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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Toronto’s Hanlan’s Point Baseball Stadium (demolished)

Fonds 1244, Item 6048

Hanlan’s Point Stadium in 1912, Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 6048.

My father and one of his brothers arrived in Toronto as young immigrants in 1921. Born in a small village in Newfoundland, which was not yet a province of Canada, there were many wonderful sights that amazed them in their adopted city. One of the most impressive was the city’s baseball stadium at Hanlan’s Point. The Toronto team had relocated to the new stadium on the Islands in 1897, so when my father and uncle arrived in the city, crossing the harbour to attend baseball games was a well-established and much-loved tradition. The Toronto Maple Leaf team was in the International League, a minor league that included Buffalo.

Each year at Hanlan’s, the first ball flew across home plate in May. Admission was 50 cents, which included the return ferry fare across the bay. The stadium at Hanlan’s burnt twice, in 1903 and again in 1909. When it reopened in 1910, the wooden stadium was replaced by a concrete structure containing 18,000 seats, and  was named Maple Leaf Stadium. The legendary Babe Ruth hit the first home run of his professional career in the stadium on September 5, 1914, the ball landing in Toronto Harbour. My father was aware of the history of the stadium and its importance to Toronto’s multitudinous baseball fans.

From the stories my father told me, and the reports in the Star newspaper in the Toronto Reference Library, I been able to recreate a reasonably accurate account of his first visit to the Hanlan’s Point Stadium, an event that he remembered until the day he passed away. I knew the year it occurred, as it his first year in Toronto—1921—and he also told me that it was on Labour Day.

In 1921, the weather over September’s Labour Day weekend was hot. On Sunday, the temperatures dipped to 83°F, but they rose again on Monday, September 5th—Labour Day. In this decade, on statutory holiday, newspapers were printed, but the laws forced merchants and offices to close. Thus, my father and his brother had the day off from their labours at the McNamara’s market gardens at Bathurst Street and Davenport Road. They were tempted to visit the Ex, as the Labour Unions were to march to the grounds in the morning, and there was to be a giant sports program in the afternoon. However, they decided to opt for a baseball game. It was an activity that was to become a lifelong passion for them both. The Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team had recently returned from a stretch on the road and was set to play a double-header against the Buffalo Bisons at the stadium on Hanlan’s Point.

Shortly after one o’clock, my father and his brother crossed the harbour on the Primrose, a single-stack, coal-powered ferry with side paddles. A few clouds eased the extreme heat of the afternoon, and the refreshing breezes off the lake further moderated the temperatures. The harbour waters reminded the brothers of their home in Newfoundland, but the skyline visible in the ferry’s wake reinforced the fact that they had indeed opted for a new life.

The city’s other ferries—the Trillium, the Bluebell, and the Mayflower—were also in service, because large crowds were anticipated for the games as Toronto was battling for second place in the International League. Since the game did not commence until 2 pm, my father and his brother mingled with the throngs at Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park. They milled about the mechanical rides, especially the rollercoaster. A ride called the Hurgle Gurgle featured a long, spiralling water-chute with a pool of water at the bottom, where the riders were soaked to the skin. In later years, the water feature was removed from the ride. Though many people were jamming the food stands and the cafeteria beneath the baseball stadium, the young brothers did not purchase anything, as they wished to save their money for snacks during the game.

After entering the stadium, they did not have long to wait, as at two o’clock the first ball rocketed over home plate. The loud crack of the bat resounded throughout the stands as the ball soared out into left field. The spectators roared their approval—Toronto was beginning the afternoon in good form. The stadium’s sightlines were excellent, even in the lower-priced seats, where my father sat with his brother. They had an unobstructed view that allowed them to follow the game closely and scrutinize every manoeuvre.

During their boyhood days in Newfoundland, neither of them had played sports in an organized league. However, they had often formed teams to play ball on the meadow near Man-O-War Hill, or, in winter, hit a ball across the frozen expanse of the harbour. A freeze-up provided a large, flat surface of ice, on which they could enjoy sports for as long as they were able to endure the frigid temperatures.

The experience at Hanlan’s Point was vastly different. The unified shouts of thousands of excited fans, all sharing the same sport and encouraging the same team, caused a surge of adrenaline that the brothers had never experienced. They fell in love with the antics expected of serious fans—yelling, hollering, and screaming at the players. They ate hot dogs while slurping watered-down drinks, and shouted at the players who did not perform well. The umpires became prime targets for abuse when the calls were not in the home team’s favour. It was difficult to know whether the ritualistic reactions of the crowd or the skills of the game were the most entertaining. Despite boisterous encouragement, the Leafs lost the game by one run, and, to add insult to injury, they dumped the evening game at 10 pm as well. The vibrant encouragement of the fans was unable to overcome a lack of luck and talent.

My father’s account of attending a game at Hanlan’s point sounds very much like attending a baseball games today at the Rogers Centre. Some aspects of spectator sports never change.

My father was saddened when attendance at games at Hanlan’s point eventually dropped due to the inconvenience of travelling across the harbour, especially on stormy days during early autumn and spring. The Toronto team departed for the mainland after the 1925 season to a new stadium on the lakefront at the foot of Bathurst Street. It was also named Maple Leaf Stadium.

However, the Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park continued to operate, though attendance began diminishing after Sunnyside opened in 1922. The stadium at Hanlan’s Point was finally demolished in 1937.  

