Austin Avenue’s Ghost Creek

by Joanne Doucette This is a follow up to: https://leslievillehistory.com/austin-avenue-subdivision-549-by-joanne-doucette/

Part 1: Austin Avenue blocked by A Creek

Did you know that there was a creek at the east end of Austin Avenue?

Severn Creek (Rosedale Ravine) 1850: A creek similar to Leslie Creek

In 1918, the foreman of George Leslie’s nursery recalled Leslie Creek:

a creek … also started near the sandpit and ran through the gardens of Cooper’s, Bests and Hunters, crossed the road by the Leslie Postoffice. Here it joined a small creek that drained the nursery, and both crossed Leslie street under a bridge that has since been filled up by intersecting sewers.

John McPherson Ross (1859-1924), Globe, January 18, 1918

1909 Topographical Map showing Leslieville creeks

Leslie Creek originated in the area of Strathcona Avenue and Eastview Park from springs on the slope of a sandbar from the last Ice Age.

Over ten thousand years ago, the melting ice dumped sand, clay and gravel (“glacial drift”) on southern Ontario. It is about 26 meters thick over most of Toronto.  As the ice melted, a lobe of the glacier filled the basin where Lake Ontario is now. This ice blocked the melt water from draining to the sea down the Saint Lawrence River. The ice was like a plug in a bathtub and a deep, cold melt water lake, Lake Iroquois, formed behind it. This lake was 55 meters (180 feet) deeper than Lake Ontario. All of Leslieville was under water. The Lake Iroquois shore-cliffs form a steep rise or escarpment north of Leslieville.  The shore cliff can be seen clearly along Davenport Road and near Variety Village on Kingston Road. It is the long hill on Yonge Street south of St. Clair Avenue, known as “Gallows Hill”. South of this cliff lies a plain of sand deposited on Lake Iroquois’ bottom. Leslieville sits on the Lake Iroquois Sand Plain.  The Plain, though tilted is still relatively flat, but far from featureless. Great rivers poured off the melting glacier, carrying huge amounts of sand and gravel into the Lake. There wave action and strong east-west offshore currents carried the sand and gravel westward, piling it up in bay-mouth bars. Behind the sandbars at the mouth of what are now the Humber in the west and the Don River in the east, large bays formed.

In the East End, these sand bars form a ridge that stretches from Scarborough, west from the foot of Kennedy Road for about five kilometers (three miles). The sandbar diverted the flow of Taylor Creek westward into the Don. To the south of it more sandbars formed offshore under water, creating the long hill south of Danforth Avenue from Broadview through Leslieville to the Beach and the sand plain of Leslieville. The settlers mined these glacial beaches for sand and gravel. The sandy loam was the basis of Leslieville’s market garden industry. With compost and manure, it was fertile and easy to till, ideal for carrots, potatoes, turnips and other root vegetables.

Onion field, Pape Avenue, Globe, October 16, 1912
Globe, July 26, 1887

Leslie Creek was deeper and faster flowing before settlers deforested the flat, but tilted, sandy plain south of Danforth Avenue. Streams like this cut deep ravines into the loose Lake Iroquois sand plain that made market gardening so lucrative in Leslieville. Erosion exposed clay deposits from an earlier Ice Age, providing the raw material for brickmaking. Some families of market gardeners became brickmakers, like the Logans, while others, like the Papes, remained gardeners, florists and nurserymen.

The flat, tilted Lake Iroquois plain at Pape Avenue looking north to Danforth Avenue, 1907

Part 2: A Skating Rink and Park

According to Elsie Hays, an elderly resident that I interviewed 40 years ago, it was a small brook that ran through an orchard where she used to play with her sister, catching minnows and tadpoles.  It crossed Gerrard where there is a shallow dip in the road to mark it. Entrepreneurs dammed the creek in the late nineteenth century to create Maple Leaf Skating Rink at Pape and Gerrard.

Pape Avenue Junior Soccer team, 1934

Part 3: A Cemetery by a Creek

In 1849 Toronto’s Jewish community opened the first Jewish graveyard west of Montreal on the west bank of Leslie Creek. It must have been an idyllic situation.

Looking south on Pape Avenue from Gerrard towards Austin Avenue, February 19, 1930 On east side of Pape is the entrance to Holy Blossom Cemetery, since replaced. Just south of it was the Holy Blossom funeral chapel.
Abraham Nordheimer

Sir John Robinson, Bart, D.C.L. First Sketch for an Oil Picture. Painted in 1855

There is no synagogue in Leslieville but there has been a definite Jewish presence here from the mid-nineteenth century. In 1847 Judah G. Joseph was an optician and jeweler, with a store at 56 King Street East, Toronto. In 1849 his young son, Samuel, was dying and there was no Jewish cemetery nearer than Buffalo or Montreal in which to bury his boy.  Abraham Nordheimer, a successful piano manufacturer, and Judah Joseph sought land on behalf of the Jewish community for a graveyard.  At the time there were only 35 Jews living in Toronto.

They bought land 60 feet wide and 400 feet deep (about 18 by 12 meters) for £20 through the Chief Justice, John Beverly Robinson. The Robinson family, prominent members of the Family Compact, owned land in the neighborhood. (Part of Pape Avenue was called Robinson Street for some time.) For more about John Beverley Robinson to to: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/robinson_john_beverley_9E.html

Christopher Robinson settles near what is now Pape and Queen Street East. From the obituary of Sir John Beverley Robinson, Globe, Feb. 2, 1863
When the City of Toronto annexed Leslieville in 1884, “Robinson Street” became “Pape Avenue” because the City already had a “Robinson Street”, named for John Beverley Robinson’s son, Lukin, a lawyer and real estate developer. Parts of the East End street were also called “Pape’s Lane” and, below Queen Street East, it was known as “Willow Street”. Globe, December 29, 1877

They buried Judah Joseph’s son, Samuel, in 1850, probably near the cemetery gate where the gravestones are all under grass. The grave of Catherine, the wife of Alfred Braham, also buried in 1850, was the earliest Jewish grave in Toronto marked by a tombstone.  After 1930 there were few interments, although the cemetery remained in use through the late 1940’s.

Ad from Browns Toronto City and Home District Directory 1846 to-1847

The Pape Avenue Cemetery (now known as the Holy Blossom Cemetery) still lies behind high walls, just south of the Matty Eckler Community Centre. This is the oldest Jewish cemetery in Ontario and indeed the oldest in Canada west of Montreal.  It is inactive and permission is needed from Holy Blossom Temple to enter. Seven years after the cemetery was founded, the Jewish community established the first synagogue in Ontario in rented premises above Coombe’s drug store at Yonge and Richmond streets. It later became Holy Blossom Temple. In 1919 a new Jewish Cemetery on Jones Avenue, just north of Leslieville, was consecrated, fulfilling an old Toronto Jewish proverb: “Live in the west; buried in the east.”

Gates to Holy Blossom Cemetery. Photo by Joanne Doucette.
Looking south across the cemetery to the back of the houses on the north side of Austin Avenue. Photo by Joanne Doucette
Detail Goads Atlas 1890 Plate 47 showing Austin Avenue before it was extended to Marjory Avenue. Holy Blossom Cemetery stretched from the lane north of Austin Avenue to Gerrard until it was further subdivided and lots sold to the Maple Leaf Skating Rink, and for houses on Gerrard.. The chapel is the red brick building on the east side of Pape Avenue in this map.

Part 4: Leslie Creek: from Austin Avenue to the Bay

South of Austin Avenue, the creek flowed west of Marjory Avenue to diagonally south east to cross Dundas Street at Dagmar. It crossed at 61 Jones Avenue where there was heavy basement flooding. It ran behind the store front block on the north side of Queen Street (George Leslie’s house and selling grounds) and crossed Queen Street just west of his general store at the northwest corner of Queen and Curzon.  It flowed through George Leslie’s nursery to cross Leslie Street and Eastern Avenue to enter Ashbridge’s Bay at the foot of Laing – the Gut. The Gut is where the City of Toronto Works Yard is now.

From west to east, Holly Creek, Leslie Creek, Hastings Creek, Ashbridges Creek and Small’s Pond with Small’s Creek and The Serpentine.

In 1910 city work crews buried Leslie Creek diverting its water into the municipal storm sewer system so that Austin Avenue could be extended. But the creek didn’t die. While water from rain and snow pours into the storm sewers, precipitation also sinks into the soil of gardens, lawns and parks, flowing as groundwater along the course of the old creek. Gone and totally forgotten, wet basements and faulty foundations along its way tell their own story.

Today there’s not much left to see of Leslie Creek, but if you look closely traces of the ravine remain. The dip in the lane way north of Austin Avenue is the old creek bed. If you look into backyards, remnants of the ravine west of Marjory Avenue south of Gerrard. The creek itself can still be heard running underground after a rainfall or in a spring thaw.

Part 5: The Street is Extended

Toronto Star, August 17, 1900
Globe, July 17, 1885
Globe, May 9, 1885
Globe, May 9, 1885

Public infrastructure, which in those days meant sewers, paved streets and sidewalks, was essential to the success of any new subdivision, then and now. George Washington Badgerow believed the East End would become an important and prosperous part of Toronto. Even before he began Subdivision #549 where Austin Avenue is today, he pushed the City of Toronto to improve road access to his subdivision. He succeeded.

1903 map showing Austin Avenue terminating west of Marjory Avenue
1903 Map showing east end of Leslie Creek and ravine.

Brickmakers deepened and widened the ravine when they dug down to extract clay and sand for bricks. Leslie Creek blocked the extension of Austin Avenue eastward to Marjory until 1910.

Plan of the City of Toronto, 1909, showing different types of pavement

New transportation technology demanded new streets.

Old cedar block pavement Brunswick Avenue north of Harbord Street, November 1, 1899

Brick pavement on Eastern Avenue, July 25, 1916
Map of Toronto Railway Company’s streetcar lines, from “Toronto As Seen From the Street Car”, 1894

When Austin Avenue was extended in 1910, the area was a streetcar suburb of Toronto. Under heavy pressure from the City of Toronto, the Toronto Street Railway Company extended its Gerrard line east from Pape Avenue to Leslie Street and, after that to Greenwood Avenue, but no further.

. Toronto Star, August 14, 1906

The private streetcar company’s line was extended from Pape to Leslie in 1906 and to Greenwood in 1909 The City of Toronto built its own Civic Car line from Greenwood Avenue to Main Street. In December 1912, the new line opened. Soon after the City built a streetcar line from Broadview to Main along Danforth Avenue. Like Badgerow, others could see a bright future for the East End.

And then people could see that this part of the east-end was being brought very, very near to downtown, and that it was a beautifully wooded stretch of land. The cars discovered Gerrard street. They have taken hundreds of home-site buyers and builders down there. Toronto Sunday World, December 22, 1912

But by the time Austin Avenue reached Marjory Avenue, there were over 2,000 automobiles registered in Canada – a mere handful, but by the outbreak of World War One there were over 50,000. Cars, the new technology, demanded the developed of a different kind of city street, one that could accommodate the wear and tear of mechanized transport.

