How did all of this start?

Courtesy of Grand & Toy Company Limited

Courtesy of Grand & Toy Company Limited

The vision was conceived several years ago. I had long believed there should be such a program in Cabbagetown, and sought the assistance of a friend who was a communications consultant. A comprehensive plan was put together and in 2001 the concept for Cabbagetown People was presented to the Board of the Cabbagetown Preservation Association – a citizens group founded in 1989 to preserve the architectural integrity and historic character of the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto. Cabbagetown People, in its initial eight years, was totally self-funded through the generosity of the donors it attracted and from the beginning has been managed by a dedicated volunteer committee of founding members.

Sheila Schirmer

Cabbagetown People Program Founder
Director, Cabbagetown Preservation Association

What the Program is accomplishing

Since 2002, more than 50 “heritage heroes” have been commemorated by plaques at residences, businesses, and other properties throughout Cabbagetown, and the Program has evolved to adopt a second commemorative role, recognizing the many other “heroes” – pioneers in various fields – and their fascinating and inspiring stories of energy, imagination and fortitude. These stories have become part of a social history short book we have published entitled Adversity, Resilience, Prosperity which traces 70 years of changes in the social tapestry of neighbourhoods in Cabbagetown from the 1940s.

The program also features remarkable Canadians who are buried in the Necropolis Cemetery (located at Winchester and Sumach) and the St. James Cemetery (located on Parliament north of Wellesley).

We have installed an Orientation Directory in Riverdale Park West. Offering an informative overview of the Program, the Directory serves as a heritage resource and educational complement to the many existing walking tours of Cabbagetown.

On June 7, 2006, as part of our Program for Schools, we launched our guided walking tours throughout Cabbagetown, for students and teachers, in both English and French.

The walking tours are customized and led by volunteer guides associated with the Cabbagetown People committee of the Cabbagetown Preservation Association. The tours are designed to expose children to the extraordinary people who lived and thrived here, many of whom were new immigrants, while others were visible minorities. During the walking tours, our experienced guides incorporate elements of local history and descriptions of everyday life of the relevant period when telling the stories of these outstanding people, for a fuller appreciation of their contributions and legacies.

We have developed various materials which can serve as stand-alone resources or be used to pre-teach students before they tour. These include a 74 page teacher resource booklet in French, interactive games and surveys for students, in English and French, and an informational DVD also in English and French, and available on this website.

Cabbagetown People has gained wide exposure both within the local community and beyond through a number of organized walking tours by the CPA, the walking tour program for students, Heritage Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum, and has been featured on a short film produced by Rogers Television entitled, “Legends of Cabbagetown”, as part of their “Structures” series on the history and architecture of Toronto.

Cabbagetown People with its focus on social history provides a very nice balance to the built heritage of the Cabbagetown neighbourhood – much of which is now a Heritage Conservation District.

Lake View Hotel in 1888 (Winchester and Parliament streets).  From book Toronto Old and New (1891)

Lake View Hotel in 1888 (Winchester and Parliament streets). From book Toronto Old and New (1891)



Winchester Hotel (formerly the Lake View Hotel) in 1954 (Toronto Public Library S1-1846)

Winchester Hotel (formerly the Lake View Hotel) in 1954
(Toronto Public Library S1-1846)

The Winchester Hotel today

The Winchester Hotel today