Queen Street: From Davies Avenue to Munro Street, Riverside

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

630-660 Queen Street East 1920 City Directory

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.

Toronto Star, 19 Mar 1915 Station 6 was opened 1919-1920
View of Queen Street East at Don bridge – May 31, 1977 detail
Queen St. Bridge approach – November 20, 1914 looking east
Crosstown Food & Restaurant Supplies, 1984 (Queen & Don Valley Parkway

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…

630 Queen Street East, Globe, August 2, 1924
Looking east from 630 Queen Street East, June 12, 1912

Across the river by the Coleman factory

Look northeast – from the bridge over the Don River to the Coleman factory, April 30, 1941
To take a “side trip” into the history of this building to to: https://www.fadingad.com/fadingadblog/2012/01/26/the-coleman-lamp-stove-company-limited-queen-street-east-toronto-ca/

A Victorian trio

630-634 Queen Street East – June 12, 1912 The street level was raised when a new Don Bridge was built leaving this late Victorian triplex “sunk” below Queen. For a side trip into Victorian architecture: http://www.ontarioarchitecture.com/Victorian.htm
630 Queen Street East Fish Week Toronto Star, February 7, 1921
630-634 Queen Street East – June 12, 1912 front and rear

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.

Toronto Star, March 1, 1934

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

642 Queen St E Globe, 28 July 1930

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.

Sometimes it’s impossible to find a photograph of a building. So-called “slum clearance” levelled much of Don Mount with its small working-class homes and network of short streets. But sometimes fire wiped out one or more houses. 642 Queen St E, Globe and Mail, 19 Nov 1958

Looking west Queen Street from the Hotel Edwin, 1910. Detail on the bottom shows 642-644 Queen Street East.

Globe, March 27, 1926
654 Queen St E., northwest corner at Munro Street Creator: Harvey R. Naylor Date: April 2, 1982 Archival Citation: Fonds 1526, File 69, Item 38 Credit: City of Toronto Archives http://www.toronto.ca/archives Copyright was transferred to the City of Toronto by the copyright owner.

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.

To Be Continued

One thought on “Queen Street: From Davies Avenue to Munro Street, Riverside

  1. Living in northeast England now but born and brought up on Hiltz Avenue between 1939 and 1962, found this history site very interesting.

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