                  Map

The site of the Hanlan’s Point Stadium on the Toronto Islands.

CA  1908  a029254[1]

Hanlan’s Point amusement park in 1908. Canada Archives, a 029254

CA  1908.  a029251[1]

Hanlan’s Point Stadium in 1908, the wooden structure surrounded by the amusement park. In the background, across the harbour, is the Toronto skyline. Canada Archives, a029251.

Fonds 1244, Item 6046

The Toronto team in the stadium in 1910, the rollercoaster of the amusement park in the background. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 6046.

Chuckman's, c. 1910 postcard-toronto-hanlans-point-stadium-and-grand-stand-note-buffet-sign-over-centre-doors-c1910[1]

The new concrete stadium, c. 1910. Postcard from chuckmantorontonostalia.wordpress.com

ONt. Archives, Aug. 12, 1927, Jasmine Ferry  I0014001[1]

The Toronto ferry the Jasmine beside the stadium on August 12, 1927. Ontario Archives, 10014001.

s0071_it5215

The Trillium at Hanlan’s Point on September 1, 1927. Toronto Archives, S0071, Item 5215.

Stadium, illuminated, Hanlan's Point, (Commercial Department) – August 16, 1928

The stadium during a night game in 1928. Toronto Archives, S0071, Item 6154.

Undated 1900.. TRL. e1-46c[1]

Undated photo of the stadium from the Toronto Public Library Collection, e1-46c

T.T.C. picnic, general view of picnic grounds, (Personnel Department) – August 17, 1929

A picnic in the stadium on August 17, 1929. Toronto Archives, S0071, Item 7125. 

Grand Opera "Aida," stadium, Hanlan's Point, (Commercial Department) – 1936

The opera Aida performed in the stadium on August 8, 1936. Toronto Archives, S0071, Item 1150.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released in June 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

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The old Riverdale Zoo—Toronto

Series 71, It. 5868  May 1923. -Riverdale-Entrance[1]

Riverdale Zoo in Riverdale Park in May 1923, Toronto Archives, Series 71, Item 5868.

In the 1940s, on a hot Sunday afternoon in summer, my dad took my brother and me on a mystery streetcar trip. Not knowing the destination, our excitement increased as we travelled south on a Yonge streetcar to College Street, and then, boarded an eastbound College streetcar. Changing streetcars again at Parliament Street, we travelled north a short distance on a Parliament streetcar, which then rumbled eastward along Winchester Street. Within a few minutes, we alighted at the end of the line, at Sackville Avenue. After we walked one block east to Sumach Street, my brother and I were truly excited when we realized that we were at the entrance to the Riverdale Zoo. 

We spent an interesting afternoon there, a visit I was never to forget. The entrance was not particularly impressive, but the popcorn and toffee-apple venders near the entrance caught my attention. Entering the gates, the grounds seemed immense. Today, I wonder if this was due to a child’s perspective, as many things appeared larger when we were children. However, revisiting the site in 2016, I realized that it was indeed quite a size. The old pathways remain today, which coursed their way through the grounds in the decades when it was the city’s main zoo. It required very little imagination to picture the zoo that I remembered from my childhood.

On that afternoon in the 1940s, we commenced wandering along the many paved walkways that meandered among rows of cages where the animals were exhibited. It was a hot day, and the odours from some of the cages were not very pleasant. However, the excitement of seeing live animals made us indifferent to the smells. Many of the cages were quite small, which allowed the animals to be easily seen, but allowed very little space for the animals to exercise or be active. I was amazed at how close we was able to get to them.

The floors of their cages were cement, with grooves at the edges that allowed the water to quickly drain away after they were hosed by attendants. Members of the zoo’s staff were cleaning some of the cages while we were viewing them, occasionally spraying some of the animals to cool them off. The exhibit buildings had outside viewing areas, as well in interior spaces, where visitors entered during the winter months, when it was too cold for the animals to be exposed to the frigid Toronto weather.

We watched the monkey enclosure from outside, where people were throwing food to the animals. The monkeys were quite bold, eagerly stretching their arms through the bars of the cages to beg for treats. Then, we entered the inside of the building, as a few of the monkeys had not ventured out. Continuing to stroll the grounds, we approached the lion cage. I had never seen a live one before, although I had viewed one that had been stuffed, mounted, and placed in a glass display case at the Royal Ontario Museum. The aviary at the zoo contained what seemed like thousands of birds, and from inside the building, the noise was deafening. The reptile pavilion was much quieter, but I found the snakes frightening.

I was amazed at the size of the elephants, but felt safe near these animals as I had read several Babar the Elephant books that I had signed out from the library. The crocodile was in a cement pool with murky water that had turned green with algae, but it seemed to enjoy the soda crackers that a young boy threw to it. When the reptile opened its jaws to snap at the food, its huge teeth looked even larger and sharper than those I had seen in the Tarzan movies at our local movie theatre.

In the 1940s, I did not think about the cramped cages and pens at the Riverdale Zoo, or that the animals were not protected from people performing pranks, feeding them unhealthy treats, or poking them with sticks. In that decade, most zoos around the world retained the Victorian concept of displaying animals. They were kept in an environment that was alien to them, like freaks in a freak show. The cages and pens were designed for the pleasure of those who viewed them, with little thought given to the creatures’ natural habitats. Very little was done to encourage the animals to be active.

