This selection of photographs by Peter MacCallum documenting Weston Road is published in conjunction with Spacing’s new issue themed around main streets.
In July, 2020, after searching in vain for new subjects to photograph in my Queen and Spadina neighbourhood, I decided to travel by TTC to a less popular part of Toronto, Weston Road north of St. Clair Avenue, where picturesque rows of houses in a wide range of shapes line the heavily travelled roadway.
Curiosity drove me to look farther north, and the outline of a new project quickly asserted itself. I decided I would photograph the 7 kilometres of urban fabric along Weston Road between St. Clair Avenue and St. Phillips Road at the northern edge of the former town of Weston.
Cutting diagonally across Toronto’s street grid, lower Weston Road is a major traffic artery but also the spinal column that connects a series of distinct neighbourhoods. As my photos show, the communities of Weston and Mount Dennis, which were originally outside the city, still have an architectural presence on their main street and have retained some of their small town character.
Other parts of Weston Road reflect the haphazard expansion of the City of Toronto into its near suburbs during the 20th century. The notorious 40 acre wrecking yard of Levy Auto Parts formerly fronted an entire block north of Jane Street. The site of its workshops is now a brownfield, dug out in the middle to a depth of 30 feet. Directly opposite sits the gleaming, steam-emitting industrial complex of Irving Tissue.
Used car lots, independent garages, body shops, and other auto related businesses still represent a substantial share of the economic activity along Weston Road, and high speed traffic streams through the area without a break. The completion of the Crosstown LRT at Eglinton Avenue could bring about a rapid transformation of the streetscape.
Along the street, I recorded many signs of adaptation. In Mount Dennis, storefronts left vacant after the closing of the Kodak plant had been converted to apartments. Various commercial and industrial buildings had become churches, some hosting multiple evangelical congregations, and dignified old houses had become used car dealerships.
I was fortunate to be able to represent our current social history by showing pedestrians wearing protective masks. Despite the dangers of COVID-19, residents I encountered proved very friendly and enthusiastic about having me record their neighbourhoods. In the process, the No.89 Weston Road bus has become my favourite TTC route.
For a pop-up gallery view, scroll to the end of the post.
All photos © P. MacCallum, 2020 (petermaccallum.com)
For pop-up gallery view, click on a photo below.