Car stuck in the mud on Morley Avenue (since renamed Woodfield Road). Photograph taken for the Globe, September 13, 1912

Not everyone was in favour of improving roads. Some rural residents resented Torontonians and their noisy automobiles. In 1903 York County Council considered improving the roads, but:

Councillor Baird  stated that he was very much opposed to paying out money for good roads and then have “the automobile fellow” come out on them from Toronto. He stated that these machines went at a terrific rate, and were very dangerous.” Toronto Star, November 27, 1903

The automobile revolutionized Toronto’s cityscape, transforming the gravel and sand roads of the earlier rural Leslieville and even the more recent “streetcar suburbs” created by the extension of the streetcar system, especially the Civic Car line along Gerrard. It is not coincidence that people in the East End stopped thinking of their community as “Leslieville” around this time.

City crews laying bitulithic pavement on Bain Avenue, looking west from Logan Avenue, October, 1905

Sheet asphalt placed on a concrete base was first used in Paris, France in 1858 and first used in the U.S. in 1870. Thirty years later bitulithic pavements, a mixture of aggregate (crushed rock or gravel) and crude oil, began to be laid in Toronto. At first the binder was produced using naturally occurring crude oil (mostly from Trinidad), but in 1907 manufacturers began producing asphalt binders synthesized from petroleum. By the 1920’s many of Toronto’s streets were paved with asphalt. Portland cement (a mixture of cement, sand and gravel) was also being used in road construction, as a base to support wooden block paving, bricks, cobble stones, granite blocks, etc.

Toronto Star, March 3, 1909
Toronto Star, June 22, 1909

Local improvements could get expensive, especially when streets were extended. The ravine of Leslie Creek cut across the east end of Austin Avenue severing it from Marjory Avenue until 1909. The Russell family of brickmakers mined the banks of Leslie Creek for clay. Marjory Russell is believed to be the source of the name for this local street.

After the City extended Austin Avenue across Leslie Creek ravine, they called for tenders to grade the new section of the street. Globe, June 23, 1909
Toronto Star, October 28, 1909

Austin Avenue was paved using new technology, but an old material: asphalt, a mixture of bitumen (crude oil) and aggregate, rolled on to streets hot. As automobiles began to multiply, drivers began to demand better roads and streets. Before asphalt this, the City of Toronto paved its streets with bricks (yes, there really were yellow brick roads), granite or wooden blocks. But the kind of pavement laid down in 1910 on Austin Avenue gave a smoother ride.

1917 Ford
1910 Map showing extension of Austin Avenue eastward to Marjory Avenue.
Globe, May 11, 1914
Marjory Avenue looking west at Austin Avenue, showing the asphalt paving, concrete curving and cement sidewalk familiar to today’s residents.

A writer in 1716 said, “Tis impossible to be sure of anything but death and taxes.” After the City of Toronto filled in the ravine of Leslie Creek and extended Austin Avenue to Marjory Avenue, property values went up as did tax assessment on Austin Avenue and Marjory Avenue.

Death is still with us and I wonder what the taxes are on theses Austin Avenue houses?

https://torontolife.com/real-estate/sale-of-the-week-39-austin-terrace/

https://www.blogto.com/city/2013/04/house_of_the_week_41_austin_avenue/

http://55austin.com/

Urban Beekeeping, Austin Avenue, Leslieville, 1912

Bees on AUstin

Perhaps nothing illustrates the value of knowing the background to your life and future than the environmental crises facing us today, including global warming and mass extinction. The bees of 32 Austin Avenue have a story to tell us about remembering the background to our lives.

Collective amnesia is as if we suddenly forgot everything important that ever happened to make us who we are. It is as if we as a society had a massive stroke and could only remember what happened today. Yesterday gone. If this happened to a bee colony, how could they find the flowers with the nectar and pollen needed for survival. The colony would collapse.

What is another name for “the background to your life”? Informally it is our communal memory. More formally it is history, both that written by academic historians in universities and by more everyday folks like me. I’m Joanne Doucette, one of Leslieville’s local historians, and I think that our collective past can help us imagine a better present and certainly a better future.

Let’s take a time machine back to the Green family 32 Austin Avenue in Leslieville in the summer of 1912. Neat homes and gardens line this quiet street and bees buzz from flower to flower long before the City of Toronto considered it necessary to develop a “Pollinator Protection Strategy”. https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/9676-A1802734_pollinator-protection-strategy-booklet.pdf

Leslieville was founded by market gardeners and many of our streets are named after these families: Pape, Logan, Leslie, Greenwood, etc.

October 23, 1901 Greenwood Avenue looking north. Both sides were lined with apple orchards

George Leslie and the other market gardeners of Leslieville were absolutely dependent on bees, but no doubt took them for granted.

Toronto was home to incredibly communities of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees (many now endangered or threatened), butterflies and moths. For more information about the bees of Toronto: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/8eb7-Biodiversity-BeesBook-Division-Planning-And-Development.pdf

Looking over the Steele Briggs nursery at Kent and Queen in the background, just behind the red brick buildings, is the Ashbridge’s nursery.

Although pesticides like Paris green were in use on farms and market gardens, most farms were still essentially organic and agriculture more sustainable.

A J Cook, The Bee-Keeper's Guide or Manual of the Apiary 1902 hiving a swarm

A thriving community of beekeepers, men, women and children, kept hives in their backyards and produced honey for home use and even sale. In 1912 Alfred William Green and his wife Effie Harnden lived at 32 Austin Avenue with their four children, Harold, Bernice, Myrtle and Alton, and thousands of honey bees.

19121102 GL Bee industry1
Globe, November 2, 1912
19121102 GL Bee industry2
Globe, November 2, 1912 continued
There were hundreds of urban beekeepers a century ago! For more about urban beekeepers in Toronto go to: http://urbantorontobeekeepers.org/
19121102 GL Bee industry4
Globe, November 2, 1912
Globe, November 2, 1912
Globe, November 2, 1912
19121102 GL Bee industry6
Globe, November 2, 1912
Toronto City Directory, 1912
Gleanings in Bee Culture June 15, 1912 kit1
A kit for a beginner, from “Gleanings in Bee Culture”, June 15, 1912 Total Cost $30 US. Similar kits are for sale today for about ten times the price.
Gleanings in Bee Culture June 15, 1912 kit2
Gleanings in Bee Culture June 15, 1912 The items in the kit

In 1912 farming was still largely chemical free and based on small family farms. Bee populations were healthy and beekeeping both a popular urban hobby and a rural business. A beekeeper of 1912 would have had a hard time believing that a century later bees on Austin Avenue would experience more biodiversity than rural bees. Alfred Green, like all beekeepers, would have known that bee keeping is more than some boxes, frames, gloves, head gear and other equipment: it is bee caring. Bees require consideration and in return they give honey and pollinate our gardens and crops.

“The evidence is overwhelming that wild pollinators are declining. Their ranks are being thinned not just by habitat reduction and other familiar agents of impoverishment, but also by the disruption of the delicate “biofabric” of interactions that bind ecosystems together. Humanity, for its own sake, must attend to these pollinators and their countless dependent plant species.” -Edward O. Wilson

In 2019 farming is large scale agri-business, dependent on chemicals and artificial fertilizers, no longer sustainable but a major contributor to a global environmental crisis. Now Toronto, like many cities, is encouraging beekeeping to both stop falling bee populations and encourage local farmers and business.

Today’s city bees are healthier than their country cousins. The urban bees make more honey and have a higher winter survival rate. The city bees of 2019 have access to a wider range of flowers, a more varied diet. They have a stronger immune system and less exposure to toxic chemicals than rural bees.

Colony Collapse Disorder was unknown as were neonicotinoids, the insecticide believed to be behind declining bee populations.

However, now the term “colony collapse” is something even school children worry about.

A J Cook, The Bee-Keeper's Guide or Manual of the Apiary 1902 worker bee
The worker bee, from A. J. Cook, “The Bee-Keeper’s Guide or Manual of the Apiary”, 1902
For more about the different kinds of bees go to: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/8eb7-Biodiversity-BeesBook-Division-Planning-And-Development.pdf

“…most industrial farms practice extensive monoculture (miles of the same crop), where there is no alternative forage for any pollinator, native or non-native. Without a variety of food blooming at different times, any insect pollinator in the area will have a short, troubled life.” -Karen E. Bean, beekeeper

R Wilkin, Handbook in Bee Culture, 1871
A honey comb from R. Wilkin, Handbook in Bee Culture, 1871
R Wilkin, Handbook in Bee Culture, 1871a
From R. Wilkin, “Handbook in Bee Culture”, 1871

So for me the value of the background to this little illustrated story from Austin Avenue is not in some dusty type of history that leaves a dry mouth and bored mind but in its power to awaken our imaginations. We reach into our background to move forward to create alternative futures.

“I dreamt—marvelous error—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my past mistakes.

-Antonio Machado, “Last Night As I Was Sleeping”

Some bee-friendly plants still common in Leslieville today

A bee-friendly Leslieville area garden, 2019

On this place: Riverdale Collegiate (cont’d)

Thomas Jennings brickyard 1890b

Boy labourers and men, Thomas Jennings brickyard on Jones Avenue (east side) between Danforth Avenue and Hunter Street, 1890’s.

Last of a clay bank Clay Worker

Last of a clay bank from the Clay Worker, 1891. This is the type of relatively shallow clay pit, dug out by hand that characterized the brick quarries south of the railway line. There the rich brick clay was near the surface. North of the railway tracks the brick companies used machinery to excavate deep holes down to the bedrock where they blasted out the shale with dynamite. Dinky locomotives, small train engines, hauled the rock up narrow gauge railway lines to the brick plant where it was ground into a powder, mixed with water and sand, and made into bricks.

Clay and the clay industry of Ontario slop method

From Clay and the Clay Industry of Ontario, 1906. 

Although large operations like those of Joseph Russell and John Price with heavy machinery dominated the industry by the time Riverdale Collegiate was built, small operations like this still continued using methods that had changed little since the Middle Ages.

The horse is working the first type of machine that was introduced to the brick industry — in the 1850’s. The horse walks around and around that beaten track, pulling that big piece of timber which turns a grinding wheel. The machine, a pug mill, grinds the clumps of clay into a powder. The brick moulder mixes it with water and sand and pushes it into a wooden mould (in his hands). He then dumps it onto the ground to dry in the sun.

The figure to his right is a young boy, probably his son. Often the women and younger children worked with the father but by this time it was not socially acceptable so they don’t appear in the photo. The children did much of the heaviest labour.

Clay Worker 1891 Laborers Hamilton

Photo from the Clay Worker, 1891, showing a Hamilton brick plant. I include it here because it clearly shows very young boy labourers as well as black workers. Leslieville’s labour force reflected the same reality. A number of descendants of those who came up the Underground Railway settled in Hamilton and Toronto. Many came to Leslieville and worked in the brickyards. Their descendants live still live here today.

Slide 18

With the mechanization of the brick industry after 1890, machines replaced manual labourers and teenage boys (many under the age of 16) replaced men. This is a sanitized image. The work was heavy, hard and, all too often, deadly. The boys breathed in brick dust and smoke from the kilns. Industrial safety laws were almost non-existent and many men and boys were mangled in the machines, often fatally.

Clay and the clay industry of Ontario 1906 Logan

From Clay and the Clay Industry of Ontario, 1906

Clay and the clay industry of Ontario 1906 downdraft kiln

From Clay and the Clay Industry of Ontario, 1906. These kilns burned wood for fuel. Riverdale’s high school students would have breathed wood smoke all year round, contributing to lung problems and paving the way for tuberculosis and other pulmonary diseases.

