Author: Joanne Doucette

Badgerow Avenue 1893

Badgerow – Formerly Franklin Street. It was renamed after George Washington Badgerow (1841 – 1892), an Ontario lawyer and politician who represented York East in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1879 to 1886 as a Liberal member. The family, originally “Bergereau”, were early settlers in Markham and strong supporters of the rebels in 1837. Disgruntled, some joined the Markham Gang of outlaws.    

ON A WHEEL: A Trip for Cyclists in Eastern Suburbs, 1894

ON A WHEEL. A Trip for Cyclists in Eastern Suburbs. DOWN THE KINGSTON ROAD. Beauties of Nature Which Many Miss. SIGHTS ALONG THE WAYSIDE. A Run From Little York to Wexford. The Agricultural Wealth of York County viewed From the Saddle of the Bicycle. It is questionable if one out of every ten of those in this city who possess bicycles really appreciates a quarter of the opportunities for enjoyment which it places within his reach, and it is certain if he does that he makes little attempt to improve them. With the average rider the question of largest moment seems to be that of covering the greatest amount of space in the least possible time, and in the runs into the country which he takes once or twice a week the terminal point of his trip, and the desire to reach it as soon as possible, usually possesses his mind to the exclusion almost of everything else. He is carelessly conscious, perhaps, of a pretty country through which he may be passing, but he …

Smith’s Grounds: A Lost Riverside Athletic Field

Smith’s Grounds: A Lost Riverside Athletic Field As I was preparing for a talk on the lost sports fields in the East End, I had a weak spot – I knew little about Sunlight Park, Toronto’s first professional baseball stadium just south of Queen and west of Broadview, built in 1886. I, as usual, began at the beginning before the start of settler history and long before baseball, but not lacrosse. The Anishinaabe families and Kichigo who were here when Simcoe arrived with William Smith, a master carpenter, in his retinue. Sometimes history can seem by and about people who are almost-automatons, people doing things but without souls. But some writers have the gift for prose that captures so much. One such writer was John Ross Robertson, editor of The Toronto Telegram. To animate this story of the John Smith’s lost athletic grounds I include a quote from John Ross Robertson’s Landmarks, apparently drawing on interviews with the Smiths, as well as depictions of some of the Smith family and their home. Their farm would become the Toronto …

Street Scenes Summer: From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Final chapter

Spring and Fall seemed to merge quietly in and out of Summer, so that the change was not as sharp as for the winter season. Ploughing and planting the market gardens was the first consideration in many places. The deep ruts in the road filled in, and gradually the mud roads were again ready for summer driving. Store windows took on a fresh look–painting and cleaning up was general. Street vendors and peddlers again resumed their selling from wagons and curb. The fruit peddlers shouting, “Strawberry ripe, Strawberry ripe” and selling at bargain prices Then “Fly Paper John” resumed his calling selling fly paper which he made himself. His cheery chant of “Fly paper all, Fly paper all, catch all your black beetles as well as your flys all” as he walked slowly along; the street, selling from a small wicker basket, was a sure sign of summer. The Woodbine races started, and on the 24th of May, we always watched the buggies, surreys, cabs and the final thrill when the coach and four would …

STREET SCENES From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks, Part 15

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