In contrast to the ordered creation of the landscaped subdivisions, “shack town” mushroomed as farmers on the boundaries of Toronto sold parcels of land to developers.
Lots were sold most often to immigrants who wanted to own rather than rent. Here, outside of the official city boundaries there was no provision of sewers or roads. It was a muddy and raw build-your-own frontier in a continual halfway state of construction.
As the city spread outward erasing the former countryside, W.G. MacKendrick, whose wealth came from road paving, worked with fellow members of the Toronto Horticultural Society to spruce-up those parts of the city that were not as tidily laid out as the landscaped subdivisions.
Between 1910 and 1913 with MacKendrick as president, the Toronto Horticultural Society grew its membership and influence.Its mission was civic improvement through yard improvement competitions in the poorer neighbourhoods as well as the circulation of botanical information to the more educated classes through the Society’s yearbook and newsletter. Henry Pellat, builder of Casa Loma was the group’s Honorary President. The parties held in his show gardens were highlights of the Toronto social calendar.
Paving, gardening and country living were the passions of W.G. MacKendrick. And, in the upper social echelons the three were intimately connected. The elegant Rosedale area was defined by ravines. Cars and well paved roads were increasingly a necessity to travel from this picturesque neighbourhood to the city and back.
MacKendrick had recognized that opportunity lay with the Warren Scharff Company and its newly patented road surface called Bituminous Cement. After working his way up the ranks on numerous road-building projects in the United States he returned to Toronto as the head of the new Canadian branch of the company. There, he worked quickly to use his growing social influence to procure contracts for paving the best residential streets. While bitulithic cost more than standard asphalt, an expense that was passed on to the residents of the street, ratepayers could be readily marshaled when the cause was street improvement. The Annual Report of the City Engineer for 1911 states that approximately one third of Toronto paving that year was bitulithic.
To read more go to Menu: “Paving the Way to Paradise…” Chapter 5 .
1. city of toronto archives fonds 1244 item 1153 real estate sign 1910
2. city of toronto archives fonds 1244 item 7274 A street in Earlscourt 1910?
3. city of toronto archives fonds 1244 item 2472 Wychwood street through orchard
4. city of toronto archives fonds 1244 item 1039 winner of the Toronto Star’s “Swat the Fly” competition Aug. 1912
5. city of toronto archives fonds 1244 item 1888 Riverdale Park 1907
6. city of toronto archives fonds 1244 item 421 fashions, Toronto Jockey Club, 1913 (detail)
7. city of toronto archives fonds 1244 item 4021 Casa Loma, 1914-15?
8.city of toronto archives fonds 1244 item 2372 Toronto Armouries (Cement Show) 1912?
9.city of toronto archives fonds 1244 item 7026 Crescent Road, Toronto 1909?
10. city of toronto archives fonds 1244 item 4122 Casa Loma gardens 1910?