All posts filed under: Streets

Decoding City Directories to find out more about your home, your street, your city

Ever wondered who lived where your home is long, long ago? Well, I can give you some idea because I have directories from the early twentieth century and the nineteenth century. But there are no street addresses in the earlier directories. Look at this example from 1866 for Leslieville. I think you’d agree that there is lots of information here. Who knew that there was a Leslieville Oil Company! They found pockets of natural gas, but no oil. The people are interesting and even more so if you know a little about them. R. Ambrose was a labourer in George Leslie’s Toronto Nursery. Later Ambroses became gardeners on the long-vanished Toronto Golf Club course at Upper Gerrard and Coxwell. The Ashbridge Estate still has a lovely old Ashbridge family home and hosts a flea market in the summer. James Berry was an African American who came north before the end of slavery. The Finucans and others were Irish Catholics who came here during the Potato Famine. William Higgins was Toronto’s first High Constable or chief …

Riverdale Gardens & the Edwardian Dream Home

We think of the Edwardian period as the time when King Edward VII, Victoria’s son reigned. That is the period from 1901 to 1910. For Riverdale Gardens, this is the period when Albert Wagstaff and others opened brick yards along Greenwood near the railway tracks. William Prust, Riverdale Garden’s founder, retired from his positions in Haliburton during this period and moved to Greenwood Avenue in Toronto. Let’s be clear, I love this neighbourhood and it is very different from anything else in our area. Some of the words to describe these Edwardian homes are quite technical and, if you don’t know them, don’t worry, I didn’t either — at least when I began researching many years ago. I have added a section at the end with definitions of the various technical terms used.   But Edwardian architecture, including the house style that dominates Riverdale Gardens, began earlier in the dying years of Queen Victoria’s reign. The change from the Victorian architecture of the 1890’s to the new style was dramatic. In the earlier Victorian period …

345 Carlaw Avenue: Then and Now

345 Carlaw Avenue sits on a site by a lost creek, probably fished by the Mississauga and other First Nations for millennia. In the nineteenth century it was farmland and then market gardens, and then brick yard. Then in the early 20th Century Carlaw Avenue became the industrial heartland of Toronto’s East End and the quiet country lane changed forever. One of the firms that made its name on Carlaw was the Roden Bros. Ltd. Thomas and Frank came to Canada in 1879 and established a silversmith business in Montreal. They branched out into cutting glass as well. At the time, Roden had a sterling reputation (pun intended) and became: a household name with prestigious esteem amongst the affluent of Ontario.[1] Thomas and Frank Roden came to Toronto and founded Roden Brothers in 1891. Their first factory was at 99 ½ King Street West near York Street.[2] They turned out a wide range of silver hollowware and flatware in traditional English styles such as Stratford, Queens, and Louis XV.  Roden Bros. Ltd. was incorporated in 1912. …

Get away from it all on the Queen Car: a virtual escape through Leslieville to the Beach

One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things. – Henry Miller The Red Rocket, Presidents’ Conference Committee Car. T.T.C., 1966 View of original Eaton’s store and Old City Hall at Yonge and Queen Street June 15 1971 View of front of Simpson’s with holiday decorations, Yonge and Queen Street West, November 22, 1973 View of Queen Street East at Yonge St Jan. 30, 1982 View of Eaton’s Queen Street store, April 5, 1977 View of Queen Street East at Church Street, looking east, June 2, 1981 View of Queen Street East at Jarvis Street, looking east, July 9, 1977 Sherbourne and Queen, looking east,  June 6, 1981 View of Queen Street East, view east at Parliament Street, July 9, 1977 View of Queen Street East at Parliament Street, June 6, 1981 From Tracy  Street looking East towards River Street and the Don Bridge, July 9, 1977 View of Queen Street East, looking east to Don bridge, May 11, 1977 View of Dominion Breweries on Queen Street East, June …

