Join us as we continue our visual tour of the history of the East End’s main drag from the Don to Victoria Park through Riverside, Leslieville, the Ashbridges neighbourhood, the Beach Triangle and the Beach. A nod of appreciation to the Riverdale Historical Society who has done amazing work to keep local history of Riverdale alive. To find out more about them and to join, go to: https://riverdalehistoricalsociety.com/
We acknowledge that what we now call Toronto is on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississauga of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississauga of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties signed with multiple Mississauga and Chippewa bands.
By Joanne Doucette. Joanne is a local historian, a past Chair of the Toronto Public Library, founding member of the Leslieville Historical Society, and co-founder of the DisAbled Women’s Network. She is retired and lives in the Coxwell-Gerrard neighbourhood. She is administrator for the Metis Minute Facebook Page and moderates the following Facebook groups: Midway, Toronto Beaches Historical Photos, and the Coxwell-Gerrard Facebook page.
This walk starts at Broadview Avenue and goes east along the south side to Lewis Street in the Riverside neighbourhood.
The slideshow below explains how to understand Goad’s Atlas. It is not a map really, but a plan prepared to show the risk of fire for specific buildings. Why? For the insurance industry to help determine rates. To see Goad’s Atlas from different years online go to:
For more maps of Toronto go to:
Drovers herded cattle along Kingston Road (now Queen Street East) and the Mill Road (now Broadview Avenue). The tired, hungry and thinner cows (and pigs) were fattened up on the grasses growing behind the butcher on the shores of Ashbridges Bay. Then the butchers slaughtered them and sold the meat in the St. Lawrence Market.
The restaurant owners could fight off robbers, but they were defeated by the economic downturn that followed World War One. With no money in their pockets, people could not afford to eat out.
From 1900 to 1913 The East End experienced the benefits of a world economic boom, despite the Panic of 1907. Most of the housing stock in The East End went up from 1900 to 1930 with many houses constructed in that first decade 1900 to 1910, but the housing shortage was acute and many resorted to living in “the rears”. This gave laneway housing a bad reputation, well-earned, and led to by-laws banning such housing. The City of Toronto only slowly opened its collective mind to laneway housing in the 21st Century. https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/planning-studies-initiatives/changing-lanes-the-city-of-torontos-review-of-laneway-suites/
Jobs were to be had close at hand as many new factories sprang up along Carlaw Avenue and Eastern Avenue around 1900. That year the Niagara Parks Commission approved a plan to build a massive hydro-electric generating station on the Canadian side of the Niagara River that would power The East End’s factories with cheap hydroelectricity. The period from 1900 to 1910 was a time of great hopes and dreams for the working-class immigrants. Most men had relatively good jobs in a growing economy. For most they could really believe that they had a chance to get ahead. If all their dreams could not be lived in their life time, they expected that the lives of their children would continue to improve through education and hard work – the proverbial “elbow grease”. This was a time when the belief in progress permeated all levels of society. They expected good schools and libraries so that they and their children “could get ahead”.
For more about the history of this Riverside legend go to:
Please check this website for the next part of this digital tour as we “walk” from the Don River to Victoria Park in a series that links together to form a chain.
My history of Leslieville is available for reading free of charge at:
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