STREET SCENES From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks, Part 15

Snow conditions Gerrard Street (and Jones), Feb. 25, 1924 Credit: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds, 16, Series 71, Item 3008
Men cutting ice on Ashbridge’s Bay, January, 1907, Credit: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244; William James family fonds

Long, flat·sleighs, drawn by a team of horses, hauling blocks of ice from the Bay to the icehouses.

The Canadian Courier, Vol. V, No. 8, Jan. 23, 1909. (I could not find a picture of a local farm family, & sleigh with frozen carcasses visible. So you will just have to imagine it! JD, the Editor)

Farmer’s sleighs with fresh killed pigs, five or six to a load, all cleaned, stiff and stark, also turkey, chickens and geese, plucked and ready for cooking.

The farmer’s wife or son bundled in furs and buffalo robes, and perhaps hot bricks wrapped in bags to keep the feet warm.

New Fort, Exhibition grounds, Toronto, Ont. 1867 Credit: Toronto Public Library Digital Archives

Sleigh bells.

Chimes of bells on a strap around the horse. Larger bells attached to the top harness of the horse. Bells fastened on the shafts of the sleigh.

Allan Gardens, 1911 Credit: Toronto Public Library Digital Archives

High cutters, drawn by fast stepping horses, (single) with fancy silver-plated bells attached to the harness.

Jingle Bells” really had some meaning, and when a number of sleighs were on the street, it was music that is entirely unknown today.


Old Streetcar Stove Side View Credit: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 2978

Horse-drawn streetcars with pea straw on the floor, to keep the feet warm. The driver on an outside platform exposed to all weathers. A whip in one hand and the reins of the horse in the other. It was a hard life for both driver and horse. When the snow was very deep, the cars were transferred to sleighs.

McGlashan Rd., looking east past McGlashan house towards Yonge St. 1896 Credit: Toronto Public Library Digital Archives

Loads of cordwood on sleighs going to the coal and wood yards were a common sight. At the yard the wood, sometimes would be cut and split in sizes suitable for the ordinary cook stove.

Danforth Ave., n. side, w. from Dawes Rd 1900 Credit: Toronto Public Library Digital Collection

Farmers’ flat box sleighs, filled with steaming grain from the Brewery, on the return trip home.   The grain was used as feed for the cattle and pigs.

Topaz’, dappled grey mare, Clayton’s Meat Market, Toronto, Ont. Photo by Reginald Symonds, 1911. Credit: Toronto Public Library Digital Collection. They had three branches, one of which was on Queen Street East.

Smart delivery sleighs used by the merchants, and how easy it was to “hook a ride” from the tail board of these vehicles.

Sleigh and Pair Toronto 1913 Credit: Toronto Public Library Digital Collection

People from the farm and others, wore heavy coon-skin coats, that could be purchased at one time for about eighteen dollars each. Beaver, seal skin and Persian lamb caps were worn by the men. It was the real fur and not the processed kind as worn today. Long gauntlet fur mitts were favoured by the men for driving purposes.

City Directory of Toronto Directory, 1878

Many butcher shops and especially stalls in and around the market in the late fall and early winter would have deer hanging outside–sometimes eight or nine of them, and perhaps a couple of black bears as well.

William M. Wordley, butcher shop, Church St., s.e. corner Carlton St., showing game hanging, 1872 Toronto Public Library Digital Archives

One store on King Street near the market had hundreds of ducks ranging from Canvas Backs to Blue Bills hung outside, on hooks arranged in a large curve, and it made a very impressive sight.

Good living was cheap. People today cannot buy the delicacies that were common at that time.

Frank James at butcher shop, 1921 Credit: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 3504

Most store windows, and especially butcher windows were coated heavily with frost on the inside during the winter, so an iron gas pipe, perforated with small holes a out two inches apart, was placed almost next to the glass and when this was lit it provided enough heat to melt the frost, so that the meats etc. could be seen from the outside.

Load of hay on sleigh, Yonge St. 1917, Credit: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231

High loads of hay on the way to the market or livery stables was something that cannot be seen to-day.

Published by Leslieville Historical Society

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: