Etobicoke heralded as cultural ambassador of Toronto

by | Mar 27, 2015 | News

Eric Wickham
News Reporter

From its beginnings as an agricultural hamlet to a bustling suburb of Toronto, Etobicoke has developed in its own way.

The City of Toronto recognized this unique and diverse part of the city by announcing Etobicoke as its 2015 Cultural Hotspot.

“The idea is that Cultural Hotspot is shining a light on arts, culture and community in Etobicoke,” said Andrea Raymond-Wong.

She said Toronto’s Cultural Hotspot was launched by the city of Toronto in 2014 and chose southern Scarborough as the neighbourhood to spotlight.

Raymond-Wong said the Cultural Hotspot project helps form new ideas and partnerships within a community.

She said the project helped foster 24 new partnerships and 100 youth mentorships in the arts in Scarborough.

“The idea comes from the Creative Capital Gains report, there should be a rotating cultural hotspot to highlight the different neighbourhoods in Toronto,” said Raymond-Wong.

More than 20,000 people attended 46 different projects affiliated with the Cultural Hotspot Project in Scarborough, according to the city.

Raymond-Wong said she hoped the Cultural Hotspot would have similar success in Etobicoke.

The boundaries of this year’s Cultural Hotspot will be Dixon Road to the north, Lake Ontario to the south, Park Lawn Road to the east and Browns Line to the west.

Several hundred thousand Canadians call Etobicoke home, but this was not always the case.

Denise Harris of the Etobicoke Historical Society said in 1798 the entire population of Etobicoke consisted of eight people.

“It was mostly one house, we think,” said Harris.

She said there were four men listed on the census and three had the same surname.

Harris also remarked that Etobicoke wouldn’t exist without John Graves Simcoe. He gave 100 acres of land to new Canadians to anyone willing to cultivate this land. This drew many Europeans and Americans to Upper Canada.

She said most of the land in Etobicoke was owned by 1812, although many people sold their land lots as soon as they could.

Harris said by the late 1800s most of the land in Etobicoke was cleared and free for farming.

“Etobicoke had very good soil for farming,” said Harris. “Central Etobicoke was known as one of the best growing areas in the province.”

After the Second World War, Etobicoke transformed to beginnings of the suburb that it is now from an agricultural community.

“A little thing happened called the baby boom,” said Harris.

Harris said developers like Rex Heslop are responsible for modernizing Etobicoke in the post-war era.

For its part, Humber will be highlighting local artists beginning on May 22 until July in collaboration with Cultural Hotspot at Lakeshore campus L-Space Gallery. The exhibit is titled Visualizing Absence.

The work will be presented by artist Anne Zbitnew and students from Humber’s Art Administration program.