Hitting The Streets Of Cabbagetown

There is a neighbourhood in Old Toronto called Cabbagetown.  Once one of the poorest areas of the city, it is now a highly popular and desired location.

It is reported to have the largest number of preserved Victorian homes anywhere in North America.  This is quite remarkable considering how many of them were destroyed in the 1950s – primarily in the southern part of neighbourhood – to make way for a new housing development.

cabbagetown6

It is believed that the label *Cabbagetown* originated in the mid-1800s when there was a large influx of impoverished Irish immigrants into the area.  Several families often lived in one house and the front yards were used to grow vegetables – primarily cabbages.

Click on any image to enlarge.

It’s not surprising therefore, that this neighbourhood would be a rich source of heritage buildings.

For today’s Thursday Doors, I’m featuring 3 of these heritage buildings. Each is a semi-detached of similar style, circa 1880.  In each one I love the 3 storey construction, side-by-side front doors, decorative glass panels, and window transom.

I especially like this 3rd one with the detailing on the 2nd storey windows.

When I first arrived in Toronto in the late 1970s, Cabbagetown was not a desirable address. Although gentrification had started, it was still a very gritty and rundown neighbourhood. Fast forward 3 decades later and this section of northern Cabbagetown was anything but rundown.

cabbagetown5

Each one of these lovingly restored homes would be worth well north of $1,000,000.

There was one door however that I found during my travels in Cabbagetown that clearly did not fit the mold of the others … but it was still a door belonging to one of the heritage buildings in my search.

Chamberlain Terrace is a series of row homes built in 1876 with apartments on the upper floors and retail underneath.  One of those retail outlets was a hardware store that caught my attention with its hanging metal tubs and a row of ladders in increasing size.

cabbagetown5

I loved everything about this scene from the small overhang over the doorway to the little second floor balcony shaded by a tree.

I was completely charmed by this excursion into Cabbagetown and I have to give Jude a special nod since it was her request that I venture into this area.  Jude is a serial blogger and can be found at Travel Words, The Earth Laughs In Flowers, and Under a Cornish Sky. It seemed appropriate to me that I would make this excursion on her birthday and I’m certain I will be back to visit more of this lovely neighbourhood.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.  If you like doors, I encourage you to visit his site and follow the little blue frog to experience all kinds of doors from the elegantly simple to the simply amazing.

 

 

About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in Around Toronto, history, photography, Random Stuff, Things I Like, Thursday Doors, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

103 Responses to Hitting The Streets Of Cabbagetown

  1. paintdigi says:

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    Like

  2. Wouldn’t you have loved to have bought into here before it was gentrified? We’ve seen the same happen here in former working class suburbs where a once cheap place to live has become THE place to live. But I do wonder what the new and upcoming residents think of the moniker “Cabbagetown”. Do you think they’ll campaign to change it?

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  3. I’ve been out of town this weekend but am getting caught up on here now. What great pix, Joanne. I do love these outings of yours. I think those first double doors with the blue panels at the bottoms are my favourites!

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I hope you had a great weekend and got a chance to wield that camera of yours 🙂

      I found all these houses in Cabbagetown quite charming. I’m glad to see that even the newly built home are maintaining the original architectural style of the neighbourhood.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. RuthsArc says:

    Oh Joanne, thanks for this delightful tour. The buildings are wonderful.

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  5. Handsome doors, and that hardware store is charming to say the very least. I love it. 🙂

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  6. Interesting neighbourhood and always one of my favourites. Is the farm still there? Only way some city kids ever see farm animals.

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  7. This is definitely a neighborhood I would get lost in for a day or two. Just me and my camera!

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  8. What beautiful old homes! It is sad to think that other historical houses were destroyed for some (probably) boring square boxes. Like many cities, I would expect, we have a few neighborhoods with interesting names. Dogpatch and Birdland are two areas not too far from where we live. I’m not sure why that acquired those monickers, but you’ve inspired me to see what I can uncover about them.

