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5 lost neighbourhoods in Toronto

Posted by Chris Bateman / July 25, 2014

toronto neighbourhoodsThe ever-expanding City of Toronto has absorbed and digested a multitude of once-independent small towns in its hungry quest for size and strength. Among the lost communities are Brockton, Carlton, Davenport, and Chester; some, like Parkdale and Yorkville, live on as well-known neighbourhoods.

The shifting urban landscape has also led to the loss of at least one prominent neighbourhood, The Ward, pictured above. Though new condos are bringing residents back to the area around City Hall, Yonge Street, and University, north of Queen, the name of the densely-populated immigrant area was lost long ago.

Here are 5 lost neighbourhoods and towns in Toronto.

The Ward, Toronto's original immigrant neighbourhood, was for several decades a dense slum in the Queen, Yonge, University and College area. The area sheltered generations of immigrants and refugees from around the world, some of them displaced by the Irish potato famine, others fleeing persecution via the Underground Railroad.

The Ward was gradually overtaken by the expansion of the city, giving way to both city halls, Nathan Phillips Square, and other landmark buildings in the area. Loosely speaking, the area that was once The Ward is now within the city's Discovery District.

The postal village of Carlton was in the vicinity of Old Weston Road and St. Clair (nowhere, it should be noted, near Carlton St.) in the mid-19th century. At its zenith, the little village had its own rail station and a population of around 150. Davenport, a town of a similar size just to the southeast, centred around Davenport and Lansdowne and once discussed a merger with Carlton, but both were eventually annexed by the West Toronto Junction and then the City of Toronto.

toronto norway villageNORWAY
The name of Little Norway Cemetery at Kingston Road and Woodbine is one of a few relics of this lost Toronto neighbourhood to endure. In 1837, around 80 people lived in the village of Norway, sometimes spelled Nor-Way, which included a toll booth, post office, brewery, store, hotel, and several factories.

Despite the name, it seems the community wasn't named for the European country, but rather the vast stands of red pine in the area - "the valuable and scarce article, the Norway Pine," according to the Toronto Patriot, a newspaper of the day. The Norway Steam Saw Mill was established in 1835 to capitalize on the available wood. Today, Norway is part of the Upper Beaches neighbourhood.

Located around Danforth and Broadview, the Village of Chester (known for a time as Doncaster) became part of the City of Toronto less than 100 years ago. The little community benefited from the building of Danforth Avenue as a link between Broadview with the Danforth Road, and again with the arrival of streetcars on the Prince Edward Viaduct. Chester lives on in the name of Chester Ave. and the subway station between Broadview and Pape.

toronto brocktonBROCKTON
The name still lives in the name of the Dufferin St. neighbourhood, and a few traces remain of Brockton Village as an independent community west of Toronto. Named by and for the Brock family, who were early local landowners, the village was developed with Brock Ave. as its central street. Its town hall - which still stands, albeit as a shabby storefront - is at the southwest corner of Brock and Dundas. The town was incorporated for only three years before being annexed by the City of Toronto in 1884.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Toronto Public Library, City of Toronto Archives



thanks / July 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm
hey thanks !

this is a nice lil compilation
Dan Fourth / July 25, 2014 at 01:05 pm
Traffic on the Danforth was crappy even then.
Cait / July 25, 2014 at 01:07 pm
East Toronto. Main & Gerrard area. Used to rent an apartment in the former house of the Mayor of a East Toronto(apparently). 2033/2035 GerrardStE. It's now divided into 6 apartments, 3 on each side, 1 per floor.
Did a bit of digging to research, but haven't been able to get to the Archives to find out more.
PC / July 25, 2014 at 01:08 pm
Technically, Carleton lives on as the neighbourhood bound by the railroad tracks that form the northern border of the Junction Triangle to the south, St. Clair West to the north and railroad tracks on the east and west. Known today as Carleton Village.
Siguy / July 25, 2014 at 01:12 pm
Now I finally know why the street signs just north of my house (Symington and Davenport) say "Carlton Village". Always wondered about that. Thanks.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from Dan Fourth / July 25, 2014 at 01:18 pm
"Traffic on the Danforth was crappy even then." You mean the subway was and is no help in relieving traffic congestion. No surprise if you are continuing to use the single-occupant vehicles in any area.
Brent / July 25, 2014 at 01:24 pm
The cemetery is St. John's Norway. "Little Norway" is something different.

