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The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood

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The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood

Editors Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg

 

The story of the growth and destruction of Toronto's first 'priority neighbourhood.'

From the 1840s until the Second World War, waves of newcomers who migrated to Toronto – Irish, Jewish, Italian, African American and Chinese, among others – landed in 'The Ward.' Crammed with rundown housing and immigrant-owned businesses, this area, bordered by College and Queen, University and Yonge streets, was home to bootleggers, Chinese bachelors, workers from the nearby Eaton';s garment factories and hard-working peddlers. But the City considered it a slum, and bulldozed the area in the late 1950s to make way for a new civic square.

The Ward finally tells the diverse stories of this extraordinary and resilient neighbourhood through archival photos and contributions from a wide array of voices, including historians, politicians, architects, story-tellers, journalists and descendants of Ward residents. Their perspectives on playgrounds, tuberculosis, sex workers, newsies and even bathing bring The Ward to life and, in the process, raise important questions about how contemporary cities handle immigration, poverty and the geography of difference.

The Ward shines a light on one of Toronto's most historically significant and most forgotten neighbourhoods. Instead of a straight history, the book's editors opted to present the Ward through multiple short essays, each with its own unique point of view. The result is a fascinating and varied look at an area that once concurrently defined the city and acted as its biggest shame. As a result of the Ward's eventual razing, there are few artifacts left to teach newer generations about this important part of Toronto's history. This book helps correct that.’

– 2016 Toronto Book Awards Jury Citation

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