Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Heritage: Library to Library in Riverdale

"Library to Library in Riverdale" walk leaders Barbara Myrvold and Gerald Whyte spoke in front of St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Toronto, Ontario on 2-October-2010

TORONTO, ONTARIO - For its final walk of the 2010 season, Heritage Toronto provided a slightly different theme--walking from "library to library." As pointed out by Librarian and Historian Barbara Myrvold, it was really more like "libraries to library." The starting point was not only at the location of the first public library in Toronto east of the Don River, in the still-standing Poulton Block, where a branch existed in an expansion of the building in the rear from October 1888 to June 1910. Practically across the street was a contemporary library location, the Queen/Saulter Branch in the 1913-era Ralph Thornton Community Centre, built in 1913 as Postal Station G, which has existed since 1979.

The Eastern Branch of the Toronto Public Library had been in the rear section of the Poulton Block, observed on 2-October-2010, from 1888 to 1910, when the current Riverdale Branch opened

The walk was through the Riverdale neighbourhood, which has gone through a variety of names in the past, including Donmount and Riverside. The portion south of Queen Street had been annexed by Toronto in 1834, and the remainder had been annexed as Riverdale in 1884. People think of Toronto as not having any numbered streets, but that's not the case in Riverdale, where a series of numbered avenues do exist, laid out south of Gerrard Street starting with First Avenue.

There is a First Avenue in Toronto, as proven by this street sign in the Riverdale neighbourhood seen on 2-October-2010

Riverdale had once been prominent enough to justify its own station site on the Grand Trunk Railway, and the site of that station from 1896 to 1932 was part of the tour. That location is now part of Bruce Mackay Park--honouring the educator who helped provide the inspiration for the popular Degrassi television series. There is no Degrassi High (or Junior High) in Toronto, but there is a Degrassi Street traversed as part of the Heritage Toronto walk.

The large size of the final Heritage Toronto walk group of the year was demonstrated at the former site of the Riverdale railway station on 2-October-2010

Most of the historic buildings on the Riverdale walk had brick facades, but it was pointed out that many of them north of First Avenue had been built with a brick facing and wood framing. In a classic Heritage Toronto serendipitous moment, it was interesting to find evidence of that fact in the form of a house undergoing refurbishing on the north side of First Avenue just a few blocks after that statement had been made.

Ongoing work revealed the wood framing behind the brick outer layer on a First Avenue house in Toronto, Ontario on 2-October-2010

The walk ended at the Riverdale Library in time for its one hundredth anniversary celebration, covered earlier. It's time for indoor heritage activities for the rest of the year.

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