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Danforth Toronto History

Carrot Common - 348 Danforth Ave

Captain George Playter, (a Loyalist officer), was granted lots totalling 500 acres in York Township, including some around the Danforth. The site of Carrot Common was part of the original grant to the Playter family in the late 18th century, who were among the earliest settlers in Toronto. John Lea Playter built a grand, three-storey brick house on the northeast corner of Danforth and Jackman Avenues, later torn down and replaced with a used car lot.

W.S. Giles opened one of the area's first car dealerships in 1919, and built another showroom in 1926 nearby. It wasn't long before entrepreneurs followed suit and there was a car lot on nearly every block along Danforth Ave. in the 1950s, it was used car lots. Giles' location remained a car dealership until about 1982.

The Big Carrot Natural Food Market, a natural food store and co-op business was founded in 1984, across the street from it's current location at Danforth and Hampton. They acquired the current site and the following year in October 1987, they along with other partners, opened the Carrot Common, named in tribute to the mall's most famous tenant (The Big Carrot Natural Food Market). This shopping center has over 15 stores and many offices and is a central and popular meeting place on the Danforth today.

(Photo of Danforth Ave. circa 1925 courtesy of The City of Toronto Archives.)

More? See Bloor Street Viaduct | About the Danforth | Tour .

Early Days

Danforth Avenue was quite an undertaking when it was first proposed by the government of Upper Canada in the late 18th century.

More than a road, the extension was intended to be a highway that would connect the City of York to the east. Danforth Avenue was named for contractor Asa Danforth, who built Queen Street and Kingston Road, and started work in 1799. It was officially built by the Don and Danforth Plank Road Company in 1851 to Broadview Avenue, as well as connecting to Queen Street East and Kingston Road.

Originally, Asa Danforth had been told to build a highway that would stretch from the Don River to the Bay of Quinte, but the province of Upper Canada was impatient at the delays, due to some harsh winters that interupted the work. Danforth abandoned the uncompleted project and returned to the U.S. the following year.

One area that benefited from Danforth\92s development early on was the Village of Chester, which lay on the western end of the highway where Danforth & Chester Ave. now sits. Development slowly began, with small businesses, taverns and shops opening up into the late 1880s. By the First World War, the area had quickly shifted from rural to commercial.

(Photo of Danforth Ave. fruit market circa 1930 courtesy of The City of Toronto Archives.)

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