Boundaries: Massey Creek to the north from Victoria Park to Warden, CN Rail line along the south from Victoria Park to Birchmount, and then Mack Ave back to Warden.
Oakridge takes its name from Oakridge Public School which was built on the site where Oakridge Park is now located, south of Danforth Avenue, just west of the branch off to Danforth Road. The school was built in 1913 to replace the former one room school house S.S. No. 12, which had been gutted by fire. The school was closed down in 1967 and replaced by a new school of the same name on nearby Byng Avenue.
Danforth Road (originally Dundas Street) was the first major road through Scarborough. It was built in 1799-1800 by Asa Danforth and his team of axmen and oxen. Almost from its earliest days it was criticised for its poor road conditions, and was soon superseded by the more southerly Kingston Road as the major thoroughfare between downtown Toronto and eastern Ontario.
The main industries in the area still centre on the automotive trade. The CN rail line provided a spur for industrial growth in the area. Back in the 1920s, the Ford Motor Company opened an assembly plant on Danforth Avenue where Shopper’s World now sits just west of Victoria Park. Both the Ford Model T and later the Model A were manufactured there. Automobiles continued to be manufactured there until the 1950s. In 1962 it was redeveloped into the Shopper’s World shopping mall. But now many businesses continued selling, fixing, servicing and wrecking automobiles in the area. One of the most notable of these is Jones Auto Wrecking which has operated on Thora St. next to the rail line since 1937, in spite of numerous complaints by local residents concerning noise, air pollution, soil contamination and an unsightly debris of used tires, wrecked auto frames and salvaged parts. In September 2007 all this debris went up in flames, sending a thick black toxic cloud over a wide area. Relocation of this operation to a less residential area has been proposed in the past, but never acted upon.
To facilitate subway expansion in the 1960s, the swampland around Massey Creek was drained, allowing Victoria Park Avenue to be extended north of Danforth Avenue to join up with Dawes Road by St Clair. The extension of the Danforth subway line to include Victoria Park and Warden Stations in the late 60s spurred on the development of numerous high rise buildings in the neighbourhood. Planned parkland development to accommodate the population density of the area around Victoria Park and Danforth however was never fully carried out.
The location of the Beer Store on Danforth Avenue is another problematic aspect of poor urban design, being right opposite a church and a playground. Being a provincially mandated monopoly for three large foreign beer companies, surely it could be resituated in a better place, say by the rail line behind Shoppers World, so beer drinkers would be less likely to interfere with families’ enjoyment of the park and playground, and with worshippers attending services at the church.
Many recreational and social service programs are provided in the area at the following locations:
Access Point on Danforth Ave just east of Victoria Park
Oakridge Community Centre on Pharmacy just north of Denton
West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre off Pharmacy, just north of Massey Creek.
Warden Woods Community Centre on Firvalley on the west side of Warden between Danforth Rd and St Clair (This centre was originally founded by the Mennonite church and community partners to meet the needs of all the surrounding community. Its status is currently in jeopardy and the centre is asking the community for its support via a petition to maintain its existence.)
Every August, the local Business Improvement Association holds a ‘Wheels on the Danforth’ community fair at Oakridge park, with a display of vintage automobiles as the main attraction.
Robert R. Bonis A History of Scarborough Scarborough Public Library