On Saturday May 4, 2019, at 10 a.m., I, Stephen Wickens, will lead the 12th-annual Death and Life of Upper Midway Jane’s Walk. I’ll be passing around the following pictures during the walk, but for participants who want a preview or if you’d would prefer to follow along with a smartphone or tablet, this link is for you.
Because Wise Guys has been demolished, we’ll meet at the corner of Morton Road and Danforth, south side between Main and Woodbine subway stations.
- Here’s a link for those interested in the development application for the big site at Woodbine and Danforth that includes Valumart the big parking lot behind it.
- Here’s a link regarding plans for the huge TTC site at Coxwell and Danforth.
- Here’s a link to a piece I wrote for a former chief planner Paul Bedford for his UofT planning students. It looks at what Jane Jacobs suggested in 2004 for people trying to revitalize the East Danforth.
This is an early 1940s picture of our old Wise Guys meeting spot when it was known as the Quigley Hotel. It was originally built as the Norton Apartments in the 1930s, then became the Ridley. After becoming the Quigley for a few years, it became the Wembley a name it held at least until the 1990s. An eight-storey condo building is under construction on the site.
A map of our Jane’s Walk, which will cross three of the five creeks that once made it difficult to keep the Don and Danforth Plank Road passable east of Pape. The creeks and the less-than-convenient access to the city in the pre-streetcar/pre-viaduct era, were big contributors to the fact this area of Midway, (Upper Midway as many called the turf north of the Grand Trunk Railway corridor), remained rural into the 1920s.
Development had come the area east of Upper Midway decades sooner, and the western reaches of the connected towns of Coleman, Little York and East Toronto had lovely houses on the Danforth, like this one, which sat on what is now the Sobey’s parking lot. Those three little towns/hamlets grew up around the Grand Trunk station and freight yards east of Main Street.
Danforth Mennonite Church bought land east of Woodbine (Third Line East) in 1908, making the DMC the only continuous single land-use link on our walk that predates the annexation of Upper Midway by the city in 1909. This a a 1911 photo of the new church … and it still stands.
As late as 1912, just before work began to bring us streetcar tracks and paving, farmers still had to rely on rickety wooden bridges to cross the creeks on the muddy Second Concession Road (aka, the Danforth). The bridges often washed out and had to be repaired by farmers.
Preparation work for streetcar track construction east of Pape involved laying some temporary rails on the East Danforth.
Thirty years after the last spike was driven on the transcontinental CPR line, work proceeded nicely on Danforth, bringing rails to what had been Upper Midway until the 1909 annexation.
Looking west from Woodbine and Danforth in 1915, with fresh streetcar tracks and the overhead wires completed. Streetcars ran on this stretch for 51 years before being replaced by the subway.
For many years we had three supermarkets at Danforth and Woodbine, though the current Valumart site was NOT one of them. We had Red & White, in what is now Value Village. We had Power (and later Busy Bee) where we now have the Carmelina condos, and we had this Loblaws store where we have Scotiabank. This photo is from 1927.
The Prince of Wales Theatre, traces of which are still visible if you look in the right places. Beside it heading west in this 1927 photo, were Dunlop Bros. credit clothiers, Shaw’s Business School, the original location of Danforth Radio and Woolworths. Danforth Radio was founded by brothers who assembled crystal radio kits, but outgrew their parents’ basement on Amroth Ave.
We once had three supermarkets at Danforth and Woodbine, though the Valumart site was NOT one of them. We had Red & White, in what is now Value Village. Loblaws where we have Scotiabank, and we had Power (and later Busy Bee) where we now have Carmelina. This was the lineup for the grand opening at Power on Nov. 12, 1953.
The incredible variety of shops one block each way from Woodbine in 1957.
Looking east from Woodbine on the south side in 1954. We could use stores selling beer and wine around here. The city took this picture as part of a report on signs that overhang the sidewalks. We’ve largely done away with them, except in some grandfathered cases, but they do seem to add to a cozier feel on our street allowances.
Oct. 1960, looking east from the top of East Lynn Park. We had a crosswalk rather than lights at Woodmount, and the white three-storey building with stores and apartments on the SE corner at East Lynn was then a British American gas station.
Heading west to East Lynn Park, we cross the first and the biggest of the creek/former ravines of the five that so heavily delayed development on the East Danforth. This one went by several names, none official.
In this 1923 photo, you can see East Lynn Park was a quite deep ravine. The creek was rerouted into a sewer and much landfill was used to create the shallower depths we are familiar with.
Looking north, out from the bottom of East Lynn in 1923. Clearly, the dumping of trash on public space is nothing new.
Those spindly little trees in 1931 are now the big trunks that DECA wraps with Christmas lights each year in East Lynn Park. Note all the awnings on the north-side businesses.
