Many residents are aware that Toronto was once known as “Muddy York” before streets were paved. In 1834, when York became the City of Toronto, rudimentary “paving” techniques began to be used starting with “Macadam” (gravel over packed dirt) with wood planks for sidewalks. By 1860, the Toronto Street Railway began using 6-inch deep cedar block to support track beds and it caught on – by the 1880s many Cabbagetown streets were cedar block. A laneway between Pembroke and George Streets just north of Dundas Street East was the last example of cedar block in Toronto, only ripped up in 1976. Starting in the 1880s and 1890s, cobblestone and brick began to be used partly due to residents digging up the cedar blocks to use as firewood! You can still see brick paving at the east end of Carlton Street between Sumach Street and Riverdale Park Road.
I couldn’t find a photo of cedar block use in Cabbagetown, but this photo is an example of newly laid cedar block on Harbord Street from Robert Street looking toward Spadina Avenue on November 1 1899.
Many thanks to local resident George H. Rust-D’Eye for the information on roads in the neighbourhood. It is out of print now, but used copies of his 1984 book Cabbagetown Remembered can still be found.
Cabbagetown Remembered (abebooks.com) (1984) – George H. Rust-D’Eye.
Photo: Toronto Archives
P.S. Our friends at the Bulletin wrote that cedar block was being *installed* as late as the 1970s!
Some in St. Lawrence too, laid in the 70’s believe it or not. Now covered😞
— TheBulletin.ca (@TheBulletinCa) February 3, 2017