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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Walking the Toronto Green Line — from Bristol Avenue to Bartlett Parkette — ideas competition begins today

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EDITOR: This continues Shawn Micallef’s posts following the Green Line hydro corridor through midtown Toronto, location of the Green Line Ideas Competition. Check out to find out how you can participate.

Section 8 – Bristol Avenue Parkette

After the alley, the Bristol Avenue Parkette returns the corridor to friendly parkland again with a sandbox and children’s play equipment. A massive corkscrew willow (possibly the largest in the city, I’m told) on the north side compliments the view of Regal Heights school atop the escarpment about half a kilometer away above Davenport. Surrounding the park are a mix of houses and industrial buildings, some of which hum, as industrial buildings probably should. This is the beginning of the Green Line’s proximity to Geary Avenue, a place where a drink can be had, an espresso made and flat tire mended.

Click here for a bigger map of the Green Line.

Section 9 – Bartlett Junction

The Bristol Parkette continues across Bartlett to one of the more derelict baseball diamonds in the city, with a rusted chain link backstop and large patches of grass and weeds growing up through the diamond surface. Should anybody want to play a sad game of baseball here, a hydro substation in the middle of the outfield makes this suitable only for the littlest of Little Leagues (or, perhaps, the recent Jays’ roster). The parkland here is a buffer between the residential homes to the north and the Geary Avenue industrial and commercial strip that straddles the railway corridor. Geary is a surprise mishmash of a street, including a theatre costume rental shop, a hydroponics hemp store, a parkour gym, the “Kitch” bar, a seafood shop, a couple Portuguese restaurant-cafes and a variety of auto repair garages. This mix of uses, often separated in other parts of the city, exist next door to each other, sometimes in the same building, and could be considered the “downtown” hub of the Green Line corridor.

Section 10 – Bartlett Parkett

At Bartlett Parkette the “step down” portion of the corridor ends as the power lines angle due east and come in line with the Toronto grid by following the railway cut that runs parallel to Dupont Street. It’s also the end of the pedestrian pathway that began a kilometer west of here, back at the Beaver Lighbourne Parkette. Here the last segment of Bartlett Park lies in between the two commercial sections of Geary, once even called “Main Street.” This was a central hub for the area prior to the establishing of the hydro corridor and the creation of “subways” under the railway (what we would call underpasses today), allowing commerce, people and vehicles to flow north and south instead of being contained above the tracks. Bartlett Avenue is one of the few at grade railway crossings in Toronto, as there is no underpass here. When crossing here, and pausing to look either way down the tracks, the wide space can be fully appreciated. The two existing railway lines don’t fill the space, as scrubland and a rough trail take up the rest. In the Bartlett pavement, remains of the three rail lines are still embedded in the pavement.

In 1910 when the area was annexed to Toronto, the street was re-named after the Mayor, George Reginald Geary.  Mayor Geary opposed the building of subways (of the underground rapid transit type, not the underpasses) as they were too expensive. Had our current Mayor Rob Ford been alive, Geary Avenue would have been filled with subways, subways, and subways.