Danforth Avenue

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"The Danforth" redirects here. For other uses, see Danforth (disambiguation).
Street signs from various eras for Danforth Avenue in Toronto
Map of Danforth Avenue (Red) and Danforth Road (Green)

Danforth Avenue (informally also known as the Danforth) is an east-west arterial road in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Its western end begins in Old Toronto from the Prince Edward Viaduct as a continuation of Bloor Street and continues through East York until intersecting with Kingston Road in Scarborough. West of Warden Avenue, Danforth Avenue intersects with Danforth Road, which runs diagonally north-east until south of Lawrence Avenue, where it continues as McCowan Road.

The Bloor-Danforth line of the Toronto subway runs just north of Danforth Avenue from the Don River as far as Main Street Station.

History[edit]

Danforth Road was named for contractor Asa Danforth Jr., who built portions of what would become Queen Street and Kingston Road. He started work in 1799 on Danforth's Road as (originally) a hundred-mile route from Scarborough to the Trent River. That road was completed 1801 but soon fell into disrepair and was largely replaced by the 1817 Kingston Road stagecoach route.

Danforth Avenue, named because it was created to connect Toronto to Danforth Road, was officially built by the Don and Danforth Plank Road Company in 1851 to Broadview Avenue, as well as connecting to Kingston Road.

In Scarborough, Danforth Road is a separated route that connects Danforth Avenue with McCowan Road. It is possible, therefore, to stand at the intersection of "Danforth and Danforth", i.e. Danforth Avenue and Danforth Road. Local references, therefore, are careful to note whether it is the Avenue or the Road being referred to -- although the term "the Danforth" always refers to Danforth Avenue, and never to Danforth Road.

Warden Avenue and Birchmount Road in Scarborough are two of the four routes to intersect with both Danforth Avenue and Danforth Road (the others being residential Scotia and Medford avenues). With other routes, the distinction is unnecessary; for example, "Victoria Park and Danforth" means Danforth Avenue, while "Kennedy and Danforth" means Danforth Road.

Previously, Danforth Road continued around the Highland Creek along local residential roadways now known as:

  • Painted Post Drive - two broken sections from Bellamy Road to Scarborough Golf Club Road north of Lawrence Avenue East
  • Military Trail - begins east of Scarborough Golf Club Road from Ellesmere to Morrish Road (does not connect with Kingston Road)
  • Colonel Danforth Trail - near Kingston Road and Lawson Roads to near Meadowvale Road and Lawrence Avenue East
  • Clonmore Drive - from near Victoria Park Avenue and Kingston Road to Warden south of Danforth Avenue
  • Highland Creek Drive - short street branching off from Colonel Danforth Trail and Kingston Road southeast and ends within Colonel Danforth Park

Route description[edit]

The west end of the road spans the Don River valley, the Don Valley Parkway and Bayview Avenue via the Prince Edward Viaduct. West of that bridge, the street continues as Bloor Street East.

The Bloor-Danforth subway line runs parallel to most of the road's route, offset to the north some 50 metres. The subway follows Danforth from the Viaduct west of Broadview Station to Main Street Station. Danforth GO Station, just off Main Street, takes its name from the avenue, where the commuter rail line intersects with it, on the Lakeshore East route. Danforth is served by Toronto Transit Commission buses only east of Main Street Station. Routes 16 McCowan and 113 Danforth serve the road during the day and 302 Danforth-McCowan run during the night.

Danforth Avenue was formerly designated as Ontario Highway 5 from the Don River (at Bloor Street) east to Kingston Road. Like many urban stretches of provincial roadway, it was formally decommissioned as a provincial route on January 1, 1998.

Points of interest[edit]

Many street signs along the western Danforth are in both English and Greek.
  • Danforth is home to Toronto's Greek community, also known as Greektown.
  • Shoppers World Danforth, a World War II munitions plant (and before that, a Ford Motor Company plant) converted into a shopping plaza in 1962.
  • Scarborough War Memorial, at the eastern end of Danforth Avenue at Kingston Road, once the junctions of former Highways 2 and 5.
  • Variety Village, an athletic facility for disabled adults and youth.
  • Birchmount Stadium and Scarborough Arena Gardens.
  • Bill's House of Wood - Largest wooden shoe shop in Canada.
  • Ralph Day Funeral Home was the Danforth's oldest business at 180 Danforth, east of Broadview. The Day family still owns the business; however, they recently closed it and moved it to larger facilities in neighbouring Thorncliffe Park
  • Trull Funeral Home located at 1111 Danforth Avenue is now the oldest business on the street
  • Square Boy Drive-In -Classic burger restaurant

On Christmas Eve 2001, the Woodbine Building Supply fire occurred. The hardware store was located at the intersection of Danforth and Woodbine. It was one of the biggest fires in Toronto's history, as 170 firefighters were required to bring the six-alarm blaze under control. The building was less than 50 metres (160 ft) from residences in the neighborhood and more than fifty families had to evacuate their homes on Christmas morning. One person was killed and another was severely disfigured. Police and insurance quickly suspected arson and several people have since been convicted.

References in pop culture[edit]

  • The band Rush reference the street in the instrumental "La Villa Strangiato" from the album Hemispheres (1978), in which section VII is subtitled "Danforth & Pape".
  • The Barenaked Ladies reference this street in their song "The Old Apartment" from the album Born on a Pirate Ship (1996) in the line "I know we don't live here anymore/We bought an old house on the Danforth". (This would in reality be difficult to do, as the Danforth is almost entirely composed of commercial buildings and apartments.)
  • The Only Cafe, a popular hangout famous for its beer selection, is the subject of a song, "Just about 'The Only' Blues", by the Canadian alternative rockers The Lowest of the Low.

Major intersections[edit]

"Taste of the Danforth" attracts one million visitors over three days every August.

Major streets in Toronto which intersect with Danforth Avenue (west to east):

Major streets in Toronto which intersect with Danforth Road (west to east):

References[edit]