toronto gerrard street

What Gerrard Street used to look like in Toronto

Gerrard is an unusual Toronto street. Unofficially divided into two parts, upper and lower, the former spears east from University through Cabbagetown, Regent Park, East Chinatown, and Little India before abruptly terminating at Coxwell. A few hundred metres north, lower Gerrard (once called Lake View Ave.) takes the street east to its terminus between Victoria Park and Warden. Two streets under the name of Samuel Gerrard.

The street's namesake was a businessman and friend of Capt. John McGill, receiver-general of Upper Canada from 1813 to 1822. Curiously, Gerrard St. used to have a tiny twin at Carlaw Ave. The small road, which could be renamed to avoid confusion, is a relic leftover from before the road was reconfigured to pass under the railway tracks.

In a fairer world, the TTC's 506 Carlton streetcar might be called the Gerrard streetcar instead of being named for a street it follows for barely 8 percent of its 14.8 km length (on the other hand, the Gerrard portion of the 506 accounts for almost half the line.) It's like calling the King streetcar the 504 Broadview.

Here's a look back at what Gerrard Street used to look like.

toronto gerrard street

Store selling Old Chum tobacco and Coca Cola, Gerrard and Bay.

toronto gerrard street

The Ontario College of Pharmacy, the first eductational facility of its kind in Canada, erected this building at Gerrard and Church in 1887. It was demolished in 1963.

toronto gerrard street

Looking west on Gerrard to Allan Gardens.

toronto gerrard street

Row housing near Gerrard and Sumach, before construction of Regent Park.

toronto gerrard street

Victorian terrace between Sumach and River streets.

toronto gerrard street

Small house, just before the Don bridge, heading east.

toronto gerrard street

The old Gerrard St. bridge over the Don River.

toronto gerrard street

The isolation hospital at Gerrard and Broadview, which has now evolved into Bridgepoint Health.

toronto gerrard street

The Riverdale branch of the Toronto Public Library at Broadview.

toronto gerrard street

Gerrard and Broadview track replacement, looking southeast.

toronto gerrard street

Chimney cleaning required a long ladder and nerves of steel in 1936.

toronto gerrard street

Gerrard and Carlaw. The streetcar tracks curving north were part of the lost Harbord line, which once snaked its way down Pape from the Danforth, west on Riverdale Ave., south on Carlaw, west on Gerrard to Broadview and through downtown to Davenport and Lansdowne via Dundas, Spadina, Harbord, and Ossington. The route was abandoned when the Bloor-Danforth line opened in 1966.

toronto gerrard street

The art deco Gerrard St. fire hall near Gerrard and Carlaw. Now Toronto Fire Station 324.

toronto gerrard street

The International Varnish Co. complex which used to at the northeast corner of Carlaw and Gerrard. Today, it's a No Frills supermarket.

toronto gerrard street

The newly completed underpass at Carlaw. Note the streetcar tracks curving north.

toronto gerrard street

The Conger Lehigh Coal Co. building on the north side of Gerrard, just west of Pape.

toronto gerrard street

An unidentified section of Gerrard St. when it was still a dirt track through the trees.

toronto gerrard street

A half house on Gerrard.

toronto gerrard street

The south side of Gerrard near Hastings Ave.

toronto gerrard street

Looking west along Gerrard over Greenwood. The dip in the land is a (now) lost creek on the old Ashbridge family farm.

toronto gerrard street

Crowds at Greenwood Ave. wait to board the first streetcar on Gerrard.

toronto gerrard street

Kids line up for a photo on Gerrard St.

toronto gerrard street

The section of Gerrard that was severed when the new rail underpass was created. Confusingly, it's still called Gerrard.

toronto gerrard street

North side of Gerrard, just west of Pape near present day Gerrard Square. It still looks pretty much the same.

toronto gerrard street

Another bucolic scene on an unidentified stretch of Gerrard.

toronto gerrard street

Looking west on Gerrard at Main St.

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

Images: City of Toronto Archives (as marked)


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