Clay Worker Vol 15 to 16 1891 2

Ad from The Clay Worker, 1891. This type of machine was the favourite in Leslieville’s brickyards by 1900.

maps

I have adapted this 1913 illustration from a map by Coleman to illustrate a cross section of the surface deposits in the Leslieville area. 

The green is the richest clay and the best for bricks. It was found near the surface south of Gerrard Street and along the creeks, including Hastings Creek. Between Gerrard Street and the railway tracks the deposits were covered with sand but still not far below the surface. But north of the railway tracks the deposits were deeper. Brickmakers used steam shovels to dig through the sand to get at the good clay, but when they had used that up, they dynamited the shale (gray in the illustration) and made it into bricks.

1913 Leslieville Clay Deposit

1913 map showing the rich clay deposit (green) between Jones Avenue and Greenwood Avenue.

1913 Legend

1910 Devils Hollow labelled

1910 map with my labels. 

There is an urban legend that Myrtle, Ivy and Harriet Streets were named after local women (true) who argued so much that they could never meet so the streets don’t meet (not true). The deep ravine called “the Devil’s Hollow” had more to do with keeping the streets from meeting. The women were all members of local brickmaking families who actually seemed to have got along quite well.

7

Continuous kiln at the Russell brick plant. The Clay Worker, November, 1906.

6

The Clay Worker, November, 1906.

5

This is likely along Hasting’s Creek near Riverdale Collegiate. Note the orchard at the top of the bank. The Clay Worker, November, 1906.

Slide 22

The area was still quite rural in 1907 when Riverdale Collegiate began as can be seen in this photo of Pape Avenue looking north from about the railroad tracks.

Slide 23b

A cartoon appealing for British immigrants to come to Toronto. From the Globe, March 19, 1908. 

Canada’s immigration policy was openly racist and specifically sought white Scottish, Irish and English immigrants to counter the feared “Yellow Peril” — immigration from China and, to a lesser degree, Japan. This is clearly and, none to subtly, reflected in the poem below. John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923) was one of Canada’s leading cartoonists.

Slide 23a

British immigrants crossing the “Bridge of Tears” over the railway tracks at Union Station around 1911. It was called this because here people said goodbye to loved ones or cried because they had left everything they had to gamble on a new start in a new country. Everything they own is in their hands.

Most came in family groups like this. Mother has baby in her arms. Dad is at the back. Two teens carry the luggage and grandmother is at the back carrying another child. The grinning child on the right reflects the hope they had, but others don’t look so enthralled with Toronto.

Slide 24

At the same time that a Shacktown was growing outside the city, families like the Andersons built brick and brick-fronted houses like these west of Greenwood Avenue. The City of Toronto imposed stricter building requirements due to the danger of fire. The so-called “Fire Limits” required brick construction at least on the street facade and fire resistant cladding on the other walls. Much of that cladding was Insulbrick, a kind of asphalt impregnated with asbestos. There is still a lot of that material around, often covered with newer aluminum siding.

The Andersons, professional builders from Scotland, preferred to build solid brick, sturdy houses, like these three. Many of those still stand today near Riverdale Collegiate. (Photos courtesy of Guy Anderson)

Slide 25

After 1905 a Shacktown developed east of Greenwood Avenue on land that was still outside of the limits of the City of Toronto. A flood of impoverished British immigrants arrived here to start new lives only to find that while jobs were available (at least at first), there was no housing for them. So they bought lots at around $5 to $10 a foot of frontage and scrounged bits of lumber, old crates, tarpaper, tin and whatever could use to create their own homes. These are on Coxwell Avenue.

Slide 26

City of Toronto Building Construction Dates City of Toronto Works and Emergency Services, Technical Services, Survey and Mapping Services, Mapping Services. Produced by Patricia Morphet, September 2003 This map is on line at http://oldtorontomaps.blogspot.com/2014/06/contemporary-maps-with-historical.html

Slide 28

From Goad’s Atlas, 1913, Plate 100, showing Riverdale Collegiate. Curzon Street was later renamed Bushell Avenue north of Gerrard. Bushell may have been named after a brickmaker named Bushell who was killed in World War One. After that bloodbath the City of Toronto renamed a number of small streets after particularly courageous men who died. Another such street is Dibble near Eastern Avenue and McGee.

Skating on Hastings Creek The Devil's Hollow

December 22, 1919 Boys playing hockey on Hastings Creek. Hastings Creek crossed the Danforth just east of Jones and cut a ravine at Ravina Crescent in “The Pocket” and another gully, known as the “Devil’s Hollow” between Jones & Greenwood.

The creek continued south through the Hastings’ farm (Hastings Avenue to Alton Avenue) and across where Greenwood Park is to enter Ashbridge’s Bay between Leslie Street and Laing Street. The City filled the ravine in a number of times and finally buried the creek in the sewer system in the early 1920’s.

A staff member at the East End Garden Centre recalled when her grandfather caught fish in this pond. Others have told me of their grandparents tobogganing down the hill or skating on the pond.

Slide 29

Cattle and pigs were driven along roads leading into Leslieville from very early in the 19th century. The men and boys who managed the cattle en route were called “drovers”. Later they were brought in by train. When they reached Leslieville the animals were let loose to graze on the nutritious meadow grasses along Ashbridge’s Bay.

Some were even fed on the leftovers from the Gooderham Worts Distillery. Then they were slaughtered by butchers in the many abattoirs that were feature of Leslieville’s economy. Of the cattle that were fed on whisky mash, it is said that they died happy.

Slide 30

This is looking west along Jones Avenue just north of Riverdale Collegiate. Heavy industry lined the track, including a pork packinghouse on the west side of Jones where pigs where slaughtered. The stench was incredible especially on hot days, making nearby houses and the high school even more uncomfortable in the days before air conditioning,

Contour Map 1908 Hastings Creek labelled

This map was published in 1908 and is based on surveys done in 1907.

Lazeby 1921 TTC close up topo map Leslieville labelled

Hastings Creek has now been put underground as part of the sewer system. The penciled in line just east of Leslie Street may indicate the path of the sewer. By this time the creek was heavily polluted with industrial and human effluent. But public health was coming into its own by the 1920’s and chlorination of drinking water, immunizations against infectious diseases, pasteurization of milk, and the invention of new drugs like penicillin began to revolutionize society in ways that we often don’t recognize today. Nonetheless, the teenagers of Riverdale paid a heavy price in the First World War and Great Flu pandemic that followed. I hope the short history of the Riverdale Collegiate site that I have written will help all of us appreciate young people more through understanding the area that they grew up in.

Slide 31

Globe, Sat., Aug. 31, 1907 On the former exterior south wall, now inside an atrium, a 1965 Toronto Board of Education plaque. This is what it says: “In co-operation with the Riverdale Business Men’s Association, the Toronto Board of Education persisted in building a school on Gerrard Street, named Riverdale Collegiate Institute. The original school, consisting of a principal’s office, library, auditorium, four classrooms and two science rooms, was occupied in 1907.”  Contrary to some sources such as Wikipedia, Riverdale Collegiate Institute was first called Riverdale High School NOT Riverdale Technical School. Riverdale Technical School, founded in 1919 on Greenwood Avenue north of Danforth Avenue was renamed Danforth Technical School.

Slide 32

Colourized postcard, 1907

Slide 33

Photo from The Report of the Dept of Education 1910 By the second and third years, classes had to be held in the cloak rooms. The first addition was completed in 1910 and consisted of the assembly hall and the eight classrooms to the north and south of it.

Slide 34

Photo from Report of the Dept. of Education, 1914. Additions were built in 1914, 1922, and 1924, in accordance with the architect’s original plan for the expansion of the school.

Slide 35

Architect’s blueprint showing planned extension to Riverdale Collegiate. City of Toronto Archives.

Slide 36

Postcard of Riverdale Collegiate after 1924 when additions were added to enlarge the school further. This is likely from an architect’s drawing prepared for that extension to the school.

Riverdale_CI_Crest

THE END

 

 

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.

TorontoOldNew Badgerow

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Badgerow

 

Badgerow and Dixon Vinegar 1893 79 Jarvis Street Toronto Illus

Badgerow and Dixon Vinegar Works 1893 79 Jarvis Street

 

Badgerow1893

Goad’s Atlas 1893

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Badgerow Avenue 1893 with street numbers corresponding to the 1893 City Directory.

Badgerow 2018

City of Toronto Interactive Map

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

1860map

1860 Map of York County by G.R. Tremaine

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.

1866 Mitchell's General Directory p 404

1866 Mitchell’s General Directory p 404

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 of police. Henry Lewis was another black merchant. Logan Avenue is named for John Logan, a tall shy market gardener. James Morin built the Duke of York Tavern, in 1870. Alexander Muir wrote “The Maple Leaf Forever”. Pape Avenue is named after the Papes who specialized in growing flowers. Joseph Pape was one of Ontario’s first florists. Samuel Sewell was the patriarch of Leslieville’s black community. Thugs murdered his 15-year-old son, Isaac, ostensibly because he flirted with a white woman, but more probably that motive was piled on another — they robbed him of a substantial amount of money. There are so many stories, but from this you would not really have much idea where they actually lived.

1866 Mitchell's Generall Directory p 344The same Directory gives us more information, but only if you understand the rather cryptic language used. It lists every head of house (i.e. men) alphabetically for the Township of York East. Leslieville was in York East, but so was Riverside, the Village of Norway, etc. — and the City of Toronto.

Let’s look at a few examples: Ashbridge, Jesse Con 1 Lot 8f; Beaty, Hanah Con 1, Lot 15f (single women and widows were included, especially if they owned property); and Calendar, Henry, laborer, Con. 1, Lot 5h.

With that information we know within a city block or two where these people lived. But how?

 

Landowners

Concessions, Lot numbers, Land Owners, 1796, Township of York East, from Victoria Park on the east to the Don River on the left. 

Maps say a lot, but you have to understand the language they are using or at least the basics.

1809 Ashbridge HouseJust as we begin learning French with basic phrases like “Bonjour” or “Merci beaucoup”, we begin with a few basic terms in the language of those who laid out the roads and side roads, farms and subdivisions — surveyors. If you own a home, you want an accurate survey to know where your property begins and ends or you may find yourself tearing down the new fence you just built and/or having a heated argument with your neighbour. So, now and then, surveyors used state-of-the-art equipment, to lay out a pattern of roads and property divisions called “lots”. In the Township of York East,  they began by carefully laying out an accurate base line — an imaginary, but crucial east-west line.  Then they laid out a second line and a third and a fourth and so on, like rungs on a ladder reach north from the lake — each rung at a equal, pre-determined distance from the base line. The area between the base line and the second line was called “the First Concession”; and between the second and third line it was “the Third Concession”.

They laid out another set of lines, but these ran north and south, again in pre-determined and equal distances. These lines were known as side lines. Between each sideline and the one to the west of it was a “farm lot” or simply called a “lot” of 200 acres. The lots are number from east to west, beginning at the Victoria Park, the boundary between the old Scarborough Township and the Township of York East.