1952-- pictures-r-1150[1]  wolf- 1952- pictures-r-1229[1]

The lion cage in 1952 (left), Toronto Public Library r-1150, and a wolf in a dog house in 1952, Toronto Public Library, r- 1229

History of the Riverdale Zoo

In the 1790s, the town of York (Toronto), was a small settlement clustered around the eastern end of the harbour. During the 19th century, it slowly expanded, even though the Don Valley created a natural barrier to eastward expansion. However, as the city grew, city council realized that more parkland was needed to accommodate the ever-increasing population.

In 1852, city council authorized the purchase of 119 acres of land from the estate of John Scadding, to create a city park and an industrial (jail) farm. Prisoners from the Don Jail, who were not considered dangerous as they had committed minor offenses, were to be forced to maintain the farm site and the park. The facilities were located on the west bank of the Don River, Winchester Street on its northern boundary. However, the green space was not opened to the public until August, 1880, after prisoners from the Don had improved the grounds by landscaping them.

In 1888, Alderman Daniel Lamb, a resident of the area, donated a few deer to the park. Then, he encouraged wealthy citizens to donate funds to purchase other animals and  through his efforts, more animals arrived. In 1889, the first exhibition of animals was held. To improve and expand the area where the animals were displayed, in 1890, the jail property was legally separated from the park. As well, more land was purchased, extending the size of the park to 162 acres. The Toronto Railroad Company (TRR), a precursor of the TTC, which had become a sponsor of the zoo, provided funds to erect a two-storey Moorish-style building. It opened in 1902, and became known as the Donnybrook. By this time, the zoo had acquired a considerable collection of animals from all over the world.

Also in 1902, the zookeeper’s cottage was also built. The same year, another elephant (named Princess Rita) was brought from Bombay, India via New York City, and two more lions were purchased. During the same summer, the Toronto Railroad Company transported 20,000 people to the zoo. Its donation of funds for the Donnybrook had resulted in handsome dividends for the transit company. 

As the decades passed, animal rights activist began agitating for improved conditions for the animals. It finally became obvious to city council that a new zoo was required. On June 30, 1974, the old Riverdale Zoo closed and the animal were relocated to a vastly improved facility in the Rouge Valley, its entrance on Meadowvale Road. The buildings and cages at Riverdale were demolished, except for the zookeeper’s cottage, the tower of the Donnybrook, and a small white pavilion at the bottom of the hill near the river.

The new Toronto zoo opened on August 15, 1974. The site of the old Riverdale Zoo was renovated and opened as the Riverdale Farm on September 9, 1978.

Sources: www.lostrivers.ca—www.blogto.com – torontohistory.net

DSCN0452

The home of Alderman Daniel Lamb on Winchester Avenue, across from the the site of the old Riverdale Zoo that he was responsible for creating.

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The zoo keepers cottage (the Residence) built in 1902, one of the few buildings surviving from the old Riverdale Zoo.

2[1]

Riverdale Zoo c.1915, Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 646

1925 - pictures-r-1211[1]

Riverdale Zoo in 1925, gazing eastward toward the Don River. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, r-1211

gates on Winchester, 1955  pictures-r-1158[1]  DSCN0454

Entrance to the Riverdale Zoo (left photo) on Winchester Street in 1955, Toronto Public Library, r-1158. The right-hand photo is the entrance in 2016. 

1955,  pictures-r-1128[1]

  Walkway beside the cages at Riverdale Zoo in 1955. Toronto Public Library, r- 1128.

1955-- pictures-r-1130[1]

            Riverdale Zoo in 1955, Toronto Public Library r- 1130

monkey enclosure, 1955  pictures-r-1126[1]

                   Monkey enclosure, Toronto Public Library, r-1126

Riverdale Par, Zoo, 1952--pictures-r-1235[1]

Eastern side of the zoo in 1952, beside the Don River, Toronto Public Library r-1235

Donnybrook pictures-r-11331952-- [1]

The Donnybrook, photo from the Toronto Public Library, r- 1131952

DSCN0461

The tower of the Donnybrook, which survives today in Riverdale Farm. Photo taken in April 2016.

F1244,  item 0555   Riverdale-Elephant-Alr[1]

The elephant enclosure at Riverdale Zoo, Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 0555.

F 1231, Fl.1231, It. 0467 May 26, 1926.  -Riverdale-PolarBears[1]

Polar bears at the zoo on May 26, 1926. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 0467

            brown bear, 1955 - pictures-r-1156[1]

   Brown bear at the zoo in 1955, Toronto Public Library, r- 1156

                  1955 - pictures-r-1124[1]

               Visitors at the zoo in 1955,  Toronto Public Library, r-1124.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

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Memories of Victoria Day in wartime Toronto

                     DSCN1072

On the Friday before the Victoria Day holiday in 1945, my dad splurged and spent three dollars on firecrackers at a store on Oakwood Avenue. Among his purchases were Pinwheels, Comets, Whiz-bangs, Fountains, Sparklers, and a Burning Schoolhouse. However, our favourites were the Roman Candles, as we knew that they rocketed high into the night sky, exploding in bursts of sparkling colour while creating loud crackling sounds.

On the 24th, as the sun commenced dipping slowly toward the western horizon, our anticipation increased. We gathered on the veranda, and anxiously waited for night skies to blanket the city. There were a few public displays in the parks, but none within easy travelling distance of our home. As a result, the families in our neighbourhood purchased their own fireworks, usually at a corner store that sold penny candy.

