EDITOR’S NOTE: Spacing illustrator and contributor Mathew Borrett has joined our blog team and will post occasionally about interesting finds in the City of Toronto Archives and the stories behind the images.
Shaw Street over the humble Sully Crescent, looking west in 1901. (map)
Like most cities, Toronto is a lot flatter than it used to be. The shapes of many early neighbourhoods were defined by ravines and meandering creek beds. Seen as obstacles to development, they were aggressively filled in and their waters relegated to dark pipes underground. The buried Garrison Creek is a prominent Toronto example. A few sections remain only partly filled — Bickford Park, the bowl in Trinity Bellwoods, the dip on Ossington between College and Harbord. By the time of the Garrison’s internment, it had become little more than an open sewer and convenient dumping site for the population exploding around it. Taddle Creek, Walmsey Brook, and many others suffered similar fates. Now these waterways are storm drains and sewers, absorbed into the city’s infrastructure.
A section of Garrison Creek used to wind northeast across College at Shaw street. In the late 1800s a modest collection of houses sprouted here on Sully Crescent. A long wooden stair connected the end of the crescent with Shaw Street above. The present-day Dominion grocery store (now Metro) on College and Fred Hamilton Park now occupy the filled land. How many shoppers, as they cross the parking lot to pick up a few groceries, realize that a neighbourhood once stirred far below their feet?
Shaw Street bridge passes above Sully Crescent, looking north to College, 1901. Note the complete lack of development on College, and the empty space on the right, still an open field right up to Bloor St.
Sully Crescent 1921, looking NW. The bridge (left) has been buried. On the right is the rear of a baptist church now known as the Revival Bar.
Muddy Sully Crescent, 1907
All photos are from the City of Toronto Archives.