Most of the cities I've lived in or visited in this country are
divided in some way. For example, the Moose Jaw of my memory, where I
grew up, seemed blessed with three divisions: Main Street, the
Golden Mile, ran North and South as a convenient border
between the West side and the East end; and, because it was an old
prairie wheat town, Moose Jaw also had a fine set of railway tracks —
less used than of yore —
but still running inevitably East and West. Those tracks stopped Main
Street at Union Station and divided South Hill from everybody else.
Toronto, because it is larger and older, has divisions forming
more complex and transient patterns. But there is one division of
deep and historic standing that will never disappear under layers of
development. It is the division created by the Don Valley,
definitively symbolized by the abrupt transformation of Bloor Street
into The Danforth at the Don Valley viaduct.
Colonel (Hon.) Asa Danforth —
American Revolutionary War veteran, leading citizen of Onondaga
County, and highway engineer —
might enjoy the irony. In 1797, he was contracted by the government
of Upper Canada (under John Graves Simcoe) to clear a road from the
outskirts of York (now Toronto) at King Street, East to the mouth of
the Trent River, near Trenton. He completed the work in a year and
the result was named The Dundas Road after a prominent British
Politics are eternal: Danforth's work was whispered to be
inadequate; as a result, he was unable to collect much of his $90 per
mile fee. Nonetheless, after he had returned, disgruntled, to his
home in New York State, he would eventually be immortalized by
citizens East of the Don River who named one of their principal
roads, The Danforth.
My purpose in this project is to create a living document of the
physical, commercial and human faces of the Dan. The shops and
their facades will be the obvious subject of many of these images.
But, the alley ways behind the Dan also tell a story on a
more anonymous theme.
Except for a very few years at the beginning of my life, I've
always been an East Ender. An East Ender I'm likely to remain. The
Danforth is only steps from my door. On it flows an unending river of
humanity that pursues its enterprises —
striving, succeeding and failing in all possible ways. The Dan is an evolving remembrance that seeks to honor those
strivings, successes and brave failures.