Spadina Avenue

From Academic Kids

Spadina Avenue is one of the most prominent streets in Toronto, Canada. Running through the western section of downtown, the road has a very different character in different neighbourhoods.

Spadina Avenue per se ends at Bloor Street; another street named Spadina Road continues north from this point, but with new street address numbering starting over at zero. For much of its extent, Spadina Road is a less busy residential road (especially north of Dupont Street and the railroad track underpass).


History of Spadina

Spadina Avenue is always pronounced Spa-dina; the Spadina House museum on Spadina Road is always pronounced Spadeena. Spadina Road, however, may be either Spad[aɪ]na or Spadeena. This was historically an economic class marker in Toronto, with the upper classes favouring the Spadeena pronunciation, but is less so today.

The name originates from the Ojibway word Ishapadenah or hill or sudden rise in the land.

Spadina was the original name of the street from Bloor Street to Queen Street (Toronto), built by Dr. William Baldwin from 1815 onwards. As for the southern portion , the street was Brock Street and remained so until 1884.

Street Description

The southern end of the street is at Queen's Quay right at the shore of Lake Ontario and runs north under the Gardiner Expressway and the railroad tracks. This area was the heart of Toronto's industrial area for most of the twentieth century, but in the 1970s most of the factories left. Most of the land south of Front was built from landfill out into Lake Ontario. The Rogers Centre, formerly known as SkyDome was built just to the east of Spadina in one vacant area and opened in 1989. Land to either side of Spadina have been turned into condo towers under the CityPlace project, while others remain vacant.

From Front Street Spadina runs along the western edge of the fashion district and clubs area, which also contains a number of office buildings.

North of Queen Street West, the Avenue passes through the Alexandra Park neighbourhood which is made up of a number of vast housing projects.

At Dundas Street and Spadina is the central road of Toronto's Chinatown, with a multitude of restaurants and shops catering to the Chinese community. The Chinese Spadina began in the 1970s and after the departure of Jewish Toronto (1920s to 1960s) from the area. Just to the west of the Avenue in this area is the famed Kensington Market. Shopsy's Deli, Toronto's famous eatery, was located on Spadina north of Dundas Street, but it later moved and burned down in the 1980s.

The intersection of Spadina Avenue and College Street is well known as the cheapest place to buy electronics in Canada with a number of independent stores in the area. It is also the location of the El Mocambo, where the Rolling Stones performed one night to a small audience that included the soon to be ex-wife of Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

North of College Street, the avenue forms the western border of the University of Toronto and is filled with a number of businesses catering to students and facilities such as the Athletic Centre and a number of student residences. The circular portion of street is called Spadina Crescent, which was a former home to Knox College.

North of Bloor Street Spadina Avneue give way to Spadina Road. Here the street passes through the upper middle class neighbourhood known as The Annex. For this stretch of the road the Yonge-University-Spadina subway passes underneath. South of Bloor the Avenue is served by streetcars. The street had originally been served by streetcars, but they were removed when the Toronto Transit Commission began to implement buses; the Harbord Line (Dundas to Harbord) was replaced by buses in 1966 when the Bloor Danforth Subway opened; tracks remained from College to King for turnback or detour purposes on the respective cross-town routes.

The 77 Spadina bus route inspired a song, "Spadina Bus", which became a surprise Top 40 hit in Canada for the jazz fusion band The Shuffle Demons in 1986. In the 1990s, however, the TTC rebuilt and reinstated the 510 Spadina streetcar line, which now runs largely in a dedicated right-of-way in the middle of the street.

Spadina Road is interrupted just north of Dupont Street by an escarpment, Davenport Hill. It continues atop this escarpment in front of Spadina House, one of Toronto largest mansions. Casa Loma is also nearby. The house and the street are named after the escarpment, the word ishapadenah meaning "hill" or "rise" in Ojibway. Spadina Road continues north through the wealthy neighbourhood of Forest Hill.

Spadina Road continues briefly north of Eglinton Avenue and ends at New Haven Drive (1100 Spadina Road - Northern Prepatory Junior Public School - Toronto District School Board).

In the 1960s city hall was planning to tear up the Spadina and most of the buildings on either side to construct the Spadina Expressway, to have a highway running straight into downtown. After a long public battle, with the opposition to the project led by Toronto urban writer Jane Jacobs and former Toronto mayor John Sewell, the plans were halted.

Most of the section known as Spadina Avenue is a six-lane historic urban arterial, with a speed limit of 50 km/h (30 mph) although it is unposted. The section known as Spadina Road is a two to four-lane collector road with speed limits alternating between 40-50 km/h (25-30 mph).

Buildings and Attractions

  • The Globe and Mail, 440 Front Street at Spadina.
  • Silver Dollar
  • 215 Spadina Avenue - James Roberston Building
  • Spadina Crescent--Knox College (1875-1914)
  • Wing On Funeral Home
  • Borden Building - formerly of Borden Dairy
  • University of Toronto Athletic Centre
  • Knox Church, 630 Spadina at Harbord
  • Native Culutral Centre
  • Scott Mission
  • Pho Hung at 350 Spadina Avenue - formerly Rotman's Men's Shops
  • 356 Spadina Avenue - formerly Labour Lyceum
  • Victory Theatre - later as Standard, Golden Harvest and lastly Mandarin; it is now a dollar store (stair portion only)
  • Chinatown Centre - former site of another Chinese mall from the late 1970s with a river and ornate bridges and demolished in the 1980s; formerly a car dealership
  • Dragon Mall - former site of a church; basement food court all but empty
  • Glen Ballie Lane - a short alley north of Dundas
  • Swatow Restaurant - 309 Spadina Ave
  • El Mocambo

North of Spadina

There is also another Spadina Road, a short street in Richmond Hill, running from 16th Avenue to Major Mackenzie Drive. Mainly a residental road, the origins of the street is likely due to the large Chinese population in the area.

See Also

External Links


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