Join us as we continue our visual tour of the history of the East End’s main drag from the Don to Victoria Park. This is the third installment. 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/
By Joanne Doucette
This neighbourhood was once called “Don Mount” but its identity changed from a mere cross roads in the 1870’s as it began to be built up more. According to the Globe of August 19, 1880:
Change of Name
It is stated on official authority that after the commencement of next month, Don Mount will be no more, the name “Riverside” then taking its place.
Shops and People
Along the way I will introduce you not only to buildings and architecture, but to shops and individuals. Some of my choices are idiosyncratic, but doesn’t that make it all the more interesting.
A Fishmonger on Queen — but not the Hooks you might know! And a woman on a motorcycle…
Across the river by the Coleman factory
A Victorian trio
It was a poor neighbourhood and a rough one, but bootleggers, bookies and gamblers were not necessarily considered dishonourable professions by the neighbourhood at that time.
But next door lived the Buckners, a family that was well known and long-established in the East End, respectable and hard-working Cockney immigrants, who were skilled plasterers.
636 Queen St E Robert and Annie Buckner, Globe and Mail, January 16, 1943
636 Queen St E Homing Pigeons, Toronto Star, October 3, 1934
There is a myth and, some might say more than a myth, a TRUTH that the East End were all Scots, Irish, English, mostly Protestant with a sprinkling of Catholics here and there. But, as we continue our virtual walk along Queen Street, you will meet Black people, Jewish shopkeepers and tailors, Chinese laundrymen, labourers from Macedonia, etc. This was a diverse neighbourhood in a very homogeneous city; today it is a diverse neighbourhood in a Canada that has officially embraced multiculturalism, but still incarcerates a disproportionate number of Black and Indigenous people.
Looking west Queen Street from the Hotel Edwin, 1910. Detail on the bottom shows 642-644 Queen Street East.
In Part III we will cross at the virtual or physical crosswalk and head west completing both sides of this part of our tour of Queen Street.