This is an excerpt from Elizabeth Muirs fantastic recently published book: Riverdale : East Of The Don
It is used with the authors permission. Please buy a copy to find out the history of your street (and neighbourhood) and at the same time support a great local author!
Hunter Street — For Thomas Hunter, alderman, St John’s Ward, 1884–87, who
promoted the baseball stadium south of Queen Street near Broadview, or for Scott Peter Hunter
(1746–1805), appointed lieutenant governor of Upper Canada in 1799.338
Hurndale Avenue — Is thought to be connected to the Playter family. The Harnes
family, a variation of ”Hurndale,” settled near Kingston as United Empire Loyalists. It may be
that they were compatriots of the Playters.339
Ingham Avenue — For Joshua Ingham, alderman for St. Matthew’s Ward in 1887.
Emigrating from England in 1862, he became a butcher and cattle exporter, working at one time
for Crawford and Co. He married Harriet Axon in 1855 and lived on the Don Mills Road in
Chester Village. They had seven children.340
Ivy Avenue — Possibly for Ivy Bushell. There were several Bushell families in the
Leslieville area: John Bushell was an Anglican priest and Edmund Bushell, a contractor.341
Jack Layton Way — For Jack Layton (1950–2011), former New Democratic Party
leader former MP for Riverdale.
Jackman Avenue — For Mary Jane “Minnie” Jackman who married John Lea Playter in
1875. Mary Jane’s parents were Matilda Jane Wray and Francis Jackman, a seaman. Frances
skippered and co-owned various ships on the Great Lakes and undertook an extraordinary
trading trip to South Africa. Members of the Playter family were mariners; perhaps that is how
Mary Jane and John Lea met. She had four sisters and two brothers. A relative, Matilda Jane
“Tillie” Jackman married one of George Leslie’s nephews, Alexander Chalmers Leslie. The
Jackman immigrants were considered to be an excellent example of the success of the Petworth
Project, an immigration plan assisted financially by parish funds and the British government to
relocate about 20,000 conscientious working class families from the south of England. The
Jackmans emigrated to Canada in 1836 on the 264-passenger ship, Heber.342
Jones Avenue — For John Jones, alderman, first for St. Lawrence Ward, then for St.
Matthew’s Ward, and works commissioner for the city. He was a contractor, then a sailor, a
market gardener, a brickmaker, a real estate developer, an active Orangeman, and a warden in
the Leslieville Anglican Church. He married Mary Ann Hunter in 1866; they had twelve
children. The historian Charles Pelham Mulvany noted that a Mrs. Jones of this extended family
was “a business woman of rare ability” because she had a successful grocery shop in Toronto
while her husband operated a blacksmith business. The street was formerly known as Clifford.343
June Callwood Way — Named for the journalist and social activist, June Callwood. See
“Women in Riverdale.”
Kay Macpherson Way — Named for social activist and pacifist Kay Macpherson. See
“Women in Riverdale.”
King’s Park Boulevard— Named for the area’s love of royalty.
Kintyre Avenue — Formerly known as Paul Street. Kintyre is an area in Scotland,
possibly the origin of some of the Scottish residents of Riverdale.344
Kiswick Street — Formerly known as MacDonald Street.345
Ladysmith Avenue — possibly named for the Canadian contribution to the Boer War.
The street was formerly known as Gallow Avenue and Lincoln Avenue.346
Lake Shore Boulevard — (commonly misspelled as Lakeshore) was formerly known as
Starr Avenue, Laburnum Avenue, and Dominion St; it runs along most of the waterfront in
Langford Avenue — Possibly for the village of Langford in England. A Langford family
settled in Toronto in the 1800s.
