The Annex: The Story of a Toronto Neighbourhood


100 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55046-401-9
DDC 971.3'541





Reviewed by Christine Hughes

Christine Hughes is manager, Policy Coordination, Developmental Services
Branch, Ontario Ministry of Community, Family and Children’s Services.


This book is a fascinating study of one of the fashionable urban
neighbourhoods in Toronto. Today, “The Annex” is recognized as being
bounded by Bloor Street to the south, Bathurst Street to the west, the
Canadian Pacific Railway line to the north, and Avenue Road to the west.
It is located in the heart of Toronto and situated near the sprawling
University of Toronto as well as such other landmark public buildings as
the Royal Ontario Museum.

Jack Batten has been a resident of the Annex since 1967, when he bought
the house on Albany Avenue that he still occupies. In the book, he
traces the history of the neighbourhood, outlining the district’s
roots from the 19th century (when the land was originally owned by
developer Simeon Janes and first “annexed” by the City of Toronto)
through to the present day (when its streets have become
much-sought-after addresses). More than 100 black-and-white photographs
depict examples of notable Annex homes, churches, public buildings,
schools, parks, and recent architecture.

Apart from describing its early history and important residents,
including retail emperor Timothy Eaton and Toronto architect E.J.
Lennox, Batten organizes chapters by themes with interesting titles such
as “The Annex Look,” “An Annex Cathedral and Other Institutions of
the Spirit and Mind,” “School Days, School Days,” “Green
Space,” “Murder!,” “The Literary Annex,” and “The Annex’s
Favourite Hangouts.” Batten also relates several examples that show
how Annex residents have rallied together to successfully oppose urban
developments (such as the Spadina Expressway) and allowed the area to
retain its unique pride and rich neighbourhood flavour.

Readers interested in urban issues, architecture, and social history
will want to add this book to their collection.


Batten, Jack., “The Annex: The Story of a Toronto Neighbourhood,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,