot. In that event, the city could get rid of the problem for about $18,000. It remains to be seen what the Council will do with Ald. Robbins’ proposal. Certainly a solution along some line or other should be forthcoming and that without delay. Toronto Star, Jan. 15, 1913

19130211TS The Erie Terrace Problem

Toronto Star, Jan. 21, 1913

Erie Terrace now ran all the way from Queen to the railway tracks and north to Danforth Avenue. It was graded, but still too narrow for the City’s fire trucks to get up the street. Since the houses were wooden and tarpaper (notoriously inflammable), if one house went up, a whole neighbourhood could burn which is why it was considered not just disgraceful, but a menace to others.

Force was added to Ald. Robbins’ pleas for cleaning up Erie terrace by a fire which took place last night. The terrace is only 18 feet wide in some places, has houses on only one side of it, and the road is in wretched condition, as no sewers and pavements can be laid until it is widened. Last night the fire reels had to come up a neighboring street and come back on the terrace in order to reach a fire with anything like expedition. The terrace roadway proved to be in almost impassable condition. Something must be done at once to widen and improve the street. (Toronto Star, Jan. 21, 1913)


19130121TS The Erie Terrace Menace

Toronto Star, Dec. 1, 1913

Alderman William Dullam Robbins, who represented the area, pressed his solution.


0000 William D Robbins

W. D. Robbins, Jan. 7, 1929, City of Toronto Archives

 And still Shacktown’s population grew while the problem of the strait and narrow street did not go away. From $3.00 a foot in 1906 frontage was now selling at $12 a foot.

19130227TS Sterry Real Estate

Toronto Star, Feb. 27, 1913

While City Council did approve widening the street, progress was slow due to the inability of those on Erie Terrace to pay for the work. Works Commissioner R. C. Harris was reported to have said that “the conditions of life on Erie terrace were anything but satisfactory, and that the widening of the street was a necessity”, unfortunately, the City couldn’t wring blood or money out of the stone that was Erie Terrace. Here is the process as described in The Municipal Handbook: City of Toronto, 1916:


The street was now almost full as Goad’s Atlas of 1912 shows. What it doesn’t show is the large numbers of children in each family. With a war time housing crisis, families doubled up in those tiny houses and many took in roomers or boarders to make ends meet.


19130101 Goad's Atlas 1912

Goad’s Atlas, 1912



19130520TW Erie Terrace

Toronto World, May 20, 1913

In 1913 it seemed the solution to “The Erie Terrace Problem” was near. The City meant business. “A petition against the said proposed work will not avail to prevent its construction.”


19130509TSW Widening Erie Terrace

The problem could be summed up as a question of rights. If the Erie Terrace people were to pay double the normal cost for widening the street, why should those people on Ashdale Avenue gain the benefit of better access to their backyards? The street was widened but a reserve strip would be kept so that the Ashdale avenue owners could not build any new structures, especially houses, in their truncated backyards. Meanwhile those with bigger and better houses on Ashdale Avenue developed a seething resentment at those living in the squalor of Erie Terrace, especially when those unwelcome neighbours trespassed by taking short cuts through the Ashdale backyards. (Toronto Star, Oct. 7, 1913)

19140312TS Cost 4766 dollars for water cart

Toronto Star, March 12, 1914

Meanwhile, none of the streets between Morley Avenue and Erie Terrace from Gerrard to the rail lines had water mains. No one could use the wells since they were so badly contaminated. The City of Toronto trucked in drinking water until the streets were improved enough to lay mains and the residents had signed the necessary documents agreeing to pay for the work. 118 houses had water supplied to them and the cost of delivering the water was climbing rapidly as the population increased. The City had little choice. The groundwater was contaminated by hundreds of outhouses and typhoid was a constant threat…one that would not confine itself to Erie Terrace. Even more affluent people could catch it from poorer people. (Toronto Star, March 12, 1914)


Toronto’s one and only sewage plant was now operating at the foot of Morley Avenue (Woodfield Road) and the City called for tenders to lay the sewers on the easiest part of Erie Terrace: from the rail line to Danforth Avenue. (Toronto World, July 1, 1914).

Seemingly little things began to rankle. Horses and wagons and even cars continually drove up Erie Terrace with one wheel on the road and the other on the sidewalk. This avoided getting stuck in the deep ruts and the quicksand the area was notorious for, especially after rains. But it smashed the wooden sidewalk (just two planks on cross beams). Erie Terrace residents asked for a permanent or cement sidewalk, but could not get it because they couldn’t pay for it. (Toronto Star, March 26, 1915) However, the City did agree to grade and widen Erie Terrace at a cost of $9,300 of which the City would pay $4,800 and the residents would be on the hook for $4,500. The work would begin in the spring of 1916. (Toronto Star, October 23, 1915).