In this way, the early surveyors laid out the Township of East York as a grid and their orderly lattice of concessions, sideroads, and lots is still with us today. When settlers or contractors “opened up” or built a road along the imaginary line, the road became known as “the First Concession Road” or “Base Line Road”; Second Concession Road; Third Concession Road; etc. In rural areas today, you will often hear, “Oh, so-and-so lives on the Second Concession”, meaning the Second Concession Road.

18510000 Leslieville Map

1851

In our area, the First Concession Road became known as the Kingston Road or the road to Kingston. Parts of it later became known as “Queen Street”.

AshbridgesWhere Kingston Road bends and goes up the hill towards Woodbine Avenue, Lee Avenue and beyond, it is no longer on that imaginary line but follows an ancient First Nations trail. In fact most of our streets that run diagonally or meander lazily around hills and through valleys, are trails made by the Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Missisauga, and the Nations that went before them. This includes Kingston Road, Dawes Road, Broadview Avenue, Todmorden Road, Bayview Avenue, Rosedale Ravine Road, Davenport Road, and so many more. Some like the Ridge Road in this map have been completely forgotten.

1896 Map of Scarboro Left side

1896 Arthur Thompson Map of Scarboro (Left side)

Queen Street through the Beach is on the line of the First Concession Road. The roads alone the sidelines became known with numbers in most rural areas, but in our area the sideline roads have names. This Map of the TownshipsYorkScarboro, and Etobicoke from ca 1911 by C.H. MacDonald clearly shows the area streets with the numbered lots. People called the area between Queen Street and the bay and lake “the Broken Front” because it was the front of the grid but was not continuous, being cut up with coves and inlets.

19160000 CH MacDonald Map The Old East End

If we take an even more detailed part of the map above and flip it 90 degrees, we can see the names of the sidelines better.

19160000 CH MacDonald Beach and East Toronto - rotated.jpg

The sideline at the boundary with Scarborough Township is now Victoria Park Avenue. The next sideline, separting Lot 1 and 2, is Willow Avenue. Between Lot 2 and 3 is Beach Avenue, then spelled “Beach Avenue”. Then between Lot 3 and 4 is Main Street which becomes Southwood Drive south of Kingston Road. Sidelines here are not as straight as the first surveyors, mostly military men, would have wished because the steep hill and numerous ravines messed up their neat plan. The side line between Lot 4 and 5 was called “Morton Road” but is now “Norwood Road”. South of Kingston Road it is Lee Avenue.

Sideline 1912 2017
1-2 Willow Ave Willow Ave
2-3 Beach Ave Beech Ave
3-4 Main Street Hammersmith Ave, Southwood Rd, Main St
4-5 Lee Ave, Norwood Rd, Morton Rd Lee Ave, Norwood Rd, and roughly Westlake Ave
5-6 Woodbine Ave Woodbine Ave
6-7 Roughly along line of Berkeley Ave Now roughly along Edgewood Rd, then Beaton Ave, Wembley Rd, and Hillingdon Ave
7-8 Coxwell Ave Coxwell Ave
8-9 Morley Ave Woodfield Rd and closer to the Danforth it is Gillard Ave
9-10 Greenwood Ave Greenwood Rd
10-11 Leslie Street Leslie Street and north of the CNR tracks Condor Ave
11-12 Jones Ave Jones Ave
12-13 Carlaw Ave Carlaw Ave
13-14 DeGrasi St DeGrassi St and further north near the Danforth it is Hampton Ave
15 Broadview Ave Broadview Ave

2016 City of Toronto Interactive Map

Even today our houses sit in numbered subdivisions within the original farm lot.

So let’s decipher our examples. Keep in mind that while the sideline is not mentioned, we don’t really need it. There were very few streets opened up in 1866 and only two major Concession Roads: Queen Street and Danforth Avenue. Kingston Road being a First Nations Trail was “off the grid” and not a concession road in York East.

jesse-ashbridge

Ashbridge, Jesse Con 1 Lot 8f means Jesse Ashbridge, living on Queen Street between Woodfield Road and Greenwood Avenue, in Leslieville. “Con 1” is Concession One or the block of land that lies between the Baseline (Queen Street) and the Second Concession Road (Danforth Avenue). “f” is for “front”, meaning the south end of the block of land while “h” is for “hind” or “rear”, meaning on the south side of Danforth Avenue.

Ashbridges House

Jesse Ashbridge House, Queen Street East between Woodfield Road and Greenwood Avenue on the north side.

Beaty, Hanah Con 1, Lot 15f means Hannah Beatty (typos even back then) lived on Queen Street between Broadview and the Don River — in Riverside.

Calendar, Henry, laborer, Con. 1, Lot 5h is a lot trickier because Kingston Road intersects Lot 5 and though it says “h” for rear, he could be living on Kingston Road or near to Danforth Avenue, somewhere between Norwood Rd. or Westlake Ave. and Woodbine Avenue.

1860 Tremaine's Map of the County of York, Canada West

From Tremaine’s Map of the County of York, 1860

1866 Mitchell's Generall Directory p 344

1868.Gehle.Sketch.EofTorontobtwnDonandScarboron0020711ksm-1

1868 Map. Dawes Road is the diagonal road in the upper right. It ran all the way to Kingston Road which arches like a bow along the brow of the steep escarpment above the Beach.

 

Leslieville

1878

We will follow the Jesse Ashbridge property.  Jesse Ashbridge died in 1874 of tuberculosis. His wife Emma Rooney died in 1919. Their son Wellington Ashbridge died in 1943 and Jesse Ashbridge Junior died in 1945. Wellington Ashbridge had two daughters: Dorothy died in 1996 and Winnifred in 2002.

1866 Mitchell's Generall Directory p 345

1884 Goads Atlas

1884 Goads Atlas

18840000 Goad's Map

1884 Ashbridge Estate

1866 Mitchell's Generall Directory p 346

1866 Mitchell's Generall Directory p 347

1866 Mitchell's Generall Directory p 348

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1892, Abrey & Tyrell map

Riverdale 1893.jpg

Riverdale 1893

Goad 1899

1899 Goad’s Atlas

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1903

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1910

19100630 TS Ad Ashbridges Estate

Toronto Star, June 30, 1910

 

 

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1924

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Detail Goad’s 1924

Goad’s Fire Atlas maps have a great deal of detail. For example, take the block of buildings from Vancouver Avenue (formerly Ashport) to Greenwood Avenue, on the north side of Queen Street. When someone planned a subdivision they had to register the plan with the Registry Office and they received a number for their new subdivision. The number 303E is the subdivision number for the storefronts and houses here. There are seven narrow north-south lots, numbered from east to west 1 to 7. 7 is the store on the northeast corner of Greenwood and Queen. The address is also given and for this store it is 1372 Queen Street East. It also tells us the construction of the buildings. Not surprisingly the reddish-brown brick-coloured buildings are brick. The yellowish builds are wooden. The red line in the lower left corner is the water line for a fire hydrant. The fire hydrant is a circle.

So if you wished to research the title for 1372 Queen Street East, you know it is in Concession One, Lot 10, Subdivision Plan 303E, Lot 7.  You could also check it in some of the other City Directories.

1891 City Directory

1891 City Directory

1906 City Directory1

1906 City Directory

1906 City Directory2

1906 City Directory (cont’d)

Queen St E north side 1911

Queen St E South side 1911

This should be entitled Queen Street SOUTH Side JD

1914 City Directory

1914 City Directory

1922 City Directory Queen and Greenwood

1922 City Directory

1922 City Directory Queen and Greenwood2

1922 City Directory (cont’)

View of Queen Street East at Greenwood AvenueView of Queen Street East at Greenwood Avenue, 1981

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Photo by J. Doucette

Postscript: The Ashbridge Estate

Ashbridges Collage

 

19540609GM Pluck and Piety first - Copy (2)

Globe and Mail, June 9, 1954

19540609GM Pluck and Piety119540609GM Pluck and Piety19540609GM Pluck and Piety5 - Copy19540609GM Pluck and Piety4 - Copy

Ashbridge plaque

Globe and Mail, September 29, 1955.jpg

ashbridge-house-1444-queen-st-e-july-1986-tpl

Ashbridge House, 1444 Queen St. E. July 1986 Toronto Public Library

 

Ashbridge willow - Copy

Ashbridge’s Willow

Riverdale Gardens & the Edwardian Dream Home

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Streetscape, Bloomfield Ave, Riverdale Gardens, October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

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.

The Canadian Courier, Vol. IV, No. 19 (Oct 10, 1908) Orchard

The Canadian Courier, Vol. IV, No. 19 (Oct 10, 1908)

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Toronto Star, May 21, 1910

 

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An old cherry tree from the orchard that was here before Riverdale Gardens was built. October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

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One of the old trees from the orchard that William Prust promised to leave in every yard. October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

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 there were many more varieties of house design. The Edwardian era featured simpler designs and fewer styles, chiefly the Edwardian Classic house and the Arts and Crafts bungalow, both of which are found in Riverdale Gardens.

While technically the Edwardian architectural period coincided with the end of World War One in 1918. But Edwardian houses continued to be built in Riverdale Gardens up until the end of the 1920s, no doubt because William Prust himself preferred this style.

19210316 Toronto Star, March 16, 1921

Toronto Star, March 16, 1921

19210316 GL Prust 50th wedding

At the beginning of Edwardian era, most of the East End was still not subdivided. The Hastings and Ashbridges farms had not been sold to developers and the Toronto Golf Club’s course from Coxwell to East Toronto was in operation until 1912. Gerrard Street from Greenwood to Main was not opened until 1912.

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19121105 TS Death Greenwood Crossing drawing

Looking north on Greenwood at the railway tracks, Toronto Star, November 5, 1912

east-from-greenwoodGreenwood Avenue was widened in 1909. Gerrard and Greenwood was a major streetcar junction with Greenwood cars going north-south to Danforth and Queen and Gerrard cars going east-west.

Greenwood and GerrardWe may chuckle now, but it is important, I think, to remember that the architects and builders, be it 1917 or 2017 consider their work “modern” and “state-of-the art”, but certain periods featured such dramatic technological and social change that they stand out.

With the advent of cheap hydro-electricity after 1907, industry was expanding along key East End streets, particularly Carlaw, Eastern and, to a lesser extent, Coxwell Avenue. Virtually the only industry on Greenwood in this period was brick making. These new plants provided employment for managers, foremen, and skilled tradesmen such as lithographers and engravers who followed their employers from downtown to the East End. Toronto’s growing middle class embraced change, including electricity, the expansion of public transit, and the new architectural styles.

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City Hall decorations for the inauguration of Toronto Hydro – May 2, 1911

The middle class begin to move farther away from downtown to new “streetcar” subdivisions such as Riverdale Gardens. This accelerated in the 1920s as the automobile became cheaper and more accessible, offering another transportation option. In the “The Roaring Twenties”, Gerrard Street and Greenwood Avenue were built up all the way from the Don to Main Street and from Queen past the Danforth. As the population of Toronto boomed, real estate along Gerrard also boomed.

