Toronto Walk: Galleria Mall

Galleria Mall and other timeless wonders

Galleria Mall and other timeless wonders (Photo credit: simon.carr)

In my job I’ve heard of the terms “Greenfield Development” and “Brownfield Development” for underdeveloped rural land use and contaminated urban land use planning, but this week I read up on “Greyfield Development” in a 2007 paper from the University of Toronto. The paper defines greyfields as “large, developed sites that are due for redevelopment”. As a kid from Scarborough, I know what greyfield areas look like, and was shocked that over 5 years ago Galleria was a poster child for future solving the problem with grey.

The report describes the history of the site (Highlights mine), “The Galleria Shopping Centre was developed in the early 1970s as a single storey, enclosed mall. The mall is approximately 19,325 sq m (204,000 sq ft), surrounded by approximately 550 surface parking spaces. A McDonalds and a gas station are located at the eastern end of the site at the corner of Dupont Street and Dufferin Street. Zellers, Price Chopper, PharmaPlus and LCBO anchor the centre, supported by a variety of smaller, local tenants. On the edge of an existing residential neighbourhood, with obsolete industrial uses to the north, the site has been seen as possessing substantial redevelopment potential since the early 1980s, including being recognized in both the old Toronto Official Plan and new Toronto Official Plan as a site for a “large scale redevelopment”. Applications to redevelop the mall were submitted by the owner, Marca Development Corporation, in 2002.”


Today,  this isn’t in existence, but we’re going to pretend it is. While TorontoWalking today, we’ll be imaging what the redevelopment of Galleria, and the proposed new urban amenities for the Wallace-Emerson by spacing, would be like; what impact, improvements, and challenges face a grey region and how do we prepare for them?

For those who are interested:

More about the Galleria development plans,

A Great Series of Posts  on Galleria Shopping Centre by “a bit more detail”

Galleria’s Twitter Account:

For Galleria, it appears that better Master planning of the site, a clear vision (with community buy in and engagement), and strong public consultation are critical to transform this greyfield into the true, profitable, neighbourhood hub it was dreamed to be.

Torontowalk: The Junction

One of the most interesting areas, sought after locales, and generally awesome place in the City of Toronto, is the Junction. and today: we’re walking it. Junction is one of those areas – bigger than the strip with a deep history and quickly gentrifying – that I love exploring. Not my first walk in the area, but the first TorontoWalk!

“The Junction” is where the Canadian Pacific Railway east-west mainline crosses the Canadian National Railway tracks in the west end of Toronto. Prior to the rail line and before even the European settlement, there were two native trails which intersected in the area. Very much like the Davenport area, the space that is now the Junction was primarily rural up until the 1870s. From 1857-1876, much of it was the site of the Carleton Race Course – a tract of land that became the headquarters of the Toronto Turf Club and hosted the first running of the Queen’s Plate on June 27, 1860. The first four Plate races were run here.Following the arrival of the railways in the 1880s, the old racetrack and surrounding area were developed by Daniel Webster Clendenan, and the two main straightaways of the track are now High Park Avenue and Pacific Avenue. (For some great maps head over to Junction Craft Brewing)

WestTorontoMap1886The Village of West Toronto Junction was founded in 1884 and in 1889, it merged with the nearby villages of Carleton and Davenport to become the Town of West Toronto Junction. Quickly growing to the Town of Toronto Junction in 1892, then the City of West Toronto, before it was amalgamated with the City of Toronto in 1909.

Primarily a manufacturing community, the foundries, mills, wire factories, and industries of the 1800s are still vaguely present today. Also present, the influence of early immigrants — Irish Catholics who moved from poor, crowded tenement housing in other areas of the city, immigrants from English industrial cities such as Birmingham and Manchester, and then from non-English speaking countries, including Italians, Poles, Macedonians and Croatians.


Like any city, the Junction has its booms and busts – the massive industrial upheaval, followed by the Long Depression where construction ground to a halt and factories closed, it was amid the mounting civic debt and depression that the Junction was annexed in 1909. It’s no wonder, then, that the Junction (just before amalgamation) had a reputation. Booms result in the growth of a population, the need for entertainment, the building of bars on every street corner; busts meant heavy drinking, as was the case with many railway and factory workers’ towns. By 1903, alcohol was such a serious problem that the town voted to go dry in 1904. This bylaw was not repealed until 1997. It was the last area of Toronto to do so.

For more information on the prohibition – a great read – go here

So, that’s where we’re walking today. Hope you can follow along, or join in from wherever you are. We may even stop by the Indie Alehouse and Junction Craft Brewery, my favourite little bits of irony,

Changing Torottawalk

With the “Ottawa” component of your favourite walking portmanteau moving to Toronto: I’m looking to rename the weekly walk around the city. We’re now TorontoWalk and tomorrow we’ll be walking at 1:00 in a new area of the city! 


Torottawalk: High Park @ 1:00

Painting of Colborne Lodge, Toronto, Canada, 1865.

Painting of Colborne Lodge, Toronto, Canada, 1865. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After accidentally heading to High Park for the cherry blossoms, I became dedicated to the idea of returning for a Torottawalk. The park is huge, and I’m hoping to see High Park’s Grenadier Pond – a one-of-a-kind geological feature and tell the perplexing story of how it got it’s name.

But how did we get High Park in the first place?

John and Jemima Howard purchased a lakeside stretch of land – from Lake Shore Road to Bloor Street – in 1836, four years after immigrating to York (Toronto) from England. They called the property High Park because of the height of the hill overlooking Humber Bay and Lake Ontario. In 1873 the Howards gave their country property to the City of Toronto to be maintained as public parkland, over the next 3 years, the city took over 120 of the Howards’ 165 acre estate – all but Colburn Lodge, essentially. The Howards retained ownership of Colborne Lodge and the surrounding 45 acres until John’s death in 1890.

Colborne Lodge – their home – is now open to the public as a historic house museum containing many of the Howards’ original belongings. As avid gardeners, the Howards filled their land with gardens – in John Howard’s 1883 diary he recorded that he had counted 10,993 spring bulbs in bloom- and had farmed and rented portions of the land to tenant farmers.

In an 1873 letter to the Globe, Howard wrote “In my donating High Park to the City of Toronto it is distinctly stated that …the grounds are to be kept select, for the wives and children of the mechanics and the working class generally, also the Sunday School children and the different charities picnics… [and that High Park be held by the City as a] Public Park for the free use benefit and enjoyment of the citizens of the City of Toronto forever.”

Since that time The City Parks Department has initiated study after study to rehabilitate and maintain High Park and the unique ecological factors; defining transportation and traffic flow, safety and recreation, the natural environment and virtually all aspects of park use, development and maintenance and has since been declared an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI).


For more information on High Park, check out High Park Nature