toronto craven road

Is Craven Road the weirdest street in Toronto?

Craven Road in the east end of Toronto is weird. It runs from Queen Street in the south to the Danforth in the north, only briefly interrupted by the rail tracks and Monarch Park CI. On one side of the street is a long wooden fence, on the other side a parade of some of the smallest detached houses in the city.

Both features are remarkable: The barrier between the street and the backyards of Ashdale Avenue is the longest municipally maintained fence in the city. None of the homes, almost all of them under 46 square metres (that's pretty small,) are exactly alike.

The road was originally called Eerie Terrace and provided access to tiny backyard dwellings built behind the homes on Ashdale around 1900. Amber Daugherty at Spacing recalls how before Craven Road, the Ashdale homes had huge backyards that were more than 42 metres long, prompting owners to subdivide their lots.

After a dispute over who owned the property surrounding the homes, the city bought the land in question, put up the fence, and laid down the road, Daugherty writes.

In recent years, many of the original working class residents have yielded to newcomers with money, resulting in gentrification and the destruction of some of the original dwellings.

This gorgeous mini doc shot last summer by Made By Other People, a group of filmmakers, musicians, and artists, captures life on Craven through the eyes of Jonathan, a colourful long-time resident, and touches on some of the unique local history.

"How would you describe the street in one word?," asks the interviewer.

"Mellow," says Jonathan.

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


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