A large part of TORONTO burned down 115 years ago, in April, 1904. Dynamiters were hired to blow up the shells of the destroyed buildings.JOHN CROFT of Parliament Street, 38, father of three, was one of them. On May 4th, 1904, his team set 33 dynamite blasts. The last 3, under a wall at W. J. Gage and Company, failed to go off. Mr. Croft ran up to investigate and, as fate would have it, was killed by an explosion.A double-sided mural <photos above> honours both JOHN CROFT, and the events of April 19, 1904. Unfortunately the mural has been destroyed by taggers <photo below>. It’s a total mess now, but the culture of Croft Street lives on. There’s been a lot of painting done lately. May the aerosol spritzers respect the art.<The John Croft mural as it looks today>CROFT STREET is a laneway of colourful murals, an ode to both Monty the Cat (deceased) and TORONTO’s black squirrels, a feminist bookstore, multiple garages and a variety of architectural styles. It runs for two blocks, from Harbord to College Street, east of Bathurst. Streetcar #506 takes you there.
This is a neighbourhood chock-a-block with Victoriana and a network of back street alleyways.Broadcast Lane, parallel to Parliament Street, features a strip of Post-Modern housing, in amongst graffiti, murals, backsides of restaurants – and, if you look carefully, a doll’s house.Broadcast Lane is a photogenic shortcut between Winchester and Carlton Streets. There are many other lanes to explore in Cabbagetown, and every one has a name.
Thanks to the Parks Department & the TORONTO Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) the city’s favourite holiday retreat remains open, but Hanlan’s Point, Olympic Island and Snake Island are inaccessible. “We’re definitely more prepared this time,” says Warren Hoselton, island park supervisor. “The TRCA supplies us with modelling to show the lowest spots. We know which areas are going to be affected.”For the record – the DOUG FORD’s P.C. government has cut flood-management funding by 50%. The Ministry of Natural Resources is faced with a difficult task.
Brightly coloured blooms are everywhere in ALLAN GARDENS, both outside and inside the Conservatory. It’s been a very long, wet and cold winter which never seemed to end. Forget all that. Spring has arrived.To reach ALLAN GARDENS, take the Line 1 subway to College Street, transfer to a #506 streetcar heading east, alight at Jarvis Street – and you’re there. The turtles, by the way, are an added attraction.
DANIELS Development has done a super job in REGENT PARK, mixing market value & public housing, creating parkland, playgrounds, soccer fields, a running track, an ice rink, a state-of-the-art aquatic centre, theatres, a fashion design school, restaurants, community gardens, a supermarket, coffee shops, a bank, senior’s housing, a new community centre – the works.
The massive Regent Park rebuild is still going on after a decade, with at least another five years of construction ahead. What some once called “a project” is becoming a bright, new neighborhood.
<ABOVE – public vegetable and flower gardens>
<ABOVE – the next stage of development is underway at Parliament and Gerrard Street East>
<ABOVE – the buildings that go up in this section will have some of the best city views>
<ABOVE – Regent Park as it once was – is no more>
Two-thirds of the work is finished, but there’s still more to come. To watch Regent Park evolve take the #506 streetcar to Sackville Street and Gerrard East – and walk south.
<ABOVE – Bruce Kidd running track and soccer field>
<WILLIAM DENISON, former mayor, TORONTO Public Library photo> DUNCAN FREMLIN, Broker, RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd. – “From 1967 to 1972, WILLIAM DENISON was Mayor of TORONTO. During his time in office, swaths of (Victorian) Cabbagetown were bulldozed in favour of the St. James Town high rises, and if (Denison) had his way, the rest of the neighbourhood would soon follow. “In March/1978, City Council approved a sweeping expansion of St. James Town South, along Ontario, Bleecker & Wellesley Streets to Carlton.” Then-mayor JOHN SEWELL disapproved.
<JOHN SEWELL, Mayor of TORONTO 1978-1980> “Under JOHN SEWELL’s leadership, this project was, fortunately, stopped. Mr. Sewell (who was not above lying down in front of demolition equipment) and his associates saved what is now – a unique and precious neighbourhood.” – Parliament Street News, April/2019