Proceeding south on Ontario, west on Dundas St. and North on Seaton. Taking 30-40 minutes, it takes you through Cabbagetown South to enjoy the this Victorian neighbourhood. On your walk you will learn about interesting historic information about the neighborhood and the homes you pass.
Cabbagetown South is a downtown neighborhood defined by rows of Victorian and bay-and-gable houses that predominantly date from the mid- 19th to early 20th century. Beginning in the 1860s and through to the early 1880s the original Town of York park lots were subdivided for speculative development and sold to small-scale developers, who began constructing rows of bay-and-gable and cottage style houses, responding to the massive population growth Toronto was experiencing during that decade. By the end of the 1880s, the area was largely built out and had assumed its present-day residential character with some commercial development along Gerrard Street East.
Institutional development coincided with this initial period of construction, with religious denominations and charitable organizations establishing themselves within and adjacent to Cabbagetown South. While no churches were built within the area, it was well served by a variety of denominational churches along Parliament and Sherbourne Streets. Early charitable institutions included The Haven (later Seaton House), founded in 1878 and relocated to Seaton Street south of Carlton Street in 1882 to provide assistance to women; Central Neighborhood House, founded in 1911 and Toronto’s second oldest settlement house; and the Girls’ Home and Lee School (1867 and 1909), located on Gerrard Street East at Ontario Street. These institutions, along with others, served the broader community through the 19th and 20th centuries.
As the geography of middle-class residential neighborhoods evolved and moved outwards from the central city in the early decades of the 20th century, the area began to experience a change in demographics, coupled with the gradual introduction of light industrial and manufacturing uses that were spreading from the St. Lawrence neighborhood to the south. Many houses were subdivided, while others, particularly south of Dundas Street East, were demolished and replaced with commercial and manufacturing buildings. This trend continued through the post-war period and coincided with widespread disinvestment in downtown neighborhoods and their older housing stock.
Beginning in the 1970s and continuing through the turn of the 21st century the area and greater Cabbagetown neighborhood attracted renewed interest, valued for its historic character, proximity to downtown and strong community network. Community organizations rallied in opposition to urban renewal programs, having seen the sweeping demolition of Regent Park a decade prior and its apparent failures. Residents organized to not only ward off these campaigns, but to advocate for community safety, inform contextual infill development and build an appreciation for the area’s heritage homes.1
224 Gerrard St. E
224 Gerrard St. E is part of a group of 5 attached homes built in 1870. The original owner was Samuel Parker.
This property was built for commercial purposes in in 1871 by Samuel Parker. It is two stories and built in the Georgian style.
Dmytro and Mary Horiszny in his store, Reliable Shoe Repair, 285 Gerrard Street East (at Parliament) April 1937 Courtesy of Kathleen “Kay” Horiszny, daughter, Cabbagetown-Regent Park Museum
This large building was built in 1911. It is in the Gothic Revival; style and was originally the Lee Public School and the principal was Harriet Johnson. In the assessment roles of the time it was associated with The Girls Home Toronto at 229 Gerrard E. In a later life it was a Masonic Hall and now a Language School and private home.
Picture of the original Lee School dated 1955. It stopped being a school in 1930. If you look closely at the picture you will see a For Sale sign. You can also see the ‘Girls’ Home’ to the right.
Built in 1874 by William Blackford this home has been beautifully restored and is in the Queen Anne style. The 1900 assessment role said that Mr. Blackford was a ‘moulder’ and had built the house for $1,182.00
This home was built in 1950 and is in the modern style. The original occupants were Venance & Ethel Proulx. In recent years a lot of work has been done on the gardens.
This 2 ½ story home was originally built in 1916 and was owned by John Hildred and Fiona Norris. It is built in the Edwardian style.
This home was built in 1889 by John Burns. It is in the Edwardian style and is two and a half stories. The original occupant was William Skinnow
Owned by James Watt this charming Workers Cottage was built in 1878. It is one story and built of board and batten construction. Note the beautiful scrollwork in the gable.
Built in 1887 this two and half storey brick façade home is in the Queen Anne style. It is part of a row including 334 and 326. James Dudley was the original owner and William MacGillivary was the original occupant.
These two houses are some of the oldest in Cabbagetown South! 313 were first surveyed in 1847 and may have been built that year or anytime over the next five years. It started as a one room, 12- foot-wide 30-foot-long no basement Irish cottage with a stove for cooking and heat. By 1900 the house had expanded to a second room in back to be used as a kitchen, and an upstairs with two or three rooms (most likely two rooms and a closet but the closet could also have been used as a small baby’s room) but still relied on the stove for heat.
Over the next 30 years it acquired a bathroom (installed in the upstairs closet or baby’s room), and knob and tube electricity.
Around 1930 the house was lifted up and a basement put under with a furnace. Then in 1960 (we think 1962) the basement was redone with cement block. Up to this point, 313 and 311 were joined – that is they had one basement. With the 1960 renos, a wall was built in the basement between 311 and 313 when the woman who owned both houses, sold. In the 1970s an addition was added to the back for a larger kitchen on the main floor and a third bedroom upstairs. The older part of the house was also renovated to update wiring and plumbing. In the 1980s it was renovated with new windows and updated plumbing again, as well, the back patio was installed, and a fireplace was installed upstairs. After the major snowstorm of 1999, the house required a new roof and drains from the city lines were upgraded. As well insulation was blown into the attic.
Over the years, the current owners of the two houses have collaborated to ensure that there is a consistent look and feel to the street ensuring that the exterior paint color; gardens and roof are coordinated.
The house still has its original hardwood and softwood floors on the main level and in the main bedroom upstairs. Also, the original architecture of the main floor and the front of the house upstairs can still be seen. It has one of the most beautiful front gardens in Cabbagetown South.
