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You may be thinking, why would I take this walk on Mother’s day?
In the late 1800s, Miss Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948), of Philadelphia, began a letter-writing campaign in the US. This campaign made Mother’s Day a national holiday. While Jarvis in Toronto is named for Samuel Jarvis, I thought this would be as good a time as ever to explore the street because my Mum loves a good murder mystery with political intrigue.
Originally called New Street, Jarvis was a segment of the original lots in Toronto. It was quickly developed after Jarvis was forced to sell Hazel Burn to pay £4000 that he owed the government due to an investigation that accused him of bribery, fraud, religious discrimination and many more crimes following a debauchery-ridden, entitled life. If you get a chance to read an in-depth biography of Jarvis, I recommend it.
So far, one of my favourite histories of Jarvis is found on a School Site, which vehemently states,
The school was named after the street. Take note of that, please—after the STREET!
It was not named in honour of William and Samuel Jarvis. They did give the name Jarvis to the street, and it might be natural to believe that the school was given the name in their honour. But it was NOT! It was named after the street, definitely not the men.
In fact, William and Samuel were such nasty pieces of work that a school would have a hard time being proud of them. You can read lots of about them later in this document and in other documents linked to this one. But for now, let’s finish the story of how the school took on the name of its street.
When the lot was first purchased from Jarvis, it was well-known before the 1940s, as possibly the most beautiful in all of Toronto, lined with the mansions of some of Toronto’s wealthiest families.
However in 1947, the street changed when many of its trees were ripped out to widen it for increased car traffic. There’s a lovely photographic tour of Jarvis that shows the drastic difference – while foreshadowing the bikelane troubles that the “war on cars” brought upon Jarvis in this most recent mayoralty.
Along the way on today’s walk we’ll see bits of Ryerson University, the Rogers Building, Allan Gardens, 222 Jarvis Street, the Consulate General of Indonesia, St. Lawrence Market, and St. Lawrence Hall.
Oh, also, if you’re ever on Jarvis and see a QR code: Scan it, it will take you to a webpage containing a video clip that explains that section of the street, a little historical information, and a few images.