Welcome to Walk Liberty!
Walk Liberty is an interactive, online portal that showcases the rich history, public spaces, and dynamic and eclectic businesses of Liberty Village. Get outside, explore the neighbourhood and support your local businesses.
This is one of ten stops along a walking tour of Liberty Village.
Two hundred years ago, Liberty Village formed part of the Garrison Reserve, a vast tract of empty land used by the British colonial military for fortifications, training, and exercises. Toronto, to the east of Bathurst Street, had only a few thousand residents when it was incorporated as a city in 1834. It was not until the 1850s, with new transportation links and advances in industrial technology, that things changed.
Today, Liberty Village is, quite literally, shaped by the railways. Toronto’s first rail link, the Ontario, Simcoe, and Huron Railway, opened in 1853, connecting the city with Newmarket, Barrie, and Collingwood, crossing Strachan Avenue just to the north of this spot. The Great Western, Grand Trunk, Credit Valley, and Toronto, Grey, and Bruce Railways soon followed, creating the triangular neighbourhood.
The proximity of these new connections to Western and Northern Ontario, Michigan, New York State, and Western Canada with the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, made this area especially attractive to new industries. To the north was the Massey Manufacturing Company, which built farm equipment. Nearby was the Toronto Steel, Iron and Railway Works Company. Located right here on Strachan Avenue was the John Inglis Company, which made household appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, and washing machines.
You may be most familiar with the Inglis name because of a famous billboard next to the Gardiner Expressway that flashed short, inspirational messages. Drivers stuck in traffic would read quirky sayings such as “Destiny is not a matter of chance… it is a matter of choice” or the “The greatest remedy for anger is delay.” Though Inglis was purchased by Whirlpool in 1987, with the plant closing in the early 1990s, the billboard remained until 2014.
Learn more about the Inglis factory, including the Canadian inspiration for the wartime feminist icon “Rosie the Riveter,” at Liberty Village Park.
Continue your tour…
Location 2 Liberty Village Park. – 300 metres west (70 East Liberty Street)
Looking north on Strachan Avenue towards Ordnance Street, with the Inglis Plant on the left. East Liberty Street would later pass through the old Inglis property.
City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 1465, File 605, Item 17
Looking northwest from the Gardiner Expressway to the Inglis plant and billboard, 1980s. The red Irwin Toy sign and watertower in the distance marks the present-day location of the Toy Factory Lofts, at Hanna and Liberty Streets.
City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 1465, File 59, Item 14
Looking west from Hanna Avenue towards Strachan Avenue and the Toronto skyline, c. 1990
City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 1465, File 58, Item 44