PRINCE EDWARD LAVATORY
- DON JAIL LOOP
by Richard Longley
Theme: Arts & Culture, Environment, History & Culture, Diversity & Inclusion
Accessibility: Family - Friendly
Starting at the grandest of Toronto’s sorely missed public bath houses that's now the Ecole Napoleon, around a superb specimen of midcentury modern architecture, through a hidden wetland into Riverdale Park that’s steeped in hospital history, to Bridgepoint Active Health and the Don Jail. Return up Broadview, past the oldest occupied house in Toronto, a reminder of Ukrainian internment and the homes of father and son pioneers in the leadership of the City’s Black community.
START: SOUTHWEST CORNER DANFORTH-BROADVIEW (TTC LINE 2)
1 Ecole Napoleon originally Prince Edward (or Danforth) Lavatory, 55 Danforth
2 City Adult Learning Centre, 1 Danforth Ave
3 Riverdale Wetland
4 Riverdale Park Bridge
5 Bill Lishman’s Last Flights
6 Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, Don Jail, Hubbard Park
7 Don Jail Gate House, Warden’s House, 558 and 562 Gerrard St. E
8 Riverdale Public Library, 370 Broadview Avenue
9 St John’s Presbyterian Church, 415 Broadview Ave
10 St Matthew’s Club House, 450 Broadview Avenue
11 469 Broadview Avenue
12 Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church
13 Catherine Donnelly Foundation, 12 Montcrest Boulevard
14 William Peyton and Frederick Langdon Hubbard Houses, 660, 662 Broadview
15 Playter Hall, 75 Danforth Ave.
Danforth Avenue named for Asa Danforth Jr., 1768-1818. Commissioned by Lt Governor Simcoe’s deputy, Peter Russell in 1798 to build a road from the eastern outskirts of the city of York towards Trenton. All 106 miles completed by Dec 1799.
1802-1820s, York road was extended to Kingston and re-named Kingston Road, an extension of Dundas Street from London ON that Simcoe wanted to be capital of Canada, through Toronto towards Kingston and, eventually Montreal.
Completion of the Prince Edward Viaduct across the Don Valley in 1918 led to the development of housing tracts east of Broadview Avenue. Subdivisions were promoted as “East Rosedale” and dubbed “Doctors’ Row” because of the number of medical practitioners who moved to the neighbourhood.
STOP 1: ECOLE NAPOLEON FRENCH LANGUAGE SCHOOL, 55 DANFORTH AVENUE
Originally Prince Edward Viaduct Lavatory, G. F. W. Price City Architect, 1921-1988
Public washroom and bath house, opened one year after completion of the Prince Edward (“Bloor”) Viaduct. With wooden stalls and polished brass fixtures.
Closed in 1987 when the cost of maintenance and two full-time attendants, was $500 a day – equivalent to $17 a flush for each of approximately 30 daily users.
WALK WEST TURN LEFT
STOP 2: CITY ADULT LEARNING CENTRE, 1 DANFORTH AVE
(former Parkway Vocational School), Peter Pennington Architect, 1962 (replaced previous 1928 school).
Now the City Adult Learning Centre for students, age 21 and over, who are heading towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
One of 7 schools designed in the early 1960s by Peter Pennington (then in his early 30s) commissioned by Toronto School Board Chief Architect, Frederick C. Etherington, for the baby boom. In an era of child-centred education housed in leading edge architecture. Now considered to a midcentury modern masterpiece.
WALK COUNTERCLOCKWISE AROUND THE CITY ADULT LEARNING CENTRE, SEE HOW ITS FAÇADE CHANGES AS YOU CIRCLE THE BUILDING.
AT THE FOOTPATH ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE CAMPUS, TURN RIGHT, FOLLOW PATH SOUTH, OVER DON VALLEY PARKWAY ON-RAMP, THROUGH THE RIVEREDALE WETLAND INTO RIVERDALE PARK
STOP 3: RIVERDALE WETLAND
South of City Adult Leaning Centre, beside the
Don Valley Parkway. Follow the trail through Riverdale
Park East towards Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, taking in the sights and considering the history on the way.
Try to imagine when the lower Don Valley was a stream that meandered through wetland and forest, before it became one of the “Liberties” where polluting industries were allowed, where Toronto’s most unfortunate citizens were given “refuge”, where poverty flourished; criminality too, where it was not behind bars inside one of Canada’s most famous jails.
