Beach Memories: Upcoming walking tour of Main and Danforth area to examine history of East Toronto

The southwest corner of Main Street and Stephenson Avenue is seen in this photo from 1954. A walking tour of the area is set for the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 6. Photo: Toronto Library Archives.

By GENE DOMAGALA

Did you know that the Woodbine Race Track wasn’t the first race course in the east end of Toronto or that the Queen’s Plate was held at this particular site?

To find out its location, join me on a Heritage Walk of East Toronto on Saturday, Nov. 6, starting at 1 p.m.

The walk will begin at the northwest corner of Main Street and Danforth Avenue, and will be based on the village and later town of East Toronto.

East Toronto was its own town from 1888 to 1908, when it joined the City of Toronto.

We are all familiar with the former Toronto East General Hospital (now called Michael Garron Hospital). But did you know that one the first hospitals in the area was located in the Town of East Toronto nearly 130 years ago?

You will learn more at the walk.

Our walk will travel down Main Street (did you know Dawes Road used to be one of the main streets before Main Street?) and visit several different historic locations.

We’ll visit one of the first post offices, see historically designated streets in the area, and note some of the designated heritage houses.

We will also see the storefront of a man who was responsible for introducing several sports activities such as rugby, football and hockey to the area – before it was introduced in the Balmy Beach and Kew Gardens area.

East Toronto has a fascinating history, being the only incorporated town east of the City of Toronto. East Toronto had many churches and was also home to one of the largest railroad centres there was.

The Grand Trunk railroad and later Canadian National once employed hundreds of people and they were responsible for the commercial and industrial life of the area.
Also, the east end branch of the Toronto Public Library will be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year at the Main Street Library.

But there was an East Toronto public library before that one, and we’ll find out where on the walking tour.

Many of the area’s churches are architectural gems that have helped residents through good and bad times.

There was also a farmers’ market once at Main Street and Gerrard Street East, and even a movement to have a large cemetery built in that same area.

Our walk will see the site of the original East Toronto Town Hall, the police station and fire hall along Main Street.

There will also be other points of historical interest, so remember to bring a good pair of walking shoes.


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