This is an excerpt from Elizabeth Muirs fantastic recently published book: Riverdale : East Of The Don

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Dagmar Avenue— Named for Princess Dagmar of Russia, sister of Queen Alexandra

who married King Edward VII.293

Danforth Avenue — A ninety-one-block-long road, named after Asa Danforth who had

nothing to do with the Danforth, but built part of Kingston Road. Described in the nineteenth

century as a “dusty country road through market gardens and brickworks,” or “a muddy road,”

depending on the weather, the Danforth was built by the Don and Danforth Plank Road Co. in

1851. In 1907, the City Directory listed only twenty house numbers between Broadview and

Greenwood on the Danforth; four of those were market gardens. It was not until 1912 that the

street was paved to Greenwood Avenue. In 1921, the Danforth was described as “one of the best

shopping districts in the city.” One real estate agency sold $40,000 in home sites that year. In

1927, one of the first of six Toronto liquor stores was at 170 Danforth.294 [IMAGES 9-12, 9-13]

Dartford Road — Possibly named after English immigrants from that area in England.

Davies Avenue — Named for Thomas Davies, brewer on River Street near the Don.

Thomas Davies Sr. purchased his company in 1834 and was later joined by Alderman Davies Jr.;

alderman 1873–74, 1881–84, 1889, 1893, 1895–96, and 1898–99. Davies married Fidelia Jones

and they had seven children.295 Or for William Davies, called “Piggy” Davies because he

slaughtered and processed more hogs in Toronto than any other place on the continent — except

Chicago. He began the world’s craving for “Canadian bacon” when he started selling salt-cured

pork loin peameal at a stall in the St. Lawrence market. He shipped millions of pounds of pork

products packed in brine because of the lack of refrigeration, although he was the first in Canada

to install an artificial refrigeration unit in 1891. His buildings covered two acres of ground and

he had three ice houses packed with ice cut from the Don River. His singeing machines removed

bristles at the rate of 175 an hour, and he slaughtered 75,000 hogs a year. In 1927, the William

Davies Company became part of Canada Packers. [IMAGE 9-15]

Mike Filey suggests that Davies could be the origin of Toronto’s appellation of

“Hogtown,” and that the etymology of “meat packers” can be traced back to Davies’ packing

pork products in brine. It has also been suggested that Toronto “proudly” embraced the name of

Hogtown when Davies became the largest pork processor in the British Empire. However, an

article in the Globe in 1898 suggests that the term hogtown conveys something quite different:

“The remark originally had no relation at all to our friend the hog, but was merely intended to

convey an impression that the citizens of Toronto were porcine in their tendencies and had their

fore feet in anything that was worth having.… This is Hogtown and growing more hoggy all the


Several of Davies’ sons died from tuberculosis, so he gave away most of his huge fortune

to charities, especially to those who were trying to find a cure for that dread disease. The street

was formerly called Mill Street. 297

Dawson Avenue — Possibly for Irish immigrants of that name who settled in the area.

Dearbourne Avenue — Perhaps for the American general in the war of 1812–14, Henry

Dearborne, or for a local property owner.298 The street was formerly called Battye Avenue.299

De Grassi Street — Named for Alfio De Grassi,

an engineer in the Toronto Fire Department and a deputy grand master of the Masonic

Order, Toronto District. While he never lived on De Grassi Street, Alfio hunted and fished there.

De Grassi Street has been featured in shows such as “The Kids of Degrassi Street,”“Degrassi

Junior High,” “Degrassi High,” and most recently, “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Many of

the scenes were shot locally.300


REMOVED.]Dewhurst Boulevard — Possibly for a Dewhurst family who immigrated to

Toronto from England.

Dibble Street — For the Dibble brothers, Harry and Robert George, both athletes and

excellent oarsman. Harry, killed in battle in World War I, was also a champion wrestler. Robert,

a Canadian sculling champion, was badly wounded in the war, suffering a severe head injury.

Their battalion, the 180th, was composed entirely of members of sporting clubs in Toronto.302

The street was formerly known as Strange Street.303

Dickens Street — For Charles Dickens who visited Toronto in 1842. “Toronto is full of

life and motion, bustle, business and improvement. The streets are well paved and lighted with

gas; the houses are large and good; the shops excellent … full of hope and promise.” So wrote

Dickens on a triumphal tour of United States and Canada with his wife Kate (Catharine).

Described as small and slender, Dickens spent May 4–6 in Toronto, dining with the chief justice,

John Beverley Robinson. Robinson owned property in Riverdale, but it is unlikely that they had

dinner there. Dickens found Niagara Falls particularly impressive, especially from the “English”

[Canadian] side. He described Canadians as less prying and pushy than Americans, for which he

was grateful. Although he had previously thought of this country as “something left behind in the

strides of advancing society,” he wrote that “Canada has held and always will retain a foremost

place in my remembrance.” The only problem in Canada was the accommodation: “the inns are

usually bad,” he told a reporter.304

Dilworth Crescent — Possibly for the English Dilworth family who settled in Toronto.

Joseph Dilworth was a druggist; James Dilworth was a coal merchant.

