Once home to industrial warehouses, Liberty Village has blossomed into a hip community filled with furniture shops, restaurants, rock climbing and gourmet coffee. Located near King Street, just west to Dufferin, the neighbourhood wasn’t always booming with condos and townhouses as it looks today. Redeveloped in the last decade, the area that once housed buildings like the Irwin Toy Factory and a Central Prison, now gives way to residential development and its own community of young professionals and families.
Here are three things you probably didn’t know about this unique and historic neighbourhood.
What’s in a name?
Liberty Village is named for Liberty Street, a main artery in the neighbourhood, and was once defined by carpet factories, food warehouses and manufacturing. Back in 1916, you could find the Russell Motorcar Company that manufactured bombs during World War I (it’s now a parking lot). Here’s a few other interesting facts courtesy of the Liberty Village BIA.
Before it was Lamport Stadium.
Long before it was Toronto’s soccer and field hockey arena, Lamport Stadium was the site of the first women’s prison in Canada. The Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women was around from 1872-1969, a treatment centre where female offenders spent their days cooking and sewing. If you go to the stadium today, you’ll find the superintendent’s original red-brick house at the corner of King West and Fraser.
A jail at King West and Strachan.
Back in 1873, the intersection near King Street and Strachan Avenue was the site of the Toronto Central Prison–––a maximum security jail to some of the city’s worst male criminals. The prison closed in 1915 and while most of the building was demolished, the chapel still remains, slated to be redeveloped. If you’re in the neighbourhood, the historic brick prison chapel is worth checking out.
Photo via Facebook, Liberty Village.
Prison photo: Wikimedia by Diosnoche.
Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women photo: Wikimedia by GTD Aquitaine.