Monthly Archives: July 2011

Kensington Market – Part 5 – A semi-detached Victorian Home on Wales Avenue

Discovering the Kensington Market, A Village Within the city!

This post examines a Victorian house at the southwest corner of Wales and Augusta Avenues.


Views of 3 Wales Avenue

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Large veranda on 3 Wales Avenue

Copy of DSCN1310


This exceptionally fine “Bay and Gable” home at 3 Wales Avenue, possesses a large veranda that is not common to see attached to such homes. Construction on the original house began in 1889, the same year as the two “Bay and Gable” homes to the west of it, as well as the row houses further along the street. It was completed in 1890, but remained unoccupied. The details in the pediment (the triangle at the top of the gable) and the veranda was in excellent repair. The veranda was likely an addition to the home, added sometime after is original construction.

It was finally purchased by Mrs. Emma Bird, the widow of Frederick L. Bird, an insurance agent. They had formerly lived at 168 Euclid Avenue. The location of the home on Wales was likely much more convenient for a widow, as shopping and other necessities were closer at hand. From Wales Avenue, it was easier to walk to the downtown sops.

When Emma lived at 3 Wales Avenue, next door at 1 Wales Avenue was William McC Miller, a traveller (salesmen) by profession. His middle name was listed in both the street and name sections of the Toronto Directories of 1890 as “McC.”

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Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Toronto


Relocating the building at Adelaide and John Streets that was once the “Fox and Fiddle Pub.”

The historic building at 106 John Street, which until recently housed the “Fox and Fiddle Pub,” sometimes referred to as “The Pox and Piddle” is soon to be relocated to a site further south on John Street, beside another historic landmark. The relocation clears the land at the corner of Adelaide and John Streets for the construction of a high rise condominium. I have been watching the  progress of the work.


The building in late-May, with wire fencing around the site.


In July, steel girders were placed under the building to support it during transport. In the distance, the small white building, beside the TIFF building, is the where the historic house will reside after being relocated. 

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The structure is no longer resting on its original foundations.

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                               south facade                                        north facade

History of the Building at 106 John Street

In 1861, on the west side of John Street, between King and Adelaide Streets, there were no homes. However, on the north end at Adelaide Street was The Old Hospital Grounds. 


This sketch of the Baldwin map of 1856 shows the block of land on the west side of John Street, between King and Adelaide Streets, where the old hospital was located. The large building in the centre of the block was labelled on the map “Executive Council and Co. Departments.”

In 1868, the land between King and Adelaide Streets remained vacant lots, except for the home of James Hawley, an engineer with the GTR Elevator Company. No house number was given for his dwelling.

In 1870, on the west side of John Street, two homes were built. The house at 114 John Street was occupied by Charles Bender, a piano manufacturer. The residence at 116 John Street was that of Richard West – a contractor. In 1872, when more homes were constructed, the numbers 114 and 116 were changed to 86 and 88 John Street.

In 1890, the houses were again renumbered and they became 104 and 106 John Street, the numbers being retained to this day. These houses were considered substantial residences, their owners possessing excellent incomes. Their neighbour immediately to the south, at 102 John Street, was the Reverent John Barclay of St. Andrew’s Church on King Street.  

The two houses, 104 and 106 John St. was a single building building when it was occupied by the “Fox and Fiddle” pub. This is the building that is soon to be relocated.

Books about Toronto, written by a Torontonian

The Villages Within – a study of Toronto’s neighbourhoods – Kensington Market – King and Spadina area, Queen Street West, and the historic St. Andrew’s Market,

There Never Was a Better Time” – A story of an immigrant family arriving in Toronto during the 1920s – 

Arse Over Teakettle”- A novel about growing up in Toronto during the Second World War 

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Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Toronto





The excerpt below is from the novel “Arse Over Teakettle,” a story about a family struggling to survive during the war years in Toronto. The narrator of the tale is the fictional character Tom Hudson, a young boy who lives on Lauder Avenue, north of Rogers Road. It is a heart-warming tale of a lad trying to understand the complexities of the adult world.

