Thursday, February 13, 2014

What Keele Street used to look like in Toronto

Keele Street Toronto historyKeele Street may not feel particularly central geographically in Toronto, but historically speaking its been home to various hubs of activity for over a century. From the Canada Packers Stockyards at St. Clair to High Park, it's a diverse street with a rich history. Even today, the presence of York University and the subway extension at its northern tip (at least as far as Toronto goes -- the street actually extends to the Holland Marsh), ensures that it remains a place where development chugs along.
In the past, the busiest section of Keele was located along the stretch between Dundas and St. Clair, which was home to a variety of industrial and manufacturing enterprises as well as the previously mention Stockyards. Photos from the early 20th century show a dense strip of road in the area, which was well served the by the junction of multiple railway lines that gave the neighbourhood its name (prior to be being called the Junction, the neighbourhood was referred to as West Toronto).
In conjunction with the presence of High Park (which opened in 1876), the absence of these rail lines around Bloor explains why development was slower to catch on around this section of Keele, which up to the early 1910s served as a city dump. To this day, the area south of Annette all the way down to the Lake Shore is primarily residential.
To the north of Eglinton, Keele is marked by the strip-mall aesthetic that one sees beginning to form in the last two photos below in 1959. While there's really no doubt that long stretches of Keele would fairly be described as unremarkable, when you get out and explore, it's easy to spot traces of the street's history in what seem to be banal places, and there's something rather rewarding about that.
2014213-keele-indian-road-1912.jpgKeele & Indian Road, 1912
2014213-keele-st-dump-1914.jpgRemains of Keele Street Dump (at Bloor), 1914
2014213-bloor-keele-1914.jpgBloor & Keele, alternate angle (also 1914)
2014213-keele-st-subway-1915.jpgKeele Street Subway at Lakeshore, 1915 (now Parkside Drive)
2014213-keele-st-unmarked-1919.jpgKeele Street, 1919 (unidentified location)
2014213-keele-south-st-clair-1923.jpgKeele looking south from St. Clair, 1923
2014213-keele-south-dundas-1923.jpgKeele south of Dundas, 1923
2014213-keele-soth-hirons-1923.jpgKeele south of Hirons, 1923
2014213-keele-north-dundas-1923.jpgKeele looking north of Dundas, 1923
201326-dundas-keele-1923.jpgDundas & Keele, 1923
2014213-keele-subway-north-junction-1923.jpgKeele Subway at Junction Rd., 1923
2014213-howard-park-keele-1923.jpgHoward Park & Keele, 1923
2014213-keele-st-stables-1925.jpgKeele Street Stables, 1925
2014213-runnymede-bus-stop-1929.jpgRunnymede bus stop, 1929
2014213-ne-corner-st-clair-keele-1931.jpgNortheast corner St. Clair & Keele, 1931
2014213-se-corner-keele-st-clair.jpg-1931Southeast corner St. Clair & Keele, 1931
2014213-310-keele-1952.jpg310 Keele St., 1952
2014213-keele-north-from-llyod-1958.jpgKeele looking north from Lloyd, 1958
2014213-keele-wilson-1959.jpgKeele & Wilson area, 1959
2014213-downsview-market-1959.jpgDownsview Market (Keele north of Wilson), 1959
Photos from the Toronto Archives
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