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History and Heritage
The Junction Triangle Name
What’s in a name? Many urban neighbourhoods have specific names as historical markers; it gives local residents a sense of belonging and a unique set of characteristics that define an area. For example, the area of Cabbagetown was known because “Toronto's prosperous British residents offended by the use of front gardens to grow cabbages and other vegetables by the hundreds of Irish families who had fled famine in Ireland in the 1840s.”
Not to be confused with “The Junction” neighbourhood, north-west of Dupont Street, the use of the Junction Triangle name can be traced back to newspaper articles from 1979. Bordered by three railway lines forming a triangle shape, the neighbourhood can feel a little removed from its surrounding vicinities.
The Junction Triangle became a popular destination in the early 1900s for immigrants seeking job opportunities. “Large groups of Ukrainian, Macedonian, Italian, Polish, and Portuguese families moved to the Junction Triangle in search of work. With factories appearing on seemingly every corner, the Junction Triangle had plenty to offer. Newly arrived residents found jobs in feed yards, planing mills, and manufacturing plants. Alongside a growth in population, the neighbourhood became a part of ever-growing urban infrastructure, becoming a part of the City of Toronto in the late nineteenth century.”
A Scrappy Neighbourhood
With dense manufacturing plants concentrated within a small area, problems with pollution will inevitably happen. By the late 1970s, newspaper articles made references to a Junction Triangle Anti-pollution group or Working Group that would battle factory owners to take responsibility for their dangerous manufacturing practices. In 1982, a paint and glue manufacturer spilled 3,028 litres of toxic chemicals into the sewer system because of a ruptured hose, in addition to another company dumping inflammable and carcinogenic substances. See these links from old newspaper articles:
Evolution and Changes
Over the century and decades, the demographics of the Junction Triangle has shifted with the decline of heavy industrial labour. A few longtime residents find it extremely difficult to witness their neighbourhood change from their childhood memories, and may feel that their history is being erased with an influx of new residents whose demographics differ from the older generations who have sold their homes. Neighbourhoods evolve reflecting the city, country, and the world it belongs to – as part of a greater whole. (Refer to Junction Triangle - Wikipedia)
By the late 1990s, many of the manufacturing plants began relocating outside the urban core or to countries where cheaper labour is available. New residential homes were developed over former industrial lands, increasing the area’s population. A turnover of generations began to happen as well with older residents who had lived in the area since the late 1940s began passing away, their adult children selling their homes or folks deciding to downsize. Many of the new residents who moved into the Junction Triangle were no longer here for manufacturing job opportunities but for urban living with diverse occupations from accounting and hospitality to social workers and digital game designers – just to name a few.
A few residents have compared our corner of the city as Toronto’s version of Brooklyn, NYC. Many have pride of place and this is what makes the Junction Triangle wonderful. With this popularity, comes some disadvantages. Currently, the Junction Triangle is experiencing plenty of interest from large corporate developers seeking to take advantage of the climate from real estate investors by building luxury condominiums that are unaffordable to the majority of people wanting to live here. Following the scrappiness of past neighbourhood groups, the South Junction Triangle Grows group is advocating for a more responsible urban growth/planning into the next chapter of this area’s story.
1914: Bloor Street crossing east to Perth Avenue
1911: charcoal pool off Sterling Road
1923: Sterling Road looking north from Dundas West