As it darkened further, we lit “whiz-bangs,” also referred to as “squibs,” which were small firecrackers, and tossed them into the street, where they exploded like gunshots. We waved sparklers in the air forming patterns of light. Finally, when it was totally dark, my dad set-off the serious firecrackers. Showers of flames burst from the curbs beside the sidewalk and rocket flares exploded, the scene reminiscent of a battlefield. My brother and I cheered as the Burning Schoolhouse was demolished in flames.

Neighbours staggered their displays so that not everyone’s exploded at the same time. All up and down Lauder Avenue, for over an hour, the night sky was broken with bursts of light. When our family had exhausted our supply, we watched the neighbours’ contributions. Adults supervised carefully, to prevent a mishap.

My brother and I were entranced by the fireworks, but my brother loved them the most. Even as an adult, he travelled considerable distances throughout the city to observe displays. On the night of May 24, 1945, I sat beside him and shared the excitement. After we were sent upstairs to bed, we crept into my parents’ bedroom and gazed out the window overlooking the street to observe the last of the explosions. A few teenagers had acquired their own firecrackers and were setting them off after the families with young children had retired from the scene. The next day, in the curbs beside the sidewalks, my brother and I observed  the charred remains of the previous night’s revelries.

Similar to “the next-day” pumpkins and discarded Christmas trees, they were reminders of a glorious time well spent.

The History of Canada’s Spring holiday – Victoria Day

Queen Victoria, born 24 May 1819, ascended the British throne in 1837, at eighteen years of age, on the death of her uncle, King William 1V. The legislature of Canada West, the province later renamed Ontario, established the monarch’s birthday as a holiday in 1845, naming it Empire Day. This was an act of true homage to the queen, as in 1845 Christmas Day was not a legal holiday for workers. It was solely at the discretion of the employer.

The holiday was observed on the day in which it occurred, but if May 24th were on a Saturday or Sunday, the holiday was celebrated on the following Monday. In 1867, when four Canadian provinces joined to create the Dominion of Canada, they continued to celebrate the holiday in Ontario. In 1876, Victoria was crowned Empress of India, which engendered further prestige for the monarch.

When Victoria died in 1901, after reigning sixty-four years, the Parliament of Canada established the 24th as a national holiday, and changed its name to Victoria Day. In 1952, the government decided that the Victoria Day holiday would occur each year on the Monday prior to 25 May, and this has remained to the present era.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released in June 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

Tags: ,

Memories of springtime in Toronto in the 1940s

DSCN0649  DSCN0621

Sometimes, I teasingly tell people that there are three terrible aspects of living in Canada – January, February and March. However, I quickly add that because of our seemingly never-ending winters, the arrival of spring is perhaps more eagerly appreciated than in latitudes further south. I was born in Toronto and spent my boyhood in the city during the difficult years of Second World War. Sometimes, I compare the spring seasons of the war-years with those of today.

I was in this reflective mood in May of this year (2016), when I gazed at the delicate purple blossoms on the redbud in the park across from my condominium. When I was a boy, I do not recall ever having seen these exquisite flowering trees. In the 1940s, our climate was far colder than today, and redbud were unable to survive Toronto’s frigid winters. This realization caused me to think about other changes over the years, and realize how different springtime was during my childhood. (redbud shown on lower left)

DSCN0615 In past decades, our daily activities centred more closely around the seasons. There were no thermal double-glazed windows, so one of the first rituals of spring was watching my father remove the storm windows on our house. After they were stored in the basement, lacking air conditioning, screens were installed to allow the circulation of the air within the rooms during the summer ahead. Another sign of the new season was the end of the weekly doses of cod liver oil. There were no capsules or sugar-coated versions of the nasty-tasting oil, so the cessation of winter’s medicine caused me to quietly celebrate.

In winter, similar to most children, I did not go much after dark. However, with the arrival of the longer evenings of spring, I was allowed to venture out after supper, although I was expected to return home when the streetlights came on. The laneways behind the houses were the best playgrounds, as they were secluded from adults’ prying eyes. While playing games like “kick-the-can” or “hide and go seek” in the laneways, my friends and I also peered over the backyard fences at the gardens. We noticed that soil was being prepared for the spring planting of seeds —mainly carrots and beets.

While examining the gardens, my friends and I also observed the fruit trees in blossoms, and noted those that might be worthy of raiding in the autumn seasons. Sour (Montmorency) cherries would be available for plundering in June, the apples, peaches and pears eluding us until late-August. However, in May, rhubarb patches were ready for a “pulling session.” We held contests to determine who was able to crunch on the most sour stalks before calling it quits. We never mentioned the number of times we went to the toilet later that night.

When I arrived inside the house, because the streetlights had come on, my mother was often examining an Eaton’s Spring Catalogue, a smaller version of the one that appeared each year well in advance of the Christmas season. My father was relaxing and reading the newspaper, having placed aside the seed catalogues, since he had already purchased those that he required.

My mother also enjoyed gardening. Each spring she planted flowers seeds in pots. As the days warmed, in the mornings she carried them outside and positioned them in a sunny spot at the rear of the house. In the evening, she brought in again, until after May 24th holiday. My parents never purchased plants in a nursery or at a corner store. The frugality of the war years did not allow such extravagance, although seedlings were available at the St. Lawrence Market for families with thicker wallets.

