Cities for People — New Toronto

This is part of a series of posts by students in OCAD’s Cities for People summer workshop (click the link to read a bit about what the class is about). This New Toronto post was researched and written by Giny Kim. Click here to see a larger version of their psychogeographic map of the area.

The historic town of New Toronto is a neighbourhood in the south-west end of Toronto. New Toronto was established in 1890 and it once was an independent municipality starting 1913 and ended in 1967. Once its population reached 5,000 it had highest value of manufacturing per square mile in North America. North of Birmingham Street in New Toronto has traditionally been a large industrial district, although a number of industries moved or closed in the period from 1987 to the early 1990s.

a. Lake Shore Road & 6th streets looking east, approximately 1939. Don Russell Drugs (right hand side) is still there today (Source from New Toronto Historical Society)
b. Lake Shore (The Highway) about 1910/1915 at about today’s 8th street looking west towards Brown’s Line. (Source from New Toronto Historical Society)
c. Goodyear Plant, 1967 (Photo Credits: Goodyear Canada Inc)
d. New Toronto Residential Development (Source from Wikipedia)

New Toronto is now a neighbourhood in transition, as the industrial corridor located at the north end of the community is being redeveloped after having been vacant and fallow for many years. Industry that gradually moved out of New Toronto over the years is now being re-established, in addition to institutional uses.

a. Lake Shore Blvd & 5th St.
b. Street light and banner at Lake Shore Blvd & 7th St.
c. Lighting fixture at Lake Shore Blvd & 7th St.
d. Street bench in lighthouse form near Lake Shore Blvd & 5th St.
(Pictures taken by Giny Kim)

New Toronto still has several old buildings on the streets. Almont Hotel, located on Lake Shore Blvd near Kipling, is one of the oldest hotel buildings in New Toronto. It was built in 1890 by John Shean near Mimico Asylum across the street. Since the hotel was located halfway between the farms of the Peel region and the markets downtown Toronto, farmers would often stop overnight on their regular trips to market. In 1924, the Long Branch Racetrack open and brought new business to the hotel.  The owners provided a shuttle service to and from the racetrack. By 1935, it was known as the Almont Hotel. In 1984, Carl Thomas Georgevich and John Paul Evans purchased the historic building.  They made extensive repairs and it became Chatter’s Restaurant. In the late 1990’s it was Vendetta’s Bar & Grill, and then changed hands again a couple more times. Currently, the building is going through another renovation.

a. Picture of Almont Hotel in 1890s
b. Picture of Almont Hotel in 1953
c. Picture of Almont Hotel in 1984
c. Recent picture of Almont Hotel located in Lakeshore Blvd & Kipling Ave.
(Picture sources from New Toronto Historical Society)

The Capitol Theatre opened in 1929 on the southwest corner of Lake Shore and Fourth Streets. The theatre, owned by Premier Theatre, had 1042 seats. It closed 1975. According to the stories of a few of the local residents from when they were children, they used to get in for free by climbing through a window from the rooftop or by paying their dime for the first movie, and then hiding to get into the next feature for free. Today the site has been changed to a high-rise apartment building for seniors assisted living with a variety store on the street level.

a. Picture of Capitol Theater in 1935 (Picture sources from New Toronto Historical Society)
b. Former Capitol Theater site turned into high-rise apartment building (2010)

I’ve met several people during the walk and I asked people why they think this neighbourhood needs revitalization and how they think it can be achieved.

6 comments

  1. “Industry that gradually moved out of New Toronto over the years is now being re-established”

    Where?

  2. Actually a) and d) in the second set of pics is Lakeshore and 4th looking east, not Lakeshore and 5th.  I live on 5th, and that’s not it.

  3. The Almont Hotel was purchased by Humber College, as well as the office-type building next to it.  They`re being turned in to additional administrative space, as well as more classrooms. 

  4. Thank you for the comment Jessica. I was wondering what was going on with the building cuz I’ve seen them doing some interior renovation recently.

  5. Thank you for the comment Glen. What I meant by that statement is that the former industrial site like Goodyear is now the residential area and compared to the past (like in early 1900s when New Toronto was highly industrialized) New Toronto has gone through significant re-development phases especially in developing new residential areas like in 9th to 13th St. area.

  6. Thank you for the comment PMK. You are right about the picture a. That’s 4th St looking east. The picture b was taken by me at the 7th St (few walks to the W) and Lakeshore Blvd. That street lighting and the flag is located right in front of Village Convenience.

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