Tuesday, March 10, 2009

backstreets of toronto: broadway avenue 1

Disclaimer: After a long hiatus, an old feature of this site returns. Blame it on several factors—diving into other projects, time factors, lethargy, stubborn belief in finishing one massive instalment before moving on to the next one, lumbago, etc.—choose the excuse you wish to believe. Most of the photos used in this post were shot in December 2006, in case you notice any outdated elements. The final entry in this series may include photo updates.

Broadway Avenue Sign
It may not resemble Manhattan's similarly monikered main artery, but Toronto's Broadway carries its share of history and stories, from rebellion launch site at its west end to a gateway to the Don Valley park system in the east. Broadway was one of the few side streets that ran through three municipalities in pre-amalgamation Metropolitan Toronto (Toronto, North York, East York). Among its homes and buildings lies several pieces of my family's history.

This three-part look will begin with most of its run through the old city of Toronto.

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1 - Post Office Station K/site of Montgomery's Tavern
2 - Anne Johnston Health Centre
3 - North Toronto Collegiate Institute
4 - Northern Secondary School

Montgomery Avenue Sign
Our trip begins just before Broadway starts. West of Yonge runs Montgomery Avenue, named after the inn that was located at the southwest corner. On December 4, 1837, a group of rebels led by fiery journalist/politician William Lyon Mackenzie gathered at Montgomery's Tavern and marched south along Yonge, leading to four days of confrontations with government troops. The rebels eventually retreated back to the tavern, where they were defeated on December 7.

Montgomery's Tavern Plaque
The tavern was burned down and then rebuilt. Sold to Charles McBride in 1858, it was renamed the Prospect House and served as a meeting spot from the township council and Masonic Lodge. Destroyed by fire in 1881, the property was purchased by John Oulcott, who opened Oulcott's Hotel two years later.

Postal Station K and Montgomery's Tavern Plaque
By the 1920s the site was used as a post office and was torn down to make way for the present Postal Station K in 1936, which is unique for being one of the few public buildings in the British Empire to bear the royal mark of King Edward VIII.

Anne Johnston Health Centre
On the northwest side of Montgomery and Yonge stands the Anne Johnston Health Station, a non-profit community health facility named after a longtime city councillor whose municipal career ended in a furor over her support for the controversial Minto Quantum condo towers a few blocks south. A community/NIMBY group put out a call for candidates to run against Johnston in the 2003 municipal election, which resulted in the victory of one of the current key "opposition" figures at city council, Karen Stintz.

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Broadway/Montgomery and Yonge, Looking East
Looking east down Broadway from Yonge Street

Yummi's
The space at the northeast corner has been a cursed spot for eateries, a revolving door for most of the past decade. It looked like Yummi's, a Middle Eastern eatery, would dodge the curse but it ceased to be at the end of 2008. It appears the South St. Burger chain will be the next occupant.

Broadway Apts. Apartments and Tim Horton's
Two apartment complexes greet those venturing east from Yonge, along with a busy Tim Horton's.

St. Monica's School
The first of several educational facilities along Broadway is St. Monica Catholic School. The first portion of the current building was erected in 1925.

North Toronto Collegiate Institute
The street runs along the backside of North Toronto Collegiate Institute. Established in 1910, the school moved to its current site two years later. My grandmother attended NTCI in the late 1920s.

Notes on a Notice A Community Vision Comes to Life
When I shot these photos in December 2006, the first signs of Tridel's Republic condo development were appearing along the street. Part of NTCI has been demolished, with a refurbished school to be integrated into the complex. This was the first of several proposed condo/school combinations designed to find funding to fix crumbling schools.

Are the additions to the "Notice" sign meant to be helpful or hostile?

Couch, Anybody?
Anyone for this bee-utiful couch?

A Touch of New York
Manhattan Towers is one of the few buildings along Broadway to reference the Big Apple. No theatre-themed apartments or condos...yet.

Broadpath Manor 127 Broadway
Two typical examples of the apartment buildings that line the street between Redpath Avenue and Mount Pleasant Road.

NEXT: Mt. Pleasant to Bayview

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