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Then & Now: You Won't Believe The History Of Toronto's Queen Street West & Ossington Area

A look back at what this Toronto neighbourhood looked like up to 170 years ago.

From housing a mental health facility in 1850 called the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, to an influx of coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, the intersection at Queen Street West and Ossington Avenue in Toronto has changed so much, and so frequently, that it’s almost unrecognizable today from even its recent past.

In this edition of Narcity’s Then&Now series, which brings Toronto’s past to life, Toronto Historian Morgan Cameron Ross takes a look back at an area that has been around since even before the formation of Canada.

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Ross outlines the transformations this neighbourhood has gone through - of which there are many - from “what some people considered an intimidating spot revolving around a sometimes draconian mental health facility, to the home of a rotating diaspora of newly arrived immigrants.”

The people and the physical appearance of the area aren’t the only changes that have taken place either, as Ossington didn’t get that name until shortly after the turn of the 20th century when it was renamed from Dundas.

From the opening of Trinity College at Trinity Bellwoods Park to the gentrification of an area that The New York Times has referred to as being “caught between the twin attractions of latte and graffiti,” Queen and Ossington have been a vital part of Toronto’s history.

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