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  9. badfish says:

    Cabbage town…ha, makes sense. Those first two photos are remarkable, and the house is awesome. I’m a “door” person, myself…I automatically photograph them.

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  10. What a brilliant name! Not much has changed with the Irish diet – bacon and cabbage and mash. There are still some front gardens dotted around the countryside in Ireland with heads of cabbage growing in them. In fact, ornamental cabbage is a popular plant here. 🙂

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  11. prior.. says:

    wonderful Joanne – and the fav for me is the one you loved with the “small overhang over the doorway to the little second floor balcony shaded by a tree” – and the ladders and pots and brooms – oh my!

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  12. Lovely neighborhood with an interesting history. “Cabbagetown” probably didn’t have a good connotation back in the old days for the impoverished Irish neighborhood. But, anyone of Irish descent like me, who loves corned beef and cabbage, would be proud of these resourceful folks.

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      The unfortunate Irish have had a rough history but deserve a lot of respect for their resilience.
      I’m pretty sure Cabbagetown was a derogatory term in its time. Not much has changed, I’m afraid,with the perception of newcomers and their unfamiliar practices.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Margie in Toronto says:

    I think that they are over for this year but the Toronto Historical Walks group (and sometimes the ROM) do a very interesting walk through Cabbagetown – they tell you a lot about it’s history and a lot about the different architectural design of many of the houses – I really enjoyed it. We met at Riverdale farm – next to the Necropolis (which is another very interesting walk) and we set out from there. Well worth attending if you get the chance next year.
    It was such a gorgeous day that a friend and I managed over 12,000 steps today. We met up at High Park (walked all through the park) – had lunch at the Grenadier Cafe – and then walked through the park to the Queensway and then crossed Lakeshore to the boardwalk. We then went west over the Humber bridge and west out to the manmade islands that are now all along the front of the condos. Went right out to the south edge and to the small beach – even saw a couple of herons. I know you’ve walked the Martin/Goodwin trail but not sure if you’ve been out to these islands – and if you haven’t been to High Park recently then it is well worth a visit. With it still being so warm the plantings are still lovely and even the fountains were still on.
    I live in one of the areas of town where bidding wars are common – Bloor/West Village (I just rent) and prices are completely insane! A few years back I lived in a duplex that was sold when the elderly couple who owned it had to go into a nursing home. It sold in 2 days for nearly $200,000 over asking and it needed at least another $200,000 worth of work done. Most of these homes were built in the 1920’s and NOTHING had been done – we even still had the old Knob & Tube wiring!

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Oh god, I’m so familiar with the knob-and-tube wiring! We’ve renovated 2 homes and had to redo all the electrical!

      I haven’t been out to the islands on the west end. I didn’t even know they existed!! I hope to be out on my bike that way within the next week. I’ll check it out!

      Someone – it might have been you – told me about Heritage Toronto and their tours. I’m now on their email newsletter and hope to take in some of their tours.

      Like

      • Margie in Toronto says:

        “Islands” in the west end are actually man-made ones from all the excavation dirt from the new condos – they are al linked by little bridges and there are benches and picnic tables and even a small beach at the farthest point south. You go west over the humber bridge and then just follow the bike path in front of all the condos – to your left are wildflower & butterfly gardens and as you get to where they are building the latest condos (just past The Firkin) you’ll head to your left. There is a memorial to the victims of the Air India Disaster as well so it is all quite interesting. Hope you enjoy the ride.

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  14. Sue Slaght says:

    Joanne I love your description of Jude as a serial blogger. True indeed I don’t know how she manages it all.
    So fascinating about the name of Cabbagetown. The buildings are so interesting. I must say it makes Calgary look very plain Jane indeed.

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Not only is Jude a great photographer, but she manages to juggle her photos between 3 separately themed blogs. I’m in awe 🙂

      Calgary has SOOOO many other great features to brag about … architecture just might not be one of them 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Rebekah M says:

    Such beautiful old buildings … nice they’re still standing, and being taken good care of.

