This week we reintroduce a recurring feature called Then and Now, digging back deeper in time than our weekly Throwback Thursday articles for glimpses into the Toronto of past generations. 

Today, we kick things off with a trip back to 1936, where a new bus loop had been proposed at the intersection of Otter Crescent and Avenue Road, just south of Lawrence Avenue West. The loop was built in the following months, and boasted a Modernist bus shelter designed in consultation with John B. Parkin Associates, who would later go on to design the stations for Toronto's first stretch of subway. The 1936 view below, looking north from Otter Crescent at Avenue Road towards Lawrence Avenue West, features a sign advertising 'modern homes' for sale. In the background, Havergal College stood alone, constructed just ten years prior to replace a constrained Downtown campus.

Looking north from Otter Crescent at Avenue Road, 1936, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 11638

Housing rapidly filled out the previously agricultural area a decade later in the postwar boom years, with the bus loop serving the area until the 1970s, at a time when the then-named Nortown West 61 TTC route was still plied by trolleybuses and powered by overhead wires. The route would be combined with the northern stretch of the #1 Armour Heights bus and renamed to 61 Avenue Road in 1992, the same year that diesel buses replaced the electric trolleybus fleet.

Otter Loop and shelter, 1971, image by Robert McMann, courtesy the John Knight and Transit Toronto collections

Deemed surplus property by the TTC, the 4,202 square foot/0.096 acre site was put on the market in 2006, and despite a grassroots campaign to preserve the buff brick and glass shelter, the site was acquired by the City for a new parkette. The shelter was demolished and the irregular site footprint was utilized to create a heart-shaped public space, aptly named Heart Park, completed in 2012. The main building of Havergal College remains visible in the image below, partially obscured behind trees.

Looking north from Otter Crescent at Avenue Road, 2020, image by Jack Landau

You may leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

* * *

UrbanToronto has a new way you can track projects through the planning process on a daily basis. Sign up for a free trial of our New Development Insider here.