Friday, September 20, 2013

What Davenport Road used to look like in Toronto

Davenport Road History TorontoDavenport Road might lack the stature of some of the other streets we've featured in our series of Toronto history, but even if it was never developed to the same degree as nearby St. Clair Avenue or Dupont Street, it remains a fascinating thoroughfare that's unlike any other street in the city. Winding across what the old Lake Iroquois shoreline, the road originated as a First Nations trails, which at one point stretched between the Humber and Don rivers. That's why it doesn't conform to the more grid-like design of most other streets in the city. The curves are what make it interesting, of course, and it remains a favourite route for cyclists who can take shelter in the bike lane (installed in 1994) and then ride up and down the various inclines to the north.
Many of the below photos demonstrate the city trying to manage the inclines to the north of Davenport, which were virtually un-passable after heavy rains or snow prior to being paved in and around the 1920s. To do this day, cars tend to struggle approaching Davenport from Bathurst and Dufferin in heavy know thanks to above average gradients. In the case of Bathurst street, the city actually used dynamite to lessen the incline, which posed significant problems given the amount of traffic on the street.
Also worthy of note is that Davenport was home to the second electrified streetcar line in Toronto. Though it might be hard to believe given its relatively northern position at the time (most development was concentrated further south), the Davenport Railway Company ran cars along the street starting in 1892. Around the same time, a series of tolls were installed along the street to fund improvements to street, one of which serves as heritage museum at Bathurst and Davenport.
In fact, Bathurst and Davenport is a rather important intersection to the city as a whole. Home to the TTC's Hillcrest Yards, the sprawling complex has been the nerve centre for the TTC since it opened in the early 1920s. Prior to that, the area to the southwest of the intersection was actually home to Hillcrest Racetrack, one of many to dot the city back in the day. Just to the north of the TTC facility is Wychwood Park, a private community that was once founded as an artists colony.
Fall is a particularly beautiful time to take in Davenport's many delights, as the north side of the street remains well treed. Stop and have a look around next time you pass by.

Above Davenport and Bathurst, 1907
2013913-dav-east-bath-1910.jpgDavenport looking east from Bathurst, 1910
Hillcret Racetrack, Bathurst and Davenport 1911
TTC Hillcrest Yards, 1911
2013913-dav-poplar-plains-1912.jpgDavenport and Poplar Plains, 1912
Looking north on Walmer Road at Casa Loma, 1913
Dufferin north of Davenport, 1913
2013913-bathurst-north-dav-1913.jpgDavenport looking north up Bathurst, 1913
2013913-dav-west-bath-1914-mud.jpgDavenport west at Bathurst, 1914
Casa Loma, 1914
Looking north up Christie from Davenport, 1915
2013913-lansdowne-dav-1916-mud.jpgLansdowne and Davenport, 1916
Alternate angle.
2013913-dav-walmer-1916.jpgDavenport and Walmer, 1916
2013913-dav-bath-east-1916.jpgDavenport and Bathurst looking east, 1916
2013913-dav-bartlett-1921.jpgDavenport and Bartlett, 1921
Gage property at Wychwood, 1922
2013913-dav-weston-1923.jpgDavenport and (Old) Weston Rd, 1923
TTC Hillcrest Yards, 1923
2013913-dav-symington-1923.jpgDavenport and Symington, 1923
2013913-dav-east-salem-1923.jpgDavenport and Salem, 1923
GTR Crossing near Davenport and Caledonia, 1923
2013913-dav-station-caledonia-1923.jpgDavenport GTR Station at Caledonia Rd, 1923
Small house at Davenport and Albany, 1925
2013913-dav-oakwood-1927.jpgDavenport and Oakwood, 1927
2013913-sw-corner-ave-dav-1930.jpgSouthwest corner of Avenue and Davenport, 1930
306 Davenport, 1930
191-193 Davenport, 1930

359 Davenport, 1931
2013913-dav-bedford-1933.jpgDavenport and Bedford, 1933
2013913-dav-toward-duop-1938.jpgDavenport towards Dupont, 1938
2013013-dav-dover-1947.jpgDavenport and Dovercourt, 1947
2013913-bedford-dav-1947.jpgDavenport and Bedford, 1947
The Sign of the Steer restaurant at Davenport and Dupont, 1955
Looking west on Davenport at Howland, 1956
2013913-dav-east-to-osler-1958.jpgDavenport looking eat from Osler, 1958
Looking towards Davenport and Yonge, 1959
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