    I think that’s often the case in many cities, nowadays … that formerly rundown neighbourhoods become attractive and affluent.

    Here in SJ there used to be a small neighbourhood named Bugtown. When Gerry was doing genealogy, and going through old newspapers in the library, he saw many notices, like obituaries and such, and people were listed in Bugtown 🙂

    Like

  16. jan says:

    Those poor Irish immigrants. They were pretty badly treated here in the US as well.

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  17. I love those buildings! I wonder if the term ‘Cabbagetown’ was coined because of the smell of those cabbages cooking…nothing quite like the smell of over boiled cabbage….eww!

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      The poor lowly cabbage does have a bad stench … as well as its little pocket-sized cousin the Brussel Sprout.
      Double ewww.

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      • Totally agree Joanne. I could not eat Brussel Sprouts as a child and my parents always said that I would like it one day. I really did hate it when they were actually right hehe – they were right about pumpkin and cooked tomatoes too but broad beans…yuck!

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        • Joanne Sisco says:

          I LOVE broad beans … always have, even as a kid.
          For the most part I prefer vegetables raw or cooked still quite crisp. My new favourite salad right now has kale and shredded brussel sprouts as the base. Yum.

          Liked by 1 person

  18. Su Leslie says:

    Gorgeous buildings and those entrance-ways …. Thanks for such an informative tour. It’s interesting how the cycle of property affordability turns. Even quite run-down workers cottages in parts of Auckland will sell for well over $1,000,000 these days. Sigh!

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I don’t know if you have the same issues, but there is a lot of controversy about foreign money entering the country and driving up property values.
      Vancouver added a hefty foreign ownership tax about a month ago in an attempt to cool off its hot market. They have actually had some success and now Toronto is looking at it as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Su Leslie says:

        We do. In fact I heard about your tax on the news a couple of days ago, with the suggestion that we should do something similar here. Home ownership in Auckland has basically become totally out of reach of most working people. And rents are high too, so it’s incredibly difficult for young people to ever get ahead.

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  19. I absolutely love the wonderful architectural detail and the doors are truly spectacular.

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  20. I hadn’t noticed doors till the sharp-shooter photographers in blogland began sharing doors. These are magnificent. So much character, wouldn’t you say?
    If Cabbagetown has 1M homes, what are Rosedale properties up to? It’s still old T.O., right, or has it been modernized? o_O

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  21. I love Cabbagetown. It is a lovely neighbourhood. Too bad it got so expensive…nice pics. (Suzann)

    Like

  22. Norm 2.0 says:

    I had always wondered how Cabbagetown got its name and now I know. Some lovely old homes there. Looks like a lot of TLC went into then. Gotta love when that happens – terrific post Joanne and have a great Thanksgiving 🙂

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Thanks Norm. I added the piece about the source of the name at the very last minute. I didn’t think anyone would be interested. What do I know, anyway? 😉

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too!! No turkey this year. Yay!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. joey says:

    Gorgeous doors, beautiful buildings! I’m always glad to see new life coming in to old places. This charming area is obviously blooming again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Dan Antion says:

    Thanks for the history you shared, Joanne. I really like the identical doors and the way the people have added individual touches with the paint scheme. I love the hardware store. My wife has several older metal tubs (not currently in use) hanging in her garden shed. I love the door that’s on the side of the bump-out section!

    Like

  25. I loved the first set of glass doors; so beautiful! The neighborhood looks lovely, and the second story covered balcony is a gem! I’m looking forward to more of your walks through here.

    Like

  26. These are gorgeous buildings. It’s nice when a run down neighborhood gentrifies a bit but it kind of stinks when it gets to a point where no one can afford to live there except rich people.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Ally Bean says:

    What a great place to take a walk. I can only imagine how much effort it’d take to restore one of these properties, but so wonderful when finished. Those bricks… those doors… love it all.

    Like

  28. I love the name “Cabbage town.”

    We have a similar area here in Columbus. Right now it’s a run down area, with lots of drug deals and questionable people, but the mayor has decided to turn this old area around and we can already see the improvement. Lots of old Victorian houses there as well. They have so much charm and so many possibilities. I love to see them restored and not boarded up.