19160616TARCH Erie TerraceIt was until 1916 that most of the men were finally employed — as soldiers. (Toronto Star, March 1, 1913) Though army pay was low ($1.00 a day for privates — the lowest rank), many men sent most of their pay home through automatic deductions from their pay as well as through the mail. The added separation bonus of $25 a month for married men, added to their pay, added up to far more than many had earned before the Great War. Not surprisingly, after years of unemployment, the enlistment rate on Erie Terrace was incredibly high, as were the casualties. Patriotism was one motivation, economic necessity was another.

By 1916, the City of Toronto had resolved to move forward on the engineering problem of widening and improving the road bed of Erie Terrace. They would put up a fence on the west side of Erie Terrace from Queen to the rail line and maintain it perpetuity. The City fathers now felt that they could engineer a solution to the menace that was Erie Terrace, a complicated problem made simple with a fence.

These photographs were taken by the City of Toronto Assessment Department after the expropriation of the back yards of Ashdale residents to widen Erie Terrace, but before the City put the fence up. Unfortunately we have no “after pictures” to go with these “before” shots.

19160616TARCH Erie Terrace5The people on Erie Terrace did not want the Ashdale Avenue people to use the widened road because the Erie Terrace people had paid double for it and the Ashdale Avenue people had not paid anything. The people on Ashdale were only slightly more affluent than those on Erie Terrace, but Erie Terrace had a reputation for squalor, crime, prostitutes, drinking, etc. So the people on Ashdale wanted the Erie Terrace people out of their back yards. In the days before cars and the need for backyard parking spots, this solution, the Fence, suited both the Erie Terrace folks and their slightly more well-heeled neighbours on Ashdale Avenue.

19160616TARCH Erie Terrace4The City, meanwhile, did not want the Ashdale Avenue people using their now much smaller backyards for garages and sheds. (The dilapidated sheds were used for horses, in most cases, as few had cars in this “streetcar” suburb.) The City had expropriated part of the Ashdale Avenue backyards to widen Erie Terrace. But what was left of those backyards didn’t have enough of a setback under Toronto Bylaws for building anything. Therefore, the fence is maintained by the City of Toronto despite periodic attempts to have it removed or partially dismantled. Not everyone liked the fence then and not everyone likes it now. (Toronto Star, March 23, 1916)

19160325TS Erie terrace law case Mr East

Toronto Star, March 25, 1916

That summer the City of Toronto expropriated the Ashdale Avenue backyard property it needed to widen the road and took pictures of Erie Terrace before it did the work.

19160616TARCH Erie Terrace3Erie Terrace, June 16, 1916

I first started investigating Craven Road in 2002 when someone I knew from an America On Line birding board asked me if I could find out where Erie Terrace was, how his great grandfather died and why his great grandmother had to put her three little boys in an orphanage and risk losing them. The soldier was George Threlfall and his wife was Emma Elizabeth McDonald. He died on December 1, 1916 most likely died of influenza, in a precursor of the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic. Because he did not die in action overseas, his wife did not get the full pension she needed to house, feed and clothe her sons.

19161024TS William Jones killedBut he was just one of many who died on Erie Terrace during the Great War To End All Wars. The City of Toronto was now able to wring the money it wanted out of Erie Terrace and others in the East End now that virtually all of the men were working…most in the trenches. Some might say that the War built that fence.

19160630 George Moore

Plate 30Canadian Soldier, reverse arms, side. - November 10, 1927More improvements followed.


Applegrove Avenue Extension Take notice that the Council of the Corporation of the City of Toronto intends to extend Applegrove Avenue at a width of 66 feet from Ashdale Avenue easterly to Coxwell Avenue, and intends to specially assess a part of the cost upon the land abutting directly on the said work, and upon certain other lands hereinafter mentioned, which will be immediately benefited by such extension. The estimated cost of the work is $27,000, of which…$7,103 is to be paid by the Corporation. (Globe, March 29, 1918)

The rest of the cost was passed on to those living nearby on Applegrove Avenue, Morley Avenue, Hiawatha Road, Kent Road, Ashdale Avenue, Rhodes Avenue, Coxwell Avenue and Erie Terrace.

Influenza EpidemicWhile the War ground on, the Spanish flu hit, seemingly out of nowhere, spread from military base to military base and brought home by the returning soldiers. Older people seemed to have some resistance to it, but the young did not.

Dr. Hasting Forbids Conventions In City

Over 300 New “Flu” Cases are Reported at the City Hall.

List of the Deaths Increase Reported in the Schools – 50 Per Cent Absent From Some of Them

Dr. Hastings issued strict orders to-day that under no condition must conventions of any kind be held in Toronto until the present epidemic of influenza had died out.

