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What Lansdowne Avenue used to look like in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / December 9, 2013

Lansdowne Avenue History TorontoLansdowne Avenue might not seem like the most interesting street nowadays, but beneath its bland residential veneer lies a rich industrial history that makes it one of Toronto's more significant thoroughfares. Named after the Marquis of Lansdowne, who served as the Governor-General of Canada in 1883, the street was the furthest westerly point divided up as part of John Graves Simcoe's 32 Park Lots, which determined the street plan for much of the city all the way back in the late 18th century.

Although somewhat sleepy at its southern end below Dundas, Lansdowne was part of a major manufacturing hub at current day Dupont Street, where companies like the Canada Foundry were located. Amongst the many iron and steel products made here were the streetcar tracks spread across the city in far greater supply in the 1900s. The Foundry was later sold to General Electric in the 1920s, but the heavy industrial character of this area would remain in place for 60+ years. Even as the buildings were abandoned in the 1980s, they remained an urban explorer's dream.

Thankfully, the old Canada Foundry buildings still remain a major presence on the street, having recently been converted into lofts. Elsewhere, the industrial element of the street has mostly faded, but there remain signs of it if you look closely enough. South of Dundas, Lansdowne is, however, rather well preserved it is original residential character. Relatively quiet through this stretch, development has most been held in check or taken place nearby rather than on the street itself. As you exit the railway overpass heading south, the street scape looks much like it did 100 years ago, curving to the left and leading straight down to Queen St.

PHOTOS

2013128-lans-south-dundas-1890s.jpgLansdowne south of Dundas, 1890s

2013128-lans-muddy-canada-foundry-1910.jpgMuddy Lansdowne near the Canada Foundry Building, 1910

2013128-lansdowne-north-dav-1911.jpgLansdowne looking north toward Davenport, 1911

2013128-st-clair-lans-north-1913.jpgSt. Clair and Lansdowne, north side 1913

2013128-st-clair-lans-1913.jpgDevelopment at St. Clair and Lansdowne, 1913

2013128-lans-subway-above-1915.jpgAbove the Lansdowne subway, 1915

2013128-lans-subway-south-1915.jpgLansdowne subway, looking south 1915

2013128-hallam-from-lans-1915.jpgHallam (with streetcar tracks!) from Lansdowne, 1915

2013128-lans-cpr-crossing-1916.jpgLansdowne CPR crossing, 1916

2013128-lans-davenport-1916.jpgLansdowne and Davenport, 1916

2013128-lans-bloor-1923.jpgLansdowne and Bloor, 1923

2013128-lans-from-dupont-royce-1930.jpgLansdowne from Dupont, 1930

2013128-lans-south-dupont-1930.jpgLansdowne looking south to Dupont, 1930

2013128-st-clair-lans-sw-1931.jpgSt. Clair and Lansdowne, southwest corner 1931

2013128-lans-bloor-nw-1931.jpgNorthwest corner Lansdowne and Bloor, 1931

2013128-lans-subway-north-dup-1932.jpgLansdowne looking north from Dupont, 1932

2013128-lans-south-seaforth-1946.jpgLansdowne looking south from Seaforth, 1946

2013128-lans-subway-from-north-1946.jpgLansdowne subway, looking south from Dundas 1946

2013128-lans-sub-look-north-1946.jpgLansdowne subway (south of Dundas) looking north, 1946

2013128-lans-north-queen-1946.jpgLansdowne looking north from Queen, 1946

2013128-lans-south-to-dav-1948.jpgLansdowne looking south to Davenport, 1948

2013128-lans-north-seaforth-1950.jpgLansdowne looking north from Seaforth, 1950

2013128-lans-st-clair-1959.jpgLansdowne and St. Clair, 1959

Discussion

21 Comments

Holden / December 9, 2013 at 09:52 am
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Cool!

How do you find out where a street's name comes from? I'd like to find out the origin of my street's name but I've been too lazy to fully explore it.
mike / December 9, 2013 at 10:19 am
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amazing pictures. I drive down Lansdowne everyday.
Ben / December 9, 2013 at 10:56 am
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mike: you shouldn't drive. There is too much traffic already and it's bad for the environment. Take the TTC or ride a bike from now on. You'll lose 15 - 20 pounds and meet lots of new friends.
W. K. Lis / December 9, 2013 at 11:21 am
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The Lansdowne streetcar, once the underpass north of Dupont (Royce) was completed, only went from St. Clair Avenue West down to Dundas Street West. There was no service south of Dundas until it was replaced with trolley buses. Then the roadway south of Dundas was widened and the trolley bus was able to go down to Queen Street West.
the lemur replying to a comment from Holden / December 9, 2013 at 11:50 am
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You could start here:

