Annex Reach

1.7 km of Taddle Creek

Here Taddle Creek flowed though that special area of Toronto called The Annex, from Dupont and Bathurst to Bloor Street a bit west of Avenue Road. The last 180 m (aprox) flowed through the former Village of Yorkville. Walking through The Annex today is hard to see any indication that a stream ever flowed here, except for the last 200 metres and even there it is hazy.

The Annex is primarily a middle class to mixed residential area with commercial strips along Dupont, Avenue, Bloor and Bathurst. Apparently, Simeon Janes came up with the name in 1886 when he was developing subdivisions on property he owned, roughly bounded by Bedford Road, Spadina Road, Dupont and Bloor. This area was not then in the City of Toronto, so in order to get urban services (water, sewers and paved roads), Janes applied to City Council to have his new subdivisions “annexed” by the city. He then began referring to them as “The Toronto Annex.” The name stuck. The city had annexed the Village of Yorkville in 1883, which extended almost to Bedford Road, so in 1887, City Council agreed to annex the Janes property plus an additional two blocks to the west as far as Kendal Avenue. A year later, in 1888, the bounds of Toronto were moved even further west to Lansdowne Avenue.

The name the Annex spread to blocks earlier known by other names. The part of the former Village of Yorkville that lay west of Avenue Road became known as Annex territory, and so did both the small plot between Howland and Albany Avenues south of Wells Street, previously called St. Alban’s Park and part of the much larger tract which had been known as Seaton Village. The Annex crept north of Dupont Street to the CPR railroad tracks as that made a natural border for the Annex. By the time the expansions were complete, the Annex was recognized more or less officially as that part of Toronto bounded by Bloor on the south, Bathurst on the west, the CPR on the north and Avenue Road on the east.

Much of the above information about the Annex came from “The Annex” by Jack Batten. This is a very readable account of how this area, subdivided in the nineteenth century for both wealthy and working class, white, mostly Protestant, Torontonians, became the upscale, cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic, trendy district it is now.

Tree Cover is better than average, but its trees are ageing and being replaced. It is known for its large Silver Maples. Storm water largely flows to Toronto Bay via overflow sewers, but a small amount probably still follows the Taddle valley now filled with cinders and ash. Sanitary sewerage flows to the Ashbridge’s STP via the Mid Toronto Interceptor.

To trace the course of the Taddle through The Annex, start at Dupont and Bathurst Streets, walk east to Albany Avenue and south to Wells Street. The lots along Albany in this block are much deeper than the norm. We were told that Albany was moved a bit west to avoid this swampy stretch of the Taddle. Some citizens living here, concerned about the loss of the great old Silver Maples, formed an action group called Grassroots Albany in the 1990s; they have had some success in stemming the tide. Walk east along Wells St. to Kendall Ave., passing a small park, named Sibelius Square in honour of the great Finnish composer. This park is on land purchased by the city.

Click here to see sewers. Double click to remove.

Grassroots Albany Where Edges Meet

Along the way, a side trip down Howland Ave. to see what was planned to be a great Anglican cathedral, St. Alban the Martyr, and is now a private school could prove interesting. The small park, St. Alban’s Square, south of this building, was given to the city by Diocese of Toronto. In one corner of this park is a garden called “Jacobs’ Ladder” in honour of the writer Jane Jacobs. Further south on Albany and behind the Bathurst Subway Station is Seaton Walk Parkette in which you can find one of Evegreen’s Where Edges Meet native plant garden.

Go south and east along Kendall to Spadina Road and south to Lowther Avenue then east several blocks along Lower to Bedford Road. Along the way: The north-west corner of Spadina and Lowther was the site of Timothy Eaton’s grand Annex house. At Huron Street, south-east corner, there is a small park. Taddle Creek flowed near the south edge of this park. At St George (NW corner) is the First Church of Christ Scientist. At one time Toronto was known as a City of churches: churches of many denominations were located in the Annex.

Take a side trip down St George to Bloor, where on the north east corner is located the York Club, at one time the mansion of George Gooderham, president of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Taddle Creek Park is found at the south west corner of Bedford Road and Lowther Avenue. This arose out of a dispute between the local ratepayers’ group and a developer. Taddle Creek flowed near the south west corner of this park.

Go south on Bedford. A slight dip may be discerned on Bedford just north of Prince Arthur Avenue and again on Prince Arthur east of Bedford which mark the course of Taddle Creek. Continue to Bloor and go east to Avenue Road. About midblock, there is a dip, stronger now, that marks Taddle Creek’s course. Park Plaza Hotel, Now called Park Hyatt, on the corner was built in the 1930s, but stayed empty for several years. Apparently, so I was told, there was some problem with “Quick Sand” and the foundations. Was this a consequence of the buried Taddle Creek?

Cross Bloor Street with the lights and go west past The Royal Ontario Museum, now in the midst of a major expansion, to an ornate gate and a set of steps going down into a small valley, the valley of the Taddle. This is the start of the University Reach.