There were forty new cases reported to the Department of Health this morning, while others will come in during the day. Up to date, 170 have been reported to the department. This, however, does not by any means represent the number of cases in the city, as there are over 300 cases in the hospitals alone….Up to noon to-day the following deaths from pneumonia and influenza had been reported since yesterday: … [Died of influenza] Walter J. H. Barber, 15 years, 206 Ashdale avenue. … Henry Hunter, 37 years, 589 Erie terrace. Martha Mitchell, 62 years, 4 Fairford street. …Rosie May Jones, age 37, of 19 Jones avenue. Agnes M. Ferguson, age 17, of 114 Logan avenue. Nellie McNelley, 201 Morley avenue…The epidemic of Spanish influenza in the Toronto schools is on the increase, according to information received by The Star this morning. In many of the larger schools as many as 50 per cent of the pupils are away, and in practically every school in the city, a large percentage is away sick. (Toronto Star, Oct. 11, 1918)

617 CR 19190117TS Hunter House.jpg

Toronto Star, Jan. 11, 1919

19190116TS 200 dollars for Mrs Hunter House nearly finished

Toronto Star, Jan 17, 1919

The street was coming back to life.

19190902TS Middle baby Albert Thompson 47 Erie terrace

Toronto Star, Feb. 2, 1919 Baby Albert Johnson, 47 Erie Terrace is in the middle with his hands in his mouth.

In 1913 the Reliance Loan and Savings Company of Ontario was amalgamated with the Standard Loan Company under the name “The Standard Reliance Mortgage Corporation.”

In July, 1919, a financial scandal made the news as the Standard Reliance Mortgage Corporation, with its subsidiaries, including the Dovercourt Land Company, went under and an investigation followed. Improper transactions shocked investors. A number of other companies were involved including the Investors’ Land Company, Kendal Hill Company, and Robins Real Estate.


19191114TS The Eastern Entrance map

Another way of ridding the City of Erie Terrace, Toronto Star, Nov. 4, 1919

19201102TS When certain East End lands were annexed

Toronto Star, Nov. 2, 1920 The project never happened and Erie Terrace was saved.

19201210TS Toronto Hydro Radial map

Toronto Star, Dec. 10, 1920

19201106TS Radials to require little private land

Toronto Star, Nov. 6, 1920

The First World War cut deep into the heart of Erie Terrace. World War I cost Toronto 10,000 lives. This odd, long street of tiny houses on only the east side contributed a disproportionate number of men to enlistment. Most were in the infantry and in the trenches of Belgium and France. Many did not come home or came home so wounded that they could not work. At the end of the Great War, Erie Terrace stood emptied of many of its men, a street of widows without adequate pensions or a way to make a living. Some had to give up their children, sending them to orphanages. Many women went into domestic service downtown or sought other jobs elsewhere and left. Some remarried. Some stayed. The spirit of Erie Terrace remained strong and neighbours, though poor themselves, continued to help neighbours out.


19200115TS Victim of misfortune fire Erie terrace

Toronto Star, Jan. 15, 1920

19200115TS Victim of misfortune fire Erie terrace1

Toronto Star, Jan. 15, 1920

19200115TS Victim of misfortune fire Erie terrace3

Toronto Star, Jan. 15, 1920

19200209TS Subscription for Earl Thompson

Toronto Star, Feb. 9, 1920


In 1923, Erie Terrace was renamed Craven Road, despite objections that the men of Erie Terrace were brave and “had done their bit” overseas. Craven Road was supposed to take away the stigma of the street, but the stink of the glue factory at Coxwell and Gerrard and the foul “Morley Avenue perfume” from the sewer plant echoed the phrase, “A Rose by any other name smells as sweet”.

19230922GL Name changes

Globe, Sept. 22, 1923




19231231GL Change Erie Terrace to Craven

Toronto Star, Jan. 21, 1924

“Craven” also means “cowardly, lily-livered, faint-hearted, chicken-hearted, spineless…” and even gutless. A simple Google search will bring up even more bad things about “Craven”. Given the street’s record of enlistment and the casualties sustained in World War One, many were outraged at the name change.

19240124TS Objecting to Craven Road

Toronto Star, Jan. 24, 1924


Globe, Dec. 28, 1926

19240114GL Don't like name Craven Rd

Globe,  Jan. 13, 1924

The emptied houses quickly filled with returning veterans desperate for homes in a post-war housing crisis. New homes filled in any vacant lots on Erie Terrace and brick bungalow replaced many shacks. If a family could not afford a brick house, they often had the front of the house faced with brick and covered the sides with tarpaper or Insulbrick, a kind of artificial brick still made today


19220101 Toronto City Directory 1921

Goad’s Atlas 1921

Goad’s Atlas, 1921 – There are many more “Mrs.” than before. Only “heads of household” were listed. If a woman had a living husband, she was not listed. These were not old women, but young women, widows of soldiers (e.g. Mrs. Anne Clare, Mrs. Mary Vandusen) and men who died of the flu (e.g. Mrs. Phoebe Hunter).

Men and women turned to rebuilding their lives, having babies, raising their children and watching over their fence.




307 CR 19280904GL Canadian Babyhoodfinal

Globe, Sept. 4, 1928

Enter a caption

19350109TS Landlord tears roof off

Toronto Star, Jan. 9, 1935









19490510TARCH Craven Rd Pavement Damaged by tractor

19490510TARCH Craven Rd Pavement Damaged by tractor2

19411215GM Night fighters RCAF