Walking past 110 Edward Street on a sunny day, it’s hard to imagine this yellow brick building as a Dickensian “poor house”. It was. And in the mid-1800’s the surrounding neighbourhood looked like a remnant of a London slum. In 1848 the Toronto House of Industry opened its doors to the unemployed, the homeless, orphans and abandoned children, immigrants – anyone who was down and out. Food, fuel and a bed were provided in return for hard work. (PHOTOS BELOW – Elizabeth and Elm Streets; the Dickensian neighbourhood; breaking rocks in return for food & shelter – City of Toronto Archives)
The YWCA has transformed this block of downtown Toronto into a 300-unit affordable housing complex. Primarily for women and women-led families, one building houses Aboriginal singles, couples and families. Another, 150 affordable units and 100 supportive homes geared to income. The original building is now headquarters for the YWCA with an auditorium, meeting rooms and a boutique.