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2005 03 30
imageThe history of Spadina Road between Dupont and Davenport tells a remarkable story of urban development, of social and political history, of poetry and personal tragedy.

This section of road, south of the IROQUOIS Escarpment – the shoreline of a vestigial lake that is now Lake Ontario, was occupied by more than one DAIRY: Acme, Farmer’s and Sealtest. Just west, at the corner of Bathurst and Davenport, currently occupied by public transit service yards, commercial gardeners marked the landscape with FURROWS to grow food for the local community. William Baldwin, who built and lived in Spadina House, was responsible for the SURVEY of Spadina AVENUE, Toronto’s original grand avenue. Sir Henry Pellatt, Baldwin’s neighbour at his eccentric Casa Loma, was president of the Toronto Power Company which provided both the physical and political POWER that contributed to the growth of the city. Documents that record these and many more local histories are housed in the Toronto ARCHIVES, located on the east side of Spadina, south of Davenport.

Every city has stories to tell. Every building of every city has stories to tell. Every street of every city has stories to tell. Every corner of every city has stories to tell.


Many indigenous settlements were located on the sandy, well-drained soils of the former shoreline of what is now called Glacial Lake Iroquois. This was an ancestral Lake Ontario but much larger and deeper; the lake level stood some 45m above the modern lake.

The inland margin of this large lake is recorded by a bluff such as the one below Casa Loma which can be traced around much of Lake Ontario. Why was Glacial Lake Iroquois much higher than Lake Ontario? At the time, about 12,000 years ago, the edge of the last ice sheet lay across the outlet of the lake basin and dammed up Glacial Lake Iroquois. As the ice dam finally withdrew and the last Ice Age came to a close, the lake drained to a new lower level – what is now called Lake Ontario.

Our prosperous modern city is built across much of the floor of the former lake.

Professor Nick Eyles
University of Toronto
[email this story] Posted by Brad Golden / Lynne Eichenberg on 03/30 at 08:37 AM

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