1923 Goad's Atlas

Riverdale Garden’s Goad’s Atlas, 1924

The Edwardian era featured apartment buildings built with plumbing and electricity, such as Albert Wagstaff’s Vera Apartments at Wagstaff Drive and Greenwood Avenue. Wagstaff build it as a modern building, in the latest style, and as a practical investment allowing his managers and foremen to live right next to their workplace. He may even have subsidized some of the rents, but this remains to be documented. Wagstaff built a number of apartment buildings in the East End, but apartment buildings were very controversial at the time. They were often and unfairly labelled “tenements” with all the associations to over-crowding, unsanitary conditions and poverty. The new type of apartment building pioneered in Toronto by Wagstaff and others made these buildings socially acceptable and even fashionable.

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The Vera Apartments, Wagstaff Drive. William Prust lived in the duplex next door. October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

Prust was careful to include shops in Riverdale Gardens. Shopfronts were simpler than their Victorian predecessors. Glazing now featured broad panes of plate glass instead of the smaller-paned windows. Although merchants could buy machine-made plate glass from as early as 1800, it was very expensive and did not come into common use until later and only became relatively common by the 1890s. These show windows featured fresh fruit or vegetables, hardware, shoes or other merchandise.

19281207GL Arnolds Market Greenwood CORRECT

Globe, December 7, 1923 Arnold’s Market, 251 Greenwood Avenue — the south-east corner of Greenwood and Gerrard. Grocery stores were much smaller then.

19281207GL Arnolds Market Greenwood detail

Globe, December 7, 1923 Arnold’s Market, 251 Greenwood Avenue — the south-east corner of Greenwood and Gerrard.

19301009TS 251 Greenwood Stop and Shop

Stop and Shop, now the Better Price Food Market, Toronto Star, October 9, 1930

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Southwest corner of Greenwood and Gerrard, October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

19280426TS Collins Hardware

Toronto Star, April 26, 1928 Collins Hardware, 224 Greenwood Avenue, now Maha’s Restaurant.

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One of the businesses of Riverdale Gardens, October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

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Originally one of the stores of Riverdale Gardens. October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

The Isaac Price house at 216 Greenwood stands out both because of its size and its style and would have been considered slightly old-fashioned by many even when it was built. The Queen Anne house featured asymmetrical; textured surfaces; classical ornamentation; often towers/turrets; wraparound porches; balconies; art glass; and high brick chimneys. The Isaac Price house is a more restrained rendering of the Queen Anne style and includes some Arts and Crafts elements. It might better be considered a “vernacular style”, but does feature a vertical orientation, asymmetrical massing, projecting gables, and contrasting materials, particularly brick and wood. Of course, the brick it featured was Isaac Price’s own high-quality face brick, virtually identical to his brother’s “John Price Red”.

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The Isaac Price House, 216 Greenwood Avenue, October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

Most of us see Edwardian Classic houses each and every day and don’t think much about them. But they, and Prust’s guiding hand, are what makes Riverdale Gardens unique and beautiful. So let’s take a second of many more long looks at the houses and neighbourhood of Riverdale Gardens.

19281017GL Paving Laneway off Gerrard with concrete

The original paving is still there. Globe, October 17, 1928

 

The typical Edwardian house of Toronto’s suburbs has a gable front, three or four bedrooms upstairs, and a big front porch. Most have lots of windows, often with Indiana lime stone sills, and a smooth brick walls on a high cement or field stone foundation. The wide porch usually was painted white and has clustered columns.

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Edwardian Classic villa, Gerrard Street north side at Prust, October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

19240616 Toronto Star, June 16, 1924 Artistic house

How the homes of Riverdale Gardens were viewed in the Twenties. Toronto Star, June 16, 1924

Many Edwardian houses are basically rectangular brick buildings with classical elements drawn on the architectural vocabulary of “classical” Greece and Rome. (Personally, I would like to see more homes today build on the not-so-classical vocabulary of the wigwam but is another story.)

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Classic dentilation above a bay window, Riverdale Gardens. October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

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Classic detailing, Edwardian home, Riverdale Gardens, October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

Many have modified Doric columns. The architrave is usually quite plain. The cornice maybe exaggerated and with dentil blocks. The window surrounds are large but not ornate. Some area owners have retained the original windows with storm windows added, preserving the original design. The front door is important and many Riverdale Gardens home showcase the front door with the house’s most prominent Edwardian features.

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The entrance to this Sandford duplex echos an ancient Grecian temple. October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

Many verandas span the whole front façade and have a simple pediment over the staircase, as in this example above. Above the smooth tapered Doric columns, a plain architrave supports the porch. Under the soffit of the roof, a plain frieze board would have repeated the design of the architrave, subtly unifying the building while referring to the classical ideals that were so much a part of the middle-class education of the day.

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An Edwardian Classic from the ground up, Ivy Avenue, Riverdale Gardens, October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

Examples of original Edwardian Art Nouveau or Arts and Crafts art glass still survive to grace Riverdale Gardens. Some owners such as those who own the house in this photo have preserved their art glass, and, incidentally, improved the value of their house.

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Original art glass, home, Riverdale Gardens. Unfortunately or cowardly of me, I wasn’t willing to go closer and trespass to get a better photo. October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

This Edwardian house features the clean lines and solid massing of the Edwardian style but also presents some Arts and Crafts elements. The gable has half-timbered effects. The simple brown and white painting of the timber is, as with many Edwardian touches, restrained and subtle compared to Victorian paint schemes.

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The “Tudorbethan” house with turret that was built for Isaac’s son, William Henry Prust. October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

This is a typical Edwardian verandah with Doric colonettes on brick posts. The stairs are wide and simple, welcoming, and there is lots of room for the wicker chairs they loved so much.

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Classic Doric colonettes on posts with the original entablature, bay windows, gable dormers, on a duplex. October 17, 2017 photo by J. Doucette

Some Edwardian homes sometimes have half-timbered exteriors, in what has sometimes been jokingly referred to as “Tudorbethean” or a fabricated mixture of Tudor and Elizabethan architecture. Sometimes the fill between the timbers is stucco and occasionally “pebbledash”.

Pebble dash

Pebble dash, photo by J. Doucette, 2017

I think of the Edwardian houses or Riverdale Gardens as neatly-wrapped presents. They look good, really good, on the outside and you just can’t wait to get into them. And what is inside them is treasure. Prust’s lay-out of the streets and houses and his insistence on “trees, trees, trees, if you please”, add to this feel that characterizes Riverdale Gardens. But, like a wrapped present, there are goodies on the inside.

The front door of an Edwardian house made a statement. It was panelled and sometimes incorporated Masonic symbols or images and stained glass. Walk through the front door of these Edwardian homes and you found paintings (albeit reproductions or prints), sparkling tileworks, stained glass and decorative features inspired by both the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements. To get an idea of the fashionable home interior of the early 1920s and the clothing of the men and women who lived when most of Riverdale Gardens was built, one of the best places to look is the Eaton’s catalogue. These are from the Eaton’s Fall and Winter catalogue of 1920 to 1921.

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Prust houses often had piping for gas lighting, stoves and fireplaces, but all had electricity. This was one of those revolutionary technological changes we take for granted until a transformer somewhere on the grid goes down and the lights go out. As electric lights brightened interiors, those interiors opened up, creating a very different interior from the larger hall to the bigger rooms, with larger windows and taller ceilings. The living-room replaced the parlour. Simple replaced the fussy. Light colours replaced the dark colour schemes of the Victorian interior.

Good lighting pays (2)

This was a new vision of the living space: light-filled, with open, airy rooms, considered far more healthy especially at a time when the “white plaque”, tuberculosis (TB), killed so many. Incidentally, this term is not a reference to race, but to the ashy paleness of those eaten up or consumed by “consumption”, another term for TB.

Sterling Home Pictures

Women had more say in how homes were designed. These Edwardian houses and their Arts and Crafts contemporaries featured the first built-in kitchen cabinets, the first built in kitchen sinks and stoves, as well as bedrooms with a closet in every room, even though those closets seem small to us today. Servants no longer looked after the middle class and these houses were made easier to clean – especially with the electric vacuum cleaner.

Toronto Star, April 22, 1919 Maids may quit

The floors would be dark, polished wood as would be the staircases, posts and banisters. Persian-style rugs broke up the expanses of bare floor with splashes of colour and texture. Walls were often white downstairs, but wallpaper was frequently used in the bedrooms. Walls could be white when they were lit by electricity. Gaslight, oil lamps and candles made walls sooty and dark Victorian paint and wallpaper concealed this. Now wallpaper was softer and easier on the eye than Victorian wall paper. It often featured delicate floral patterns in pastel shades.

19250829 GL Toronto Brick ad CNE

Many homeowners in Riverdale Gardens have renovated their Edwardian homes with extensions, skylights and additional windows, very much in the spirit of the original design with its emphasis on light, airy space. Riverdale Gardens is a very attractive location, part of Leslieville with its very desirable “location, location, location”. Properties gain both aesthetically and in value when homeowners understand more about the Edwardian nature of their houses. These gracious understated houses were built with the highest quality materials and workmanship especially when someone William Prust controlled the development of the subdivision. The bricks were the best, usually Price bricks. The timber was the highest quality, old-growth pine for framing and quarter-sawn oak, American chestnut or other fine wood for floors, interior moldings, doors and windows. These houses, detached, duplexes, triplexes and a few terraces, if lovingly maintained, will last for centuries, long after hastily-constructed condos will be nothing but dust and rust.

Bricks - Copy

Three local bricks: a Wagstaff brick is left; an Ashbridge’s and Morley brick, centre; and an Isaac Price brick, right.

19230511 Globe, Friday, May 11, 1923 $6200

Globe, Friday, May 11, 1923 $6200

19230324 Toronto Star March 24, 1923 117 Ivy Ave

Toronto Star, March 24, 1923 117 Ivy Ave

19230615 GL Naylor and Hayes Ivy

Globe, June 15, 1923

Even the roads of Riverdale Gardens were better maintained that Greenwood and even Gerrard. The brick wagons with their heavy loads cut deep ruts into Greenwood Avenue. To avoid the bog, motorists detoured through Riverdale Gardens. This went on for at least a decade, but probably more. At the time that Prust Avenue was built, Alton Avenue did not extend all the way to Gerrard but stopped before the steep drop-off that was the north face of the clay pit where Greenwood Park is today.

Alton Avenue Toronto Star, Oct. 3, 1917

Toronto Star, October 3, 1917

The traffic, even when not befuddled [or inebriated] was not welcome.

Toronto Star, Oct. 29, 1927 Prust

Greenwood Avenue was in such bad shape that cars preferred to detour down Prust to Gerrard. Residents wanted it declared a private road. Another solution was found: making the streets of Riverdale Gardens one-way in direction, deterring through traffic. Toronto Star, Oct. 29, 1927

19271029 Toronto Star, Oct. 29, 1927 Prust

Toronto Star, October 29, 1927

Ivy Av TPL Dig

88 and 90 Ivy Ave., January 1913

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Ivy Avenue, Photo by Joanne Doucette, 2017

For more info about the Edwardian house see:

http://www.ontarioarchitecture.com/Edwardian.htm

 

 

Some terms defined:

 

Architecture: The art of designing and building according to the rules regulated by nature and taste.

Architrave: The lintel or flat horizontal member which spans the space between columns; in classical architecture, the lowest member of an entablature.

Aspect: The direction in which a building faces.

Balcony: A projection from a wall of a building. It is usually placed before windows or openings.