Langley Avenue — Named for Henry Langley, architect, who designed about seventy
churches in Ontario and many other secular buildings. He completed Toronto’s two cathedrals —
St. Michael’s Roman Catholic and St. James Anglican, and was the first chair of the Department
of Architecture at the University of Toronto. Henry’s father was a shoemaker from Ireland who
came to Canada with his wife and three children in 1832. When he was seventeen, Henry
Langley began indenturing with the architect William Hay, who specialized in Gothic
architecture. After 1869, Langley worked with his nephew, architect Edmund Burke, who
designed the Prince Edward Viaduct, and Frank Darling. The 1874 firm of Langley, Langley &
Burke included Henry’s brother Edward, a builder. Later Henry son, Charles Edward, joined the
firm. In 1866, Henry married Anne Booth; they had seven children. The Langley House at 441
Broadview was built by Edward Langley; his wife, Julia Ann Smith and her family owned the
Cox House. The street in part was formerly called Guelph Avenue.348
Larchmount Avenue — Named for the larches or tamaracks that grew there.349
Leslie Garden Lane and Leslie Street — Named for the Leslie family. 350See
“Leslieville: From Land-based Activity to Toxic Manufacturing.”
Lewis Street — Possibly named for Catherine Lewis who married farmer John Saulter,
or for Lewis Bright who settled in York in 1802.351
Lipton Avenue — Formerly known as Beatrice Place. It is an English name, and may be
linked with English settlers in the area.352
Logan Avenue — Named for the Logan family, market gardeners who came to Canada
from Scotland in the 1850s. John Logan was described in Robertson’s Landmarks “as a tall man
of pleasant manners.” It has also been suggested that the name honours Hart Logan, director of
the Canadian Land Company, uncle to Sir William Logan, and a learned Canadian geologist. The
street was formerly known as Logan’s Lane and Blong Street.353
Louvain Avenue — Named after the Belgian city that figured prominently in the First
World War. Canadian soldiers were paid $1.10 a day during that war. The street was formerly
known as Pape Place.354
Lydia Court — Possibly for a daughter or wife of a local contractor, although there were
several people born in England in the nineteenth century whose full name was Lydia Court.
MacPhail Avenue — Named for Agnes MacPhail, the first woman elected to the House
of Commons. From 1943–52, she was the MPP for York East. She was also the first president of
the Ontario CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation), the forerunner of the NDP (National
Marjory Avenue — Possibly for John E. Russell’s daughter, Marjory Russell. Marjory’s
father was a contractor or developer who likely named the street for his daughter. T.J. Russell is
listed as a brickmaker; they may have been the same person.355
Mary Ann Shadd Lane — Named after Mary Ann Shadd, activist and journalist. See
“Mary Ann Shadd” in “Black Refugees.”
Matilda Street — Named for a member of the Gooderham family; or for a member of a
contractor’s family. See Lady Matilda Ridout Edgar, in “Women in Riverdale.”356
McConnell Avenue — Named for Scottish or Irish settlers in Toronto. Arthur W.
McConnell was a local architect and John Wilson McConnell was a well-known philanthropist.
McGee Street — Named for Thomas D’Arcy McGee, a Father of Confederation who
was assassinated in 1868 by an Irish nationalist.357
Millbrook Crescent — Is likely a descriptive name.
Milverton Boulevard — Likely for English residents who came from that area in
Montcrest Boulevard — A descriptive term; at the crest of the mont/mount or the hill.