http://www.amazon.ca/Toronto-Street-Names-Illustrated-Origins/dp/1554079683
Gus replying to a comment from Ben / December 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm
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Mike - you should mind your own business.
Gus replying to a comment from Gus / December 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm
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Sorry, that was meant for Ben. If Mike needs to / wants to drive, that's his business.
Dallas / December 9, 2013 at 03:02 pm
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Hallam & Lansdowne? What is now Lappin & Lansdowne I assume?
susan wells / December 9, 2013 at 03:54 pm
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I grew up one street over from Lansdowne and Bloor (St. Clarens) and really enjoyed looking at all the pictures from the the era 1945. Children were much freer to roam their neighborhoods back then, a simpler and safer time for children......Thanks for the memories.
Non-Driving Mike / December 9, 2013 at 04:14 pm
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I agree with Ben, driving in town with such frequent transit service is ignorant and polluting. Unless of course Mike drives a vehicle for work.
realityCheck / December 9, 2013 at 04:38 pm
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@NonDrivingMike...Would agree with you that driving when it can be avoided is ignorant. But "driving a vehicle for work" is not the only reason that justifies someone driving. Many families have seniors/disabled for whom transit is not a viable option. Also, not all destinations are transit friendly, even if your starting point is transit friendly. I think it behoves all of us to act in a responsible manner...but some individuals/families face particular challenges that others should be sensitive to. I say this as someone who gave up his vehicle but who had one while his disabled father was still alive.
Sarah replying to a comment from Non-Driving Mike / December 9, 2013 at 04:51 pm
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Ah poor baby. Too scared to drive so you need to attack those that do?
Joe Q. / December 9, 2013 at 08:45 pm
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This is a fantastic set of photos. I travel up and down Lansdowne regularly (the whole length of it) and in many ways the streetscape hasn't changed much.

An earlier commenter noted the photo of Hallam and Lansdowne, which today do not meet (Hallam ends at Dufferin). My favourite resource for historical Toronto streets is at http://goadstoronto.blogspot.ca/2013/01/1924-toronto-fire-insurance-map.html which even for the 1913 map does not show Hallam meeting Lansdowne. I suspect that whoever captioned the map made a mistake.

The building at the SW corner of Lansdowne and St Clair, pictured in 1932, still exists today in slightly modified form. (It houses a 2-4-1 Pizza and a couple of Italian restaurants.)
ProfessionalDreamer / December 10, 2013 at 12:15 am
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The pharmacy at the northeast corner of Lansdowne and Wallace is Toronto's first and oldest pharmacy.
McRib / December 10, 2013 at 01:55 am
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oh for fucks sake, this isn't the place to have a discussion about traffic congestion and whether or not Mike needs to drive his car.

Nice pics, I especially like the one of a cobbled Lansdowne just above Davenport. It makes you (or at least me) wonder how many, if any, of the old streets still have old paving stones underneath the layers and layers of asphalt.
Jason Bondy-Sawyer / December 10, 2013 at 07:23 am
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Another great set.
Thanks for posting, Derek.
christine / December 10, 2013 at 08:59 am
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The picture of hallam ( with streetcar tracks) and Landsdowne could be acurate because it is written on the photo if you zoom in and I know Hallam St use to have streetcar tracks. Maybe Hallam use to go all the way to Landsdowne?? I think it is what is now Lappin
Holden replying to a comment from the lemur / December 10, 2013 at 09:16 am
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Thanks Lemur!
the lemur replying to a comment from christine / December 10, 2013 at 10:10 am
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The photo is of Lappin looking east from Lansdowne:

http://goo.gl/maps/aeglw

It was the Harbord streetcar that ran up Ossington and travelled west on both Hallam and Lappin, turning north at Lansdowne and returning via a loop at Dupont:

http://transit.toronto.on.ca/archives/maps/guide1940.jpg

http://transit.toronto.on.ca/streetcar/4118.shtml
Joe Q. replying to a comment from christine / December 10, 2013 at 01:50 pm
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I checked 1913 and 1924 maps of Toronto (linked to in my post above) and it shows Hallam and Lappin both in their current locations, i.e. either the handwritten caption is wrong (meant Lappin instead of Hallam) or multiple editions of this atlas are wrong.
Matt P / December 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm
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Great pics! Thanks for this.

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