In May, in our backyard garden the pink peonies were in bud, purple iris and hollyhocks were pushing upward, and bleeding hearts were in bloom in a sheltered spot beside the south fence. A bunch of lilacs from the bushes at the rear of the garden was in a vase on the kitchen table. Outside on the street, the mature maple trees flanking the avenue were dropping their tiny bright-green flowers, carpeting the pavement and sidewalks. The bright greens of spring never lasted long, before slowly turning to the deep greens of summer. 

My attire changed dramatically to accommodate the new season. I put away the rubber boots I had worn all winter, with their thick inner-soles and heavy wool stockings, and put on my scampers. These shoes I would wear until the cold weather returned. Some kids wore “running shoes”, today more commonly referred to as “sneakers.” In the 1940s, the term sneakers was unknown to me. My britches (pants), with the long socks that came up to the knees, disappeared and I now wore overalls.

At school, our reading program closely followed the Canadian seasons. In grade one, the official reader was the “Mary, John and Peter” book. Authorized by the Minister of Education, it was designed and illustrated under the supervision of The Ontario College of Art, and sold by the T. Eaton Company.

                  DSCN0686            

The “Mary, John and Peter” grade-one reader. Every child in Ontario during the war years commenced their reading lessons with this book. The cover illustrates that its first pages were devoted to autumn, the beginning of the school year. The copy of the book shown above was printed in 1933.

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The first pages inside the cover of the reader. I still remember the first time I opened the book in September of 1944.

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In the spring of 1944, when we read the story “The Little Red Tulip,” I knew that our teacher had officially recognized the spring season.

There were other signs of spring that occurred at school. The girls commenced bringing their skipping ropes to school, the most intricate type of skipping being double-dutch. It was amazing to observe two sets of ropes whirling in the air as the girls skipped in and out of them. As well, squares were marked with chalk on the pavement in the schoolyard to play hop-scotch. I might add that the chalk was usually stolen from the blackboard ledges when the girls lined up beside them to depart for recess or lunch. Another popular game was “pick up the jacks. ”In the 1940s, boys and the girls were segregated in the schoolyards, so these activities mainly occurred in the girls’ yard.

In the boys’ yard, pockets bulged with glass marbles, sometimes referred to as “dibs or allies.” Various competitive games were employed to try to win some of the other boys’ collections. The most highly prized marbles were the larger ones, referred to as “boulders.” We traded cards with photos of movie stars, obtained from packages of bubble gum. It was not until the 1950s, with the advent of television, that hockey and baseball cards were inserted into bubble gum packages. 

Another signal that spring was in the air was the arrival of the “yo-yo man.” A promoter for a yo-yo company stood outside the schoolyard fence during recess and performed amazing trick with them, the hardest of them being “the sleeper.” It enticed many children to visit a local store and buy a yo-yo while purchasing penny candy.

Spring brought other changes. The sign placed in the front window of our house for the iceman was reversed to indicate that 50 pounds of ice were required for the icebox. All winter, 25 pounds had been sufficient. With the warmer weather, we lifted the canvas cover at the back of the ice truck to retrieve small shards of ice to suck on. The wooden box that my father had placed in the kitchen window to keep food cool was removed for the season. The temperature inside the box was regulated by adjusting the height of the window. It was a practical way of obtaining extra space to keep food fresh during the winter season.

The month of May was also when the first of the trucks from Nova Scotia appeared on our street, selling fresh spring salmon. They packed the fish in ice and drove non-stop from the Atlantic region to Toronto. It was one of the highlights of the year, equalled only by the appearance later in the season of the farmers’ trucks from Niagara, which delivered strawberries and asparagus. My mother thoroughly enjoyed berating the vendors about their prices, while silently giving thanks for the change in the menu at the kitchen table.

Today, I anticipate the arrival of spring as much as when I was a child. Each year, on a warm sunny day, I walk around the city and appreciate again the arrival of the new season. Below are a few of the photographs taken on May 16, 2016, during my excursion this spring. 

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Redbud in bloom in St. Andrew’s Playground, beside the brick wall of the Waterworks (Maintenance) Building on Brant Street.

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Trees in flower on the south side of Dundas Street West, near Augusta Avenue, on the north side of the Alexandra Park Co-op Housing.

21 Kensington Ave.   

        Lilacs in front of 21 Kensington Avenue in the Kensington Market

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Houses and blossoms on the west side of Kensington Avenue, south of St. Andrew’s Street.

                     106 Kensington Ave.

Peonies in bud at 106 Kensington Avenue, in the Kensington Market.

96 Baldwin Ave.

Tulips and forget-me-not flowers in the front garden at 96 Baldwin Avenue.

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                         Dandelions and violets at 101 Baldwin Street 

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          University Avenue, gazing north toward College Street.

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Pansies in front of the Canada Life Building on University Avenue.

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Daffodils in the rear garden of Campbell House, built in 1822, on the northwest corner of University Avenue and Queen Street West.

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Trees in front of the north facade of Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West, near University Avenue.

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View of Toronto’s Old City Hall from the gardens on the east side of Osgoode Hall.

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             View of the New City Hall from the gardens on the west side. 

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Gazing north from Queen Street East at the Metropolitan United Church, at Queen Street East and Church Street.

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View of St. James Cathedral on King Street East from the gardens on the east side.

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Gazing west towards St. James Cathedral from the east side of St. James Park.

