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A Journey Back in Time

Taking a Walk on Historic Danforth Avenue

By: Lindsay Reid Luminoso

Have you ever wondered just how the Danforth got its look and feel? Join us as we journey back in time examining some of Danforth’s more iconic features and history.

Broadview and Danforth – Bloor Viaduct:

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It wasn’t until October 18, 1918,  that Danforth Avenue and Bloor Street East were connected. The Prince Edward Viaduct, or the Bloor Street Viaduct as it is commonly known, was a marvel of modern construction. To this day, it is an iconic structure marking the western limit of the Danforth. Prior to its construction, the Danforth area was a quiet village with the Don Valley dividing it from the booming city of Toronto.

Figure 1 – Toronto City Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 2531

If you’ve had the opportunity to use the Bloor Viaduct to enter the Danforth, you no doubt have come across the corner of Broadview and Danforth. If you have a chance, take a look at just how much things have changed since the 1920s or examine the unique ways this intersection remains the same.

This image dates back to 1908 and portrays an eastward view of Danforth and Broadview Avenues before the construction of the viaduct. There were few buildings at the time and the streets themselves were nothing more than tracts of dirt.


Figure 2 – City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 38

Let’s take a look back to June 21, 1915. This is what you would have seen standing in the Don Valley looking east towards the Danforth. It’s just not quite the same view as it is today. How different life would have been if the Bloor Viaduct had not been built; the area has transformed much since its construction.

Broadview Avenue is named for the broad view that can be seen looking westbound from Riverdale Park. This street was constructed at the end of the 18th century after the government commissioned Timothy Skinner, the owner of mills located along the Don River, to build an access road. Initially this street was called Mill Road and was nothing more than a dirt wagon trail. In 1884 this road was renamed Broadview Avenue, and in 1913 it was extended south by connecting and absorbing parts of Scadding Street located south of Queen Street. In 1922, parts of Don Mills Road, north of Danforth Ave., were absorbed into Broadview Avenue, creating a street similar to that of today’s Broadview.

Figure 3 – City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 7211

Today, you can still see this 20th century building on the southeast corner of Broadview and Danforth. The previously named Danforth and Broadview Bank remains a functioning financial institution today. The CIBC building maintains much the same structure with it’s rounded exterior, yet has removed many of its historical markings, while the surrounding buildings and street view are quite different.

Next time you’re in the area, take a few minutes to explore the surrounding buildings, search for plaques, examine building information, and you’ll be able to take a step back in time.

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