Saturday, August 29, 2009

Heritage: Marlborough to Summerhill Walk

Walk leader Derek Boles held up a picture of Benvenuto, a mansion owned by developer Simeon Janes and railway magnate William Mackenzie that stood near Avenue Road from 1890 to 1924, during the Marlborough to Summerhill Heritage Toronto walk on 22-August-2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO - One of the best ways to become acquainted with neighbourhoods in Toronto is to take a Heritage Toronto walk to find out how it started and how much it has changed. A classic example of this process occurred with the Heritage Toronto walk entitled "Marlborough to Summerhill" held last Saturday, 22-August-2009, as it introduced me to an area I had never explored before.

The 1916 North Toronto Station served the Canadian Pacific for just fourteen years, but had been a liquor store for almost eighty when seen on 22-August-2009

A clear highlight of the area, something never seen from the subway which is underground in this area, is the former Canadian Pacific North Toronto station. Opened in 1916 before the "new" Union Station was built, it is located right at Yonge Street and the Canadian Pacific tracks. Its classic Beaux-Arts architecture is accentuated by a clock tower based on the Campanile of St. Mark's in Venice, Italy. Closed in 1930 (except for troop trains and a royal visit), it survives as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario's largest store, beautifully restored in 2003.

The first floor of this building along Yonge Street north of the Canadian Pacific tracks had originally been a basement before the street was lowered in the 1910's, seen 22-August-2009

While the North Toronto Station is hard to miss, other aspects of the neighbourhood require much more careful observation. Yonge Street at the station was lowered as part of the grade separation with the railroad, and several surviving buildings have had their original basements serve as their first floors ever since--something that would not likely be noticed unless it was pointed out.

This detailing on a Business Depot store on Yonge Street revealed its heritage as the Pierce Arrow Garage and Showroom on 22-August-2009

Another building certainly had a story to tell. The motifs on the columns of what is now a Staples Business Depot seem strange until it is revealed that the building was constructed in 1929 as H.E. Givan's Pierce Arrow Garage, and then the flying wheel and car in the man's hand make sense. The building actually served the longest, for forty years, as CBC's TV Studio 4, and there is essentially no sign of that incarnation.

Derek Boles spoke about the original North Toronto station site, now on primarily residential Marlborough Avenue, as the tower of the 1916 station loomed in the background on 22-August-2009

The neighbourhood is actually primarily residential, and the walk covered that as well, pointing out such things as the original prices of railway worker housing, the home where author Don DeLillo once lived, and how the Olive Farm Dairy had once mixed in with the houses. How living on the streets had changed over the years could be easily imagined.

More pictures from the "Marlborough to Summerhill Walk" will be in an upcoming update to my photo site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The tower looks like just like the one in Seattle. ALso, D.D. is one of my favorite authors, his best book is White Noise, I don't think he wrote it in Canada..