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View of the north and west facades of the St. Lawrence Hall on King Street East at Jarvis Street, from the gardens of St. James Park.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released in June 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

 

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Toronto’s Sunnyside Amusement Park (demolished)

1923, Mike Filey

Sunnyside Amusement Park in 1923. When I visited it as a child in the 1940s, its appearance was basically the same, so the above photo depicts Sunnyside as I remember it. Photo from the Mike Filey collection, in the Toronto Archives.

Today we live in a world where people are extremely mobile and well-connected via social media. Toronto in the 1940s was vastly different. Few households owned a phone, due to the high rental costs, and cell phones were science fiction, relegated to the comic sections of the newspapers. Automobiles were prohibitively expensive, and were not being manufactured since the companies were busy assembling tanks and vehicles for the war in Europe and the Pacific. Adding to the difficulties of owning a car, rubber tires and gasoline were rationed.

Thus, 1940s Toronto was a narrower world than that of today. People tended to purchase or rent houses within close proximity to friends and relatives, so they were able to walk to each others’ houses to converse about the trials and joys of life. Chatting with neighbours often occurred over a fence in the back garden, particularly on Mondays, which was washing day for most families. Corner stores and greeting neighbours when walking along the sidewalk also provided opportunities for exchanging information. For more important news, such as the war front, most households owned a radio. To keep in touch with family members who lived beyond the neighbourhood, a visit by streetcar or bus was necessary. If they were further afield, hand-written letters or postcards were sent.

Because owning an automobile was beyond the reach of most households, the majority of families were confined to the city. If they wished a day-trip away from the neighbourhood, in summer they visited places such as High Park, the Humber Valley, Scarborough Beach, and Kew Beach. Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point were other popular summer destinations, a ferry ride across the harbour considered an added attraction. However, in my family, the favourite day-trip was a visit to the Sunnyside Amusement Park and the sandy beach nestled beside it. Even on the hottest day, the breezes from the lake were cool and refreshing. 

We always arrived at Sunnyside via the Queen Streetcar, disembarking at Roncesvalles Avenue, where it intersected with King and Queen Streets. Walking across the Sunnyside railway bridge, we descended the iron stairs to the amusement park below. As we walked past the rides, which included an enormous rollercoaster named the Flyer, I longed to be of an age to climb aboard them. Alas, I was confined to the merry-go-round, now usually referred to as a carousel. Where Sunnyside’s rides were located is today where the Gardiner Expressway exists.

1945-  SC139-2 box 148489

The merry-go-round at Sunnyside in 1945. It was eventually relocated to Disneyland in California. The Flyer (rollercoaster) is evident in the background. Photo from the Toronto Archives, SC 139-2, Box 148489.

The History of Sunnyside

In 1912, Toronto’s city councillors voted to erect an amusement park at Sunnyside, to the west of the downtown, beside lake Ontario. Projected to cost $19 million, work began in 1913, but construction stopped when the First World War began in 1914. After the war, the project resumed, and over 1400 acres of land were reclaimed from the lake. The final stage was to landscape the newly created land with top soil and sodding.

By 1919, as work on Sunnyside proceeded, it was evident that a new roadway was required, which meant replacing the old Lakeshore Road. Completed within a year, the 54-foot-wide, four-lane Lakeshore Boulevard West was opened. Two year later, on June 28, 1922, the amusement park was officially inaugurated by Mayor Mcguire. At the time, Sunnyside Amusement Park had not been completed, but a few of the rides and the Bathing Pavilion were ready for visitors. The Bathing Pavilion, designed by Alfred Chapman, costing $300,000, accommodated 7700 bathers, and had a roof garden where 400 guests could purchase refreshments and snacks. To enter the pool, the cost was 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for children. However, there was a 1100’ free bathing area to the south of the Pavilion, and another at the western end of Sunnyside, close to the east bank of the Humber River.

After its official opening in 1922, thousands strolled the boardwalk at Sunnyside, swam in the waters of the lake, or dived into the new swimming pool. The Palais Royal, built at a cost of $80,000, also opened the same year. Walter Dean’s Boat Building Factory was in the basement level, so only the main floor was occupied by the dance pavilion. However, due to the dance hall’s success, it was not long before it encompassed the entire structure. It became one of the most popular dance venues in Toronto and featured many of the popular big bands. Its main competition was Palace Pier.  

During the next few year, the amusement park was completed. Popular features were the concession stands, dance pavilion, and an open-air theatre called the Band Stand. The annual Easter Parade was held on the boardwalk at Sunnyside. The Miss Toronto beauty contests and women’s softball games were also well attended. The Sunnyside rollercoaster, named the Flyer, was a wooden structure. I rode it many times in the 1950s and can still recall how the cars swayed from side to side as they descended from the highest section of track. This added greatly to the sense of danger.

The golden era of Sunnyside was the 1930s and 1940s. During the late-1940s and early-1950s, automobiles became more affordable and families began journeying north of the city to escape the heat of a Toronto summer. The lakes of Muskoka and the beaches of Georgian Bay were the most popular.

In 1955, the Toronto Harbour Commission ordered the demolition of Sunnyside. By the end of 1956, the summer retreat that previous generations had known and loved, was but a memory. The land is now beneath the Gardiner Expressway and the widened Lakeshore Boulevard.

