Share Your Memories of the St. Clair West Neighbourhood

Did you participate in the centennial celebration of the St.Clair streetcar line and the Wychwood Barns back in the fall of 2013? If so, you probably remember the excitement it generated about our neighbourhood and its extraordinary history. The celebrations brought so many people together, including those who have lived in the neighbourhood for decades, raised families here, or ran a business. There were lots of former TTC employees, too, who remembered working in the Barns when they were home to the beloved 512. This remarkable event sparked many memories and inspired some to want to share their stories.

This was the inspiration and genesis of the St. Clair Oral History Project, a committee of the Wychwood Barns Community Association.

Ma Thrower's Soda Shop 1944

[Window of Ma Thrower’s Soda Shop (1944)] [Photo Credit: Doreen Boone]

A group of enthusiastic and committed volunteers have been meeting regularly since that time. To date, we have heard stories about coal-fired pot-bellied stoves heating the St. Clair streetcar in winter during the 1940s, ponies on Vaughan Road, and milk being delivered door to door by horse and wagon. One former resident joyously recalled her student days hanging out at Ma Thrower’s Soda Shop at St. Clair and Atlas. Others remember Mundingers, a popular local music store that sold instruments and was famous for its accordion collection. Another resident fondly recounted watching all-day movies at the Radio City Theatre at St. Clair and Bathurst for a grand total of 12 cents!

B38 - St Clair at Avenue Rd crowd boarding Civic carsscan    copy

[Photo Credit: City of Toronto Archives, Alfred Pearson, Date: 1916, from TTC Archive collection]

Early on in the process, we decided that a digital storytelling approach would be most effective. In essence, this means that we are recording audio interviews with residents who have stories to share. Some participants are also contributing photographs. In the end, we will create a website combining audio podcasts, photographs, and perhaps some videos to provide an interactive and evocative experience for the audience. This project will be an important piece of oral history for posterity. We also plan to include excerpts from the audio interviews on the Discover St. Clair app.

If you have stories to share or know anyone who would like to contribute to the St. Clair Oral History Project, please get in touch with us at stclair.oralhistory@gmail.com

We are looking for people who lived or worked in the Wychwood/St. Clair West area for ten years or more. We also welcome new volunteers who are interested in becoming involved with the project.

Melissa Paterson, April 1, 2015

WBCA logo (2)

 

 

 

Feature Image Photo Credit: [Marty Bernard  | TTC 4762, Oakwood and St. Clair, Toronto, August 26, 1970]

3 comments

  1. this is fantastic! I have grown up in this area.. The 60’s and beyond were most memorable to me! Our children have also grown up here! We purchased our home from my husbands parents,. The home was bought from the builder by his grandparents, making the family the only owners of this home!
    Our children are 4 th generation!…..now that’s history! Lol!
    Really enjoy looking at all the old pictures of St. Clair! Brings back memories! Wish we can get more!

  2. What a wonderful project to record an oral history of the Wychwood Barns and St Clair West! I look forward to hearing more descriptions and stories from “past times.” The stories will add much richness to living in this neighbourhood!

Leave a Reply

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.