Thursday, May 26, 2011

King & Dufferin

Last week I had a job interview in the west end near Dufferin and King, where Liberty Village meets Parkdale. So I located a few interesting images off the Toronto Archive website for today’s blog post. In the past Liberty Village was known to have two things, manufacturing plants and prisons. Now? Condos and office buildings. Dufferin Street was named after Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood who was Lord Dufferin and King Street was named after King George III. I discovered that the south east corner of Dufferin and King was a Toronto nursery; there was a huge garden there for over 40 years. (See image below)

The first image series is one of my favorites, check out what is on Liberty Street… Bombs!!! Perhaps just bomb casings (I have never seen a real bomb so I can’t be sure). There was an artillery manufacturing plant on Liberty Street (which is located one block south on Dufferin) and I find it interesting that people now use that space to park their cars. You can see the Toronto Carpet Factory is being built in the background. That structure is beautiful, as are others in the neighbourhood.

For my readers who live in Parkdale you can see what it looked like before the area became apartment dominated. It is nice to see that a few of the original houses remain. Also interesting to discover that the CIBC on the North West corner has been such for at least 60 years.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yonge & Dundas

I would like to lament on two facts before I drop some knowledge.

#1 That every time I try to take before and after photos downtown it is raining! What gives? Here I am balancing my umbrella, my reference images and my camera. Plus let it be summer soon so I can shoot with some sun!

#2 Apparently people (in cars) have issues when I stand for long periods of time in the middle of the road during rush hour. LOL Must be members of the Rob Ford Nation. I’m creating art here people!

I dedicate this entry to the hard working employees at H&M Eaton Centre. Just when you thought you could escape work for the moment, I thought that it might be interesting to see what this familiar location in Toronto looked like in the roaring twenties. For those of you who are not familiar with Toronto this is the intersection of Dundas and Yonge. It has become the city’s Time square if you will but it wasn’t always like that. Dundas Street is named as such because it used to be the route that travelers would take to get to the town of Dundas in south western Ontario, much like Kingston road would take travelers to Kingston, Ontario. Yonge Street is Toronto’s “Main Street” if you will as it divides the city (East/ West) and is famous for being one of the longest roads in the world. Yonge has been a aboriginal trail and since John Simcoe Graves

I love reading the business signs on the old buildings, for instance the location which is now a “Forever 21” used to be the “United Cigar Store”. Also we can see a Laura Secord location, a Dentist office and a hair salon. The best two have got to be the “Beaver Billiards” and an “Aladdin’s Novelty Hosiery”. When looking at the before and after images I find it interesting to see what structures are located on the sites where the Eaton Centre and Dundas Square are currently located. To be honest my memory of what was located on the North and South East corner are a little vague. Funny how it has only been a couple years and things are starting to erase itself from my memory.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Don Mills

Unfortunately I was unable to get downtown this week to take pictures of Toronto landmarks. I live in Don Mills which is a suburb of Toronto and also happens to be Canada’s first planned community. I got really excited when I found old pictures of where I grew up; it was almost my very own “Back to the Future” flash back moment. I thought I would share them with you.

Pre WW2 my neighbourhood was isolated farm land, owned by the Milne family. You can find their old abandoned farm house in Charles Sauriol Park and their grave in Edwards Gardens. It was EP Taylor who bought up this land and turned it into iconic suburbia. Don Mills Rd and Lawrence Ave East is the centre of the community with the Donway circling it. Each quadrant was built to have a Church, a School and a network of park path systems so children didn’t have to walk across major roads. At the centre was the Don Mills mall and community centre and along the periphery of the community were the industrial buildings. I live in the North West quadrant which had the Library and Norman Ingram Public school.

The thing I love about Don Mills is that a majority of the remaining buildings have a Bauhaus/Googie style to them (Think iconic television 1950’s style with a twist of the Jetson’s). You can see this in the diamond pattern roof on the library. The inside of the library nowadays looks pretty good as they have made a few renovations; unfortunately the exterior has much to be desired because the original architecture is so hidden. The image with the tunnel is cute because I remember screaming my head off going through it, so I can picture those kids doing the same. I was interested and curious to also see how they eliminated so many windows in my elementary school. I guess they are trying to save money with heating. My favourite picture is the one where my house is depicted in a barren landscape and how much the foliage has taken over. It gives me hope when I look at all the planned communities springing up that they too could develop into something more.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Royal Ontario Museum

The three things I love the most about the Royal Ontario Museum.

Bat Cave, the mummy and the dinosaur skeletons!

The ROM is located on at the corner of Avenue Road and Bloor Street west. I was interested to learn that Bloor Street was named after Joseph Bloore, who happened to found the village of Yorkville. He owned a tavern and was a brewer, so I imagine he was quite popular. It was considered the dividing line between York (Toronto) and Yorkville and it is still today considered the point where downtown becomes midtown.

The land where the Museum is situated used to belong to William Dummer Powell who lived there during the early 1800’s. He was a lawyer , a judge and if you haven’t already guessed was in Toronto’s Family Compact (See Grange entry). Eventually Bishop John Strachan bought 50 acres of land from Powell and other friends near the northern heavily forested end of the city in around 1827-29 to create a collage. Eventually the many collages because what is known as the University of Toronto. The ROM was located here because of its affiliations with the college and I imagine was meant as a learning aid for many of the students.

I discovered that it is actually the western section of the building, next to philosophers walk, that is original structure. This building was conceived of in 1912 and completed in 1914 (See first image series). Over the next decades many expansions occurred included the one which is facing east off of Avenue Road (1933), the addition of the sadly abandoned and set for demolition McLaughlin Planetarium (1964) *How are children supposed to learn that Pluto is no longer a planet!?!?!* and the new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal (2007).

You can see that Avenue Road has been widened dramatically and a lot of the trees are no longer there. It is nice to see that the Park Plaza Hotel building is still standing and functioning as a hotel although under another name. Needless to say the Royal Ontario Museum is a great example of how the city has grown and changed over the years. If you haven’t been in a while I would suggest rediscovering this landmark.