1858 Unwin Plan of the City of Toronto: Sewers

Toronto’s sewage system has a rich and complicated history.

‘The 1840s and 1850s saw a recognizably modern city begin to take shape. This was due partly to population growth, but also to the innovations of the Victorian era, such as the installation of [gravity-fed] sewers and the other mundane elements that made urban life congenial.’

This plan ‘shows Toronto from Dovercourt to the Don River and Bloor St. south to the lakefront. Churches, banks and public offices are referenced, as well as the fire alarms for the wards. Manuscript annotations indicate where sewers have been laid up to 1875 and note the depths of sewers at certain points. Approximate scale noted in manuscript.’ - TPL

Click the image to view a full-size version.

1858 Toronto Proposed Sewers

Plan of the City of Toronto - SEWERS
Published by James Bain 37 King St. East / Drawn by Chas Unwin P.L. Surveyor York Chambs. / Maclear & Co. Liths Toronto. 1835
Image courtesy Toronto Public Library: Ms1921.9. Winearls, MUC no. 2135

As noted, the above map is from 1858, but has subsequent annotations overlaid onto it with respect to the sewers up to 1875. View the original map (3MB) without the annotations (A different copy in obviously poorer condition).

Garrison Creek and the Interceptor Sewer System
Of contextual note in the following related map: the covering of Garrison Creek, one of the city’s first major sewerage infrastructure projects.

“By the 1880s, as the city expanded westward, the pollution of the creek became an increasingly pressing issue in municipal elections. In 1881, the city had the Garrison Creek straightened between Queen Street and the Western Stockyards (north of Fort York), probably with the aim of increasing the flow and alleviated the concerns already being expressed about the fouling of the creek.  Whatever the aim (and the straightening might equally have been designed to rationalize and improve the properties along the waterway), the exercise failed to stem the calls for stronger action.

While it took years to mobilize support and capital for a permanent solution to an increasingly polluted creek, by 1884 all the key pieces were in place. [...] At the time, the creek was seen to be having a significant effect on property values in the area, and along with them on the taxes the city could assess, both of which would improve with the construction of a sewer. The city had significant property holdings of its own along both sides of the creek which would also be enriched by its removal. Indeed, the sewering of the Garrison Creek was an important factor in provoking the 1887-1890 real estate boom.”

- Michael Cook, Burying the Garrison Creek: A History [worth reading in full!]

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1888 Toronto Plan of Proposed Interceptor Sewers and Sewers already constructed

Map of the City of Toronto Shewing Proposed Interceptor Sewers and Sewers Already Constructed, 1888
Image courtesy Toronto Public Library: T1888-2/4Mlrg

“By 1886 the City Engineer was seeking $1.4 million for construction of a system of intercepting sewers [see red horizontal lines -N.] largely equivalent to what was ultimately constructed more than twenty years later. But each time the city proposed the expenditure to Toronto's citizens, the measure was voted down by the electorate.” - Cook, ibid.

Note how the interceptors go out to the east end, out to Woodbine...

The next map contains a wealth of interesting detail about the city. It shows the proposed 'High' and 'Low' intercepting lines in greater clarity, in red with arrows to indicate the flow direction out to an outflow into Lake Ontario south of Victoria Park Avenue. The blue lines are the main sewers at the time. Note the pumping station at Queen and Pape, and at John Street by the waterfront.

Click the image to view a full-size version (5mb):

1889 Toronto Plan of proposed Intercepting Sewers and Outfall by Hering & Gray

1889 Plan of the City of Toronto, Proposed Intercepting Sewers and Outfall
Hering, Rudolph G. & Gray, Samuel M., Consulting Engineers, February 1889
City Engineers Office Toronto, March 6, 1889
Printed by Copp Clark Co. Ltd.

Image courtesy City of Toronto Archives: Fonds 200, Series 725, File 13 - MT98 (CRC172)
U of T Map and Data Library has a somewhat tattered version: G3524 .T61 N46 1889

A 1903 Plan:

April, 1901 Plan of the City of Toronto - sewage disposal crude delivery estimate no. 1B
City Engineer’s Office
Image courtesy U of T Map and Data Library: G3524 T61N46 20 1889-1901

See also: 1878 Copps Clark & Co. Plan of the City of Toronto: Waterworks

Further reading (there’s a lot of great history... buried... here!)

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