Morse Street after George D. Morse, cattle dealer, who drowned in the bay or the Don
River. As he tried to get out of the way of a train one night he slipped and hit his head, plunging
into the river. Morse, a prosperous Toronto merchant, had come to Canada from the United
States in 1836, began a feeding and cattle shipping business with two brothers, then in 1873,
started the G.D. Morse Soap and Candle Works on three acres near the Don’s Grand Trunk
Railway Station. By the 1870s he was shipping 1,000 boxes of laundry soap a week, along with
all kinds of fancy soaps and thousands of boxes of candles a season. However, in 1877, he
returned to the cattle business. At one time he owned the Chippawa Distillery and a 225-acre
farm on Yonge Street. His prosperous-looking two-and-a-half storey gothic house, designed by
the architect John William Stills, is one of very few pictured in an early illustrated book of
Toronto. Recently, a Toronto real estate agent put 148 Morse Street up for sale, describing it as a
two-storey home with a mansard roof that was built circa 1890, noting that it and most of that
block were owned by George D. Morse.358
Mortimer Avenue — Possibly for George Mortimer, Anglican minister in Thornhill,
York Township, or for his son Herbert Mortimer, first president of the Toronto Stock Exchange
in 1861. The street was originally called Gardener’s Road because of the market gardens on the
road. George married Mary Barford and they had six children.359
Mountstephen Street — Possibly named for George Stephen, born in Scotland,
president of the Canadian Pacific Railway from 1881–91; he became Baron Mount Stephen,
financier. There were, however, Mountstephens who were members of St. Matthew’s Anglican
Church, which was first on De Grassi Street, and then on First Avenue. Mr. and Mrs.
Mountstephen were very active in the administration of that church in the late 1800s. The street
was originally called Close Street.360
Mountalan Avenue — Possibly for an Irish family who lived in the area as there is a
Mount Allen/Alan in Ireland.
Mount Noel Avenue — Likely for the well-known young couple Delina C. and Arthur
Noel who discovered the Bralorne Gold Mines in the 1890s in British Columbia. Mount Noel is
named after them.
Mountjoy Avenue — Possibly for John Robert Mountjoy, politician and executive
member of the St. Patrick’s Society. Mountjoy owned a dry goods store in downtown Toronto
called “The Golden Fleece.” In 1852, he was in court as creditors pressed for payment of his
considerable debts of £5,864. 9s, some of which he had incurred and some because he had
endorsed notes for other people. He was allowed to keep the name on his store and work there as
if he were still in charge, after making suitable financial arrangements for repayment. The street
was originally called Stacy Street.361
Munro Street — Commemorates George Munro, Orangeman and passionate gardener.
Born in Scotland, after he immigrated to Canada he was apprenticed to storeowner John Young
at age thirteen and became a partner before reaching the age of twenty. He was an alderman for
St. Lawrence Ward from 1834–41 and mayor of Toronto from 184–42. Munro was also an MP
for East York. He married Christina Fisher and they had two sons and four daughters. George
Munro Jr. worked for the Grand Trunk Railway, and John, the eldest son, travelled extensively.
George Sr. became a very wealthy man. His home in downtown Toronto became the Black
Horse Inn after his death. The environmentalist, Charles Sauriol, was brought up at 13 Munro
Street, and later moved to Leslie near Gerrard Street.362
Muriel Avenue — Named for one of H.R. Frankland’s daughters. Frankland was a
prominent livestock exporter.363
Myrtle Avenue — Likely for a daughter or wife of a contractor, developer or
Natalie Place — Also likely for a daughter or wife of a contractor, developer or
Nealon Avenue — For the Nealon family who emigrated from Great Britain. At one
time, the street consisted of market gardens.364
Oakvale Avenue — Likely a descriptive name — where there were numerous oak trees.
Ozark Avenue — A very peculiar name in Toronto as it is not a family name and
originally appears to have been a corruption of a French term. Possibly someone from the Ozark
area in the United States came to live in Riverdale.
Paisley Avenue — For the town of Paisley in Scotland where immigrants originated or
for local residents with the family name of Paisley.
Pape Avenue and Pape Crescent — for Joseph Pape and his sons James and Joseph.
Market gardeners for three generations, the Pape men specialized in flowers. Emigrating from
England in 1853, he married Agnes Patterson in 1856. They had seven children. Joseph — and
his sons, once they were involved in the business — became extremely successful and well-
liked. James Pape was elected an alderman for St. Lawrence Ward, even though he was Roman
Catholic, obviously not Orange. The street was formerly called Willow between Eastern and
Queen Street and Gwynne Street. The Harris family built a large residence at 450 Pape Avenue,
called Cranfield House.365
Parkfield Avenue — Possibly because it is near a park. The street was originally called
Peyton Lane — Named for William Peyton Hubbard, city councillor and deputy mayor.