As we climb up the slope on the west side of the East Lynn ravine, we come to the Dutch Farm, which in the late 1800s was an inn run by Charles Heber, known for fine meals, comfortable beds and excellent home brew beer. That’s muddy Danforth on the left in this drawing provided by a past Jane’s Walk participant.
June 27, 1935: Incredibly, there were no serious injuries, especially when you consider the seriousness of the blaze and the fact that in lower-right corner of the picture, you’re looking at an old sidewalk style gas pump. The first store on the corner is one of the original Brewer’s Retail outlets and the second was a wine store. From the next day’s Daily Star: “Passengers leaped through jagged street car windows–three men riding in the front of a flame-enveloped gasoline truck escaped injury as if by miracle–a dentist’s office, liquor store and apartment suite were set ablaze, and several man-hole covers were hurled into the air as the result of a terrific crash between a street car and a 1,000-gallon oil truck at Glebemount and Danforth Aves. yesterday. Gasoline flames shot across the roadway, igniting curtains, awnings and window fronts of the apartment at Glebemount and Danforth Aves., the windows being shattered. Police report that gasoline seeping into sewers caused the explosion of four man-hole covers a quarter of a mile apart. Leonard Bigelow, driver of the truck was questioned by Main St. station detectives as to how the accident occurred.
This McDonalds is at Runnymede and Bloor, but I’ve included it for good reason, which you’ll learn when the walk gets to the corner of Hillingdon and Danforth
From 1894 to 1923, Danforth and Coxwell was home to a rendering plant that made products from horse corpses … nasty as it was, it too was enough to attract a few residents because of the jobs.
Danforth Carhouse on its opening day, Sept. 23, 1915. Nearly 1,000 TTC employees worked out of the facility at its peak. It was converted to a bus garage in 1967.
Looking into the Danforth TTC faciltiy from Coxwell in the 1960s. The ugly walls weren’t added until the site became a bus garage (1967-2002).
This is a bare-bones site plan for the Danforth Garage propery (which is, surprisingly to many, larger than the much-fussed-over Honest Ed’s site at Bathurst). This one is to include a big-box police station (combining 54 and 55 Divisions), more TTC offices, a new home for the library and several other uses combined with preservation of some of the older buildings.
Hollinger bus lines, serving the old Township of East York, was a profitable transit entity until being absorbed by the TTC in 1954. This bus, on Coxwell, just north of Danforth, and would have been on its way to the Bus Terminal on the Danforth that we now know as a breakfast spot.
I love the shadow in the foreground of this photo of Danforth and Coxwell by Eric Trussler, who shot a lot for the TTC and the city.
Though East York never came as far south as the Danforth in the Midway-Glebe area, its transit service (Hollinger Bus Lines) was focus on the Danforth’s shopping, employment and streetcar access to the city.
How the Hollinger bus terminal looked prior to construction of the subway station in the mid-1960s.
Looking east from the SE corner of Danforth and Coxwell.
Danforth and Coxwell looking west in the mid-1960s. Robertson Chev-Olds was once the country’s busiest GM dealership, employing 350 people.
The block on the north side, west of Coxwell hosted baseball and circuses until it was developed in the mid-to-late 1920s. But the religious revival meetings were the biggest draw. 1924 photo.
Looking west at track replacement in the fall of 1936. Note the Oxford Theatre and the need to use temporary tracks.
Looking east to the Oxford, which probably still has a rather ususual apartment upstairs. It was designed to luxurious family-size standards by Bart Wainwright, who also owned the Oxford. Among the amenities was a viewing booth, which made the kids who lived there quite popular until the theatre closed in the late 50s. The film showing when this picture was taken was Bohemian Girl, starring Laurel and Hardy, and Thelma Todd and Darla Hood (of Our Gang Fame).
The Oxford Theatre in its heyday. It was owned by the Wainright family who had a huge, two-storey “New York-style” apartment upstairs, complete with a viewing room so friends and family could watch the films from above. Through the 1960s and 1970s, it was Trader Hancock Appliances.
The Ashbridge’s Creek ravine, east of Greenwood, was filled with junk, but it often smelled lovely with the big Canada Bread plant on the right. It’s employees kept things hopping at the Linsmore, across the street.
The Linsmore got its licence, over temperance group objections, in 1934. In this 1945 photo, the windows out front were opaque, allowing men to drink without prying eyes of spouses and neighbours (the ladies and escorts entrance was around the side). The place was packed on shift changes at Canada Bread, until the big bakery across the street moved out in 1961. The Linsmore later became a favourite meeting spot for Roxy patrons seeking a pre-movie draft or three, and in recent years has new life as a great place to see live music.
Looking east from Greenwood to Canada Bread. Though most of the area’s employment was south, along the rail corridor, the Danforth had several fairly large employers.