1.Parkdale’s Musical Weeknd
One of Parkdale’s most famous residents was alternative R&B superstar The Weeknd. The singer, songwriter and producer moved to the area in 2007 and his debut mixtape “House of Balloons” is named after his former residence at 65 Spencer Street. He began to tour Toronto shortly after its release and one night he played a 90-minute show at Mod Club, where Drake happened to be in the audience. Drake approached him after the performance and suggested a musical collaboration. The rest is history. The Weeknd has sold 70 million records in the United States alone and is now one of the world’s best-selling artists. He even founded a record label called “XO”.
2. What’s in a Name?
In the 19th century, Liberty Village has become home to several institutions, including the Toronto Central Prison and the Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women (on the site of today’s Lamport Stadium). Liberty Village itself was named after Liberty Street for a very good reason. When these institutions were closed in 1915, Liberty Street was the first street both male and female convicts would walk upon being freed – their first taste of ‘liberty’.
3. Nature’s Plan
The Toronto Islands we all now enjoy and which are such a unique feature to a major North American metropolitan area, were not always an island. The land was once a 9 km sandspit connected to the mainland and stretching out into Lake Ontario – similar to the Leslie Street Spit today. An aggressive storm severed the sandspit from the mainland in 1858 and the city had neither the interest, or the money, to try to rebuild and reconnect it. Now, Toronto Island welcomes over 1.5 million visitors each year!
4. A Bridge Runs Through it
When Toronto began its ‘big dig’ to construct the Bloor-Danforth Subway (Line 2) in the late 1950’s, the question arose of what to do with the millions of tons of earth that would be dug up. One solution was to fill up Garrison Creek. As a result, the bridge over Garrison Creek, built in 1914, was no longer needed once the ravine was filled with the rubble. The land was flattened and the bridge remains buried under Trinity Bellwoods Park.
5. Creating Green Space
Sunnyside Amusement Park existed between 1922 and 1955, located on the Lake Ontario waterfront at the foot of Roncesvalles Avenue. The park was named after a local farm owned by John Howard, located at the site of the current St. Joseph’s Medical Centre (Howard also owned the nearby High Park). After several fires in the winter of 1955, the City ordered the park to be demolished to make way for the building of the Gardiner Expressway to run through the area. Replacing the rides was an area now featuring a boardwalk, playground, trails and abundant green space.
6. A Piece of Toronto at Disneyland
After the 1955 fires, only the Sunnyside Bathing Pavillion and the Palais Royale Buildings survived the demolition as most of the rides were dismantled. However, one ride lives on to this day in Anaheim, California. The Sunnyside Carousel, a hand-carved merry-go-round, was purchased by Walt Disney who moved it to his newly opened theme park “Disneyland” and renamed it the King Arthur Carousel.