153822-4, Series 2375, Ite, 4

Sunnyside, likely during the late 1920s, the view gazing west along the Lakeshore Boulevard. The merry-go-round is the large round structure on the right-hand side (north) of the Lakeshore Boulevard. Toronto Archives, Series 2375, Box 153822.  

Band Stand, c. 1939, Box 153800, SC 156-180

The Band Stand at Sunnyside in 1939, when the Peoples Credit Jewellers Community Sing Song was in progress. Toronto Archives, SC 156-180, box 153800.

Fonds 1034, Item 844

A concession stand at Sunnyside in 1929, Toronto Archives, F1034, Item 0844.

concess. Stand pre 1922

                                        Refreshment stand c. 1922.

fonds 1266, Globe and Mail fonds

Crowds at Sunnyside in 1924, Toronto Archives, Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Globe and Mail Fonds.

Fonds 1266, Item 4392

   Sunnyside on December 24, 1924. Toronto Archives, F1266, Item 4392.

f1231_it0653[1]  beach 1935

Sunnyside Beach on August 21, 1935. The view faces east. Toronto Archives, F1231, Item 0653.

f1231_it0658[1] 1929

     The Sunnyside Pool in 1929, Toronto Archives, F1231, Item 0658.

Links to further information on this blog about Sunnyside:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/a-pictorial-journey-to-torontos-old-sunnyside-beach-part-two/

 https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/in-mid-winter-recalling-the-sunshine-of-torontos-sunnyside-beach/

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

Tags: ,

Demolition of historic Westinghouse building

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The Westinghouse building on the southeast corner of Peter and King Street West is being demolished (April 2016), only the north and west facades being preserved and included in the new King Blue Condominium. The historic Westinghouse structure is one of the finest examples of the industrial buildings erected in Toronto’s downtown during the 1920s, a decade in which the city’s economy was booming. The Westinghouse building was constructed of steel and concrete, its symmetrical facades faced with red/brown bricks.

In the early-decades of the 19th century, King Street was Toronto’s fashionable shopping district, and as the city expanded westward, fine houses appeared. Among them was the lieutenant governor’s official residence (Government House) at King and John Streets. However, after the railway lines were built south of King Street, families began relocating northward, and sections of King Street slowly became industrial. The area was seen as advantageous for industry as it was close to the harbour and the railway lines for exporting and importing goods. By the 1870s and 1880s, many large factories and warehouses appeared on King Street. The Gurney Iron Foundry, west of Spadina, is one of the best examples. A few of the multi-colour brick buildings remain in existence today, recycled to contain a chic restaurant and several shops. Factories were also erected on King Street between Peter and John Street in the 1920s.

The Westinghouse building today has the postal address 355 King Street. However, even as late as the mid-1920s, the site contained four working-class homes, their postal numbers 349 to 355 King Street. It is likely those who lived in the houses were renting, as the occupants changed frequently. In 1920, at 349 King Street lived Lawrence Guay , at 351 King St. lived George Porter, at 353 King Street there was Peter Brady, a fireman working at the City Abattoir, and 355 King Street was the home of Frank Hopper, a labourer.

During the years ahead, the occupants of the houses continually changed. In 1927, at 349 King St. was Thomas MacWilliams. At 351 King St. was William Bannerman, a stationary engraver, while the houses at 353 King St. and 355 King St. were vacant. By the end of 1927, all the houses were vacant and soon demolished. In 1928, the City Directories reveal that where the fours houses had been located was the six-storey Canadian Westinghouse Company building, manufacturer of electrical equipment. The founder of the company was George Westinghouse.

King Street West, between University Avenue and Bathurst Street is now the main artery of the city’s Entertainment District. Many up-scale restaurants and clubs are located on this narrow street, which hums day and night. The TIFF Bell Lightbox has greatly enhanced the number of visitors to the area, and King Street is the centre of the annual Toronto Film Festival. Many people are desirous of living close to these exciting venues, causing condos to proliferate on King Street and the surrounding avenues.

When I read the reports in the press that the Westinghouse Building was to be incorporated into the high rise condo named “King Blue,” I incorrectly assumed that the structure would be preserved. I was deeply disappointed when I discovered that the building was to be demolished, only the west and north facades being retained. 

Series 1465, File 456, Item 1

View gazing east on King Street West between the years 1975-1992. The Westinghouse building is prominent of the right-hand (south) side of the street. Toronto Archives, S 1465, Fl 0456, Item 0001.

Series 1465, File 530, Item 20

The north and west facades of the Westinghouse building in 1982. Toronto Archives, S 1465, Fl 0530, Item 0002. 

Series 1465, File 51, Item 91

Gazing east on King Street West from west of Peter Street at the Westinghouse building in 1995. Toronto Archives, S1465, Fl 0051, Item 0091.

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                Gazing south on Peter Street toward King Street in 2015.

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    The north facade on King Street of the Westinghouse building in 2015. 

March, 2016

The building in March 2016, as it is prepared for demolition. View gazes east on King Street.

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Gazing west at the east facade of the Westinghouse building on April 26, 2016, as the demolition work proceeds. The steel supports on the north facade on King Street are visible.

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                         Demolition on the east facade of the building.

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Artist’s sketch of the King Blue Condominium, showing the old Westinghouse building as part of the complex. 

                       DSCN8547

                      The Westinghouse building during the summer of 2015.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

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Toronto’s Brunswick House (now closed)

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The Brunswick House, view gazing east along Bloor Street from west of Brunswick Avenue. 

