General History
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East End Sports Timeline

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1848 The first regatta took place on Toronto bay in 1848.[1]

1880 It has been arranged that H.D. Wise, of Leslieville, will contest with Charles Annis, on Orillia Bay, a three mile race with a turn…for $100; the race to come off on August 25th. [2]1880 It has been arranged that H.D. Wise, of Leslieville, will contest with Charles Annis, on Irillia Bay, a three mile race with a turn…for $100; the race to come off on August 25th.[3]

1881 “THE Hounds. The Hounds will meet this afternoon at Ben Lamond corners, Kingston Road, at 3:30.”[4]

1882 The militia met to practice shooting. The 12th Battalion (York) had No. 1 Company (Riverside). The troops competed for prizes and cups, individually and as teams.[5]

1883 Sleighing Party.  A large and merry crew sailed forth from O’Keefe’s brewery last evening and wended their way to the Woodbine, on the Kingston-road. Including the contingent which joined them at Simcoe-street, the party mustered about 200, and formed a pleasing procession as the half-dozen pleasure-vans, with flambeaux blazing and the Garrison Artillery band discoursing sweet music, passed through the principal thoroughfares.  At their journey’s end, after partaking of refreshments; dancing commenced, which was carried on far into the morning, when the party made tracks for home. [6]

1887 August Charles Gaudaur of Orillia and Hugh Wise of Toronto rowed a race against each other on Lake Couchiching.[7]

1887 October The Mayor called a meeting in the Board of Trade Council Chambers to discuss setting up a public park system for the City of Toronto. A report recommended that a by-law go ratepayers for approval to raise money to buy more park property. Alderman Peter MacDonald moved that following properties be purchased for parks: 1) The lands between Broadview and Carlaw south of Wilson Avenue. 2) “All the lands lying south of Danforth avenue and the westerly production thereof, and north of Gerrard street between the Don and Broadview avenue. 3) “All the lands lying south of Queen street east, north of Ashbridge’s Bay, between Leslie street and Willow street, known as Leslie’s Nurseries.” 4) The Necropolis and lands north of the Necropolis occupied by P.R. Lamb & Co., St. James Cemetery. 5) The lands known as the “Provincial Lunatic Asylum grounds”. 6) “The lands adjoining High Park and Grenadier Pond, about 35 acres.” 7) The Bickford property (Gore Vale). 8) The University Grounds, near Queen’s Park. The motion carried though “nine gentlemen voted against it.”[8]

1888 August SCULLS AND SHELLS. AT STUGEON POINT.  O’Connor, Gaudaur, Wise and Lee declare the Sturgeon Point course one of the best they have seen. The Don four, with Shea in Long’s place, the Don double (Shea and Scholes), and the Don singles, Sheas, Scholes and Strickland will represent the Leslieville section at next week’s regatta, and Sculler J.J. Ryan will row No. 2 in the Tornto four against the Dons, taking “Bush” Thompson’s place.[9]

1890s EA Thompson was a repeating champion in the 1890’s; JF Cosgrave was one of the rowing stars of his country. So were EB Butler, Robert Dibble, …[10]

1891 March Robert George Dibble was born on 12 March 1891 in Toronto, the son of Harry H. and Lucy Grace Dibble. The family home was at 223 Woodbine Avenue.[11]

1891 August The fourth annual tug-of-war and sports of the Sons of England Benevolent Society took place on Saturday afternoon in Mosspark in the presence of a large and enthusiastic company.  A lengthy programme of sports and games was gone though, considerable interest being evinced in many of the events. The principal event, however, was the tug-of-war between teams from various city lodges for a cup presented by the City of London Fire Insurance Company.  The heats resulted as follows: — First heat – London v. Albion – two straight pulls for London  Second heat – Stratford v. Manchester – 1st pull Stratford, 2nd and 34d Manchester. O. Final heat – London v. Manchester – two straight London. London lodge consequently took the cup, which they hold for one year, the trophy having to be won three successive years to become the property of the winners.  The names of the winning team are Messrs. Ben Hughes, Harry Price, S. Greenwood, H. Wise, T. Goodman, J. Lane, H. Dibble, W. Hawker, I. Price anchor, W. Jones captain.[12]

1891 September Hugh Wise of Toronto and John Teemer agreed to row together against Hanlan and O’Connor in a double skull race.[13]

1892 September  “Toronto, Ontario, Sept. 3. – The general verdict of oarsmen who attended the Hamilton regatta to-day was that the course on the bay there is the finest in America for rowing. The course was a mile and a half with turn.  Hedley of Vespers, Philadelphia, easily won the senior singles in 10:31. Ten Eyck of Worcester, Mass., won a well-contested professional single scull race over a course with a turn of three miles, keeping the lead throughout the race. J. Rogers, Worcester, Mass., was a good second, with C. Stephenson, an Australian who has lately settled in Toronto, third, and Hugh Wise, Toronto, fourth, Time—21:40. The rest of the races were contested by Canadian amateurs, and with the exception of the senior four-oared race, which was won by the Argonauts of Toronto in 9:08, defeating the Dons of Toronto, were rather uninteresting.”[14]

1894 “An interesting race is to be run on Wednesday afternoon on the Exhibition grounds between a trotting horse belonging to Wm. Booth, of Logan avenue, and H.H. Warren on a bicycle. The penalty to the loser is the purchase of two silk hats.  At present the odds are in favor of the bicyclist.” [15]

1894 “Brickenden Bros. have erected a skating rink at the corner of Logan and Eastern avenues.[16]

1894 Feb East End Notes. Mr. Edward James, of the Woodbine, sent his horse “The Dude” to Montreal last night to take part in the ice races.[17]

1894 February The regular monthly meeting of the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club was largely attended last evening. Twenty-one propositions for membership were received. The Hard Times sleighing party was reported a financial success.[18]

1894 September “Notwithstanding the bad weather last evening the rowing race between the icemen and brickmakers for the championship of Ashbridge’s Bay came off in the presence of a large number of people. Messrs. Samuel Greenwood and L. Marsh, icemen, were the winners by a boat’s length and a half against Brickmakers J. Grady and Sam Heale.[19]

1894 October Miss Louise McAllister has taken to bicycle riding.[20]

1894 November “Mr. William Rheinholt, of Carlaw avenue, has gone on a trip to Rochester on his bicycle.”[21]

1894 December OVER-THE-DON NEWS. AN R.C.R.C. CONTEST—TRUE BLUES’ MEETING—OTHERE EASTE END NOTES.  The members and officers of the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club players a game of Pedro last night, the losers to pay for a barrel of apples. The members won by 21 to 19.[22]

1895 The Toronto Hunt Club, after conducting its activities in various places in and about the city for fifty years, acquired its present site in south western Scarborough, and built a clubhouse on spacious grounds extending from the Kingston Road to the lake.  Here hunting was in full swing until 1930, when the hounds ceased to be kennelled on the property; and a golf course, laid out on extra land acquired on the north side of the Kingston Road in 1910, flourished until increasing highway traffic made necessary its sale in 1943.  The Club, however, still maintains its headquarters on seventy-one attractive acres above the lake.  To this area also in the 1890’s and early 1900’s came other Toronto families with lesser means and social pretensions to build their summer cottages among the birch trees growing along the top of the cliffs; and it appears that one of these named Stark first called their home here Birch Cliff.  This name was then chosen for the post office established in 1907 in Arthur Mitchell’s grocery store at the corner of the Kingston Road and Birchmount in response to the request of Mr. Henry E. Redman, a summer resident who had moved out to Scarborough permanently four years previously.[23]

1895 April Members of the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club and their friends, to the number of seventy-five, spent a jolly time last night at Smith’s hotel, Kingston Road, the occasion being a complimentary supper by Mine Host Smith to the R.C.B.C.’s. A very pleasant hour was spent before supper in songs by members of the club and others.  A sumptuous supper was served at eleven o’clock, after which the musical and literary program was  resumed, and a jolly time was spent in songs and speeches and reminiscences of the past season’s wheeling. [24]

1895 April Notwithstanding the threatening state of the weather yesterday, crowds of people were out walking, driving and bicycling. In the forenoon hundreds of bicyclists rode east on Queen street. One would think there were races going on so great was the number who took the spin east.[25]

