Welcome to this a mini-walking tour of Queen Street. It is just one part of a tour from the Don River to Victoria Park. You can get out your walking shoes or simply use these images to time travel the main drag of the Old East End.
By Joanne Doucette
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.