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2005 06 15
Hidden Treasures Can Come Back to Life
“…a slum of Toronto, a shabby little park or baseball ground called Portland Square.” This is how historian Katherine Hale characterized the neglected public space officially known as Victoria Memorial Square in 1919. She was describing in “The Canadian Magazine” how an art-lover could find ‘The Old Soldier”, a splendid early sculpture by Walter Allward.

This description has remained accurate until now. Thanks, however, to a new approach to planning in King-Spadina adopted by City Council in 1996 (aka "The Kings") , a vibrant mixed-use neighbourhood is fast developing around this “little, neglected shrine of art”.

The area had looked like a winner in the 1830’s. The City laid out a grand boulevard running west from Clarence Square to Portland Street, where it met Victoria Memorial Square, and named it Wellington Place. It was designed to attract the local elite to build their homes, and was successful until in the 1850’s the railways came. Residential development fled, and the area (with the lone exception of the tiny Draper Street enclave) became commercial and industrial for 150 years.

Today, the rapidly growing population of “Wellington Place” (King-Spadina-Front-Bathurst) is taking the revival of neighbourhood life into its own hands, and what is old becomes new again. The ambitious 1830’s “plat” with an extra-wide landscaped Wellington Street linking the two squares is the basis for a new public realm plan which will serve as the centerpiece of this vigorous new mixed-use community.

[email this story] Posted by Ken Greenberg / Scott James on 06/15 at 10:53 AM

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