Carlaw Avenue: Rolph-Clark-Stone the Building

  If you had stood at the corner of Queen and Carlaw in 1910, you wouldn’t see many factories except Phillips Manufacturing Co. Ltd. on the west side. The land on the east side was owned by wealthy brickyard owner John Russell. A City Alderman, he somehow failed to pay his municipal property taxes. The City of Toronto seized and sold his land between Carlaw and Boston. Russell fought back, but lost at the Privy Council in London, England, the last court of appeal in those days. In 1912 the City of Toronto used that land to develop Carlaw as an industrial artery in the East End. Manufacturers quickly seized the opportunity. By 1921 factories with belching smokestacks dominated Carlaw. Labourers filled Carlaw, coming to work to the sound of factory whistles and going home at shift change. In the minds of residents, the noise, pollutions and jobs naturally went together and were welcome. Not that people did not want higher wages and better working conditions. The birth of the new factory involved some “hard labour” …

Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd., 201 Carlaw

  May my invention become known throughout the entire world by benefiting mankind in manifold ways through exquisite (printed) goods. May this only ever serve purposes of refinement, but never be abused for purposes of evil. May the Almighty Father grant this! May the hour be blessed in which I invented lithography!  Johann Alois Senefelder, (1771-1834), Inventor of Lithography Our next stop on our journey up Carlaw Avenue is 201 Carlaw Avenue. This plant was one of the largest employers in Toronto’s printing industry in 1921. By the late twentieth century Rolph-Clark-Stone Limited, lithographers will be one of the largest graphic art firms in Canada. Cutting machine, Toronto Lithography Co., 1898. The Rolph-Clark-Stone Limited Building was impressive in 1921 and will continue to be so even in 2016. It is an excellent example of an industrial building from the period of the First World War. On March 06, 2007, the City of Toronto included 201 Carlaw Avenue on its Inventory of Heritage Properties. It is one of only two Carlaw Avenue buildings to be designated a …

Time Travel Carlaw: Queen Street East Presbyterian and 181-183 Carlaw Avenue

Come with us way, way back to Carlaw Avenue 1921. We are going to walk up the east side of Carlaw all the way to Gerrard, experiencing some of the views and imagining some of the sounds and smells of Leslieville’s main industrial district. As we walk north away from Eastern Avenue towards Queen, we see how closely housing and factories sit. There was no city planning legislation in Ontario until just before World War One. Small working class houses line Carlaw up to Queen. Meet some new immigrants, mostly from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, along with some families who’ve been in Leslieville for years — Fogartys, Snooks and others.   A Presbyterian Church anchors the southeast corner of Queen and Carlaw. On November 16, 1877 local Presbyterians with the help of Rev. J.M. Cameron founded Leslieville Presbyterian Church. They worshipped in the Orange Hall (Gowan’s Hall). George Leslie, prominent nurseryman, is the first name in the Church’s register. On November 25th, 1877 they celebrated Holy Communion for the first time. Members built a new red brick …

Time Travel Carlaw: 1920s South of Eastern Avenue

Is time travel possible? Maybe not literally (yet), but with a little imagination, some good pictures, and a smidgen of narrative, the past can come alive. Use your imagination to go up Carlaw Avenue in the mid-1920s with the Leslieville Historical Society.     Foot of Carlaw Avenue, City of Toronto Archives         First stop, just south of Eastern Avenue on the shore of what is left of Ashbridges Bay. A wave of pure stink washes over you. Raw sewage in the water competes with the over-powering smells from Fuller Stanbury Co., pork packers and the penetrating stench of tallow renderers on your right hand as you face north. At your left H. B. Johnston & Co.’s tannery reeks to high heaven. But that’s just one smell and we’ve just begun. Consumer’s Gas plants on Eastern Avenue near McGee are belching smoke into the air, as are dozens of factories.         Tannery Ashbridge’s Bay, 1926 (Toronto Public Library) Looking north from Eastern Avenue at the rail overpass into the industrial heart of Leslieville, …