See “Black Refugees.”367
Phin Avenue — Possibly named for an United Empire Loyalist called James Phyn who
received a settlement of £650 for his losses, including a mill that was burnt on the Mohawk
Playter Boulevard and Playter Crescent — For the Playter family. See “The Playter
Legacy.” Playter Boulevard was originally called Hutchinson Avenue .369
Plum Place —A descriptive name; plums grew in the area.
Poucher Street — Named for John Poucher, builder, landowner, and evaluator for the
Pretoria Avenue — Named for Pretoria in South Africa, captured by the British in 1900.
Canadian soldiers fought there with British troops in the Boer War. It was originally called John
Street, after the Playter family.371
Prust Avenue — For William Prust, who married Ellen Adams in Cheltenham, England
in 1871. The Prusts came to Canada in 1873. They had five children. They lived in Haliburton,
and later Toronto. William was first a shoemaker, then a carpenter and builder, and eventually
became a real estate developer, planting a fruit tree on every property he developed. He lived at
Greenwood Avenue just north of Gerrard Street.372
Queen Street and Queen Victoria Street — Queen Street, originally known as
Kingston Road, commemorates Queen Victoria, who reigned for sixty-three years and survived
seven assassination attempts. After she wore a white dress for her wedding (which cost £1,000.),
white bridal gowns became de rigueur. At social functions, guests who wanted to smoke had to
do so in the garden, not in her “house.”373 [IMAGES 9-20, 9-21]
Ravina Crescent — For the daughter or wife of a contractor or builder or industrialist in
the area or for the last name of a local family.
Renwick Crescent — Named after James Alexander (Jim) Renwick, lawyer and New
Democratic Party MLA from 1964–84. His wife Margaret was an MLA for Scarborough Centre.
Jim and Margaret were the first husband and wife team to serve simultaneously in a Canadian
legislature. Renwick was a prisoner of war in World War Two.374
Riverdale Avenue — Named for the Don River, which is close by. The street was
formerly known as Smith Street.375
Royal Drive — Originally known as Winchester Drive. It was renamed Royal to
commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth and King George VI in 1939.376
Rushbrooke Avenue — Recalls the short fast brook that ran where the street is now. 377
Sammon Avenue —Originally spelled “Salmon.” One of the best photographers of Old
Toronto was James Victor Salmon. However, Henry Sammon had a farm in East York.378
Sanford Avenue — Possibly for the United Empire Loyalist Ephraim Sandford who lost
household furniture, three cows, two horses, two yearlings, hatter’s tools, fifty sheep, and an
estate in Salem valued at £280.
Saulter Street — Named after John Saulter or Thomas Sulter, farmers who lived near the
Sawden Avenue — Named for Thomas Sawden, local brickmaker. Thomas came to
Canada as an orphan when he was eight; , he received no schooling but eventually owned a
successful brickyard and became a prize-winning marksman. He married and had four children.380
Selkirk Street — Recalls Lord Selkirk, a Scottish peer. He married Jean Wedderburn-
Colville; they had three children.381
Seymour Avenue — Commemorates Frederick Seymour, the second governor of British
Columbia; a number of Seymours emigrated from England to Canada.
Shudell Avenue — Likely for settlers from Great Britain with that name.
Simpson Avenue — Possibly named after James Simpson, Toronto mayor in 1935.