The Brunswick House, a well-known icon of the Toronto pub scene for 140 years, closed on April 1, 2016. It was slated to shutter its doors the previous day, but due to the enormous crowds attracted by its closing, it remained open for an extra day. Its demise will be mourned by many university students, locals, and others attracted to this unconventional, lively pub. Located at 481 Bloor Street West, it was on the southeast corner of Brunswick Avenue and Bloor Street West.

The Brunswick Hotel was established in 1876, to the northwest of the city, its proprietor Benjamin Hinchcliffe. When it opened, horse-drawn streetcars had not yet appeared in the district, since on Bloor Street, between Yonge and Bathurst Street, there remained many open fields and empty building lots. To the west of Dufferin Street was mostly farmland, so the Bloor and Brunswick area was viewed as rather remote. Thus, the hotel’s patrons were mainly those who resided in the area or travellers who needed local accommodations.

The building was architecturally typical of buildings constructed during the final decades of the 19th century. However, the three-storey red-brick structure would have been impressive in its day, its heavy cornice displaying a degree of extravagance that was unusual in the working-class district where it was located. Above the cornice was an elaborate parapet that gave the appearance of added height. The large rectangular windows allowed much daylight to enter the interior in an era that lacked electric lighting.

In 1900, the hotel remained under the proprietorship of Benjamin Hinchcliffe and was known as a saloon for immigrants and workmen of the district. Hinchcliffe resided at 207 Borden Street, near the corner of Borden and Sussex Streets, not far from his place of business. In 1902, W. J. Davidson became the manager of the hotel, and in 1912 Joseph McLachlan assumed control. In 1920, Mrs. Catherine (Kate) Davidson became the proprietor, commencing a long period under her management. During her days at the hotel, it was penalized several times for serving beer that possessed too high an alcoholic content. In 1942, Mrs. Davidson changed its name to the Ye Olde Brunswick Hotel.

In 1961, the hotel was purchased by Morris and Albert Nightingale, two brothers who increased business at the establishment by hosting unusual events such as pickle-eating contests and a Mrs. Brunswick contest for older woman. The promotional stunts attracted many customers and sometimes the police, who were called when the crowds became rowdy. A large room on the second floor, the Albert Hall, became famous as a jazz venue in the 1980s. It is not clear when the hotel’s name was changed from Ye Olde Brunswick Hotel to the Brunswick House, but it continued to attract people of various lifestyles, and on one occasion a wedding was performed within it. 

In 2005, the hotel’s interior and exterior were extensively renovated. When it closed in April 2016, the long rows of wooden tables in the pub area on the first floor, the pool table, games, and the stage for dancing, all fell silent. Abbis Mahmoud was the manager at the time of its closing. It appears that a Rexall Drug Store will occupy the large space on the ground floor, although this has not been confirmed.

Note: Below is additional information provided by Dorothy Willis in an email after the post on the Brunswick House was published on this blog.

I read with interest your article on Toronto’s Brunswick House on your website Historic Toronto (May 2016).  It is sad to note the loss of this historical building.  It was designated a Heritage Property in 1991 but will this make any difference to its future?
Benjamin Hinchcliffe (1831 – 1911) was my great great grandfather. After arriving in Toronto in 1865 from Silkstone England, his first hotel was the St. Georges at the corner of Yonge and Richmond (Mitchell’s Directory 1866), followed by the Osgoode House at Queen and York Streets from 1870 until he became innkeeper of the hotel at the corner of Brunswick and Bloor (various city directories).
Benjamin received his tavern licence in 1876 from the License Commissioners (Daily Globe May 8, 1876).  That same year, according to the Assessment Roll for the Ward of St. Patrick, City of Toronto, he was the owner and occupier of the tavern.  There was also a driving shed and ballroom on the property.
I have been writing a book on my Hinchcliffe family. I appreciated your photos and descriptions of the Brunswick in your article since I had never been inside. May I quote your descriptions in my book?
Also I did not realize that Benjamin still owned the Brunswick until his death in 1911, “in 1912 Joseph McLachan assumed control.” I had not researched the hotel once I thought he had branched into real estate so thank you for that info.
I have attached an undated photo of Benjamin and copies of his obit and probate of his will. He did not trust banks so put his money into property.
I wanted to let you see the man behind the Brunswick. Thank you for bringing the history of the Brunswick Inn to the readers of Toronto.

Map of 481 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1X9

        Location of the Brunswick House on Bloor Street West.

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The north facade (left-hand side) on Bloor Street, and west facade on Brunswick Avenue on April 2, 2016.

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      The hotel’s west facade on Brunswick Avenue, April 2016.

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The cornice on the Brunswick House in 2016. The dentil-like modillions (brackets) are beneath the large cornice that extends out over the street.

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                             Entrance to the Brunswick House.

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The pub area on April 2, 2016, the day after the Brunswick House closed.

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               The foyer inside the main door that led to the pub. 

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Interior of the pub, the day after the Brunswick House permanently closed.

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Staircase that led to the second floor, where the Albert Hall was once located.

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The space on the second floor remained open on the day after the Brunswick House permanently closed. This space was once the jazz venue known as the Albert Hall. 

DSCN0425

The west facade of the Brunswick House, facing Brunswick Avenue. Photo taken April 2, 2016.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released in June 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , ,