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Harbouring The Past: The Unusual Creation Of Toronto’s Harbourfront

"The lakeshore downtown we see now is not natural."

Contributor

While Torontonians may know the city's Harbourfront as a leisurely destination with parks, restaurants and art spaces along the water with condos flanking the north side of Queens Quay, it used to look completely different.

And as Toronto historian Morgan Cameron Ross describes in this episode of Then&Now, "the lakeshore downtown we see now is not natural."

About a hundred years ago, "the city and federal government decided to fill in the harbour to extend the available space south of the ever-growing downtown," explains Ross.

But when the extra space was created using dirt that was dredged up from the lake, wharves and objects located there were simply covered up. "Many boats, as well as other material, are still there," says Ross, "including over a century of waste that people discarded there."

It would not be until decades later that the waterfront area began to resemble its current form when a revitalization effort in the 1970s saw the area transition away from its industrial character.

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