176 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55046-323-3
DDC 971.3'541




Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


“For almost 150 years, Rosedale has been the home to Toronto’s
elite. It is the city’s oldest surviving suburb; it is also its
best-known and best-loved. The name itself evokes visions of winding
tree-lined streets, stately old homes and well-manicured lawns ... Even
the legend of how Toronto’s charming suburb got its name is enveloped
in romanticism. Mary Jarvis named her country estate ‘Rosedale’
after the many roses growing wild on her property.”

While Bess Hillery Crawford may get an argument from Forest Hill,
Cabbagetown, or even Parkdale residents as to whether Rosedale is
Toronto’s “best-loved” suburb, there is no doubt that the author
speaks from the heart. Crawford herself has been a Rosedale resident
since the 1960s, and it was while researching the history of her own
home that she formed the foundation for a book on the entire community.

From a facts-and-figures point of view, Crawford has done a fine job.
Her text is supported with more than 250 photographs of Rosedale past
and present plus numerous 19th-century maps and advertising broadsheets.
One chapter is devoted to street names, while another chapter lists
houses by their names. Still another chapter discusses major
architecture styles found in Rosedale and the architects who used them.
There is even a page that lists the 1999 market-value assessments of the
neighborhood’s most impressive estates. Like its subject, Crawford’s
coffee-table book is lovely to look at, well ordered, and dignified.

The only thing this book lacks is the essential human stories—gossip,
if you will—that make a community a true neighborhood. There are
several pages that describe how two generations of speculators named
Jarvis created Rosedale, but ultimately the book is more concerned with
property than people. Instead of being a flaw, this is perhaps yet
another Rosedale essence—streets lined with impressive facades but
very little humanity visible.


Crawford, Bess Hillery., “Rosedale,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024,