Dingwall Avenue — For Neil Kennedy Bain who came from Dingwall, Scotland, listed

in censuses as a flour and feed merchant and later a commercial traveler. The Georgian thirteen-

room “Sargant House” at 14 Dingwall Avenue where Bain lived, with its slender windows, four

fireplace chimneys, and a raised basement kitchen, became known as the “Bain House” since the

Bain family owned it from 1869–1966, buying it from the Sargant family for $4,200. Robert

Sargant, a Scottish immigrant farmer and prosperous merchant selling clothing and dry goods,

built the house in 1860 and worked the fields and orchards of the 200-acre lot. It may have been

their summer home. James Bain, one of at least eight children of Neil Kennedy Bain and Abigail

McDaniel, lived there after his parents. He was employed by the John Taylor Company in

Toronto, which made safes.

Donmount Court, Doncrest Road, and Donlands Avenue — Are named because of

their proximity to the Don Valley. Donlands Avenue was originally called Leslie Street.305

Doris Anderson Court — Named for Doris Anderson, former editor of Chatelaine. See

“Women in Riverdale.”

Dorothy Street — Possibly for Dorothy Kerr who married into the Price family, or

Dorothy Mander whose mother was Stella Katherine Price. Alternately, the street may have been

named for a daughter of John Knox Leslie or for Dorothy Ashbridge.306

Dundas Street East — Named for Sir Henry Dundas, first Viscount Melville, First

Secretary of State for War, 1791–94. The eastern part of the street was formerly called Elliot

Street, but parts of it were known as Dagmar Avenue, Wilton Avenue, and Applegrove


Earl Grey Boulevard — Named for Albert Henry George Grey, who was governor

general of Canada from 1904–11. Grey made a horseback trip in 1907 over what is now the Earl

Grey pass in British Columbia.308

East Don Roadway — Formerly known as the Don Improvement Roadway and Don


East York Avenue — For its geographical location, east of York.

Eastern Avenue — Named in 1876 as a descriptive name, formerly called South Park

east of Leslie Street. At one time, one could cross the Don River at an Eastern Avenue Bridge,

but that was disconnected in 1964. In 2007, a fortified Hells Angels den along Eastern Avenue

was raided and the gang forced out.310

Eastmount Avenue — For its geographical location.

Eaton Avenue — For Timothy Eaton from Ireland who founded the merchandising


Egan Avenue — Formerly known as Belford Street.311

Ellerbeck Street — For Sarah Ellerbeck who married Captain John Playter, one of

George Henry’s sons. The Ellerbecks were United Empire Loyalists who emigrated from

England in 1774 to “Pikeepsee,” New York State. Lieut. Emmanuel Ellerbeck, a cavalryman and

a mariner, fought in the American Revolution for the British, was jailed by the Americans but

was released when he joined the American rebels; he deserted to the British in 1777. Serving in

the secret service behind enemy lines, he didreconnaissance similar to that done by George

Henry Playter. After the war, he settled in Kingston and claimed the loss of a chest of tools at

sixteen guineas, a house in New York, and a ship “in the King’s service” for a total loss of £281.

He was reimbursed only £70. He may have been a carpenter for in 1795, as he was hired by the

First St. George’s (Anglican) Church in Kingston, which he supported, to build and finish a

gallery in the church. The Ellerbeck daughters and George Henry Playter’s family visited back

and forth between Kingston and York by steamship.312

Empire Avenue — Named for the British Empire, important in the lives of all the British



Let each uphold the Empire’s good

In freedom that unites

Make illustrious and good

The scepter of our race.313


Endean Avenue — Named for the local Endean family, brickmakers.314

Erindale Avenue — Named after the Irish who lived in the area, formerly known as

Cherry Street.315

Fairview Boulevard — A descriptive term.

Fenwick Avenue — Named for William H. Fenwick who came to Toronto in 1888 and

lived on Logan Avenue. An Orangeman, he was elected alderman in Ward 1 in 1917–18. He was

married to Margaret Thorburn.

Ferrier Avenue — Named for a market gardener of that name. The Ferrier family had a

hardware store at Danforth and Ferrier.316

Fielding Avenue — Named for William Stevens Fielding, federal minster of railways

and canals, and finance.

Filmic Lane — For the movie studios in the area.

First Avenue — Possibly because it was the first street south of Gerrard. The street was

formerly known as Lefroy Avenue.317 [IMAGE 9–16]

Florence Wyle Lane — For the sculptor Florence Wyle. See “Women in Riverdale.”

Frances Loring Lane — For the sculptor Frances Loring. See “Women in Riverdale.”

Frizzell Avenue — For Rev. Wm. Frizzell, minister of Queen Street East (Leslieville)

Presbyterian Church at Kingston Road and Carlaw. He graduated in 1875 from Union Seminary,

New York.318

Fulton Avenue — Is possibly named for a poet. Ely Playter had an acquaintance with

that surname in 1820. Thomas Helliwell, the early settler and brewer, built a home on that



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Leslieville, Riverside and Riverdale Street History : Street Names from Dagmar to Fulton

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Ben Ferguson
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