Riverdale Park, looking east towards Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church
Bridging the Don
Ely Playter’s Bridge, a log with a handrail, painted by Elizabeth Simcoe, c1796
September 11th, 1793, she wrote in her diary:
“We rowed six miles up the Don. I saw very fine butternut trees with nuts better than walnuts; gathered berries of cockspur thorns. We found the river very shallow in many parts and obstructed by fallen trees. One of them lay so high above the water that the boat passed under, the rowers stooping their heads. It looked picturesque, and a bald eagle sat on a blasted pine on a very bold point just above the fallen tree.”
The remoteness of the Don and the world east of it made it ideal for the accommodation of criminals and the unfortunate.
House of Refuge for “incurables, incapables, the decrepit and indigent poor”.
John Aspinwall Tully, Architect, 1860.
Southwest of the site of the Don Jail that was then under construction, overlooking the Winchester Street bridge where it crossed the Don River, before it was straightened in the 1880s to facilitate its navigation, industrialization and pollution.
In 1872 the House of Refuge became a smallpox hospital; in 1891 an Isolation Hospital. In 1894 it was burned, two years after it had been replaced by the Riverdale Isolation Hospital.
Riverdale Isolation Hospital, Henry Simpson architect, 1892 (right).
Addition by Robert McCallum, City Architect, 1910-1911 (left, on the site of the House of Refuge that burned in 1894. Renamed the Riverdale Hospital in 1904, after it refocused away from infectious diseases onto chronic illness. Photo taken 1917
Winchester Street Smallpox Hospital, “Swiss Cottage”, George Robinson Harper architect
Built 1901 on the west side of the Don, south of the Winchester Street Bridge.
After mass vaccination ended smallpox epidemics in Canada in the 1920s it languished, until it burned in 1930.
Riverdale Hospital “Half Round” Chapman & Hurst Architects, 1964
In 1957 the Riverdale Hospital moved into the mid-century modern “Half-Round” with a patio shaded by concrete flying saucer parasols. In spite of Architectural Conservancy Ontario and the National Trust for Canada mounting stiff campaigns to save it, the Half Round was demolished in 2013, consigning Howard Chapman and Len Hurst to the “Rubble Club” of architects whose buildings are demolished in their lifetime. Howard Chapman died seven months later.
STOP 4: RIVERDALE PARK BRIDGE ACROSS A STRAIGHTENED DON RIVER AND THE DON VALLEY PARKWAY BRIDGEPOINT ACTIVE HEALTHCARE, HDR, DIAMOND SCHMITT, KPMB AND STANTEC, ARCHITECTS.
completed 2013, four months prior to start of the Half Round’s demolition
The Don River straightened in the 1880s now, canalized, trapped between concrete and iron.
Don Valley Parkway to the east, rail tracks and the Bayview Extension to the west.
WALK SOUTH ACROSS RIVERDALE PARK, TOWARDS THE PATH THAT LEADS UP TO THE WEST SIDE OF BRIDGEPOINT ACTIVE HEALTH CARE.
STOP 5: BILL LISHMAN’S LAST FLIGHTS - MAX TANENBAUM SCULPTURE GARDEN, WEST SIDE OF BRIDGEPOINT
Above the path beneath the west side of Bridgepoint Active Healthcare there are dancers, ballroom, ballet and modern, gymnasts, sprinters, wrestlers, a snowboarder; exuberant, joyful, athletic, in dazzling colours. Installed in 2015, two years before he died of leukemia, these sculptures are among the last works of Bill Lishman, artist, inventor, naturalist, explorer, builder of the ultralight that made him “Father Goose”, aerial photographer of the movie “Fly Away Home” - which is exactly what his sculptures seem to be urging on the patients of Bridgepoint Active Healthcare..
WALK EAST, AROUND THE FRONT OF BRIDGEPOINT TOWARDS THE DON JAIL
STOP 6: BRIDGEPOINT ACTIVE HEALTHCARE WITH FORMER DON JAIL, NOW BRIDGEPOINT ADMINISTRATION
“The largest organization in Canada to focus exclusively on research, care and teaching for people with complex health conditions.
Famous for its rehabilitation of survivors of stroke and cardiac arrest.” With the Don Jail conserved to house Bridgepoint’s offices, two buildings that were built 150 years apart make a spectacular pair.
Don Jail, Toronto, William Thomas, Architect, 1857-1864
Construction of the Don Jail was so hard on William Thomas, it may have killed him.