Simpson campaigned with the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Foundation), the forerunner
of the NDP. He publicly declared that he stood for “protection of wage levels, slum clearance,
lower costs in bread, milk and coal, now controlled by combines; development of unions …
lower taxes for small property owners … free text books [for children] … [and] a graded surtax
on incomes of $3,000 and over, so that the burden of taxation is borne by those best able to
pay.”382 Simpson came to Canada in 1887, married Alma Anne Georgina Barton and had two
children, Ruskin and Maxine Alma. He had three years of formal schooling and began his
Canadian career at fourteen, hand-dipping bicycle parts in paint in Cabbagetown. He became a
compositor for the Toronto Daily Star, then a reporter, and rose through union ranks. He was a
co-founder of the Canadian Labour Party. As an Orangeman, he opposed communism. Described
as “a round-faced, round spectacled man who was well-liked by people who didn’t share his
political views,” he died in a car/streetcar accident.383
Simpson Street could also have been named for the brickmaker William Simpson from
Ireland or Joseph Simpson, a landowner.384
There are six very old houses at the west end of Simpson Avenue, known as the Six
Sisters. The street was formerly called Brooke Avenue.385 [INSERT IMAGE 9-22]
Sparkhall Avenue — Named for Cubitt Sparkhall. Cubitt’s father died the year Cubitt
was born. He came to Canada in 1832 with his family and opened a butcher shop in 1839, selling
meat in markets until 1870. In 1840, he married Eliza Moore; they had six children. In 1845, he
bought a farm on Logan’s Lane.386 [IMAGE 9-23]
Sproat Avenue — Named for Charles Sproat, city engineer 1893–90, father of architect
Henry Sproat. He was also deputy surveyor. In 1884, Sproat was paid $2,800 a year, the second-
highest paid city official after the treasurer. Emigrating from England, Charles first drove
wagons. A Charles Sproat partnered with Patrick Cosgrove to purchase the West Toronto
Brewery, calling it Cosgrove Brewery. It is now part of O’Keefe brewery. Henry Sproat
manufactured soft drinks — especially ginger beer. He was an alderman and chair of the Board
of Works for Toronto. He worked with other architects such as John A. Parson, Frank Darling,
and Ernest Ross Rolph.387 The street was formerly known as Methuen.388
St. Matthew’s Road — Named for the electoral ward of St. Matthew or St. Matthew’s
Church and St. Matthew’s Lawn Bowling Club.
Stanton Avenue—Commemorates Virna Stanton, novelist and poet, sister of the noted
photographer Eldridge Stanton. Virna married Dr. Charles Sheard in 1884/5, Toronto’s chief
medical officer and a member of parliament from 1917–25. She published four novels, poems,
and short stories.389
Strathcona Avenue — Recalls Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, Scottish-born
Canadian financier and politician Donald Smith.
Strathmore Boulevard — For Strathmore in Scotland; or the 14th Earl of Strathmore
and Kinghorne’s daughter, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen consort of King George VI.
Strange Street — Named after Maxwell Strange, auctioneer; or Patrick Strange, land
agent in York; or Maxwell W. Strange, a lawyer and politician, MLA in Kingston from 1867–71.
Maxwell married Charlotte Anna Campbell in 1849. May also refer to Dr. Frederick William
Strange, coroner for the county of York.390
Sunlight Park Road — For the Sunlight Soap Company (Lever Brothers). The odour
from the factory was so bad, that people didn’t want to attend baseball games at the nearby
baseball stadium and the baseball team moved to Hanlan’s Point. The stadium, which seated
2,000, had been built in 1886 by the company but was demolished in 1896.391
Tennis Crescent — Likely named this because it was so close to the tennis courts on the
east side of the Don Valley.
Thackeray Street possibly for William Makepeace Thackeray, English author of the
very popular novel, Vanity Fair. Thackeray was a contemporary of Charles Dickens, quarreled
with him and, like Dickens, lectured in and toured the United States, although there is no
evidence that he came to Canada. Thackeray and Dickens were the two most popular authors of
Thompson Street — possibly for Thomas Thompson, an alderman for St. Lawrence
Ward; or Samuel Thompson councillor and librarian; or for Joseph Elijah Thompson, elected to
the Board of Control, a Conservative MPP for Toronto Northeast. John Thompson, a Scottish-
born bricklayer, lived in the area.
Thorncliffe Avenue — Named for George Taylor who owned the area in the early 1800s
and named his house Thorn Cliff. His daughter Margaret married the brewer Robert Davies.