In sexual matters, his search for the secrets of the “big boys” is often amusing. Read how Tom and his friends cope with a hot, humid Toronto summer in the days when there was no air-conditioning.



In the evenings, as our family sat around the dinner table, we heard the news on the radio: Nazi cargo planes are delivering gold bars to Lisbon, as Portugal is a neutral country. Rumours are circulating that Hitler and his generals are preparing to escape to Japan. The Allies fear that they will ship their bullion there, allowing them to live in luxury. Meanwhile, in Germany, the situation is so desperate that the Nazis are recruiting grade eight schoolchildren for war work in factories.

My dad said, “These events are further signs that the end of the war is near.”

The newspapers published the tonnage of bombs dropped on Germany, and in addition, reported that during the previous weekend, twenty-seven Allied soldiers had perished, and one hundred and three had been wounded.

One newspaper declared, Germany is now the middle slice in the sandwich, and you can hear the beef. Another declared, In a world hungry for peace, Hitler’s goose has been cooked.

My dad said, “Hitler needs a goose with a broom handle that would rattle his tonsils.” My mom grinned, but told him to be quiet.

My father’s optimism increased each day. On 25 August, Paris was freed from Nazi occupation.

My dad declared, “It’s great news that most of France and all of Belgium are now free. Another hopeful sign,” he added, “is that General Douglas McArthur is preparing to invade the Philippines.”

Throughout August, the citizens of Toronto continued to shoulder the responsibilities of the war effort. Because it was felt that the end of the war was near, optimism increased as the final days of summer approached.

August’s sultry heat finally yielded to more moderate temperatures. Officials announced that when school commenced in September, more schoolchildren would be attending classrooms in shifts, as the teacher shortage was more severe than the previous year. My mother feared that it might have a negative impact my brother Ken’s and my education. We gave no thought to the opening of school, and even less to the teacher shortage. Although the new school year was swiftly approaching, the endless days of summer remained engraved in our memories. The scholastic world had disappeared from the face of the earth.

To read more about Tom Hudson and his family life in Toronto: “Arse Over Teakettle.”

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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Toronto




The Star gave Carrie Fisher a four-star review and I can understand the reasons for the high praise. It requires courage to stand on stage and share with an audience your personal problems, especially when they are related to drug abuse and alcohol. Her charm and wit were evident throughout the performance, and the patrons readily responded.

Although the show had a few good-liners, such as the philosophy passed on to her from her grandmother – “flies land on shit as well as pie” – the laughs were mainly derived from reciting the foibles and problems of the Hollywood stars. For anyone who enjoys knowing the behind-the scenes celebrity gossip, this is a great show.

Personally, I am not that interested in such details. As a result, although I admired her pluck, the show fell flat.

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Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Toronto



In July of 1936, temperatures in Toronto soared to 40.5 for three consecutive days. These temperatures remain the highest ever recorded in our city, despite the local newscasters recently declaring that the highest were in 1948.

I am enjoying the heat wave of 2011, afraid that if I complain it might snow. Walking around in my shorts and sandals, I see people sitting in sidewalk cafes sipping cool drinks, although in the heat of the afternoon, some retreat inside the restaurants where it is air-conditioned. In the worst of the mid-day heat, some of the streets and are almost empty. In the parks of the city, children splash playfully in the wading pools while their parents sit in the shade and watch. The new ice cream shop in the Kensington Market is busy, and beer is flowing freely at the outdoor pubs and cafes. It’s great.

Below are a few of the sights of the city I enjoyed during the heat wave of 2011. 

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      Flowers on Spadina Avenue              Ontario sour cherries                     

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        The season’s first corn             Ice cream- Kensington Market

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Wading pool, Bellevue Square     A beer in the shade on Augusta Ave.

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           Kensington Avenue                    The Black Bull, Queen St.


                                    Queen Street West


On a sweltering day, even this 1862 historic building looks “hot.”


For more details on the heat wave of 1936,

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Posted by on July 23, 2011 in Toronto



The number of library branches should be reduced and their hours cut back?

I’ve had enough of this nonsense!