Cost overruns, accusations of mis-management, fraudulent, incompetent contractors, an alcoholic Superintendent of Works, his diabetes and required to re-design the jail, to accommodate the latest in prison philosophy of his time contributed to his death in 1860 at the age of 61. The jail was completed in 1864, by his son, William Tutin Thomas.
In 1977 the Don Jail closed, to be transformed into the administration building of Bridgepoint Active Health. Conservation by +VG and ERA architects is immaculate.
Don Jail is open for self-guided tours, Monday-Friday, 9:00AM-5:00PM.
WHEN NOT IN PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN
Serpents and Wiverns: iron monsters of the Don Jail
With its cells, most interesting are the cast-iron wivern (two-legged dragon) brackets that support the galleries that circle the atrium and the serpent brackets above the gates that lead to the cells. They were cast by William Hamilton and Son’s St Lawrence Foundry that occupied the site of Toronto’s First Parliament, bounded by Front, King, Parliament and Berkeley Streets between 1856 and 1908
EXIT THE DON JAIL SOUTH, THROUGH HUBBARD PARK
STOP 7: HUBBARD PARK, (SOUTH OF THE DON JAIL) 548 GERRARD STREET EAST, 2016
William Peyton Hubbard, 1842–1935, was born in in a log cabin in the “Bush” at the intersection of Bloor and Bathurst Streets, to parents who escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad tp Canada. In 1894, he was elected as an alderman - becoming Toronto’s first elected black politician. He later served as acting mayor. An advocate for fairness and for an inclusive city. He also led the efforts to establish the city's public utility provider, Toronto Hydro.
SOUTH THROUGH HUBBARD PARK TO GERRARD STREET EAST
7 Don Jail Gatekeeper’s House 558 Gerrard Street East 1865
Now offices of Philip Aziz Centre, for emotional and spiritual support to people living with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses.
7 Don Jail Governor’s House 562 Gerrard St E, Charles Mancel Willmot, arch,1888
Now Emily’s House children’s hospice, named for Emily Yeskoo, 1993-2019 who died of a neuro-degenerative disease, metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), at age 26.
STOP 8: TORONTO PUBLIC LIBRARY, RIVERDALE BRANCH, 370 BROADVIEW AVENUE
Robert McCallum, City Architect, 1910
Last of four Carnegie libraries constructed with a $350,000 grant to Toronto Public Library from US steel magnate Andrew Carnegie in 1903. (2,509 Carnegie Libraries were built wordwide, 125 in Canada, between 1883 and 1929.)
TURN LEFT, NORTH UP BROADVIEW AVENUE
Originally Mill Road or Don Mills Road; opened early 1800s to provide access to the industries along the east bank of the Don River at Todmorden Mills.
Eastern boundary of the Farm Lot between Queen-Danforth-Broadview-Don River awarded by Lt. Governor John Simcoe to his secretary, John Scadding. His cabin, the oldest surviving building in Toronto is now at Exhibition Place.
Bell’s Bridge now Gerrard Street Bridge opened in 1856. Beginning in the late 1880s, a streetcar line ran from downtown Toronto to Danforth Avenue via Gerrard Street and Broadview Avenue.
STOP 9: ST JOHN’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 415 BROADVIEW AVE
Darling & Pearson Architects. 1908
STOP 10: ST. MATTHEW’S CLUB HOUSE, 450 BROADVIEW AVENUE, 1905
1901-1905 the club occupied a site on First Avenue, near St. Matthew’s Anglican Church. Relocated to the present club house, 1905, which was moved to 548 Gerrard Street East in 2009, to allow expansion of Bridgepoint Health. Now arts space and office for East End Arts.
CROSS TO EAST SIDE OF BROADVIEW AT LIGHT CLOSEST TO RIVERDALE AVE
STOP 11: JOHN COX HOUSE, 469 BROADVIEW AVE., 1807 OR EARLIER
(S of Riverdale Ave., Rooster Coffee House). Oldest continuously-occupied house in the City of Toronto. Initially a 16 × 24 foot log cabin built on a two-hundred acre parcel, granted in 1796 by Governor Simcoe to Captain John Cox, a United Empire Loyalist, who had become a shopkeeper in the town of York. Older than Gibraltar Point Lighthouse (1808) and Fort York barracks (1815). In the 1990s an electrician opened a wall and found that it wasn’t made of red brick, like other houses on the street, but of logs.
STOP 12: HOLY EUCHARIST UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, 515 BROADVIEW AVENUE,
Radoslav Zuk, Architect, 1967 The four columns that support the central dome divide the interior space into the form of a Greek Cross, with bars of equal length.
