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$20,000,000 village

The November 27 1953 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an article announcing a planned residential and industrial development near Eglinton and Victoria Park, to be known as Victoria Park Village.

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Like Don Mills, which had been started the previous year, Victoria Park Village was intended to be a self-contained community – the people who lived in the residential section of the neighbourhood would work in the industrial section and shop at the nearby shopping centres.

Victoria Park Village was not built according to this design. This might have been because Hurricane Hazel ripped through the Toronto area in 1954, which caused Toronto city planners to rethink the idea of building on low-lying flood plains. Or perhaps it was because the city planned to reroute Lawrence Avenue, which happened by around 1959. At any rate, the neighbourhood was developed differently, and eventually became known as Victoria Village.

Perhaps it’s just as well – the original plans called for houses to be constructed “at the lowest possible cost”, and for a sewage disposal plant to be “hidden away in the Don Valley”. The plant would have been to the west of Victoria Park Village, which meant the prevailing west-to-east winds would have wafted the smell of sewage over the unfortunate homeowners to the east.

Here’s an excerpt from a 1958 map of Toronto, showing the early stages of Victoria Village as it eventually developed:

Victoria Village 1958

And here’s the Google Maps view of the neighbourhood today:

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Some of the Victoria Park Village planning still survives: the area on either side of the railroad at the top left of this picture was zoned industrial, and is accessible from Railside Road and the north side of Carnforth Road. The stretch of Eglinton between Sloane and Victoria Park used to contain shopping centres, but they have been gone for some time now. The location of the planned sewage disposal unit is now part of the Charles Sauriol Conservation Area, which is designed to preserve the East Branch of the Don River.

And I suppose that it’s worth mentioning that Toronto Life magazine, in its recent ranking of Toronto neighbourhoods, ranks Victoria Village at 132 out of 140. I suppose it could be worse – the neighbourhood just to the north, Parkwoods-Donalda, ranks 139th.

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