Toronto Neighbourhood Guide

East End


History of Riverside

The Village of Riverside first appears on an 1882 map of Toronto titled: Goads Insurance Plan of the City. The nearby Toronto "Base Ball Ground" is shown as a neighbourhood landmark. By 1889 an updated Goads map states that Riverside is now known as St. Matthew's ward and proclaims that it will eventually form part of Toronto. This was a foregone conclusion as Riverside had already been annexed by the City of Toronto in 1884. 

Prior to annexation Riverside was mostly working class with many people in the area employed by the nearby railway or one of the local market gardens. Some of the original labourers cottages have survived from this time. Annexation would usher in a new era of prosperity for Riverside. It was during this transitional time from village to city neighbourhood that many of the beautiful Victorian and Edwardian homes that line the streets of this neighbourhood were built.

The one negative impact of annexation for Riverside was a loss of identitiy. No longer a village it was now referred to as a municipal ward. Eventually Riverside would simply be referred to as South Riverdale, a part of the greater Riverdale beighbourhood. in 1980, South Riverdale businesses embraced a new identity as Queen-Broadview Village, one of Toronto's first business improvement areas.

In spite of the name change, the neighbourhood refused gentrification, while neighbourhoods all around it basked in a revitalization and became trendy and hip destinations. In 2005 the local B.I.A. decided to look to its past as a guidepost for the future and changed its name to Riverside. Riverside is a shining example of how respect for an areas history and architecture can revive an entire neighbourhood and turn its fortunes around.


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