Need for playgrounds in ‘the Ward’ (1924)

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From the Toronto Star, February 21, 1924

◊ Note: this article refers to an undated clipping from the Star and harps on the theme of the crucial need for playgrounds where the many children of the Ward can safely play. It also refers to the “old Waterworks,” but at present I don’t know much about where precisely these waterworks were situated. There was a parallel movement to establish green spaces in other large urban centres such as New York, where city officials created Central Park. In Toronto’s ‘Ward,’ children could play in the Elizabeth Street schoolyard or venture further afield, and cross University Avenue, in order to get to Queen’s Park. Most Ward children did neither, playing in the local streets of the Ward instead. — B.G.

Mr. Beverley Jones, enclosing a clipping from The Star, says in a letter to the board of control: “I see by the enclosed notice that it is proposed to sell the land belonging to the city between the house in which I live and Huron street and up to Cecil street in stead of getting rid of the houses and using the land for playgrounds for numerous children playing in the streets.

“Last summer we had a beautiful little girl killed with a motor rushing through the street, nearly opposite this house. ‘Rachel’ is still weeping for her child and refuses to be comforted. Shortly after I stood at the corner of D’Arcy and Huron streets and counted sixty children playing in the street.

“When I came to live in this house in 1881, the land between it and Huron street on the west was vacant, owned by the city and consisted of a big hole in the ground which had formerly been a reservoir; a port of the old Furness water works acquired by the city.

“The land was not worth much in 1870 when the city took over the waterworks. Now our assessment has gone to $150 a foot and holders are asking $300 more. This has arisen from the influx of God’s ancient people, the Hebrews, who have come here as they came out of Egypt over 3,000 years ago, when they frightened Balak so that he wished the prophet Balaam to curse them; but he blessed them and they have now come in here with their sterling virtues and have enriched us all, particularly land owners. We owe them this space for their numerous children to play in.” ♦

Photo: Playground at Elizabeth Street School (later Hester Howe), 1913, courtesy City of Toronto Archives.