Balloon framing a method of wood framing (begun in the 19th century) where the exterior walls are continuous from foundation to roof plate, and all the framing members are secured with nails.

Baluster: Any of the singular posts of a railing, one of a series of uprights, often vase-shaped, used to support a handrail.

Balustrade: the low wall made up of a series of balusters and railings, a row of columns supporting a railing.

Bargeboard: fancy, wooden ornately carved scrollwork, attached to and hanging down under the eaves of the projecting edge of a gable roof

Base: The architectural element on which a column or pier rests. See also column, pier. Other parts of columns and piers: abacus or impost block, capital, shaft.

Baseboard (skirting board): interior finish trim hiding the wall and floor junction.

Bay Window: A window forming a bay or recess in a room or an alcove projecting from an outside wall and having its own windows and foundation.

Bay: A unit of interior space in a building, marked off by architectural divisions; sections of a building, usually counted by windows and doors dividing the house vertically.

Bond: the pattern in which bricks are laid, either to enhance strength or for design.

Bracket: historically, a support element used under eaves or other overhangs. In Edwardian architecture, exaggerated brackets used under wide eaves are decorative rather than functional. A projection from the face of a wall.

Builders: trained as apprentices with master builders who were themselves usually carpenters or masons.

Bungalow: The Arts and Crafts bungalow in its purest form didn’t work for cold climates like Toronto, Detroit or Chicago. So, designers reconfigured the bungalow, creating a new style of bungalow that was raised on a stone or concrete foundation with a basement and the most modern furnace available. Nevertheless, they built in elements that emphasized the horizontal vs. vertical even when, as in our neighbourhood, the bungalow was perched half-way up a hill. This new bungalow, sometimes called a “semi-bungalow”, was usually a storey and a half with a dormer, not a full two stories.  Although small by today’s standards, often between 800 and 1200 square feet, they were considered spacious at the time. The typical six-room house had two or three bedrooms, one bathroom, a livingroom that flowed into the dining room, kitchen, and a full basement. It often had a second floor with additional space, but was usually only a storey and a half. It had large porches covered by the overhanging roof and eaves and supported by generous columns. Columns were designed in such a way as to break up the vertical line using groups of columns, a column split into two parts (a bigger base with a small pedestal on top) or so-called elephant columns that were wedge-shaped, narrow at the top and widened like an inverted elephant’s trunk at the ground. By 1923, there was a building boom across Toronto as prosperity had returning following the brief depression of 1919. The area along Gerrard filled in with rows of brick bungalows, detached, duplexes and triplexes. Riverdale Gardens is exceptional in being mostly Edwardian villas with only a few bungalows.

Capital: top part of a column, decorative element that divides a column or pier from the masonry which it supports.

Cladding: exterior surface material that provides the weather protection for a building.

Classical Orders: Doric  (earliest and simplest) Doric columns usually have no  base; the shaft is thick and broadly fluted, the capital is plain. Ionic (second) Ionic columns are usually slender, with fluted shafts, and prominent volutes on the capital.   Corinthian (latest and most ornate Order) Corinthian columns are slender, usually fluted, with capitals elaborately carved with acanthus leaves.

Colonnade: Series of columns set at regular intervals or a row of columns which support horizontal members, called an architrave, rather than arches.

Column: Cylindrical support consisting of base, shaft and capital.

Coping: a cap or covering on top of a wall, either flat or sloping, to shed water.

Cornice: The top section of the entablature; a horizontal molding projecting along the top of a building or wall.

Course:  a continuous horizontal row of brick or stone in a wall.

Crenulations or battlement: A parapet with alternating openings (embrasures) and raised sections (merlons), often used on castle walls and towers for defense purposes.

Decorative Wooden Trim: Most homes include a street-facing gable decorated with wood trim such as brackets, patterned millwork, bargeboards, or shingling; this decoration is also occasionally used on the porch gable.

Dentils:  small, oblong blocks spaced in a band to decorate a cornice.

Doors and Windows: Front facades of homes in this district are typically wide, which allows architectural elements like windows and doors to also be wider.

Doric: The oldest architectural style of ancient Greece; characterized by simplicity of form; fluted, heavy columns and simple capitals.

Dormer:  an upright window projecting from the sloping roof of a building; also the roofed structure housing such a window.

Early roads: Queen Street was the baseline (with the land beneath it becoming known as the “broken front”).  Surveyors ran their lines north from Queen Street with the Danforth eventually becoming the first concession.  Farms were oriented north-south along Queen Street in 200 acre lots.  Villages sprang up at the toll gates along the road — Norway at the Woodbine toll gate; Leslieville at Leslie Street and Don Mount (later renamed Riverside) at Mill Road (Broadview).

Vernacular style:  many houses exhibited a mixture of several styles. Many Edwardian architects and builders borrowed elements from different styles, particularly Neo-classical, Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts, to create their own designs.

Elevation: one of the external faces of a building; an architectural drawing (to scale) of a building façade.

Ell: an addition or wing to a house that shapes it like an “L” or a “T”.

Entablature: A horizontal superstructure supported by columns and composed of architrave, frieze and cornice.

Façade:  the faces of a building, often identified by the cardinal direction (N,S,E,W) which it faces.

Fascia: a plain horizontal band; a fascia board will cover the joint between the wall and the projecting eaves.

Floor plan or ground plan: Horizontal cross-section of a building as the building would look at ground level. A ground plan shows the basic outlined shape of a building and, usually, the outlines of other interior and exterior features. The main floor and upper floor plans (if any) are always included. In addition, depending upon the scope of the survey, plans at the following levels may be required: foundation plan, reflected ceiling plans (crawl space, main and upper floors), attic joist plan, rafter plan and roof plan.

Foundation wall, beam, column, footing: Many of the homes of settlers sat directly on the ground. Masonry walls were used for footings from c. 1850 – 1900. Poured concrete foundations were new in the late 19th century and those with Portland cement, harder and more durable, in the 20th century.

Foyer: The entrance hall.

Framework, walls, floors: Wooden structural frame and light cladding. Clad in brick, stucco or wood.

Frieze: the horizontal band forming the middle section of the entablature; usually decorated with sculpture.

Gable: The end wall of a building, the top of which conforms to the slope of the roof.

Gambrel:  a ridged roof with two different slopes on each side of the ridge, the lower slope having a steeper pitch (sometimes called a Dutch roof).

Glazing:  the glass in a window.

Grand Trunk Railway (GTR):  This railway was proposed in 1851 as the main trunk line through the United Province of Canada. It was formally incorporated in 1852 to build a railway from Toronto to Montreal. In 1856 the GTR reached the banks of the Don River in Toronto. The GTR became part of the Canadian National Railway (CN) and now GO Trains roar along it.

Half-timbering:  wall construction in which spaces between wooden timber framing are filled with brick, stone, or other material; used decoratively in 20th century houses.

Head:  the top of the frame of a window or door.

Header:  the end of the brick seen in a brick course.

Industrialization There were a considerable number of highly organized and specialized plants located in the East End. These larger manufacturers were successful, and, with their state-of-the-art machinery mass produced goods, that outcompeted smaller factories. Many, like Palmolive or Wrigleys, were branch plants owned by American corporations who had to build here in Canada because tariff walls imposed high duties on American-made goods.

Jamb: A vertical element of a doorway or window frame.

Jerkinhead:  a gable roof with a hipped end

Joist:  horizontal structural members to which the boards of a floor or the lath for a ceiling are nailed.

Light (lite)  : small panes of window set into an individual sash.

Lintel: A flat horizontal beam which spans the space between two supports.

Lozenge: A diamond shape.

Masonry:  work done by masons, including brick, stone, or concrete block.

Massing:  the expression of interior volume as form.

Mortar:  a material used in the plastic state and troweled into place to harden; used to consolidate brick, stone, and concrete block work.

Newel:  the principal post in a banister at the foot of a staircase and at the corners of landings.

Parging (pargeting): to coat with plaster, particularly foundation walls and rough masonry (see stucco).

Pediment: a triangular section, or gable end, often used above doors and windows or at porch entrances.

Pier: An upright support, generally square, rectangular, or composite.

Pitch: the degree of slope of a roof, usually given in the form of a ratio, such as 6:12.

Porch: a roofed exterior space on the outside of a building.

Portal: Any doorway or entrance but especially one that is large and imposing.

Portland cement: a high-strength material (commercially dating to 1824) used as a component of concrete and modern hard mortars.

Quoins:  rectangles of stone or wood used to accentuate and decorate the corner of a building

Rafter: framing member supporting the roof.

Repointing: removal of old mortar from joints of masonry construction and filling in with new mortar.

Return: the part of a pattern that continues around a corner.

Ridge: the [top] line of intersection of the opposite sides of a sloping roof.

Riser:  the vertical face of a step.

Riverside Missionary Church In 1902 this building was erected as a Primitive Methodist Church on the site of an earlier Church at 466 King Street West, at the corner of Bright Street and King Street.

Roofs: Gable, hipped (mansard included) and flat roofs.

Rusticated block:  concrete block formed to replicate rough stone.

Sash:  the moveable framework holding the glass in a window or door.

Shaft: The structural member which serves as the main support of a column or pier. The shaft is between the capital and the base.

Shingles:  thin pieces of wood used in overlapping rows to cover roofs and exterior walls of houses; can be cut in decorative shapes.

Sidelights:  windows at either side of a door; often in conjunction with a transom above door and sidelights.

Siding:  the exterior wall covering of a structure. German  : common 19th century wood siding pattern, with a combination of concave curve and flat profile novelty  : general term for 19th century wood siding with a decorative profile.

Sill:  the horizontal water-shedding element at the bottom of a window or door frame.

Site Plan: The site plan shows the legal boundaries; the topographical features, including contours, vegetation, trees, roads, walks, fences and other man-made features; and the buildings. If the grid system is employed, the baseline of the grid, including its true bearing and tie-in dimensions to permanent features, is indicated as well as the level reference datum. Included with the site plan is the location plan, which is a map enabling one to find the property with reference to main roads, towns or natural features.

Soffit: The underside of an arch, opening, or projecting architectural element.

Springer: The lowest voussoir on each side of an arch. It is where the vertical support for the arch terminates and the curve of the arch begins.

Stained Glass Windows and Transoms: Stained glass decoration is sometimes found used in homes, especially in large, arched windows in the front of the house, and in transoms over the front doors.

Streetscape: the combined visual image from all of the physical elements found on both sides of a street, including the property up to the building front   Riverside Garden has a distinct, identifiable streetscape. Repetition of design features such as roof and porch trim, and gable shapes, create a sense of unity and rhythm as they are repeated throughout Riverdale Gardens. This gives an overall character, a sense of community, visually to Riverdale Gardens and, of course, those who live there give the rest to that very tangible sense of community.

Stretcher: the long side of a brick when laid horizontally.

Stringcourse: A continuous projecting horizontal band set in the surface of a wall and usually molded.

Studs:  the upright framing members for a wall.

Transom window:  a window above a door; commonly hinged for separate operation.

Tread:  the horizontal surface of a step (see riser).

Trim:  the framing of features on a façade which may be of a different color, material, or design than the adjacent wall surface.

Turret:  a little tower, set at an angle to the main wall; often at a corner and projecting above a building.

