Sunday, March 22, 2009

Toronto Then and Now: Old Parkdale, part two

below: 1884 - Canada's first electric railway ran at the Industrial Exhibition (now C.N.E.) in Toronto between Strachan Ave. and Dufferin St. click on photos to enlarge!

above: 1884 - the Toronto Electric Light Company's electric streetcar was "Canada's first electric railway"; fare was 5 cents to ride from Strachan Ave. to Dufferin St. Looking at the centre-right distance can be seen the rear roof of the 1873 Toronto Central Prison jail house, which faced onto the west side of Strachan Ave., just north of the tracks. A small portion of this prison, the chapel wing, still remains on Liberty St.
This photo was taken from south of the Grand Trunk railroad tracks (the tracks are behind that tall rough-cut picket fence), looking north-easterly along the tracks towards Strachan Ave. (which would be in the far right distance), standing slightly east of Dufferin St. Now the Gardiner Expressway runs along this area, south of the tracks. Steam locomotives can also be seen in the centre-right.

[Mike Filey wrote in his 1979 book Toronto City Life Old & New that the electric streetcars were already running at the exhibition grounds in 1883, and that the tracks ran from the fairground's Strachan Ave. gate to the Machinery Hall near Dufferin; and he also provides a photo which states that the streetcars were there also in 1885. But the report below from the TTC itself  states that this electric streetcar line was built in 1884; so there's a discrepancy there...]
The Toronto Transportation (now 'Transit') Commission's (TTC) 1953 Wheels of Progress review wrote of the introduction of Electric Streetcars to Toronto:
"While the opposition to the electrification of the system was offered by horse fanciers and a few who "viewed with alarm" the debacle that would be caused by electric streetcars rushing madly along crowded thoroughfares, the balance of public opinion was in favour of the improvement and the [privately-owned Toronto Railway] Company proceeded with the work.

The first electric car appeared on the Toronto system in service on Church St. on Aug.15, 1892, and the Company met the terms of its agreement by completing the electrification of the system within the next two years. The last horse-drawn car was withdrawn from service on McCaul St. on Aug. 31, 1894.

Before electric cars were introduced on the Toronto system, public confidence in the innovation had been created by the success of a line constructed by the Exhibition authorities in 1884 and said to have been the first commercial electric railway in America. [!] This line ran from Strachan Ave. west wards to the Exhibition grounds immediately south of the steam railway crossing and was intended to provide more convenient access to the Ex. It was abandoned in 1892 after the extension of the King St. route of the City system.

Some of the first electric cars in Toronto were electrified horse-cars of both open and closed body type with controls installed on the open-front platform, where the motorman was protected only by the dash and by the car's projecting roof. As new cars were required, open and closed interchangeable bodies were built to meet the demand for open-car service in the summer, and closed-car service in the winter, without the expense of having to duplicate the electric truck and control equipment. The car bodies were interchanged each spring and fall, and the only closed cars in service during the summer were rush-hour extras.

The winter of 1891-92 witnessed the fulfillment of a long cherished hope for the people of Toronto, when stoves were placed in the cars."
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below: Standing on Dundas St. W. and Humberside Ave., looking east across the CP railway tracks, where one of Toronto's first CLRV (Canadian Light Rail ) vehicles sits on a flatbed railway car, awaiting delivery to the TTC. I took this photo in 1979, and it is possibly car 4010 being delivered from Hawker Siddeley.[Or could this be one of the six UTDC prototypes which had been built by SIG Co. in Switzerland? Wish I had gotten the number!]

above: same view, Jul.14, 2008
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below: The Bulova Tower (with a digital clock; formerly the Shell Tower with an analogue clock) at the CNE, as seen from the east looking through the Princes' Gates [... spelled with an ces', not ce's, because the Princes' Gates were named for two princes, not one...] from Strachan Ave. The Flyer rollercoaster is seen at the far right, a part of the south CNE Stadium bleachers is seen at the far left. The caption from the Nov.28, 1985 photo in the Globe and Mail reads: "Workers continue demolition of Bulova clock tower at Exhibition Place yesterday. A last-ditch effort by group of architects and historical buffs had failed to save tower, being razed to make way for pit stop along Molson's Indy auto race route." I'd been up on the Shell tower many times; I remember by the eighties it was starting to show a lot of deterioration and rust. At one point I remember one of stairs was closed because repairs had to be made; and the elevators were often breaking down.
above: same view, Jul.14, 2008 - the Bulova tower, the Flyer, and the stadium are long gone now; a wind turbine demonstration tower is seen in the distance, over at the west end of the Ex, near the former Ontario-Government-then-Carlsberg Pavilion, now Liberty Grand building. A bit of the red seats of the new BMO soccer field are seen in the far right distance. The Princes' gates were opened by HRH Edward (Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII) and his brother George, on Aug.30, 1927.
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below: The CNE Stadium being demolished in early 1999, shown with its cantilevered-roof collapsed onto the where the seats had been below. This view is taken looking in a north-easterly direction from the Better Living Centre's stairs. In the far centre-right distance can be seen the tower near the entrance of the Coliseum Building. The stadium, built in 1948, with a newer bleacher structure on the south side, could hold up to 54, 000 spectators for football.