I don't recall ever seeing it spelled "Nor-Way". The historical map might suggest it at first glance, but when you look closer I don't believe it is a hyphen (it is not aligned with the text). It looks like a building that is in an awkward location relative to the label on the map.
Nathan / July 25, 2014 at 01:52 pm
Brockton (now Brockton Village) is still there and on the neighbourhood street signs. I lived there for 5 years and always refer to the neighbourhood by this name. Why is it on the list?
Luckysod / July 25, 2014 at 02:13 pm
Betcha that the name Norway had nothing to do with red pine and everything to do with the fact that this was where the road from Toronto (now Kingston Rd.) started to head north: Nor-Way.
PC / July 25, 2014 at 02:17 pm
Ya, Little Norway is the area adjacent to the Island Airport / the former Maple Leaf Stadium. There was an airbase there during WWII - check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Norway

The area is commemorated with Little Norway Park which features a baseball diamond that is roughly in the area that Maple Leaf Stadium occupied.
the lemur / July 25, 2014 at 03:05 pm
The neighbourhood at Davenport & Old Weston is Carleton, with an E.
Jennifer / July 25, 2014 at 07:13 pm
Brockton Village is alive and well. Come on down!
micheal / July 25, 2014 at 09:43 pm
Thanks for the interesting read
Sam Soukas / July 26, 2014 at 01:15 am
I just loved your post -It was great reading about the evolution of Toronto. In the 30 years that I have lived in Toronto, this city has continued to evolve
Queen Street alone is home to: the Beach, Leslieville, Riverside, Corktown, Queen West, West Queen West, Beaconsfield Village, Trinity Bellwoods, Parkdale and Roncy Village.

I've started a series of posts focusing on the concept of Main Street Culture in Toronto and what makes a Main Street successful.


Thanks for being so informative. I am going to get a subscription today as well once I get seated at my desk

Beadle / July 26, 2014 at 12:29 pm
Too funny that a little more research would have shown you that Brockton is still a live and well and not just that but a thriving community. True that it use to be the Town of Brockton but come on, really? Plus the street signs even have it on them. Sheesh! I've lived here for 8 years now and unless I'm completely delusional it really does exist. ;) Research people. Research.
nancy mitchell / July 27, 2014 at 04:08 pm
Really interesting history. Keep it coming!!!
Karl / July 29, 2014 at 12:22 pm
@ PC - Nice! I remember the stands opening southward, mimicked by the outline of the long townhouse building at Bishop Tutu & Stadium. So, Lil Norway Park was in homerun land, past the outfield fence. :)
Philip Davis / September 29, 2014 at 06:36 pm
My great-grandparents lived at 44 Tait Avenue, and my great-grandmother is buried in St John's Norway cemetery. Tait Avenue doesn't exist any more; can anyone tell me where it was?
fathers and sons / October 5, 2014 at 11:27 pm
Can you tell us why Main Street is way out in Scarboro?
Ben Smith replying to a comment from Cait / October 6, 2014 at 12:59 am
Too late to look up the source, but I also believe that East Toronto was called Midway as well. Perhaps because it was considered midway between Toronto and Scarborough Village?
Ofina / October 6, 2014 at 09:44 am
This would seem to be the Brockton town hall. https://www.google.com/maps/@43.6499416,-79.4356261,3a,75y,205.28h,77.12t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sgFtnREip23GVr5wtbL0hlw!2e0!6m1!1e1
Cecelle replying to a comment from fathers and sons / October 6, 2014 at 10:49 pm
Main street used to be the main street of the village of East Toronto. East Toronto, along with Midway, was one of the villages which stretched east along the Danforth at the turn of the last century. It's not quite in Scarborough, though.
Duke Vipperman / October 7, 2014 at 09:32 pm
Cedarvale, Mid-Way, Little York
Rob / October 8, 2014 at 08:42 am
Little Norway Park (across from the island airport) isn't the same "Norway" that the article mentions. I believe that Little Norway Park was named during WW2, as the Norwegian Air Force trained in exile at the island during the war. The Norway in the upper beaches came earlier than WW2.
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