1896 May “There was a big turn-out of East Enders to see the race for the Queen’s Plate this afternoon.”[26]

1896 May An invitation has been extended to all Methodist wheelmen and lady bicyclists of the East End to join in a run with bicyclists of Broadway Tabernacle.[27]

1896 June DOMINION DAY REGATTA Entries Don. R.C.  S. Greenwood, F. Hogarth Senior Doubles [28]

1899 May The Woodbine race track attracted visitors from out of town and filled the hotels from summer to fall, but particularly before important races, such as the King’s Plate [now Queen’s Plate].  “One section of the community which is greatly benefited is the hotelmen.  The hotels in the east end from the Don to the Woodbine, have felt the impulse for over a month, these suburban hostelries being occupied for the last month with stablemen, trainers, grooms and the miscellaneous entourage of the race horse.”[29]

1901 May “Toronto In Grip of Walking Habit. Men and Women Tramp to Business for Pleasure and Recreation. Walking Clubs are Formed. Ladies Take to It Also to Vary the Monotony of the Social Round. Toronto is divided into two classes, those who walk and those who don’t and the latter class may be subdivided into two sections again, those who walk for pleasure and those who walk to save; and the keen observer can still further divide the class into those who walk to save money and those who walk to save health.  The rest cure is a good thing, but hundreds in the city are trying the walk cure…”[30]

1901 May Women from the Toronto Golf Club east of Coxwell complained about the firing at the Toronto Police Force’s rifle range at the rear of Small’s Park, near to the Toronto Golf Club.  Fearing getting shot, the women said “that the institution is a menace to public safety.” They took the owner, Mr. Hill, to court.[31]

1903 The Woodbine Racetrack grandstand was built and the fashionable sport of thoroughbred racing became even more comfortable.

1909 February Maple Leaf Rink Open To-Night, Weather Permitting. Band. Admission 10c and 6c. Phone M. 2500. [32]

1912 Bob Dibble began rowing competitively in 1912 and won the Canadian Henley Regatta that year.  He was a machinist and a union member, very different from the “gentleman” sportsman of English tradition, but, in Canada, many Canadian working class men, like the Dibbles, father and sons, were involved in amateur rowing.[33] Robert Dibble went on to win the Canadian singles title five times.[34]

1912 Toronto Lodge, No. 235, has within her ranks Robert Dibble, the champion of the Henley Regatta of Canada, who, starting out as a novice oarsman this year, …[35]

1914 January Motordrome – motorcycle and bicycle racing on Greenwood avenue, 1914. Five year lease on land and option to purchase.  Joint enterprise with the Federals Baseball League. Motorcycle and bicycle racing three times a week and 77 ball games a season.[36]

1914 May 2 Frank Banford, address unknown, fell nearly 30 feet at the new Motordrome at Greenwood avenue and Gerrard streets. He had serious head injuries and was taken to hospital.[37]

1914 May 18 More than 2,000 showed up for the Saturday preview of the Motordrome on Greenwood Avenue, and a crowd also showed up on Sunday. About fifty bicycle racers showed up.[38]

1914 May 23 Motordrome opened May 23,1914. The bicycle track was built inside the motorcycle track. It would be a good place for Canadians to train for the Olympics in Berlin, in 1916 [!], according to Louis Rubenstein, a League official. The manager of the track was George Kreamer [Kramer]. The wooden cycling “saucer” was considered steep and a fast track.[39] There was seating for 7,000 and all seats were taken for that opening night. 1,000 candlepower nitrogen lights were used to have evening races.

