Toronto the Good in the 1910s

toronto ferry 1910

Next month it will be forty years since I arrived in Australia but nothing will remove the warmth I feel for my first home and where I grew up. These are photos sent to me under the heading A 1910s Toronto photo extravaganza, each one of which brings with it distinct memories of the city I grew up in. My thanks to David Kwinter – whom I have known for almost 60 years – for sending these to me. Two more because they have such meaning to me.

First the picture of the Toronto main library which was something like a seven minute walk from the house I grew up in. The caption says it’s at the corner of College and Beverly but it’s actually at College and St. George.

toronto library

There is then a picture of a pharmacy in the middle of “Kensington” which is as far from the London version as you could get. But that was still how it looked when I was around. In fact, if anything, it has a much more orderly look than it had later, and even now. The owner of the shop is E. Rutherford, but the first wave of Eastern European immigration is shown by the Yiddish above the door, which is not a translation but a transliteration of “Cut Rate Drug Store”. The signs today are as likely to be in Chinese as anything else.

toronto kensington

OK. One more, taken at the corner of Yonge and Richmond. These are Toronto streetcars at the start of the last century, but the ones in the picture were still on the road when I was just growing up. In 1948, GM offered to give buses to any city that tore up its streetcar tracks. Toronto was amongst the few in North America who turned the offer down.

toronto streetcars yonge and richmond

LATEST NEWS: And now Toronto is officially the best city in the world, according to the Economist. Melbourne remains the most liveable, but Toronto wins overall even though it did not win in a single category. Just overall excellence. Therefore a picture of something more recent:

toronto fort york

OK. It’s not so recent, but Fort York is an actual frontier fort that you can find in the heart of the city, surrounded by skyways and highways, and which no one ever goes to, except me. But it’s the genuine article, and if they had any sense, would make it a major feature, not some almost-embarrassment that you get taken to when you are in Grade V and never go to again. So I will finish with this, which is a video put together for a condo at Yonge and Richmond, as in the photo above. What I had not heard, but must be a Toronto cliche, is that this is the area of the Yonge & Rich, get it? Well you will, but only if you know how to pronounce “Yonge”, and it’s not Yon-Gee.

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