Queen Walk 1: Leslieville’s West End

Creator: Unknown Date: [189?] Archival Citation: Fonds 200, Series 376, File 1B, Item 1 Credit: City of Toronto Archives www.toronto.ca/archives Copyright is in the public domain and permission for use is not required.

Queen Street East Looking North at the Rail line Between McGee and Degrassi in the 1890s. The rail line is usually accepted as Leslieville’s unofficial western boundary; westward, across the tracks, is Riverside.

In 1882, one more local resident was killed crossing the GTR tracks on Kingston Road. People called for immediate action to install better protection at the crossing. (Toronto Daily Mail, August 12, 1882) Many more had been killed there since the railway was built in the 1850s, but the carnage at the level crossing wasn’t over.

In1883 the Toronto Board of Trade urged the City of the Toronto, the Government of Canada and the Grand Trunk Railway to improve the railway right-of-way through the East End of Toronto by elevating the tracks on a viaduct. It wasn’t done. They got gates instead.

Toronto Star, November 13, 1894

Toronto Star, November 13, 1894

Creator: Unknown Date: [189?] Archival Citation: Fonds 200, Series 376, File 1B, Item 5 Credit: City of Toronto Archives www.toronto.ca/archives Copyright is in the public domain and permission for use is not required.

Queen Street level crossing looking west towards Broadview Avenue in the 1890s.

The deaths and maimings had increased as the former Leslieville and Riverside, now called Riverdale, became industrialized and densely populated.

In 1913 the Toronto Board of Trade passed a resolution calling for the parties to start the Toronto Viaduct right away. The railroads, the City of Toronto, the Toronto Harbor Commissioners and the Government of Canada finally reached an agreement, but, choking at the expense, the railways stalled. Then World War One pushed most major infrastructure projects.

Globe Sept 13 1926

Globe, Sept. 13, 1926

Globe, Sept. 13, 1926

Globe, Sept. 13, 1926

HiltzWilliam W. Hiltz (Hiltz Avenue is named for him) had been a city alderman, but from from 1921 to 1923 controller, representing Riverdale and strong advocate for the Viaduct. In 1924, he became Mayor, installed time clocks at City Hall so employees had to “punch in” and generally shook things up. This devout Christian, teetoller and East End contractor, had the negotiating skills to get all the parties at the table and the intestinal fortitude to push hard enough and long enough to finally get the Viaduct built. Hiltz was also championed the construction of the new Union Station we know today as “Old Union Station.” Construction began June 17, 1925 on the Toronto Viaduct (also known as the “Toronto Grade Separation”. It was finished on January 31, 1930.

Known to train engineers and other railway employees as the “High Level”, the project required huge land filling. Work crews not only raised the rail lines to a height of 18 feet above the ground surface, but they also extended the railway corridor out into Toronto Harbour some distance. To build the Viaduct, contractors installed a narrow gauge construction railway to move the earth and materials. (Traces of that light rail line can still be seen in some places.) We take it for granted now but it was considered a major engineering feet in the 1920s.

Below is a picture gallery of the Toronto Viaduct at Leslieville’s west end.

Map July 11 1924

Toronto star, July 11, 1924

Map showing revised Viaduct toure that was suggested, Globe, July 11, 1924

Map showing alternative Viaduct route through the downtown waterfront, Globe, July 11, 1924

Level_railway_crossing_with_trolley_guard,_Queen_Street_East_between_Degrassi_and_McGee_streets_-_GTR_level_crossing

Looking east along Queen St. Level railway crossing with trolley guard, Queen Street East between Degrassi and McGee streets : GTR level crossing, around 1915.

TS July 10 1924 a

TS July 10 1924 b

TS July 10c

Call for Tenders. Toronto Star, Nov. 17. 1925

Call for Tenders. Toronto Star, Nov. 17. 1925

Construction, Toronto Viaduct, Toronto Star, Oct. 9, 1926

s0372_ss0079_it0102 001

TTC track work, September 19, 1926. Queen St. looking east.

Creator: Alfred J. Pearson Date: September 18, 1926 Archival Citation: Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 4521 Credit: City of Toronto Archives www.toronto.ca/archives Copyright is in the public domain and permission for use is not required.

Creator: Alfred J. Pearson

Viaduct work, destruction of houses, Strange St.. – December 9, 1925. We are looking south. Strange Street was cut in two: the southern orphan became Dibble Street, a dead end off Eastern Avenue.

Viaduct work, destruction of stores, Queen & De Grassi. – December 9, 1925

Viaduct, Riverdale, steel in reinforced concrete. - October 7, 1926

Viaduct, Riverdale, steel in reinforced concrete. – October 7, 1926

Queen St East and Canadian National Railway grade separation, placing first girder, 1 p.m., (Way Department) Creator: Alfred J. Pearson, December 5, 1926

Queen St East and Canadian National Railway grade separation, placing first girder, 1 p.m., (Way Department) Creator: Alfred J. Pearson, December 5, 1926

Queen St East and Canadian National Railway grade separation, placing first girder, 1 p.m., (Way Department) Creator: Alfred J. Pearson Date: December 5, 1926

Queen St East and Canadian National Railway grade separation, placing first girder, 1 p.m., (Way Department) Creator: Alfred J. Pearson
Date: December 5, 1926

Second girder in place.

Second girder in place. Creator Alfred J. Pearson, Dec. 5, 1926, City of Toronto Archives

Creator: Alfred J. Pearson Date: December 14, 1926 Archival Citation: Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 4660 Credit: City of Toronto Archives www.toronto.ca/archives Copyright is in the public domain and permission for use is not required.

Creator: Alfred J. Pearson
Date: December 14, 1926

On top of the Toronto Viaduct, Looking east from Queen Street, October 25, 1927. The Riverdale Train Station is in the distance and heavy industry with smoke stacks on the right.

On top of the Toronto Viaduct, Looking east from Queen Street, October 25, 1927. The Riverdale Train Station is in the distance and heavy industry with smoke stacks on the right.

First Train on Viaduct, Globe, Sept. 24, 1927

Viaduct test, 4100 engine and crew, Conductor Armstrong, brakeman Saville, brakeman Stanford, engineer Woodman, U.E. Gillen. - January 20, 1930

Viaduct test, 4100 engine and crew, Conductor Armstrong, brakeman Saville, brakeman Stanford, engineer Woodman, U.E. Gillen. – January 20, 1930

Viaduct opening, old timers, James Roland, 40 years service, Edward J. Bell, 46 years service, Wm. Duncan, 40 years. - January 21, 1930

Viaduct opening, old timers, James Roland, 40 years service, Edward J. Bell, 46 years service, Wm. Duncan, 40 years. – January 21, 1930

Queen Street East at Degrassi Street Creator: Harvey R. Naylor Date: June 6, 1981

Queen Street East at Degrassi Street Creator: Harvey R. Naylor
Date: June 6, 1981

Looking east along Queen Street from Strange Street. Photograph by Joanne Doucette, Winter, 2013

Looking east along Queen Street from Strange Street. Photograph by Joanne Doucette, Winter, 2013