 The Story of Tilly Toronto and her Husband, Big Mike.

Big Mike was an executive with a major consulting firm that audited the expenditures of businesses, both large and small. He was a recognized expert in his field, and could sniff out a wasted nickel as easily as detecting a fart in a windstorm. Mike’s colleagues were in awe of his abilities, and he was regularly voted the most efficient auditor in the firm. Mike had even created a slogan to describe his exploits: “Stop eating the gravy and sell it for sauce.” Though he earned a fat salary and treated himself generously, he objected to others spending money, even though it wasn’t his.

Late one evening, after arriving home from work, Big Mike gazed over his household expenses and came to the conclusion that Tilly was mismanaging the family budget.  He decided it was time to have a serious talk with her.

“My dear Tilly,” he began, “I was just looking over the grocery bills and found many wasteful items.”

“Really?” Tilly replied, sensing the condescension in his voice.

I see that you bought a brand-name product when the store’s product was cheaper.”

Yes, but if I buy that particular label, you and the children don’t eat it and it gets thrown out. I end up buying the brand name.”

Well how about this item?” he said as he pointed to the cash-register bill. “If you had purchased the economy size, you would have saved money.”

Yes, but the larger size spoils before we can finish it, and half of it’s thrown away. We end up wasting food and money.”

“Well what about these ‘green’ products? They’re expensive.”

“True, but they’re an investment in the environment. Some of them are organic, and they’re good for our health.”

“Our health? That reminds me of another item on the grocery list. Are vitamin pills for the kids really necessary? It sounds as extravagant as fluoride in the drinking water,”

“They’re an investment in their future health, you know, good teeth, strong bones . . .”

Mike grumbled, and felt that he was not making his point. He continued.

I see you took the kids to a local theatre to see a play. Was this necessary?”

The kids were admitted free and I only paid five dollars. It was a community supported theatre.” 

Big Mike grunted in disgust. “Another thing,” he continued, “I notice that you wasted money driving them to a movie theatre. They’ll eventually see the movie on TV. And you also drove the kids to the library? Can’t they watch TV instead?”

“Visiting the library is an investment in their future education,” Tilly responded.

“I think we should sell the family car. We don’t really need it.

“Perhaps not. But the car and the other items you mentioned make life liveable for me and the kids. It’s same as clean parks to walk in, public flower beds, snow properly shovelled in winter, public swimming pools in hot weather, and yes, libraries.”

We don’t need any of these things,” he replied stubbornly.

Tilly had had enough.No, I think you mean YOU don’t need any of these things. Your company pays for your club with its swimming pool, the meals in the downtown restaurants with their expensive French dishes with cream sauces, your membership at the golf course, your theatre tickets to entertain clients, and a company car.”

What are you driving at?” Mike queried, his irritation evident.

“It’s easy to take away things from us when the cuts don’t effect you. You’re able to enjoy all the things that you deny us because of your company perks.” 

“But at work I have a reputation for not wasting money.”

No, you have a reputation for not allowing others to spend money while you spend as you please. Be thankful that you have your private funds to enjoy yourself. Don’t deny us the small pleasures of life because you don’t need them.”

No one’s household expenditures would escape censure if examined by an auditor. There is always a degree of waste. This is greatly magnified when examining a budget the size of the City of Toronto. However, this is not a “gravy train,” as previous audits have already shown.

Eliminate waste and examine raising new revenues, even if it means an increase in taxes. Then get on with building a city that is world class.

 I love Toronto. I have worked most of my adult life researching and promoting the history of our city. I saddens me to see it being nickel and dimed to death.






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Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Toronto


Memories of Toronto’s Sunnyside on a hot summer day

“The glories that were Sunnyside are of another day,” to paraphrase the words of the song popularized by Tony Bennett. During a recent heat wave, I visited Sunnyside and it brought back boyhood memories of the enchanted playground beside the lake, with its carnival-like atmosphere, honky-tonk merry-go-round (carousel) music, roaring roller coaster named the Flyer, and wondrous aromas of the greasy food stands and freshly-popped popcorn. 


  Early morning on a hot day at Sunnyside in 2011. The pedestrian bridge across the Humber River is visible in the background.  


Above is a postcard view of Sunnyside in the 1920s, looking west along Lakeshore Blvd, the red-domed roof of the merry-go-round prominent in the picture.  Viewing the same location on Lakeshore Blvd today, the site of the Sunnyside merry-go-round is in the centre of the east-bound and west-bound traffic lanes of Lakeshore Blvd. The land is now the parking lot of the Palais Royal.

c. 1924   DSCN1106

    The Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion in the 1920s (left) and in 2011 (right)

 pool, Aug. 1922   DSCN1114

Sunnyside (Gus Ryder) swimming pool in the 1920s (left) and in 2011 (right) 

DSCN1115  c. 1926

Sunnyside Beach, summer 2011, on a sweltering hot morning (left), and the Easter parade on the famous Sunnyside Boardwalk in the 1920s. The boardwalk of the 1920s is where the bicycle path is now located. Today’s boardwalk is closer to the water’s edge.



                                           Sunnyside Beach in the 1920s.

The following information about the history of Sunnyside is from the novelThere Never Was a Better Time.” The story chronicles the adventures of an immigrant family as they discover the delights of Toronto in the 1920s, including the fascinating world of Sunnyside Beach. 

The following quote tells more about the history of Sunnyside. It is from the book, “Arse Over Teakettle.”


In the 1930s and 1940s, Torontonians referred to Sunnyside as, “The Poor Man’s Riviera.” The Harbour Commission had constructed it with landfill, and it stretched along the shoreline from near the Humber River, eastward for almost a mile. It was thus accurate to say that they created Sunnyside by flinging dirt, the same way that many politicians build careers. The name Sunnyside was derived from Sunnyside Villa, which John G. Howard had constructed on the hill overlooking the lake. St. Joseph’s Hospital occupies the site today. John G. Howard donated the land that we now call High Park, and his house, Colborne Lodge, remains within the grounds.

The quote below is from the novel “Arse Over Teakettle – Book One – The Toronto Trilogy,” which relates the adventures of a boy growing up in 1940s Toronto. This section tells of his teenage memories of Sunnyside.

Today, the images of Sunnyside, from those early years, remain indelibly imprinted in my memory: popcorn, Kik Cola, gritty sandwiches, and the endless stretches of hot sand. However, I also have reminiscences from my teenage years.

The beach was adjacent to the famous twenty-foot-wide boardwalk. Beside it was a narrow strip of grass alongside Lakeshore Boulevard. Across the boulevard, on the opposite (north) side, were the amusement rides, among them the fabulous rollercoaster, The Sunnyside Flyer. Constructed of wood, it was said that near the end of the ride, referred to as the “home stretch,” the rollercoaster cars attained a speed of over sixty miles (96 km.) an hour. From the two highest points, the ensuing steep plunges could tear the bottom out of the cast-iron stomachs of those who dared to ride its rickety rails. By contrast, there was the merry-go-round, which

What a pity they eventually sold the Sunnyside merry-go-round to Disneyland, in California, where today it continues to delight children, and soothe the savage breast of elderly women. Other Sunnyside rides included the Bumper Cars, the Roll-O-Plane, and the Swooper. The names adequately revealed their gut-churning capabilities. The lakeside playground had other attractions, including miniature golf, canoeing, and swimming in either the Olympic-size pool or the “breast and ball-shrinking” waters of the icy lake. Other attractions were restaurants, a tea garden, dancing pavilions, and nightly entertainment at the bandstand.

The foods at the concession stands were the envy of the gastronomic world. The excellent vintages of Hire’s Root Beer, Vernor’s Ginger ale, and Honey Dew, rivalled the cellars of Dom Perignon. Red Hots (hot dogs), Downy Flake Donuts, and hamburgers “a la grease,” were beyond compare, and if properly ingested, could produce a stomach ache that was worthy of the Jolly Green Giant. Popcorn was fresh, buttery, and salty. Candyfloss was a cloud of sweetness. Taffy-apples could pull the molars from a mule, and a cone of chips (french fries) contained sufficient cider vinegar and salt to pickle cucumbers into dills or mummify a stomach. Sunnyside was the home of “comfort food.” However, when a person was young, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and girdles to reduce the waistline were so far in the future that they did not exist.