Veranda or verandah: a roofed, open gallery or porch; a large covered porch extending along one or more sides of a building and designed for outdoor living. Verandahs and porches provided shade for the home and offered a sheltered place to sit, especially during warm summer evenings. They also gave homeowners a place to observe and interact with their neighbours. Porches were initially made of wood, which could warp, leak or rot if improperly constructed. By the 1910s, porches were constructed from concrete and brick. As the world became less rural, demand for porches declined; cars stirred up dust and people became more private, spending their spare time indoors with their families and televisions. Most pre-1914 homes in the East End were designed to have some sort of covering for the front door entrance, whether it is a front porch, verandah, or a small overhang. Homes built during the 1920s feature porches that are integrated into the roofline. Porches include a variety of features, including columns, spindles, and handrails.

Verge board: bargeboard.

Vernacular: used to describe buildings with little or no stylistic pretension, or those which may reflect an interpretation of high-style architecture of the day.

Villa: In Roman architecture, the land-owner’s residence or farmstead on his country estate; in Renaissance architecture, a country house; in early 20th-century Toronto, a detached house usually two or more storeys.

Voussoir: One of the wedge-shaped stones used in constructing an arch.

 

Greenwood Avenue

Greenwood Park

Looking west from Greenwood Avenue over the abandoned brickyard where Greenwood Park will be created later. Note the horses grazing in the distance.

Looking north east Greenwood Avenue Orchard and Logan's Brickyard Chimney

Looking north east Greenwood Avenue Orchard and Logan’s Brickyard Chimney, 1901. This was before Greenwood’s Lane was widened to become Greenwood Avenue.

 

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Greenwood Avenue was widened in 1909. Gerrard and Greenwood was a major streetcar junction with Greenwood cars going north-south to Danforth and Queen and Gerrard cars going east-west.

Price House 100 Greenwood Avenue

John Price built this handsome house at 100 Greenwood Avenue. It is a showcase for his “John Price Red”, considered by many to be the best brick ever made in Canada.

Greenwood

The tavern sign shown simply illustrates one possible rendition of a hanging sign for a Puritan tavern. The original sign has long been lost. The house of Frederick Greenwood, son of John and Catherine on Queen at Vancouver Avenue.

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Mayor Church and Parks Commissioner Chambers tossing the coin to decide which team will go to bat first at the first ball game in Greenwood Park. This was on the opening day.

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Greenwood Avenue looking south from the GTR Tracks 1901

Greenwood Avenue looking south from the GTR Tracks, 1901. Courtesy of the Toronto Public Archives.

 

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216 Greenwood Avenue. Isaac Price, brother to John Price, and also a brickmaker, built and lived in this house.

18990622GL Fire Hutchisons brickyard 99 Greenwood Ave

Globe, June 6, 18999 I will cover Greenwood’s many brickyards in a separate blog.

19301224TS Caulfields Dairy 381 Greenwood Ave

Toronto Star, December 24, 1930

19281207GL Arnolds Market Greenwood CORRECT

Globe, December 7, 1928

19281207GL Arnolds Market Greenwood detail

19250505GL Ruggles Trucks 298 Greenwood

Globe, May 5, 1925

19220918GL H P Wilson Lumber 370 Greenwood

Globe, September 18, 1922

18980326GL Clydesdale Mare for sale 101 Greenwood - Copy

Globe, March 26, 1898

Kate Greenwood

John Greenwood Grave

Greenwood memorials, St. John the Baptist Cemetery, Norway (Kingston Road and Woodbine Ave)

Violet GreenwoodGreenwood4Greenwood3Greenwood2GreenwoodGreenwood rowing

Globe, Nov. 7, 1865 Greenwood's shooting match

Globe, November 7, 1865

Charles Greenwood wins regatta Globe June 14 1880

Charles Greenwood wins regatta Globe June 14 1880

Charles Greenwood wins regatta Globe June 14 1880

19441125gm-william-g-greenwood1.jpg

Globe and Mail, November 25, 1944

19370112GM Greenwood Wise obit

Globe and Mail, January 12, 1937

19320507TS Estate of Joseph Greenwood builder

Toronto Star, May 7, 1932

19280502TS Frederick Greenwood injured Rhodes Ave

Toronto Star, May 2, 1928

19150813GM George Greenwood obit

Globe, August 13, 1915

18950903DailyMailandEmpire John Greenwood

Daily Mail and Empire, September 3, 1895

18820420GL Greenwood Tavern Leslieville

Globe, April 20, 1882

18800614GL Charles Greenwood wins regatta

Globe, June 14, 1880

18680411GL Mary L Johnson Greenwood

Globe, April 11, 1968

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A 19th century Carriage works.

19280202TS Sale of brick pit to Wagstaff

Toronto Star, February 2, 1928

345 Carlaw Avenue: Then and Now

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Goad’s Atlas 1923

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.

marks

The marks of Roden Bros. Ltd., 345 Carlaw Avenue: a) cut glass b) electro or silver plate c) sterling silver.

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. That year they purchased the 165 by 400 foot lot of land on Carlaw from A. Barthelmes for $25,000.[i] Goldsmiths Stock Company were their exclusive selling agents from 1900 to 1922.

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345 Carlaw Avenue from Dundas Street looking west towards Carlaw Avenue. Photo from TorontoOfficeSpace..com

Their factory was at 345 Carlaw Avenue at the north east corner of Dundas Street and Carlaw Avenue, the site of “The Carlaw” condominium. Dundas Street was not completed through the East End until 1957. Before Dundas Street existed a short laneway ran east off Carlaw just south of the Roden Brothers factory. Their plant sat between the Wrigley Building on the south and the Barthelmes Building on the north. Just to the east of their factory was a buried watercourse known as Holly or Heward Creek. A rail spur allowed them to ship their products across Canada and cheap access to electricity from Niagara Falls powered their machinery and the industrial boom along Carlaw Avenue in the early Twentieth Century. The much-loathed power lines we see on photos were symbols of progress and economic growth at the time. Like others in the Canadian Manufacturing Association (CMA), Thomas and Frank Roden were strong supporters of the by-law that created Toronto Hydro.[1] Carlaw was a dark, dirty industrial street with smoking chimneys, but, in its heyday its plants produced some of those beautiful and desirable products ever made in Canada.

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[1] Globe, Dec. 20, 1907

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

345 Carlaw Avenue is on the right, just beyond the broken picket fence. You can just read some of their sign. It says from top to bottom: “Roden Bros. Ltd.; Sterling Silver, Silver Plate; Cut Glass.”

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

This photo from 1948 shows the Roden factory, a red brick and concrete three-storey structure on the right. Across the street sets Harrold’s coal yard. The street on the left is is Dickens. The white building on the right is the Barthelmes Building where pianos were made.

condo-ca

This photo from Condo.ca shows the same scene today. The street has changed radically. However, some things, including the position of fire hydrants do not change much, if at all. Find the fire hydrant in both pictures and you will be looking at exactly the same view.

Who were the Rodens and how did they leave their mark on Toronto?

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Thomas Roden

The family was from Birmingham, England. Thomas and Frank’s father, George (1822-1887), was a grocer and provision dealer who became a very successful “commercial traveller” or sales person for one of Birmingham’s chemical factories. Their mother, Susannah Ryland, came from a prominent family that was listed in Burke’s Peerage. Their grandfather William Roden was a currier, a specialist in the tanning of leather.

frank-roden4

Frank Roden

Like others in the Canadian Manufacturing Association (CMA), Thomas Roden (1859-1929) and Frank Roden (1863-1928) were strong supporters of the by-law that created Toronto Hydro.[3] Carlaw was a dark, dirty industrial street with smoking chimneys, but, in its heyday its plants produced some of those beautiful and desirable products ever made in Canada.

The Roden brothers and their family left more than silver marks in Toronto. They, like many others who had climbed out of Birmingham through their skills, they were committed to the welfare of others, leaving a mark on Toronto’s social fabric that may outlast their silverware. They were Methodists and conservative in their politics, but progressive in many ways.

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Scene from Birmingham, England, 1871, the year Thomas and Frank Roden came to Canada. Photo from Pinterest.

Throughout their lives both Thomas Roden and his son Alfred were deeply involved in both the CMA and a housing company, the Toronto Housing Company, formed to provide affordable decent housing for working families. The Toronto CMA chapter worked with organized labour, the Toronto of Trade and the Great War Veterans Association (the forerunner of the Canadian Legion) to set up the Ontario Housing Committee. Out of this grew the Toronto Housing Company.  Their motives were not entirely altruistic.

“The formation of the Ontario Housing committee and the Winnipeg housing survey were in themselves indications of growing public demand for government-assisted housing construction. Thomas Roden had warned his colleagues in the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association that “the indifference of the guiding classes” in Canada to housing problems was encouraging “that condition that brought about the downfall of Russia” [in the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution]. Following Roden’s advice, the Toronto chapter of the CMA resolved that Canadian housing problems posed a “menace” to the “industrial, social and political welfare of the whole country.”[4]

The Rodens were also very involved in the Associated Charities, a forerunner of the United Way[5]. Frank Roden was particularly interested in good cars and roads, both of which he, apparently loved. He was one of the founders of the Good Roads Association in Ontario, as well as the Ontario Motor League and the Canadian Motor League.[6] Frank Roden died in 1928; brother Thomas followed him a year later. Thomas’ son, Alfred J. Roden (1884-1947) led the company after the brothers died.

 

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Alfred J. Roden, from The Toronto Star, February 10, 1930

What exactly did the factory at 234 Carlaw Avenue make?

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Roden Brothers, Ltd., Toronto, 1891-1956: Roden Bothers manufactured superior sterling silver teaware, flatware, toiletware, baby items, trophies, shields and novelties, as well as jewellery; they also manufactured silverplate, Sheffield reproductions, and “Pompeian Glass.”[7]

During both World Wars they produced military badges.

Royal Flying Corps Cap Badges were made in two types. Officer’s cap badges were made either in bronze or of a deeply “pickled” brass which made them deep bronze in colour. The enlisted cap badges, while essentially identical in form, were made from brass or other light golden metallic variations. Examples have been found made in UK and marked “Gaunt” while there have also been examples made in Canada and marked either “Roden Bros” and “Roden Toronto”. There are also many unmarked examples. There is considerable variety in the finish and material colour of these badges. Identical to the cap badge are a smaller version in both bronze and brass for officers and enlisted men which were worn on the raised collars of the “Maternity” smock and later on the lapel of the field uniform. In approximately 1915, an “economy badge” was produced for enlisted men and this differed from the regular badge by not being voided between the letters RFC.

http://www.worldofmilitarywings.com/wingpage/uk/rfccaps.html

 

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The Civilian, Vol. X, no. 7 (July 20, 1917)

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“Cap badge made by Roden Bros. The vast majority of cap badges do not have a maker mark on them. In addition to Scully Ltd, it is known that Roden Bros also manufactured badges for the unit. Badges made by Roden Bros can be distinguished by a small “R” found on the back of the badges.” From http://www.perthregiment.org

Their glass is from that style known as “Canadian Brilliant Period Cut Glass”. Today their cut glass is hard to identify as many of their pieces of cut glass were not signed. They competed with such Cut Glass Companies as Gundy-Clapperton, Gowans-Kent and Birks who was also their main competitor for the silver consumer market.

