Monday, 25 May 2009

St Johns—Chapter Three

I thought the history of some of the streets in St John's as outlined in Chapter Two needed a bit more expansion, so here goes.

Elizabeth Street is the only long north-south street within St John’s Ward which has retained its original name and length.

Terauley Street, between Yonge and Elizabeth, is now part of Bay Street. Bay Street originally ended at Queen.

Sayer Street, which in 1861 ran from Osgoode Street (north of Osgoode Hall Law School) up to College Street, is now a shorter Chestnut Street. The southern part was lost when the new City Hall was built in the 1960s.

Centre Street, west of Sayer Street, is now only two blocks long. Its remaining sections have long been covered by office buildings and hospitals.

St Vincent Street, which runs up the middle of Division Six, was also joined to Bay Street in the early 20th century.

Most of the east-west streets have retained their 1860 names with just a couple of exceptions.

Agnes Street became Dundas when the decision was made to link all the short streets named Dundas into one long one.

Wellesley Street must have come into existence about 1860. I have two maps which appear to be of the same series, one with Wellesley on it and one without.

The building of the hospitals on the east side of University Avenue in the early part of the 20th century meant the demise of a number of streets in St John’s. The construction of the Eaton Centre 70 or 80 years later led to the same fate for most of Albert, Louisa, James and Alice and for the residential part of Trinity Square.

St John’s Ward—Chapter Two

St John’s extended from Yonge Street west to what is now called University Avenue (then Park Lane), and from Queen St West north to Bloor Street West. The population in total was 8102 and covered 1604 schedules or census entry forms. It was divided into seven divisions, each of which had an enumerator, if not a team of enumerators.

Only one enumerator’s name is retained on the microfilm for each division and there are no descriptions outlining the division borders. Did he work alone or as the head of a team? There is no evidence on the film one way or the other.

The “doorstep” part of his job might have been outlined as dropping off the census schedules and collecting them again a few days later, but the enumerator would also have had to come to the aid of those who could not write, and to the assistance of the government in persuading everyone to fill in the form, including those who did not understand why a census should impinge on their privacy.

Once the schedules were collected they had to be numbered and each one had to have the division and ward written along the top and the street written along the side. That must have been boring. Enumerators sometimes lost track in numbering and two of the divisions lacked their street descriptions. It took careful comparison of a list of the streets gleaned from all the schedules with a map of the time to work out just where those two divisions were.

Division One started in the southwest corner. The first street was Park Lane. Before Mitchell’s Directory of 1864 was compiled it had been renamed University Street, the eastern side of today’s University Avenue. There were no private addresses on Queen Street West, so the division must have been the two-block wide area that extends north from Osgoode Hall. The most northern street mentioned on the schedules was Edward Street.

Division Two lacked street descriptions, except for one or two places where an inhabitant had actually written down his address. From these and since there was no reference to Elizabeth Street in Division One, I came to the conclusion that this area must have had Elizabeth Street as its backbone.

Division Three continued from Terauley (present-day Bay Street) to Yonge, starting at Queen and going north to Agnes (Dundas)—the area covered by the Eaton Centre today.

I thought I was halfway through as I reached the end of Division Three, but it wasn’t followed by Four, but by Division 3-1/2 with about 200 schedules in it! It turned out to go straight across the ward from Yonge to Park Lane covering the area north of Agnes up to Elm Street. It must have been set up at the last minute, perhaps because the enumerators rebelled at the size of their territory. Perhaps the original plan was for the first three divisons to have their northern boundaries at Elm Street.

Division Four was the second unnamed section which had to be identified by a process of elimination.

Division Five was located north of Gerrard and south of College and included Yonge and Terauley addresses, but nothing further west. After identifying this area it was quite easy to establish that Division Four was west of it, streching from Terauley to Park Lane and Elm to College.

Division Six was the area north of College Street (then known as College Avenue) containing only 85 houses. I found a map with the western boundary north of College denoted as Surrey Place, a street stretching from College to Bloor. I don’t think this street was ever laid out to its full length. Today it is two blocks long and is just west of Women’s College Hospital. Wellesley Street west of Yonge was only a lane. North of Wellesley, St Michael’s College was still a seminary with no entries in the Ward enumeration. It will probably be found within the file “institutions”. Victoria College had not yet arrived in Toronto from "the old Ontario Strand".

Sunday, 24 May 2009

St John’s Ward--Chapter One

The first ward I tackled west of Yonge Street was St John’s Ward. St John’s was a large ward of working people, many of whom were either self-employed or worked on short-time contracts. There were workshops rather than large factories, and grocery and provision stores rather than wholesale grocers and provision merchants. Although the commonest occupation was still “labourer”, these were almost outnumbered by carpenters and cabinetmakers. Somewhere north of Osgoode Hall on the west of the ward was at least one stone and marble cutting yard. Hotels and taverns were very few, even on Yonge Street. There was no identifiable market.

The ward was quite densely populated as far north as College Street. From there to Bloor there were only 85 houses with schedules in the census. Yonge Street was well built up, but population was more sparse to the west. St Michael’s seminary covered a substantial area in what was then Clover Hill, and is now north of Wellesley and west of Bay.

There were less Irish people in St John’s compared to the numbers I found east of Yonge. What it did have was a large new immigrant community. Quite a number of families had answered the question of ethnicity with a “C” for coloured. International events had made their way into Toronto. The Civil War had begun in the United States, and a goodly number of slaves who escaped through the underground railway during the 1850s established themselves in St John’s Ward. Virginia and Maryland were very common birthplaces. There were at least two churches that catered to the black community.

I will be jumping around the wards in these descriptive posts. The wards have all been analysed, comparing the ages, birthplaces and religious persuasions of the inhabitants. I am working on an occupations comparison, but coding it is slow. The transcription of St George's Ward is complete and I am waiting for the St Andrew's films to arrive.