They bought the property and created Thorncliffe farms eventually producing prize-winning
thoroughbred horses. Later owners created a race track on that site which lasted from 1920 to
Tiverton Avenue — Possibly for Tiverton in John Graves Simcoe’s home country of
Devonshire; or Tiverton in Rhode Island; or for Prime Minister Lord Palmerston’s riding of
Tiverton in England in the mid-1800s. The street was formerly known as East Avenue.393
Torbrick Road — For the Toronto Brick Company.
Verral Avenue — Commemorates George W. Verral who came from England around
1842. Verral gardened in the summer and drove a team of horses in the winter. He managed
stables in 1847, and in 1855, established a successful cab, coupé, and livery business. In 1884, he
was elected alderman for St. George’s Ward. He married Ann Farley in 1855 and they had eight
children. The street was originally called Foster Street.394
Victor Avenue — Likely for Fred Victor who died in his early twenties from pulmonary
complications, he was the youngest son of Hart Massey who built the farm equipment company
known as of Massey-Harris. Daniel Conboy, who owned the prosperous Conboy Carriage
Company, lived at 30 Victor Avenue along with his son, a trimmer with the company. Daniel
died from influenza in the 1917 epidemic and the company folded soon after. Or the street could
be named for Victor Thomas, a “sporting man” in the area.395
Villiers Street — Recalls Matthew Villiers Sankey, city surveyor, who drowned in a
boating accident shortly after retirement.396
Walpole Avenue — For John Walpole, a local plasterer and builder.397
Wardell Street — For Orrin Wardell, local auctioneer who married Helen Williams, and
his son Frederick M. Wardell who worked with his father until 1902, when he quit to sell
vacuum cleaners. In 1913, Frederick and four business partners developed Eureka vacuum
cleaners. By 1927, they had sold more than 2,000,000.398
West Avenue — Possibly a geographically descriptive name.399 [IMAGE 9-25, 9-26]
Winnifred Avenue — Named for Winnifred Radcliffe. Winnifred wrote stories in the
Victorian-age about fairies. Winnifred Avenue was originally called Radcliffe but it was changed
to Winnifred in 1905.400
Withrow Avenue — For John Jacob Withrow from Virginia, who worked in an
architect’s firm and afterwards, on his father’s building firm. He worked as a carpenter and then
formed Withrow and Hillock or The East Toronto Planing Mill. They were lumber dealers,
manufacturing mainly doors and sashes, but also the “Withrow and Hillock Arctic Refrigerator,”
which won a gold medal at the London “Fisheries Exposition.” Withrow and Hillock developed
Wilton Crescent in Toronto, and then a subdivision centred on Withrow Avenue. In 1894, the
company declared bankruptcy. Withrow was an alderman 1873–78. In 1883, he was defeated for
mayor by five votes, and by 145 votes in 1885. He was the founder and president of the
Canadian National Exhibition 1879–1900. The Rev. W.H. Withrow, a Methodist preacher,
published a history of Canada “copiously illustrated,” along with travel books and temperance
Wolfrey Avenue — A common English name, possibly for a family that emigrated from
England to Canada. Albert Wolfrey, an area resident, was a Canadian soldier in the First World
War. Thomas Wolfrey’s widow kept house for Mayor Ernest Macdonald.402
Woodcrest Avenue — Likely a descriptive term.
Woodgreen Place — Named for the Woodgreen Methodist Church founded in 1875,
called Woodgreen after the last names of Rev Dr. Enoch Wood, president, Toronto Conference
of the Methodist Church, and Rev. Anson Green, the two ministers who conducted the first
services at the church. The red brick church cost $2,000 to build. The Rev. Dr. Carroll was the
first minister. In 1889, a new church was built at the corner of Queen and Strange Streets for
Wroxeter Avenue — Possibly for the village of Wroxeter in England; the street was
formerly called Globe Avenue.404