A few unique items that Roden Bros. Ltd. produced were a gold rose bowl with the royal route across Canada engraved on it for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939 and, a tea service for Princess Elizabeth’s wedding in 1947.

sports-trophies

They put out a special sport trophies catalogue which marketed their medals, trophy cups and other similar items, such as plaques and shields, belt buckles, charms, silver trowels for special events, etc. They advertised in their 1929 catalogue that they had produced “some iconic Canadian trophies” such as the Brier Tankard, the coveted curling trophy. They also produced trophies for hockey, baseball, football, motorcycle racing, curling, track and field, etc.[8]

 

 

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c1942 Sterling Silver Granite Association Curling trophy from Pinterest

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“A large and spectacular Antique Sterling Silver Sporting Trophy with 3 boar tusk handles standing on a black lacquered base. Gilded interior. Champagne bucket size. Engraved as follows: “The A.E. Kemp Trophy for Competition among The Quoiting Clubs of Toronto”. The trophy was made by Roden Brothers of Toronto, Canada. It stands 13.75″ high overall, 9.75″ high and 10″ across from handle to handle. It is in excellent condition, the only blemish being some wear to the interior gilding.” rubylane.com

tim_hortons_brier

The Tim Horton Brier Tankard By Resolute – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6251107

1909_grey_cup_champions

The Grey Cup, Dec. 1909. The Grey Cup was made by produced by Birks Jewellers  Canadian Encyclopedia http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/grey-cup/

“On Dec. 4, 1909, at Toronto’s Rosedale Field, a crowd of 3,807 mostly exuberant fans — the average ticket price was 70 cents — watched the University of Toronto Varsity Blues defeat the Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club by a score of 26-6. Unfortunately, Earl Grey and his staff had been tardy ordering the cup from Birks Jewelers (at a cost of $48), and it took another three months for the inaugural awarding of the Grey Cup to the victorious Blues.” Allan Levine, “History of the Grey Cup” in the National Post. See http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/allan-levine-history-of-the-grey-cup

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The Grey Cup. Roden Bros. Ltd. is believed to have worked on the Grey Cup. By Cmm3 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9651737

What about the Stanley Cup?

1913

The original Stanley Cup is on the right of the terrier in this picture. The Canadian Courier, Vol. XIII. No. 17 (March 29th, 1913)

Many attribute the Roden Brothers with helping to produce both the Stanley Cup and the Grey Cup.[9] Although I have found no evidence that they actually made either, it is quite probable that they were involved in the alterations over the years, including the adding of the many rings on both cups, various repairs and replacements. The original Stanley Cup consisted of just the bowl and cost $48.67 in 1892. It was made of silver and was 7.28 inches in high and 11.42 inches in diameter. Today’s Stanley Cup has a copy of the fragile, aged original bowl. It is made of a silver and nickel alloy; it is 35.25 inches tall and weighs 34.5 pounds.

stanley_cup_2015

Today’s Stanley Cup. Photo by Alex Goykhman – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44669468

On Saturday, February 8, 1947 the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Boston Bruins 5-2. One of the rising new stars that night was a rookie just recently called up from the minors. His name was Bill Barilko.

 

billbarilko

Bill Barilko

Alfred Roden, a die-hard hockey fan, watched the game in Maple Leaf Gardens. On his way home to Grenadier Gardens in Swansea he suffered a fatal heart attacks. This Leafs fan gave special silver spoons to the stars of all the games at Maple Leaf Gardens.

toronto-star-feb-10-1947-obit

On April 19, 1947 the Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadians 2-1 winning the Stanley Cup.

toronto-star-april-21-1947

Toronto Star, April 21, 1947

1947-champions

1947 Stanley Cup Champions

toronto-star-april-22-1947

Toronto Star, April 22, 1947

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Syl Apps with the Stanley Cup before it was redesigned later that year. It is likely that Roden Bros. Ltd. had a hand in the recreation of the Stanley Cup into the form we know it today. (Photo from the Imperial Oil-Turofsky/Hockey Hall of Fame)

On August 26, 1951 (age 24), Bill Barilko died in a plane crash in the bush near Timmins. His body was not found until 1962. The Leafs won the Stanley Cup that year – the first time since Barilko disappeared 11 years before.

bill-barilko-1951-52-parkhurst-52-209x300

Birks took over Roden Bros. Ltd. in 1953, but continued production on Carlaw until about 1956.[10]

toronto-star-dec-23-1972

Toronto Star, Dec.23, 1972

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Globe and Mail, October 29, 1988 Bailiff’s sale: Lark Manufacturing

After the Roden Bros. Ltd. left, 345 Carlaw became a printing factory for a while and then a textile company, Larks, until it went under in 1988.  Then it became a warehouse and housed a number of different small manufacturers over the next two decades, sharing the general decline of Carlaw Avenue as industries left or went out of business. The street was a sad shadow of itself when I moved here in the early 1980s.

 

The Carlaw

toronto-star-aug-29-2011-the-carlaw

Toronto Star, Aug. 29, 2011 The Carlaw

In September, 2011, Streetcar Developments (formerly Dundee Realty) began advertising “The Carlaw” as a “midrise condo with 1- and 2-bedroom lofts” at prices “from the low $200,000s”. Amenities would include a 24-hour concierge, guest suites, a fitness centre, a rooftop party room and a terrace for barbecues, a courtyard garden and even a pet spa. Occupancy was expected in December 2014, but sales began in October, 2011. [11]

In 2013 the City of Toronto approved the building of a 12-storey condominium tower and three-storey stacked townhouses, with a total of 313 units, on the site of the Roden factory. There were conditions for amending the zoning by law to allow Streetcar Develops the increased density and a 12-storey building. One of the City’s conditions was that the new complex would house a theatre company such as Crow’s Theatre.  Another was that, although the Roden Building would be torn down, the Barthelmes Building to the north would be kept. The Carlaw and its neighbour, the Taylor, were completed in the fall of 2015. Tact Architecture designed both buildings.[12]

If there is a ghost in 345 Carlaw, it is probably waiting for the Leaf’s to win the Stanley Cup and the people who live in The Carlaw to invite that spectre to the party. He knows they have a great party space and there’s a lot of Leaf fans on Carlaw.

[1] http://www.passionforthepastantiques.com/store/products/item/categories/semi-precious/products/roden-bros-amethyst-marcasite-ster-earrings-c-1900-10/?tt_products%5Bbegin_at%5D=10&cHash=d6dc57942c8031ea192c00c4b258b5f7

[2] Globe, Feb. 22, 1908

[3] Globe, Dec. 20, 1907

[4] John Christopher Bacher, Keeping to the marketplace: the evolution of Canadian housing policy, University of Toronto Press, 1984, pp. 56-57.

[5] Who’s Who in Canada, 1922

[6] Globe, October 16, 1912

[7] http://www.costumejewelrycollectors.com/2014/08/01/early-canadian-sterling-enamel-souvenir-jewelry-patricia-gostick-cjci/

[8] http://www3.sympatico.ca/norman4/SelectAntiques.htm

[9] Unterman McPhail Associates, Heritage Analysis Report: Carlaw and Dundas District Landscape and Public Realm Improvements, City of Toronto, Ontario. Appendix D.

[10] see also http://www.silvercollection.it/AMERICANSILVERMARKSRDUE.html  and http://www.justinteeantiques.com/news.html

[11] Toronto Star, Sept. 24, 2011

[12] http://urbantoronto.ca/database/projects/carlaw

[i] Toronto Star Dec. 17, 1912

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

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504 Queen Streetcar from Transit Toronto http://transit.toronto.on.ca

One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things. – Henry Miller

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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

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

View of front of Simpson’s with holiday decorations, Yonge and Queen Street West, November 22, 1973

View of Queen Street East at Yonge Street

View of Queen Street East at Yonge St Jan. 30, 1982

View of Eaton's Queen Street store

View of Eaton’s Queen Street store, April 5, 1977

View of Queen Street East near Church Street

View of Queen Street East near Church Street, May 31, 1981

View of Queen Street East at Church Street, looking east

View of Queen Street East at Church Street, looking east, June 2, 1981

View of Queen Street East at Jarvis Street, looking east

View of Queen Street East at Jarvis Street, looking east, June 6, 1981

View of Queen Street East at Jarvis Street, looking east

View of Queen Street East at Jarvis Street, looking east, July 9, 1977

View of Queen Street East at Sherbourne Street

Sherbourne and Queen, looking east,  June 6, 1981

View of Queen Street East, view east at Parliament Street

View of Queen Street East, view east at Parliament Street, July 9, 1977

View of Queen Street East at Parliament Street

View of Queen Street East at Parliament Street, June 6, 1981

View of Queen Street East looking east to the Don from Tracy Street

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

View of Queen Street East, looking east to Don bridge, May 11, 1977

View of Dominion Breweries on Queen Street East

View of Dominion Breweries on Queen Street East, June 6, 1981

View of old streetcar on Queen Street East

View of old streetcar on Queen Street East. December 14, 1978 just west of River Street.

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Neville Park 501, east bound on Queen Street near River, between 1979 and 1983.

View of Queen Street East, looking east from the Don bridge

View of Queen Street East, looking east from the Don bridge June 2, 1981

View of intersection of Baseball Place and Queen Street East

View of intersection of Baseball Place and Queen Street East, May 11, 1977

View of houses on Baseball Place, Queen Street east of the Don

Baseball Place, May 11, 1977

View of the north-east corner of Broadview and Queen Street, the Victoria Hotel

View of the north-west corner of Broadview and Queen Street, the Victoria Hotel, July 11, 1977

View of Queen Street East, looking east across McGee Street

View of Queen Street East, looking east across McGee Street, June 6, 1981

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Queen St. E Presbyterian Church Queen St E. s.e. corner Carlaw Ave 1986 Toronto Public Library

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Postal Station ‘G’ Queen Street East & Winnifred July 1986 Toronto Public Library

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Leslie Grove playground (Mosquito Park) 1986 Toronto Public Library

View of Queen Street East at Jones Avenue

View of Queen Street East at Jones Avenue, June 6, 1981

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Jones & Queen St. 1986 Toronto Public Library

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Jones Ave & Queen St. E 1986 Toronto Public Library

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Duke of York Hotel Tavern e Leslie & Queen St. E 1986 Toronto Public Library

View of Queen Street East at Greenwood Avenue

View of Queen Street East at Greenwood Avenue, June 6, 1981

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1395 Queen St. E., southside 1986 East End Garden and Homeware Centre Toronto Public Library

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Ashbridge House, 1444 Queen St. E. July 1986 Toronto Public Library

View of Kingston Road at Queen Street East

View of Kingston Road at Queen Street East, May 26, 1977

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Beaches Library community mural, 1979 Toronto Public Library

District, Beaches. - [between 1977 and 1998]

95 Store at 2357 Queen East at Spruce Hill [between 1977 and 1998]

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Neville Park Loop, 1980s

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Presidents’ Conference Committee Car, 1966. Time to leave the Red Rocket.

District, Beaches. - [between 1977 and 1998]

R. C. Harris Filtration Plant, 1971

Waterfront . - [ca. 1990]

Kew Beach [ca. 1990]: For the humans

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Heading to the Dog Beach: Ley the Border Terrier 

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A HAPPY ENDING