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What Keele Street used to look like in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / February 13, 2014

Keele Street Toronto historyKeele Street may not feel particularly central geographically in Toronto, but historically speaking its been home to various hubs of activity for over a century. From the Canada Packers Stockyards at St. Clair to High Park, it's a diverse street with a rich history. Even today, the presence of York University and the subway extension at its northern tip (at least as far as Toronto goes -- the street actually extends to the Holland Marsh), ensures that it remains a place where development chugs along.

In the past, the busiest section of Keele was located along the stretch between Dundas and St. Clair, which was home to a variety of industrial and manufacturing enterprises as well as the previously mention Stockyards. Photos from the early 20th century show a dense strip of road in the area, which was well served the by the junction of multiple railway lines that gave the neighbourhood its name (prior to be being called the Junction, the neighbourhood was referred to as West Toronto).

In conjunction with the presence of High Park (which opened in 1876), the absence of these rail lines around Bloor explains why development was slower to catch on around this section of Keele, which up to the early 1910s served as a city dump. To this day, the area south of Annette all the way down to the Lake Shore is primarily residential.

To the north of Eglinton, Keele is marked by the strip-mall aesthetic that one sees beginning to form in the last two photos below in 1959. While there's really no doubt that long stretches of Keele would fairly be described as unremarkable, when you get out and explore, it's easy to spot traces of the street's history in what seem to be banal places, and there's something rather rewarding about that.


2014213-keele-indian-road-1912.jpgKeele & Indian Road, 1912

2014213-keele-st-dump-1914.jpgRemains of Keele Street Dump (at Bloor), 1914

2014213-bloor-keele-1914.jpgBloor & Keele, alternate angle (also 1914)

2014213-keele-st-subway-1915.jpgKeele Street Subway at Lakeshore, 1915 (now Parkside Drive)

2014213-keele-st-unmarked-1919.jpgKeele Street, 1919 (unidentified location)

2014213-keele-south-st-clair-1923.jpgKeele looking south from St. Clair, 1923

2014213-keele-south-dundas-1923.jpgKeele south of Dundas, 1923

2014213-keele-soth-hirons-1923.jpgKeele south of Hirons, 1923

2014213-keele-north-dundas-1923.jpgKeele looking north of Dundas, 1923

201326-dundas-keele-1923.jpgDundas & Keele, 1923

2014213-keele-subway-north-junction-1923.jpgKeele Subway at Junction Rd., 1923

2014213-howard-park-keele-1923.jpgHoward Park & Keele, 1923

2014213-keele-st-stables-1925.jpgKeele Street Stables, 1925

2014213-runnymede-bus-stop-1929.jpgRunnymede bus stop, 1929

2014213-ne-corner-st-clair-keele-1931.jpgNortheast corner St. Clair & Keele, 1931

2014213-se-corner-keele-st-clair.jpg-1931Southeast corner St. Clair & Keele, 1931

2014213-310-keele-1952.jpg310 Keele St., 1952

2014213-keele-north-from-llyod-1958.jpgKeele looking north from Lloyd, 1958

2014213-keele-wilson-1959.jpgKeele & Wilson area, 1959

2014213-downsview-market-1959.jpgDownsview Market (Keele north of Wilson), 1959

Photos from the Toronto Archives



Key and peele / February 13, 2014 at 02:48 pm
Easy to summarize: looks about as shitty as it does today.
So Keele Me replying to a comment from Key and peele / February 13, 2014 at 04:54 pm
Hahaha! Nice!
Kim / February 13, 2014 at 04:58 pm
Thank-you for sharing this!
Adam Sobolak / February 13, 2014 at 06:28 pm
I suspect the "Howard Park & Keele" is actually Humberside & Keele, looking north...
E. Toby Coke / February 13, 2014 at 08:29 pm
Dig that wee steam train in the "unidentified location." Is that a sand/gravel excavation? I wonder where it is.
Borte / February 14, 2014 at 09:28 am
Look at the photo of the Runnymede bus stop. Keele St. sure was hoping 85 years ago! Just two months before the big stock market crash...
Aaron replying to a comment from Key and peele / February 14, 2014 at 04:38 pm
Harsh indictment man. There is beauty in the banal.
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Mark / February 18, 2014 at 02:53 pm
Great read thanks! Keele continued north of Downsview supporting Post Offices at Elia, Concord, Maple and King City (Springhill). Further up the road from King City, the Eatons built an estate (now Seneca College)on the east side of Keele, while Sir Henry Pellatt kept a summer home on the west side at Mary Lake.
Ted Devey / February 19, 2014 at 09:36 pm
I lived on Pacific Ave. S of Glenlake. I used to play in what used to be known as Tawny Park, Keele & Glenlake. I went to Keele St Public School(1931/39, Keele s. of Glenlake. It would be nice to see pix of the old school.
Marco / February 19, 2014 at 11:11 pm
That RBC is still there at Keele & Wilson!!
robert stubbs / February 22, 2014 at 09:51 pm
i think canada packers stockyards referred to in nov.22,1923 picture was ontario stockyards
a separate operation serving many meat packers around toronto.
wendy ockenden replying to a comment from Ted Devey / July 20, 2014 at 03:06 pm
Ted - I too went to Keele Street P.S. but not until 1950 - I lived at 347 Glenlake - small world...
Maureen richardson / July 29, 2015 at 01:34 pm
I went to keele St. P.s. 1954 lived on gothic ave.
terri king / October 21, 2015 at 01:05 pm
i want to know wat the name of the poolhall on keele and sheppard in the 80's name was..they was a plaza east/south side of the plaza..please and ty
karen / December 3, 2015 at 12:49 am
Very Clear pics of Toronto past. Very interesting.
Ruby / March 2, 2016 at 06:19 pm
Poolhall was called CLASSICS! Wow I remember that place!
Ruby / March 2, 2016 at 06:25 pm
Key & peele;
Shitty area? Well that so called shitty area happens to have been many hard working
middle class families, very disrespectful comment, keep the negative opinions to yourself
Or at least articulate your opinion with a little more consideration for the people who lived
Or still live there, thank you
Maryanne / March 22, 2016 at 03:08 pm
My Mother worked in Marjorys Bakery at Keele & Wilson. It is shown in the little strip mall and is on the far right of the picture. She said many people came to get her coffee and meat pies for their lunches. Downsview High School is close by.
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