When the sun dipped beyond the horizon, the sparkling lights magically transformed Sunnyside into an enchanted land of dreams. People danced under the stars at the outdoor clubs, or swayed to the “big band” rhythms at the Palais Royale. Young bodies pressed against soft flesh as young couples rocked slowly to a romantic song. Lips gently touched as the final chord of the music signalled that the ballad was over.

Sunnyside was a place where older folks relived their memories, and the young created their own. Everyone should have a time and a place in their past that evoke tender remembrances of the romance of their youth. For many in 1940s Toronto, Sunnyside was the spot. What a pity it was demolished in the late 1950s to indulge the whims of the most worshipped god in Toronto, the Almighty Automobile.  


                            The Palais Royale in 2011

For a link to the book “Arse Over Teakettle” :

To view the Home Page for this blog:

To view blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  


   To place an order for this book: .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)






The following quote is from the novel “Arse Over Teakettle,” a humorous story of a Toronto family that managed to smile while coping with the depravations of the Great Depression and the horrors of the Second World War. Reading about the heat wave of 1936 makes our present-day hot temperatures seem not so bad, although  I admit that when I was sweltering on a city street today, I found it difficult to  adopt this attitude. 


In 1936, the daily temperatures for the month of June had been above normal, several days reaching 38C. However, no one was able to predict that the worst heat wave in the modern history of Canada would begin the following week. Before it ended, 1180 people died of heat stroke and exhaustion, most of them the elderly and infants. Over 400 people drowned while seeking relief from the extreme heat in public pools, lakes, rivers, and ponds.

In Toronto, on 5 July the temperatures commenced soaring. By 8 July, it climbed to 105 Fahrenheit (40.5 C), and continued for three consecutive days. In this decade, except for a few homes in the wealthier neighbourhoods of the city, there was no air conditioning except in movie theatres and department stores. People flocked to these venues, as well as to Sunnyside Beach beside the lake, the Don and Humber river valleys, and the Toronto Islands.

After dark, families spread blankets on lawns, in backyards, and in public parks. Single men slept on public benches. Vacant lots on city streets became makeshift campgrounds, which each morning folded away and disappeared, until after sunset the following evening. “Humidex readings,” a Canadian invention, were not in use until 1965. The Humidex calculates the amount of humidity in the air and combines it with the temperature readings. High humidity prevents the moisture on the skin from evaporating, thus raising the body temperatures. A high Humidex reading is very uncomfortable. No such statistics are available for 1936, but it is not difficult to imagine how uncomfortable the Humidex readings would have been.

To read a factual and amusing account of how the family coped with the heat,  “Arse Over Teakettle

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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Toronto



I expect to pay higher prices when I shop at a farmers’ market, and normally do not object because I realize that the produce is fresh. However, this morning when I saw a sign that stated “Fresh Corn – 75 cents each,” I was surprised. I enquired if the price was the same if I bought a dozen, and the reply was “yes.”

“It’s the first corn of the season and it’s really good,” the young woman replied.

I did not doubt the truth of her statement, but $9 a dozen?

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A few years ago I was one of the volunteers who helped establish the St. Andrew’s Market. I realized that prices would be higher at the market, as the farmers must rise early in the morning and drive to Toronto. The costs of the transportation, the time it takes to drive into the city and attend a booth for many long hours, deserve to be rewarded.

Most of the farmers delivered quality goods, and though the prices were higher than the supermarkets, it was a delight to buy the fresh produce. However, recently I have begun to question the prices that some farmers charge.

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When the farmers at the Metro Hall (now Pecaut Square) were charging $5 per quart for strawberries, the Kensington Market was charging $3.50 per quart. At Kensington, the Ontario berries were from the Ontario Food Terminal. They too were delivered by farmers, who likely received only $2 a quart for their berries. They too had transportation and labour costs. Is $5 a quart truly a reasonable price for a farmers’ market?

