Toronto is a city full of history and interesting stories. So, to both longtime residents of our lovely city and newcomers that have come to study at U of T, did you know that:
- Front Street got its name because that’s where the waterfront used to be. The shoreline got moved down to Queen’s Quay because we filled the inner harbour for industrial development purposes.
- Yorkville wasn’t always the posh, high-end neighbourhood it is now. In fact, it used to be the place for hippies to hang out. A lot of artists got their start in Yorkville, and the first line in Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” (‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot’) refers to a spot in Yorkville. That particular parking lot has since been transformed into the Village of Yorkville Park (the ‘park’ with the giant artificial rocks).
- The King Edward Hotel at King and Yonge is supposedly the most haunted building in Toronto, since it was built on a hanging yard.
- In the past, you could discern a person’s social class by the way they said, ‘Spadina’. If someone said ‘Spa-dee-nah’, they were of the upper class, while people of the lower class said, ‘Spa-die-nah’. Since there were more people in the lower class than the upper class, the latter pronunciation is the one used today.
- When the ROM’s crystal was in its final stages of construction, staff members signed one of the beams that forms the structure, immortalizing themselves forever within the museum. And yes, Daniel Libeskind designed the crystal on a napkin which is now in one of a ROM’s storage facility.
- The glass facade of the AGO is supposed to looked like a tipped canoe. Why Frank Gehry chose such an inauspicious symbol is beyond me.
- Chinatown used to be a little bit east of where it is now. Streets like Elizabeth Street and Chestnut Street used to be part of Chinatown. The Lee Benevolent Association at Dundas and Chestnut is a vestige of Chinatown’s previous location.
- Even though it’s one of the official languages of Canada, French is only the 12th most spoken language in Toronto.
- The Distillery District features some of most well-preserved examples of Victorian industrial architecture in North America.
- The CN Tower no longer holds the record for being the highest free-standing building in the world, but it still holds the record for having the world’s highest wine cellar.
Feel free to add these tidbits to your Repository of Completely Useless Information (aka ROCUI, which is a lot more fun than ROSI).