In a growing, dirty and dangerous city, children created their own playgrounds. Photographers found them in laneways, backyards, behind houses, on construction sites, sitting on stoops and staircases and playing chicken with streetcars.
For immigrant children in The Ward (officially known as St. John’s Ward), TORONTO’s downtown slum, the street was where they played, watched and wandered. Here they were masters of their own destiny.
The Playground Movement in Canada began in the early 1900’s. TORONTO’s Cherry Street Playground opened in 1909, St. Andrew’s and Elizabeth Street playgrounds in 1913. A department of social work was established in 1914 at the University of Toronto. The Ward became the site of early health and hygiene planning and slum clearance. PHOTOS – City of Toronto Archives – Website – http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=7cb4ba2ae8b1e310VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
<PHOTO ABOVE – a modern playground in newly renovated GRANGE PARK, behind the Art Gallery of Ontario.>
As Jane Jacobs once said “new ideas need old buildings”, and the Berkeley Street Complex, 26 Berkeley Street, personifies that comment. Built as a Consumer’s Gas pumping station in 1887, the venerable structure contains two theatres, a large rehearsal space, props and wardrobe facilities and administrative offices.
Demolition wreckers were on their way in 1971, but thanks to the efforts of TOM HENDRY, co-founder of TORONTO Free Theatre, the building was saved. It’s partly owned by the City of TORONTO, supported by the Toronto Arts Council Strategic Funding, and is an East Side base for the Canadian Stage Company.
“Notification is hereby give to families residing outside this City. The City has exhausted every available means of finding accommodation for those families already (here) and is unable to cope with an additional number.
“For your comfort and convenience DO NOT COME TO TORONTO FOR HOUSING ACCOMMODATION.” – Robert H. Saunders, Acting Mayor & J. W. Somers, City Clerk, July 29/1944.
Housing trauma in 2017 – 73 years later. Katia Dmitreieva in BLOOMBERG NEWS writes “Even real estate developers can’t afford TORONTO’s housing market. Land prices have gotten so high that developers are struggling to build new homes that people can afford. Buyers are no longer lining up, despite discounts and incentives.
“Developers are shifting business to U.S. states including Florida and Texas. About one-third of business for TORONTO-based Mattamy Homes Ltd., Canada’s largest residential builder, now comes from the U.S. and it’s growing quicker than the Canadian market.”
Michel Tremblay, a Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. senior vice president, said that “the dream of homeownership may be fading for many Canadians.” He suggested long-term renting instead.”
University of Trinity College, 6 Hoskin Avenue, is one of the smallest colleges (1600 students) within the University of Toronto. Founded by Anglican Bishop John Strachan in 1827, it was federated into the secular University under government pressure, in 1904.
Originally in Trinity-Bellwoods Park on Queen Street West, the present campus was erected between 1925 and 1961.
The chapel, built in 1955, was a gift from Salada Tea CEO Gerald Larkin. Trinity combines elements of Gothic Revival, Jacobethan and Tudor Revival architecture.
Subway stop: WELLESLEY, and then westbound Bus #94 to Hoskin Avenue, or MUSEUM, then walk west half a block, and south down Philosopher’s Walk.
A 19th century rooming house on King Street West at Strachan, once home to poor men, will soon become a condo. The story of this old survivor is a fascinating one. In June/2015 photographer PAUL SALVATORI was given access to the building and his photo essay appeared in NOW magazine.
Paul Salvatori: “The Palace Arms for years served primarily as a 91-unit rooming house for poor men. Nearing its final days, I had the unique opportunity to explore it. I had no expectations, wanting only to better understand the historical (and often unfairly maligned) building as it is today.”
“I notice signs of human activity like the towel on the right, which could belong to one of the squatters who lives directly outside the washroom. The room is dark – only my camera flash illuminates it here.” – Paul Salvatori
For the full story and Paul Salvatori’s photographs go to NOW’s website. Address below.
<NORTH YORK wartime housing, 1967>
Between 1941 and 1947 a crown corporation called Wartime Housing Limited built thousands of houses across Canada for war workers, veterans and their families. These Wartime Houses became some of Canada’s first suburban communities.
Wartime Houses are iconic architectural forms — a rectangle with a triangle on top. They were part of a government initiative to provide affordable rental homes to working class people.
<PHOTO ABOVE – NOW magazine>
There are three Wartime Housing sites in TORONTO. The houses are now privately owned, and many have been gentrified through additions and demolitions.
<PHOTO – National Film Board>
Artist MEAGHAN HYCKIE – “It does feel strange not to be able to afford a house in the East York neighbourhood of small, Second World War-era homes I grew up in.
“Does private home ownership and development result in a more livable city? Is a bigger house a better house? And what part should government play in suburban planning and building conservation?”
<PHOTO – Wartime Housing in Windsor, Ontario>
With that in mind, Ms. Hyckie has curated ‘A Reasonable Assurance of Permanency’ at TORONTO’s Urbanspace Gallery, 401 Richmond St. West, until January 6, 2018.
<Meaghan Hyckie is represented by the Olga Korper Gallery. A recent resident at the Banff Centre, her work is part of collections throughout Canada, the US and the UK.>
The TORONTO GENERAL POST OFFICE stood where Toronto Street meets Adelaide from 1873, until the 1950‘s when it was demolished.
All that remains is Canada’s coat-of-arts removed from above the doorway, and a memorial plaque to one ALBERT JACKSON – in a Lombard Street parkette.
ALBERT JACKSON, born into slavery in Delaware in the 1850’s, became TORONTO’s first Black letter carrier and one of the few people of colour appointed a civil servant in 19th century Canada.
Jackson’s mother, Ann Maria, escaped from the United States to Canada via the Underground Railroad network after two of her sons were sold and her husband died of grief. Anna Maria and seven children arrived in TORONTO where Albert grew up and was educated.
Mr. Jackson was appointed a letter carrier on May 12, 1882. Racists within the post office refused to train him, but with some help from Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald and the Black community, he eventually delivered mail for over 30 years, and worked at the post office until his death in 1918.