Our St. Andrew’s market failed to continue after the first year. There were several reasons that it was not successful, some of them of our own making. However, we had an excellent crowd the first few weeks of the market, but some people took one look at the prices and never returned. The “die-hards,” like myself continued to attend. I loved the market as it provided much more than just fresh produce. I met my neighbours and felt that I was a part of a community.

I love farmers’ markets.

This is why the sign advertising corn for 75 cents each disturbed me. Because it was the summer’s first corn, and the supply limited, the farmer felt that people would buy. I am certain that the corn did indeed all sell. It’s “Economics 101,” the forces of supply and demand. However, much more is involved than simply the rule of “supply and demand.”

How many people saw that sign this morning, and refused to buy?  Some walked right out of the market and never purchased anything. How many friends did they tell about the price? Farmers who do not respect their customers cause damage to the entire system of the farmers’ markets. It is short-sighted to overcharge, as it means that the markets cater to the few who are willing to pay. This means that as businesspersons they are passing up potentially large profits for short-term gain. Many families with children are unable to shop at the farmers’ markets at all. This is a real pity.

As consumers, what choices are open to us. Some may say that if we don’t wish to pay the prices don’t shop there. It’s our choice. True, but if we boycott the markets, they will cease to exist. Few of us wish to see this happen.

Farmers must be compensated for their labour, time, and transportation costs. However, they must also respect their customers, and charge prices that are in line with their costs. 

I love summer in the city, and the farmer’s markets are a part of this great experience. I truly hope that they never disappear from the scene.

For books about Toronto, written for Torontonians:

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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Toronto



Every Thursday during the summer, farmers arrive early in the morning at David Pecaut Square, near Metro Hall on King Street West. An array of fresh vegetables and fruits greet the eye – radishes, asparagus, strawberries and Niagara cherries – long-awaited treats that disappear all too quickly.


DSCN0785            DSCN0786

DSCN0787           DSCN0784 


Toronto established its first public farmers’ market near King and Jarvis streets in 1803. The second market, St. Patrick’s Market, was on Queen Street West. It commenced in 1836. The third farmers’ market was located on the site of today’s St. Andrew’s Playground, near Brant and Adelaide streets

The following is from the book, “The Villages Within,” which provides a detailed history of the St. Andrew’s Market.

It is not certain when the citizens of York commenced attending the market in the square created in 1837. However, it is likely that sometime during the 1840s, a small seasonal market was held on Saturday mornings, attended mostly by women, as the majority of the men were required to work at their places of daily employment, Saturday being a workday. It was called the West City Market.

Slowly the market grew in size, and in 1850, the city hired the architect Thomas Young to design a frame building to protect shoppers from the weather. Young, born in England in 1805, had previously designed King’s College, Toronto, and the wooden building for the St. Patrick’s Market on Queen Street.

Maps of the period reveal that the wooden market building was constructed in the centre of the square, and contained generous interior space for stalls. A police station and a fire bell were also located within the building. Along the outside walls were produce stands, with canvas awnings sheltering the patrons from the hot summer sun and the rains of spring and autumn, as well as the snows of winter. At the south end of the square, on Adelaide Street, they erected a shelter to protect the horses from the elements. The remainder of the square was green space to accommodate carts, wagons, and the Saturday-morning shoppers. Friends greeted friends, in the background the sound of neighing horses and rumbling wagon wheels.

In 1857, they changed the name of the market to St. Andrew’s Market, as the site was in St. Andrew’s Ward, Queen Street being the northern boundary line. In that year, only the St. Lawrence, at King and Jarvis streets, exceeded the importance of the St. Andrew’s Market. On a busy Saturday morning, the carriages and horses, as well as the numerous carts of the citizens of Toronto, crowded St. Andrew’s Market. It was a gathering place to socialize and chat with friends and neighbours. Housewives purchased vegetables, grains, meat, and fish.

For more information on the old St. Andrew’s Market, as well as a detailed history of the Kensington Market, see “The Villages Within.” 

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Posted by on July 10, 2011 in Toronto