1914 June 1 June Brownie Carslake won a marathon 26-mile motorcycle race at the Motordrome. There were over 7,000 spectators.[40]

1914 August 16 The Canadian Wheelmen’s Association began planing for a corps of bicyclists to act as scouts to patrol the Welland Canal. There were about 75 trained cyclists at the Motordrome where the CWA was to meet and organize the corps.[41]

1914 December Skating tonight at Motordrome[42]

1915  August  “…Local interest is attached to the meeting of Riverdales and Maitlands in the junior series. This game is the play-off for the local group honors. It was to have been played last Saturday, but inability to secure suitable grounds caused a postponement. The Motordrome has been secured for Saturday, and this will prevent the interference of spectators with the game.”[43]

1915 September Boxing at Motordrome[44]

1915 Commissioner Chambers wanted a number of new parks at a cost of more than $600,000, but the Parks Committee of City Council shelved the plan as too expensive. One of the parks was the “southwest corner of Gerrard and Greenwood, 13 ½ acres”.[45]

1915 MOTORDROME ASSIGNS AND MAY NOT REOPEN. Motorcycle Bowl Experiences Unprofitable Season – Want Solman as Manager. jd summary The Motordrome, Greenwood avenue, was bankrupt due to poor weather in the summer of 1915. “Motorcycle racing in the big bowl proved very popular last summer, the second of its operation in Toronto, but the weather was peculiarly unfavorable and the attendance therefore not up to proportions that would have made the Motordrome a financial success.” It was a quarter-mile wooden “saucer” owned by a group, including Lol Solman, owner of the Island Stadium. People wanted Lol Solman to take over the management of the Motordrome, but it apparently did not happen and the track closed for good.[46]

1915 MOTORDROME CHOSEN FOR JUNIOR PLAY-OFF Maitlands and Riverdales [baseball]Will Settle Their Dispute on Saturday

1915 The major promoter of the Motordrome was Floyd A. MacFarland. He was the General Manger of the Cycle Racing Association and a well known champion cyclist himself. On Apil 18, 1915, in Newark, N.J., at a Velodrome race, a disgruntled concession owner plunged a screwdriver into MacFarland’s head, killing him.[47]

1915 TORONTO OARSMEN WIN.  All Except One Race Won by Home Sweepsters.  St. Catherines [sic], Ontario, August 6.—Toronto oarsman were victorious in the opening races of the wartime regatta of the Canadian Association of Amateur Oarsmen on the Royal Canadian Henley course today.  Members of the Don and Argonaut Clubs of Toronto took all except one of the events. The race for working boats which featrued the prgoram was closely contested. Harry Dibble, brother of the senior champion, Bob Dibble, was a conspicuous figure, winning three of the four races in which he contested. He finished last, however, in his final effort.[48]

1919 Mayor Tommy Church did not support Parks Commissioner Chamber’s drive for more city parks and they had heated arguments at Parks Committee meetings. Parks expenditures were basically frozen during the war and after the war, Commissioner Chambers hope to make up for lost ground, hoping the City would issue debentures to allow buying land including that to buy the Greenwood avenue athletic field, as well as to buy a city nursery ground to grow trees and shrubs. Church: “It is time to put the brakes on.” He believed the city had enough parks and “characterized the greenwood avenue property as a “brick yard,” and pointed out that the city had already before it his proposal to acquire three athletic grounds within its limits.”[49]

1920 The Toronto World, July 5, 1920 1920 Greenwood Park Opened For Sports Mayor Church and Several Aldermen Assist in Formal Opening. Mayor Church, assisted by several aldermen, opened the new playground in the east end, near the corner of Gerrard street and Greenwood avenue, on Saturday afternoon. [Ald. Beamish, Johnson, Hiltz and Maxwell attended.] The board of control granted $20,00 towards putting the field, which used to be a brickyard, into fit condition for playing, and the result is considered highly satisfacoty by all. [The band of the Queen’s Own Rifles played.] A violent rainstorm brought the proceedings to a hasty close.[50]

1928 March The Leafs took three games from the Giants and the Orioles won the odd game from the Cubs in the Leslieville Court of the Catholic Order of Foresters League. Meehan had high single with 312. A. Waring, Knowles, Berney and C. Waring were others to turn in good counts for their teams.[51]

1956 The new Woodbine Racetrack is built in north-west Toronto. The name of the local racetrack was changed to Greenwood in 1956 and it became Greenwood in the spring of 1963. [52][53]

1960 DIBBLE, ROBERT GEORGE, b. 1891, Toronto — d. July 17, 1960 Toronto. North American sculling champion. …[54]

1993 Live racing at Greenwood was terminated at the end of 1993 and a betting parlour and cinema complex, along with a new public park and housing, were constructed on the site.[55]

The start of speedway

1920 The Toronto World, July 5, 1920 1920 Greenwood Park Opened For Sports Mayor Church and Several Aldermen Assist in Formal Opening. Mayor Church, assisted by several aldermen, opened the new playground in the east end, near the corner of Gerrard street and Greenwood avenue, on Saturday afternoon. [Ald. Beamish, Johnson, Hiltz and Maxwell attended.] The board of control granted $20,00 towards putting the field, which used to be a brickyard, into fit condition for playing, and the result is considered highly satisfacoty by all. [The band of the Queen’s Own Rifles played.] A violent rainstorm brought the proceedings to a hasty close.[56]

[1] Wallace, William Stewart and Robert H. Blackburn. The Encyclopedia of Canada‎. 1935, 285.

[2] Saturday, July 31, 1880 Globe

[3] Saturday, July 31, 1880 Globe

[4] Globe Saturday, May 21, 1881

[5] Globe Saturday, August 26, 1882

[6] Globe Tuesday, February 6, 1883

[7] The New York Times August 18, 1887

[8] The Globe October 1, 1887

[9] Globe Saturday, August 18, 1888

[10] Menke, Frank Grant The New Encyclopedia of Sports‎ 1947 – Page 830

[11] http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?Toronto::dibble::939.html

[12] Globe Monday, August 31, 1891

[13] Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, Tuesday, September 1,1891.

[14] September 4, 1892 The New York Times

[15] Toronto Star Monday, June 18, 1894

[16] Toronto Star Tuesday, November 27, 1894

[17] Toronto Star Saturday, February 3, 1894

[18] Tuesday, February 6, 1894  Toronto Star

[19] Thursday, Sept. 20, 1894 Toronto Star

[20] Toronto Star Thursday, October 18, 1894

[21] Toronto Star November 24, 1894

[22] Toronto Star Thursday, December 6, 1894

[23] Bonis, 180

[24] Toronto Star Saturday, April 13, 1895

[25] Toronto Star Saturday, April 13, 1895

[26] Saturday, May 23, 1896  Toronto Star

[27] Saturday, May 9, 1896 Toronto Star

[28] Toronto Star Monday, June 29, 1896

[29] Friday, May 19, 1899 Toronto Star

[30] Saturday, May 17, 1902 Toronto Star

[31] Toronto Star Saturday, May 18, 1901

[32] Saturday, February 20, 1909  Toronto Star

[33] Machinists’ Monthly Journal: Devoted to the Technical and Economic Education …‎ International Association of Machinists, 1912, 834

[34] Menke, Frank Grant. The Encyclopedia of Sports‎, 1963, 774

[35] Machinists’ Monthly Journal: Devoted to the Technical and Economic Education …‎

by International Association of Machinists – 1912 Page 834

[36] Toronto Star Monday, January 12, 1914

[37] Globe Saturday, May 2, 1914

[38] Toronto Star Monday, May 18, 1914

[39] Toronto Star Tuesday, May 12, 1914

[40] Toronto Star Monday, June 1, 1914

[41] Toronto Star August 16, 1914

[42] Toronto Star Monday Dec. 18, 1914

[43] Globe Tuesday, August 17, 1915

[44] Toronto Star September 8, 1915

[45] Globe Wednesday, September 15, 1915

[46] Globe Thursday, October 25, 1915

[47] Globe Monday, April 19, 1915

[48] The New York Times, August 7, 1915.

[49] Globe Wednesday October 29, 1919

[50] The Toronto World, July 5, 1920

[51] Globe Friday March 16, 1928

[52] http://www.woodbineentertainment.com/Woodbine/

[53] http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/trot/iss0503/tr0503gwd.html

[54] Saywell John T., editor Canadian Annual Review of Politics and Public Affairs1960 ‎ – Page 383

[55] http://www.woodbineentertainment.com/Woodbine/

[56] The Toronto World, July 5, 1920

This entry was posted in: General History

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Welcome to the Leslieville Historical Society's website. Please feel free to join us, to ask questions, to attend walking tours and other events, and to celebrate Leslieville's past while creating our future. Guy Anderson, President, Leslieville Historical Society and Joanne Doucette, local historian and webmaster.

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