Toronto History - Development in the 1900s



By 1854, long-distance railway lines included a route to the Upper Great Lakes built by the Grand Trunk Railway and the Great Northern Railway, and by the late 1880s the line was extended to the Pacific Ocean. In the late 1800s, and extensive sewage system was built and the streets were lit by gas lamps. Horse-drawn streetcars gave way to electric streetcars in 1891, with the formation of the Toronto Railway Company. By the early 1900s, Toronto built a new City Hall (now its the "Old" one), and Union Station was built to handle the growing city's passenger rail traffic. The public transit system became publicly owned in 1921 as the Toronto Transportation Commission (the "TTC"), which became the Toronto Transit Commission.

Cornell House Historical Plaque The Great Toronto Fire of 1904 destroyed a large section of downtown Toronto, causing over $10 million in damage, but the city was quickly rebuilt. The fire led to more stringent fire safety laws, a boom in stone construction, and the expansion of the city's fire department.

Downtown Toronto became home to ever-higher buildings, culminating in the CIBC building which was for a time the tallest building in the British Commonwealth. In the 1920s, Prohibition in Canada and the US banned consumption of liquor, but businesses were allowed to manufacture for export. The Gooderham & Worts distillery in Toronto's east end became the largest distillery in the Commonwealth, [presumably] selling much of its product to American bootleggers (more famously, the Bronfmans were doing the same with their Montreal-based Seagram's distillery).

Both Toronto and Scarborough received large groups of immigrants from Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia and China, as well as Jews from all over Eastern Europe. By the 1920s, Toronto's population and economic importance was second only to the much more established Montreal, though by 1934 the Toronto Stock Exchange (the "TSE") had become the largest in the country helping make Toronto the financial centre of the country.

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