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Since the original survey in 1793 by Sir Alexander Aitkin, commissioned by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, Queen Street has had many names. For its first sixty years, many sections were referred to as Lot Street. The first lots laid out in the new city of York (which would be renamed Toronto in 1834) were given to loyal officials who were willing to give up the amenities of modern cities such as Kingston to take up residence in the forests. These 40 hectares (99 acres) lots were placed along the south side of the first east–west road laid in York, Lot Street. In 1837 Lot Street was renamed in honour of Queen Victoria.
"Queen West" is local vernacular which generally refers to the collection of neighbourhoods that have developed along and around the thoroughfare. Many of these were originally ethnically-based neighbourhoods. The earliest example from the mid-19th century was Claretown, an Irish immigrant enclave in the area of Queen Street West and Bathurst Street. From the 1890s to the 1930s, Jewish immigrants coalesced in the neighbourhood known as "the Ward", for which Queen Street between Yonge and University served as the southern boundary. The intersection of Queen and Bay Streets also served as the southern end of a thriving Chinatown in the 1930s. From the 1920s to the 1950s, the area was also the heart of Toronto's Polish and Ukrainian communities. From the 1950s through the 1970s, many immigrants from Portugal settled in the area. Gentrification over the past twenty years has caused most recent immigrants to gradually move to more affordable areas of the city as desirability of the area drives up prices.
Like other gentrified areas of Toronto, the original "Queen West" —the stretch between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue — is now lined with upscale boutiques, chain stores, restaurants, tattoo parlours and hair salons. Perhaps the best-known landmark on this section of Queen West is the broadcast hub at 299 Queen Street West, formerly the headquarters of Citytv, now housing the broadcast operations of a number of television outlets owned by CTVglobemedia.
Have you ever visited the Mediterranean and hoped you could bring a piece of it back with you? How about the architecture in Europe and how it compares to our late 19 century homes here in Toronto? My families mother land being Italy, the differences are quite common although you would think that some homes in Toronto that were built in the late and early centuries would have some similarities to Europe with such a huge English influence. Aside from the typical Edwardian followed by Toronto's well known Victorian structures there isn't much else. Some would say that's a lot given that our country is still relatively young compared to others. I am always searching for that historic Toronto home that has been either restored to its original charm or something that is taken and redone with keeping the old mixed in with the new.
Vincent La Fiura
Toronto Real Estate, Condos, Lofts, Townhouses, MLS Broker
RE/MAX West Realty Inc.
Brokerage, Independently Owned and Operated
1678 Bloor Street West, 4th Floor
Toronto, Ontario. M6P 1A9.