above: same view, July.14, 2008 - a soccer stadium, called BMO Field, is now located on the site of the former stadium.
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below: photo from the Jan.18, 1985 Toronto Star showing an aerial view of the old stadium with the south side bleachers which were built for the arrival of the Blue Jays in 1977. I remember that opening first game well, on Apr.7, 1977, having been there as it was snowing and freezing cold that day. The Jays won their first game 9-5 against the Chicago White Sox. The former Grand Trunk now CN Railway corridor is seen at the centre of photo (yellow mark), going east-west; at the top is the CP rail corridor (red mark); they joined together just out of the photo's frame at the far right (east), just slightly east of Strachan Ave., immediately north of Fort York. Lamport Stadium is marked at the upper left corner of photo, south of the CP tracks. The red arrow below shows the direction from which I took the second-above previous photo, of the CNE grandstand being torn down.
below: View of the north-side facade of Exhibition Stadium in Toronto as it was being demolished, early 1999. At the right is the old Hockey Hall of Fame. The old round-shaped semi-permanent Shopsy's corned beef food concession building once stood here on the midway, about where the pile of snow is seen at the centre of the below photo.
below: View of the CNE Stadium (looking from the north-east), as it was being demolished in early 1999.
below: looking at the CNE Stadium from the south-east, early 1999. The cantilevered roof trusses were demolished onto the seating area below.
below: Apr.17, 2007 - the sign for the new BMO Field sits in the parking lot prior to craning into place above the soccer stadium. The Direct Energy centre is in the left distance.

above - same view, Jul.14, 2008.
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below: looking at the south-east corner of King St. W. and Dufferin St. as WWI women munitions workers line up for last pay in 1918. They were employed by the Russell Motor Car Company, which had operated a munitions factory on the south-east corner of King and Dufferin, stretching all the way south to Liberty St., known as RMCC plant No.3.
In the left background, across King St., is the Metallic Roofing Co. factory, which stood on the north-east corner of King and Dufferin. I remember the building well, having been in it; it was torn down for the Tridel King's Garden rental apartment project, around 1985.
In the right distance (to the east, behind the three umbrellas) was the Pressed Metal Showroom building (only a tiny bit of its roof is seen in this photo.) Its interior and exterior was clad, entirely in Beaux-Arts fashion, out of metal siding.
These buildings were among several scheduled to be torn down as part of the construction site of the King's Garden apts. which were planned to be built along the east side of Dufferin, stretching from King all the way to Queen. (There had been a mix of small factories and warehouse buildings running along that stretch of Dufferin, up to the mid 1980's, which I remember quite well. Earlier, in the 1870's, that area behind where the fast-food joints now stand, was the site of the Credit Valley Railroad's steam locomotive roundhouse and train yards. Hard to believe!)
The Mettalic Roofing building at the left was torn down for the Tridel project, while the Showroom building was eventually lifted up and moved to a temporary spot on the grass east of Lamport Stadium (around 1985?) pending restoration upon a permanent site, which never materialized; it was later demolished probably around 87-88; I believe some of the ornate metal was saved by the Ontario Heritage Trust. I had been inside the showroom during when the clean-up efforts trying to find a way to save the structure were underway; it was quite ornate inside, with scalloped cherubs designed as a running cornice, lit by Edison-brand light bulbs, which I found still in their sockets, hidden behind various layers of plywood and dropped ceilings; and with various styles and reliefs installed throughout for demonstration of the design possibilities of pressed metal panels. Despite even goading then-mayor Art Eggleton to help, the opportunity to save the building did not happen.

above: July 14, 2008 - the same view as the previous photo - the same building is seen in the foreground at the right, where the Russell workers had once lined up for their pay. In the left background was where the Pressed Metal Factory building stood (on the north-east corner of King St.W. and Dufferin St.); in the right background, where the fast food joint sits, is where the Pressed Metal Showroom once stood.
Above older photos from Toronto City Archives; other photos by R. Bobak.
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below: ca.1986 - looking north-east along Dufferin St. from south of King St. - the King's Garden Apts. under construction along the east side of Dufferin St., from King St. north up to Queen St. The Gladstone Hotel is seen in the far distance, located on the north-east corner of Queen St. W. and Gladstone Ave. On this stretch of Dufferin St. had been all industrial buildings, with the CP rail sidings in the back. Where the pile of earth is seen in the right distance was where the Credit Valley Railroad steam-locomotive roundhouse once stood. In the foreground a new-at-the-time CLRV streetcar heads westbound along King St. past Dufferin St. Below photo by R.Bobak.

above: same view, July 14, 2008. Brick wall of Bank of Montreal building is at extreme left.
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below: ca. 1986 - looking north-east along Dufferin St., from south of King St. Photo By R.Bobak.
above: same view, Jul.14, 2008. Above recent photos by R. Bobak.
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For more in this series, please also see Old Parkdale, PART THREE
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Thanks for visiting Right In Niagara!
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