Transit and Democracy, a Part of Parkdale Heritage

hourse drawn street cars

1887 picture of a Toronto Street Railway Company crew laying over at Queen and Roncesvales in Parkdale. Service began; 1881 Brockton Road, 1882 Queen Dufferin, 1887 to Roncesvales and after 1892 electric. We still have Streetcars!

Parkdale helped build Transit and Democracy in Toronto, as seen in our built heritage. Streetcars from Toronto ran on steel tracks into Parkdale since 1881.

What are the earliest important buildings on Queen St. in Parkdale?

The  Ocean View at Roncesvalles and Union Hotel at Dufferin were built by 1883 to serve train and Queen Street traffic, which would have included the many travelling salesmen of the period.  Travellers from Toronto and rural Ontario both settled in and brought trade to Parkdale. The buildings created by and for them tell their stories.

1883 built. Full Second Empire style with classic Ontario style Polychrome Brickwork.

1883 built. Full Second Empire style with classic Ontario style Polychrome Brickwork.

The Ocean View Hotel, at the corner of Roncesvalles and Queen, was the first stop for travellers arriving from the west. The style exudes optimism and connection to rural Ontario.

Union Hotel in 1894

1894 Photo of the Union Hotel. The name openly supports the American style of government. Architecture was very political when The Union Hotel was built before 1884 (Goads map). Photo: Toronto Archives.

The Union Hotel, a livery stable and several other buildings are all Second Empire Style and were made of polychrome brick. These choices of building styles speak of of aspirations for American-style, responsible government and rural roots. These styles and aspirations will be discussed in detail in subsequent articles. As we move west on Queen street we pass many more Second Empire Buildings but few polychrome. Further west, Romanesque, Classic and Queen Anne styles reflect changing attitudes. That is another story.  The Union Hotel and the buildings near it were all lost to the demands of railways, roads and pedestrians, but similar buildings remain near by, so far.

City Planning Meeting tonight: Monday March 30, 2015 6-9PM 30 Humbert Street, Senhor Santo Cristo Catholic School – Gymnasium.

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