1914–20, through the First World War until two years beyond its end, 8,579 men, with some women and children, were interned by the Canadian government as “enemy aliens”.
Most of the civilian internees were originally from the western Ukrainian regions of Galicia and Bukovyna that were then parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As “second class” prisoners they were generally separated from “first class” German and Austrian prisoners of war. Many were transported into the country’s frontier wildernesses and obliged to work for the profit of their jailers. Personal wealth and property was confiscated, not all of which was returned on parole or following the end of the internment. Apology from the Federal government came in 2008 – 90 years after the end of World War I.
Riverdale Park Bridgepoint, the City and, beyond the trees, “Our Perfumed Don”
In her brilliant, every page fascinating, at times hilarious, at times macabre, must-read history, Reclaiming the Don, York University historian Jennifer Bonnell opens with the 1958 royal visit of Princess Margaret when she greeted children at Riverdale Park. Out of that visit emerged an urban myth, of city workers who spent days cleaning the river then masked its stench by drenching it with perfume (more likely disinfectant or chloride of lime) at a time when, according to Bonnell, “The lower Don River was very likely more polluted than it had been at any other time in its history.”
RETURN TO WEST SIDE OF BROADVIEW TURN LEFT AT MONTCREST BLVD
STOP 13: CATHERINE DONNELLY FOUNDATION, 12 MONTCREST BOULEVARD
“We aspire to a world that gives place and voice to the poor, is open to transformation, and is committed to human solidarity through social and ecological justice.”
Catherine Donnelly 1884-1983, was born in Alliston, Ontario. In 1918 she moved to Alberta to teach in rural areas where immigrant families were settling. During the Spanish influenza epidemic she nursed the sick in their homes. She learned that the Catholic church in western Canada was ill-prepared to serve the increasing numbers of new Canadian settlers, and became convinced that dedicated Sisters living with and among the people would enable them to remain faithful to their Catholic and Christian heritage. Her inspiration led to the founding of the Sisters of Service in Toronto in 1922 “to welcome, educate and provide social services to immigrants and to help them remain faithful to their Catholic heritage”.
RETURN TO BROADVIEW AVENUE, TURN LEFT (NORTH)
Heritage homes on the west side of Broadview north of Montcrest to the Danforth
The majority of houses on the west side of Broadview Avenue north of Montcrest are on the City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties “for their architectural significance as well-designed residences with Edwardian Classical features”.
646 Broadview Avenue, James Harris House, 1907
Montcrest School: 650, 658 Broadview Avenue, David Wagstaff House, 1914,
Thomas Crittenden House, 1908
STOP 14: HUBBARD HOUSES, 660 AND 662 BROADVIEW AVE, G. W GOUINLOCK, ARCHITECT, 1909
William Peyton Hubbard 1842-1914 a councillor “as eloquent as Cicero”, he defended the Chinese community against taxes meant to discourage Chinese hand laundries. He also presented a petition to Council calling for an end to "attacks on the Jewish religion" by anti-Semitic street preachers.
Frederick Langdon Hubbard 1878 - 1953, son of William Peyton Hubbard, son-in-law of Anderson Ruffin Abbott, the first African Canadian licensed to practice medicine in Ontario. Chair of the TTC, 1929-1930, vice-chair in 1931, a commissioner, 1932-1939.
682, 686, 688 Broadview Avenue (William Hiltz, George F. Smith, Frank Hallman Houses)
STOP 15: PLAYTER HALL, F. BFRINK BUILDER, 1909, 75 DANFORTH AVENUE
In the 1870s John Lea Playter, built the Playter farmhouse north of the Danforth, two blocks east of Broadview.
Playter Hall, the first commercial building in the area at the southeast corner of Danforth and Broadview was built in 1909 by market gardeners turned developers, Albert E. Playter and his brother William Their building, strategically placed where Broadview Avenue streetcars turned around, soon became a commercial and social centre for the district with stores on the bottom floors, doctors' and dentists' offices and other businesses on the second. The third floor was for meetings of associations, societies, card parties, bingo, dancing.
In 1912, the Playter property was sub-divided into the Playter Estates with offices at Playter Hall.
END OF WALK, BROADVIEW TTC Line 2
STEPS WEST OF EDMUND BURKE TAVERN, AND THE GREAT RESTAURANTS OF
“GREEK TOWN” ON THE DANFORTH