Sunday, June 07, 2015

Toronto Walking Tour #5
The Danforth

An historical walking tour of The Danforth is like an episode of The Lost Mansions. A handful of estate homes still dot the side streets around a vibrant commercial strip filled with great eateries and upscale shopping opportunities. 

The rest is pictures of where things used to be.

We start our walk at Withrow Park.
Lots of activity in the park. Ball hockey at the rink, a soccer game on the pitch and this view of the Toronto skyline.
At the north end of the park we find the colourful public restrooms.
Leaving the park on the Logan Ave side we come across this Oak planted in memory of Jack Layton.
The first of our dirty mansions is found at 69 Hogarth Ave., the Owen Staples House.
Looks like a 16th c British home, would sit well on a lot beside Shakespeare's home. Toronto's own Renaissance Man painted, composed and researched in the first floor studios.
A few doors away, looking a little worse for wear, the Hogarth house at #58. School principals did pretty well for themselves in the 1870's.
Somebody needs to take a weed wacker to this lot.

Hogarth leads us to Broadview Ave and another scenic view of the Toronto skyline. Used to watch fireworks in the spring and toboggan down the steep slopes in the winter. Don't think they do either of those things anymore.

Walking north towards The Danforth we come across 3 historic mansions.

At 646 Broadview Ave is the Harris House. James Harris was a butcher. His abattoir eventually became part of Canada Packers. Ka-ching!

Next door at 648 the Robert Powell House. He sold liquor and cigars. Today he'd be lucky to make $11.00 per hour. Back then it translated well.

Toronto's first black alderman, the son of freed Virginian slaves, lived at 660 Broadview Ave in the Hubbard House.

My favourite still standing structure is found at 55 Danforth Ave. Now hosting a French immersion program it used to be the public lavatories.
 The plaque dedicating the viaduct to Prince Edward (later the guy who gave up the crown for a woman) needs to be shown a little more respect.

Looking west along the viaduct.

On the corners of Broadview and Danforth a couple formidable buildings. On the North-East corner, the medical building.

On the South-East corner the Playter Society Building. Commercial stores, bingo parlours and a dance hall kept this place busy when Loyalists weren't plotting how to get rid of the pesky peoples of Lower Canada.

A short jog north of the Danforth to 6 Hurndale Ave. Cece and I lived here in 1980, on the second floor. On the third floor lived the daughter of the homeowner who was dating Tom Cochrane of Red Ryder at the time. That's about all the name-dropping I have for this tour.

The best thing about this place was it was a mere 150 paces from The Danforth Music Hall where we saw the likes of Marianne Faithful, Rockpile, Iggy Pop and George name a few. More recently we've been back to see Billy Bragg, Joan Armatradingand The Waterboys.

The historic Allen's Danforth Theater was built here in 1919. The upper facade has not changed. 'Course the upper facade is about all you can see with tonight's band unloading.

Another home of a founding family, the Player Farmhouse, is being well maintained.
 "The segmented arch at each window features alternate red and white brickwork. An arrow pattern white brick band circles the middle of the house and the sills of the second floor windows. The series of arrowheads meet at the central opening to the second floor veranda above the main entrance."

Looking west on Danforth.

A picture of the Danforth Baptist Church at 60 Bowden Ave. from the back.

 The gates leading onto Fairview Blvd. I always thought these were strange. Gated communities are all the rage now.
Looking east on the Danforth.

The northeast corner of Logan and Danforth where the Greek community comes to remember better times.
And another homage to Alexander.

The southeast corner of Carlaw and Danforth where Sunkist Market once stood. The Badali family had the grocery business cornered in Toronto. We had one on Gerrard St. This store was the first 24 hour market in was easier to stay open than to bring the outside fruit displays in every night. 

The magnificent Holy Name Catholic Church.

Behind this abomination that is a health club, once resided the Danforth Odeon. In the fall of 1978 it was called The Rex. That's where I saw The Clash for the first time. Before London Calling came out.

Across the street this half-shot of where The Palace Theater once stood. You can see the original facade at the top left.

The northwest corner of Pape and Danforth, the RBC building.

We walk through what used to be the Lipton Loop before they built Pape subway in 1966

To come across Cece's childhood home at 10 Eaton Ave.

Heading south on Pape Ave another building that looks like it would be at home in Stratford Upon Avon, the Pape Library.

We duck along Cavell ave for a shot of the Earl Grey Public School school yard.

Last mansion on the tour, The Bain House, which can be found at 14 Dingwall Ave. I don't know why it's not on Bain Ave. Don't even get me started about who's statue is in Trafalgar Square.

We end out walk back at the east side of Withrow Park where we find a lovely Mustang.

Next weekend: small town Ontario and more Loyalists. Kemptville, Merrickville, Smiths Falls and Perth.

Still to come: Cabbagetown including Riverdale Farm, Historic York, The Beaches, bar-hopping on Queen St West and  more.