Davenport Road History Toronto

What Davenport Road used to look like in Toronto

Davenport Road might lack the stature of some of the other streets we've featured in our series of Toronto history, but even if it was never developed to the same degree as nearby St. Clair Avenue or Dupont Street, it remains a fascinating thoroughfare that's unlike any other street in the city. Winding across what the old Lake Iroquois shoreline, the road originated as a First Nations trails, which at one point stretched between the Humber and Don rivers. That's why it doesn't conform to the more grid-like design of most other streets in the city. The curves are what make it interesting, of course, and it remains a favourite route for cyclists who can take shelter in the bike lane (installed in 1994) and then ride up and down the various inclines to the north.

Many of the below photos demonstrate the city trying to manage the inclines to the north of Davenport, which were virtually un-passable after heavy rains or snow prior to being paved in and around the 1920s. To do this day, cars tend to struggle approaching Davenport from Bathurst and Dufferin in heavy know thanks to above average gradients. In the case of Bathurst street, the city actually used dynamite to lessen the incline, which posed significant problems given the amount of traffic on the street.

Also worthy of note is that Davenport was home to the second electrified streetcar line in Toronto. Though it might be hard to believe given its relatively northern position at the time (most development was concentrated further south), the Davenport Railway Company ran cars along the street starting in 1892. Around the same time, a series of tolls were installed along the street to fund improvements to street, one of which serves as heritage museum at Bathurst and Davenport.

In fact, Bathurst and Davenport is a rather important intersection to the city as a whole. Home to the TTC's Hillcrest Yards, the sprawling complex has been the nerve centre for the TTC since it opened in the early 1920s. Prior to that, the area to the southwest of the intersection was actually home to Hillcrest Racetrack, one of many to dot the city back in the day. Just to the north of the TTC facility is Wychwood Park, a private community that was once founded as an artists colony.

Fall is a particularly beautiful time to take in Davenport's many delights, as the north side of the street remains well treed. Stop and have a look around next time you pass by.

PHOTOS

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Above Davenport and Bathurst, 1907

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Davenport looking east from Bathurst, 1910

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Hillcret Racetrack, Bathurst and Davenport 1911

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TTC Hillcrest Yards, 1911

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Davenport and Poplar Plains, 1912

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Looking north on Walmer Road at Casa Loma, 1913

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Dufferin north of Davenport, 1913

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Davenport looking north up Bathurst, 1913

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Davenport west at Bathurst, 1914

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Casa Loma, 1914

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Looking north up Christie from Davenport, 1915

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Lansdowne and Davenport, 1916

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Alternate angle.

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Davenport and Walmer, 1916

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Davenport and Bathurst looking east, 1916

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Davenport and Bartlett, 1921

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Gage property at Wychwood, 1922

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Davenport and (Old) Weston Rd, 1923

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TTC Hillcrest Yards, 1923

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Davenport and Symington, 1923

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Davenport and Salem, 1923

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GTR Crossing near Davenport and Caledonia, 1923

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Davenport GTR Station at Caledonia Rd, 1923

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Small house at Davenport and Albany, 1925

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Davenport and Oakwood, 1927

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Southwest corner of Avenue and Davenport, 1930

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306 Davenport, 1930

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191-193 Davenport, 1930

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359 Davenport, 1931

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Davenport and Bedford, 1933

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Davenport towards Dupont, 1938

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Davenport and Dovercourt, 1947

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Davenport and Bedford, 1947

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The Sign of the Steer restaurant at Davenport and Dupont, 1955

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Looking west on Davenport at Howland, 1956

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Davenport looking eat from Osler, 1958

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Looking towards Davenport and Yonge, 1959

Photos from the Toronto Archives


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