Becoming Grand Again : Sherbourne Street

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Here are some photos that I took last month on a street called Sherbourne.

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While it is a streetcar ride to the east from where I live now, it is a street I know very well, as this is the first part of Toronto I got to know well.

I had a summer job here, beginning in high school and throughout my 4 years at university. And it is also the street on which I had my first apartment after graduation.

So, I spent my first times in Toronto by myself walking along this very street.

Back then this was what would be called a bad part of town and dangerous to walk in after dark, however having only been there during the daytime for the the summers I had worked there, I hadn’t fully realized this before signing a year-long lease for a tiny but clean apartment in a newly renovated building on the corner of Wellesley Street.

After moving in I, more or less, became confined to that apartment after the sun had set. I had chosen it because it was affordable and I had student debts to pay and a job earning minimum wage. Also I had thought I knew the area.

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That’s the building I lived in

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And that is the Home For the Aged I worked in for 6 summers

It wasn’t long before it became clear that I had to find someplace else to live. I ended up moving after the year was up and have only been back to Sherbourne Street a couple of times since then.

So, when an appointment took me to that part of town recently, I took the opportunity to walk through my old stomping grounds.

I saw that the area appears to have changed a lot.

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Back when I lived there, without having anything to compare it to, I hadn’t fully appreciated the magnificence of the mansions that were interspersed among the newer (but still old) buildings on Sherbourne Street. These huge homes were built in the 1880s, (when the area I live in now, in the Queen Street West area, was still a farmer’s field) and clearly this was a street that was originally home for the wealthy and well to do.

When I lived there these mansions were dark and shabby and if not abandoned and taken over by squatters, were mostly used as rooming houses. There were prostitutes standing on the corners and Johns cruising the street. One afternoon I was standing on the street waiting for a friend and roughly told to move along by a prostitute because she thought I was honing in on her business.

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This one looks like it is in the process of being saved

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This is called The James Cooper House and has been incorporated into the new condo tower you can see behind it. It was moved 60ft for this building project and weighing 600 tons was the largest home moving effort in Canada’s history. I wish I had crossed the street to get a better shot.

Now many of the beautiful mansions look like they have been refurbished and brought back to their former glory and it no longer looks like a neighbourhood in which a young woman would be afraid to walk at night.

Thanks for stopping by.
xo loulou

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