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. Our exploration continues at Coxwell Avenue. 

Coxwell and Danforth – Danforth Car Barns and the East Danforth Area

Moving out of the traditional Greek town area, we come to what is considered East Danforth or “Little York.” In the early twentieth century, this area offered little in the wake of amenities. However, with expansion of two major streetcar lines, The City of Toronto and the Toronto Civic Railways (TCR) needed a new space with room to expand located in the east to deal with the overflow from other carhouses and barns.

In 1913, the TCR purchased a six acre plot of land between Coxwell Avenue and Hillingdon Avenue, with Danforth Avenue bordering in the north, and today’s Woodrow Avenue in the south. It took only two short years to build the $25,000 L-shaped carhouse. Below is an image of the original Danforth Car Barns. This image was taken on September 23, 1915 and show the eastern view, similar to what can be seen today from Hillingdon Avenue.

 City of Toronto, Fonds 1231, Item 400

Six short years after being built, the TCR and the newly established Toronto Transit Commission pushed for the expansion of the Danforth Car Barns. Did you know that the Danforth once had its own streetcar service spanning from Luttrell Avenue all the way to Broadview Avenue? Below is an image taken in 1925 showing the TTC’s Danforth Carhouse and Yards, which later added streetcar loops to create a transit hub for East Danforth. The Danforth Carhouse closed in 2002. However, due to the historical importance of the building, this location was deemed a heritage site and the TTC continues to use part of the plot for its Danforth Division.

 City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 4116

The Danforth Carhouse and Yards were a contributing factor to East Danforth’s development. Residents were able to hop on the streetcars and travel across Danforth Avenue. Can you imagine life on the Danforth with no buses or subway? The truth of the matter is, streetcars are really what made the Danforth and especially Coxwell Avenue a major stop for Torontonians. And, those who stopped here could do so rather comfortably. Below is an image of a waiting room where communters could sit or shop while waiting for their streetcar to arrive. Here you can see a female patron leaving Charal’s Lunch, where you could spend 25¢ and get a delicious sandwich.

 City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 11485

In the 1930s, you could have come from the Beaches to the Danforth, grabbed a coffee and sandwich from Charla’s Lunch, and headed over to East Lynn Park. As you can see below, East Lynn Park offered a picturesque seen of the East Danforth area.

 City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 52, Item 1476

Today, it still offers visitors a taste of nature in this developed neighbourhood. Next time you get a chance, grab a coffee from the McDonald’s on the corner, and head over to East Lynn Park and imagine how different life was in the early twentieth century, and appreciate the historical grandeur of this region.  Features found in these pictures can still be seen today allowing each and every one of us to momentarily journey back in time.



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