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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Sunday curiosity: The two Gerrard St. Easts

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Walking down Carlaw after I moved to the east end not long ago, I noticed something very strange – just south of Gerrard St. East and Carlaw, you pass ANOTHER Gerrard St. East, this one a little residential road.

Digging back in archival maps, it looks like the reason was that, at first, the tunnel under the tracks was at Carlaw, and Gerrard St. diverted slightly to meet the tunnel at Carlaw in a complicated intersection. You can see this in a 1913 map (click on section 41 to download the relevant part of the map).

By 1924, a tunnel had been dug so that Gerrard could be straightened. But the old Gerrard East diversion kept its name, resulting in parallel streets with the same name.

At some point, a small parkette was built to close off the intersection of Gerrard St. East and Gerrard St. East — I’m guessing to stop it being used as a shortcut for drivers going north on Carlaw who wanted to turn eastwards onto Gerrard, and also to remove a convoluted and not especially useful intersection.

But, according to a letter from local Councillor Paula Fletcher (PDF) to Toronto and East York Community Council considered this month, it still causes confusion as drivers going north on Carlaw turn onto the wrong Gerrard St. E. and find themselves trapped, having to circle around the residential neighbourhood to get out again. TEYCC agreed to ask staff to look into the matter.

The obvious solution, which I expect will be recommended, is to rename this little doppelganger Gerrard St. East to something else. A sensible solution, but the end of a curiosity that has persisted for almost a century.

1913 map section from City of Toronto archives, Goads Fire Insurance Plans




  1. Since Boston Avenue turns into “Little” Gerrard St East, why not just call the whole thing Boston Avenue?

  2. Or why not just make the residential Gerrard merge with the “main” Gerrard?

  3. I guess it could be “Boston Crescent” or something (though it’s not exactly a crescent). There are other places in Toronto where streets with the same name but different street-type designations meet.

    I took a photo of the parkette when I went by later in the day:

    I also realized the house numbering works despite having the two branches of the street because the main section of the street is all tunnel, so you can’t have houses there.

  4. There’s a similar situation in Corktown, where one Sumach Street briefly runs parallel with another Sumach Street. Near the Cube House. People who live on the “old” Sumach Street say it’s a hard situation to explain to delivery guys.

  5. Maybe the house numbering is why little Gerrard hasn’t been renamed?

    Other solutions could be to close off the Gerrard/Gerrard intersection to prevent premature right turns (either permanently or by making the lesser street one-way west to the other) or by simply renaming it to Little Gerrard. After all, Toronto did once have a Little Richmond.

  6. I lived at Pape and Gerrard while that street was still open – they closed it off and made the parkette around 2002. It was a very convenient turn off point when you were heading north on Carlaw and wanted to avoid the blind turn on Gerrard!

  7. In another part of the city, these three roads run parallel for three blocks:
    – Indian Road
    – Indian Road Crescent
    – Indian Grove

  8. @Leo: The situation with those three roads is a little different and there has been some renaming that both contributed to the similarities and simplified wayfinding by consolidating some connected streets. About 100 years ago, ‘Indian Road’ referred only to the portion running from the present junction of Indian Road Crescent and Indian Road south to its former junction with Keele (Parkside). Running north to Dundas, the current Indian Rd was Western Ave, while Indian Rd Cres used to be named Willoughby. Indian Grove was just the portion south of Bloor; the rest of the current Indian Grove was called Ontario (to Annette) and Union (to the CPR line).

  9. Incidentally, when I first saw the headline, I thought the article would be about the weird disjunction between the two parts of Gerrard E on either side of Coxwell, which is the result of the eastern section previously being a completely different street, Lake View Ave.