When I looked for articles about Coxwell Stables in the newspapers of 1919, I found very little which is surprising. Why?
All the sources on line, including the architects who remodelled in 1985, state that it was built in 1919, but this is not actually true, I found. In fact strong opposition from Coxwell Avenue residents delayed its construction until 1920.
The Coxwell Stables (on Coxwell Ave. just south of the train tracks) were built in 1919 to accommodate the horses that pulled Toronto’s Public Works Department vehicles. After the horse-drawn vehicles were replaced with automobiles, trucks and other machines, the stables were used mainly as a storage facility. In 1981, the Toronto Historical Board designated the building a historical site and CityHome, the City of Toronto’s non-profit housing company, subsequently bought and renovated the site to offer affordable rental housing (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2010; Toronto Community Housing, 2010).
Here are some of the articles that show what really happened. But, before that, let me note that Coxwell Stables was not the first large stable on Coxwell Avenue. T. Eaton Co. opened a large stable on the east side of Coxwell probably begun in 1918 and finished in 1919.
The neighbours living in the newly built Toronto Housing Company buildings on Coxwell did not appear to have objected to the T. Eaton Co. Depot with its large stable of horses. They did, however, object strenuously to another stable on the street. Why were stables a problem for residents?
Stables meant large accumulations of horse manure and large accumulations of this meant a very large smell that would virtually saturate the air especially on hot days. As well, stables attracted flies, particularly horse flies which have a painful bite.
In the 1980’s CityHome bought the Coxwell Stables from the City of Toronto Public Works Department and in 1984 Oleson Worland Architects renovated the old buildings completely as housing. They kept the original Arts and Crafts exterior appearance. The Coxwell Stables, now owned by Toronto Community Housing, has nine two-bedoom apartments, one one-bedroom apartment and one bachelor apartment. The Toronto Historical Board designated the Coxwell Stables as heritage buildings. The Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950 attributes the Coxwell Stables to George W. Frederick Price, not W.W. Pearse. Their listing is below
TORONTO STREET CLEANING DEPT., Coxwell Avenue, near the GTR Overpass south of Hanson Street, stables and offices for the City of Toronto, 1920 (Toronto b.p. 35610, 30 Nov. 1920)
He also designed the St. Patrick’s Market on Queen Street West near John and the Coliseum at the C.N.E. So finally, some credit is going where it most likely belongs and another minor historical mystery is solved. We still enjoy this beautiful old complex of buildings today as well as the renovated T. Eaton Depot across the street, now also housing. As my storytelling ancestors would say, “And so the story is told.”