    You took some great pictures.

    Like

  29. bikerchick57 says:

    That’s exactly the type of neighborhood I’d love to wander through. The older, restored homes are priceless and so very interesting. The doors are cool, but I really like the leaded glass window designs. So much fun and I suspect there will be additional posts about Cabbagetown in the future.

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Yes, I think you’ll be seeing more of Cabbagetown … as well as other parts of Old Toronto.
      Like you, I love walking through these kinds of neighbourhoods … tree-lined streets full of character homes.
      Leaded glass windows and covered verandas will always catch my eye!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Lynn says:

    I love every single one of these Joanne. So many beautiful neighbourhoods in various parts of the city. I have yet to explore hardly any of them so I am living vicariously through your discoveries!

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I know I’ve said it many times, but I’ve actually seen so little of the city in all the years I’ve lived here. I love having the time now to explore these areas – they’re just so interesting. I particularly enjoy having this list of heritage buildings which is helping me organize these outings.
      If you ever feel like playing hokey one day and want to go on an expedition into the city to explore, you know where to find me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  31. So interesting that they are all built of brick. I’m so used to the wooden victorian homes that dot the US. Beautiful buildings. I love that they’ve been preserved. It’s interesting how gardens in the front yard were considered signs of poverty for so long and now they are signs of good sense and creative land use 🙂

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  32. I’m also a fan of refurbishing old homes and buildings when feasible. I always wonder, though, when a poor area becomes gentrified, where all the people who were living there go. I doubt they became millionaires from selling their decrepit properties and moved somewhere nice.

    janet

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      What I found really interesting, Janet, was that both Cabbagetown and the Garden District which I visited recently still have active homeless shelters within the community.
      Because they were beautiful days when I was out wandering around, there were numerous people out in front of the shelters in groups chatting. Obviously I was very reluctant to take photos … it felt disrespectful .. so I didn’t.
      One shelter I passed in Cabbagetown had large signs at the front doors – NO ALCOHOL. NO DRUGS.

      If I wasn’t such a ‘fraidy cat, I might consider venturing into this world, but even for me, this is REALLY far from my comfort level.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Ohh, these houses with all the greenery and their doors, such a peaceful appearance. Just marvellous.

    Like

  34. Tippy Gnu says:

    I’d love to shop at that hardware store. Nice photos.

    Like

  35. Heyjude says:

    Well I didn’t have to wait very long! What fabulous buildings, love those doors! And the decorative brick and the lacy bargeboards, the porches, the columns. Your photos are wonderful and I thank you for the birthday present – such a treat to see this neighbourhood again. (I looked at my photos and they are dire – some bits and bobs of details but nothing as good as yours)

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Ah, thanks Jude. I’m glad you liked them. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with my photos, but they were the best I got 🙂
      Walking through this area really is a visual treat … although it could be frustrating as hell trying to find specific addresses. Who would guess that they’ve been renumbering houses? Who does that?!!

      Liked by 1 person

  36. I love it when old buildings are restored – they had so much more character than today’s construction. Very lovely neighborhood, thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Yesterday I was driving out of the city to an apple orchard and passed through a new sub-development. This was an area I used to cycle thr0ugh not so long ago that was farmland.
      This new sub-development reminded me of Cabbagetown with its Victorian style townhouses … but it screamed *newness*. I’m not sure what was missing that caused it to lose the charm its downtown cousin has … but I think the tree-lined streets and the soft shading created by trees had a lot to do with it.

      I’m a tree snob 🙂

      Like

  37. So nice to see the doors preserved. All too after I see heritage buildings with modern steel doors. Energy efficient but no character.

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I agree Ed … although I’m starting to see a lot of effort being made to produce modern steel doors with some artistic interest.

      What I can’t tell is whether these really are original doors, or recreated doors. Either way, an effort has been made to maintain the integrity of the period.

      Liked by 1 person

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