294 Ontario Street was built in 1916 as an apartment building. The original owners were Joseph and Annie Doyle. The original cost to build the 6 units was $14,670, It was built in the Modern style and had art deco horizontal brick work.
On the north east corner of Dundas & Ontario was the site of the infamous ‘Stoopys Bar’ a notorious hangout for drug dealers and hookers in times gone by. In the 1990’s the bar was used by many production and film companies because it offers an authentic bar atmosphere. Featured in A History of Violence by Cronenberg’s. Today it is a boutique hotel called the Royal Oak.
At the south east corner of Ontario and Dundas Streets you will see a red brick building with a black storefront. This was the first urban live/workspace. Now known as the Metropolitan Glass Ltd., it was originally built for the Grand Noble Wine and Grocers circa 1890. Once the business was established, however, most merchants found it expedient to rent the space above the store to trusted employees who could deal with the late-night emergency calls. Today it is legal offices and an Aikido Studio.
Built in 1852 (under City of Toronto Plan 41) and later improvements were made to the infrastructure in 1911. It was created in conjunction with the development of the area east of Sherbourne over to the Don River. During the years between 1860 and 1890 the area gradually filled in.
The first Women’s College Hospital and Dispensary opened in a six-room house near here at 18 Seaton Street in 1911. At a time when most hospitals excluded women doctors from their staff, it provided a place to practice for graduates from the Ontario Medical College for Women on Sumach Street. It had a seven-bed capacity with only one private room costing $15.00 per week. In its first year of operation 114 patients were admitted and over 2,000 treated in the dispensary. In 1915 the hospital moved to larger quarters at 125 Rusholme Road. The house was demolished in 1960 during the building of the Moss Park Apartments. The plaque is located at 275 Shuter Street. Source: Toronto Historical Board, 1984
Located at the corner of Dundas and Seaton this 2 ½ story home was built in 1888 and is a semi-detached in the Gothic Revival style. It was originally owned by George Craig and the first occupant was Hendell Barritt. It is now a family home but at one point was a rooming home. For many years the beauty of the brickwork was covered by dark brown paint. The paint was removed a few years ago to uncover the beautiful brickwork.
The laneways in Cabbagetown South are named and have a rick history. This was done so that it would be easier for emergency vehicles to get to their destination. You are walking by Callaghan Lane which was named for Morley Callaghan who was born in 1903 to an Irish Catholic family. Callaghan grew up on Benshaw Place in Cabbagetown and was later educated at the University of Toronto. Callaghan attended Osgoode Hall in the mid-1920’s, but never engaged in the practice of law. Instead, he worked at the Toronto Star, where he was a junior reporter. In his time there, he met writer Ernest Hemingway who was supportive of his craft. In 1928, Callaghan’s first novel, Strange Fugitive, hit the shelves and his subsequent popularity garnered hi the informal title of Canada’s first urban novelist. By the 1950s, Callaghan mapped his skills as a writer to the emerging broadcast industry and thereby became known to a much larger audience. His writings continued to be successful and in 1951 Callaghan received the Governor General’s Literary Award for his book The Loved and the Lost. A later success was his 1963 memoir, That Summer in Paris. Callaghan received the Companion of the Order of Canada. He died in 1990. Barry Callaghan, son of Morley Callaghan supported naming the laneway after his father.
‘The Taylor House’ was built in 1874 and was originally the home of John Taylor, a wealthy safe manufacturer and his wife Maria Crerar, from Montreal. John and his brother James were immigrants from England and made the first safes in Canada. Their business was called the JJ Taylor Safe Co and later the Toronto Safe Company. Taylor Wharf in Old Town Toronto was named after John Taylor. They owned a wharf on the site of what has now become Taylor Wharf. The factory was located nearby until 1959. They had a son David in 1869 and another John in 1870. John purchased land on Seaton Street in 1870 and quickly built a series of four rough-cast houses side by side. He rented these out to workers at nearby factories. For one year he lived in one of his cheaper homes until 120 Seaton (which later became 182 Seaton) was finished. It was a two-story house with a brick frame. One of the prominent additions to the house was the circa-1884 stained-glass window that was created by Robert McCausland. Mr. McCausland’s great-grandson Andrew now runs the family business.
This semi-detached was built in 1888 by George Craig in the Bay and Gable style. It is 2 ½ story with a brick façade. Note the nice brick details.
187 Seaton has undergone many renovations over the last few years. During the summer months the small garden is a beautiful example of what you can do in a small space. It was built by George McWilliam in 1902 in the Bay and Gable style.
This semi-detached home was built in 1872 by John Taylor the same person who built 182 Seaton.Is a framed house with brick façade. The original occupant was Thomas Houston. It has its original gingerbread trim.
As you can see from this photo this home has been beautifully restored. It was built in 1876 by William H. Dudley for $2,160 and is in the Bay and Gable style with the bay on the first floor.
This brick home was built in 1910 and is considered a Workers Cottage. The original owner was George William.
Affectionately known within the community as the ‘farm’. It was built in 1872 by John Burns. It is in the Gothic Revival style.
This workers cottage was built in 1874 and was owned by John Mundy. It is currently undergoing extensive restoration and renovations.
This home was built in 1889 but a building permit was issued for it in 1884 as a one-story home. It is in the bay and gable style and the final home is 2 ½ stories. The original owner was John Thompson.
Today it is loft living but this building had a fascinating history as the Toronto Evening Telegram Building
(1876 – 1971) It later became the Toronto Telegram and the paper was shut down in 1971. Former staff members then began what became the Toronto Sun and the building became a 16,000 square foot multi-tenant rental with a spectacular 3,000 square foot owner’s suite until the late 1990’s. In 2001 it was retrofitted into this 10-unit loft condominium.