Cabbagetown: The Story of a Victorian Neighbourhood


96 pages
Contains Maps, Index
ISBN 1-55028-579-3
DDC 971.3'541




Photos by Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Julie Rekai Rickerd is a Toronto-based broadcaster and public-relations


Archival material and attractive present-day photographs are combined in
a book that traces the physical and social evolution of Cabbagetown.
This eclectic Toronto neighbourhood took its name from the
cabbage-filled gardens that were an earmark of workers’ cottages at
the time of the first period of settlement in the 19th century.

In the Victorian era, vast tracts of land beside Toronto’s Don River
gave way to such rising industries as breweries, slaughterhouses, and
soapworks. The Irish, Scottish, and English immigrants who made up the
workforce required not only housing, but also churches, hospitals, and
schools; they received them in the form of Little Trinity Church,
Toronto General Hospital, and the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse. As
businesses prospered, their owners built great estates for themselves in
the neighbourhood.

Cabbagetown was deeply affected by the Depression and two world wars,
but it survived. After World War II, much of the community was
demolished to make way for urban redevelopment. Municipal politicians
David Crombie, Bill Kilbourn, and John Sewell, combined with the forces
of yuppie gentrification, saved enough of the neighbourhood to keep its
flavour intact.

Cabbagetown today is a hybrid of rich and poor. Thrift and junk shops
share the streetscape with trendy boutiques and restaurants; beautifully
restored residences stand alongside run-down subsidized housing.
Restoration is ongoing and environmental task forces are cleaning up the
surroundings of what at one time was called “North America’s only
Anglo-Saxon slum.”

This valuable contribution to Toronto’s history features walking
tours that will be welcomed by those wishing to explore the city’s
social and architectural past.


Coopersmith, Penina., “Cabbagetown: The Story of a Victorian Neighbourhood,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024,