Annex Garden History

A Brief Timeline of Our History

1898: Annex Garden originally built.
445 Euclid was built in 1898. An elderly neighbour recalls that the first owner may have been the builder. The area was originally an estate that was subdivided in 1885 when the current lots were established.

How the Neighbourhood Evolved

It was during the 1920’s that ‘Little Italy’ became recognized as the residential and commercial centre of Toronto’s Italian community. Italians began moving into the neighbourhood in the early part of the twentieth century, replacing the Irish, and then Jewish communities.

However, by the 1960’s, many of Little Italy’s residents began to move north to the Corso Italia district on St. Clair Avenue West.

The Italian families that moved out of Little Italy were replaced by Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish families. This mix of cultures gives Little Italy the international flavor that it enjoys today.

In 1985, the local business association on College Street officially adopted the Little Italy name in recognition of the role this neighbourhood has played as the starting point for Italians in Toronto.

1905 to 1921: The Murray Family Years.

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the home’s history can be attributed to The Murray Family, specifically Monsignor Athol Murray (1892 – 1975) who was a Canadian priest and educator born in Toronto. He was ordained in 1918 and moved to Saskatchewan in 1926. The following year, he was named the parish priest at what would become Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan.

Melding a curriculum of academics with athletics, Murray instituted the famous Notre Dame Hounds hockey team. Known as Père, he would never refuse a deserving student an education regardless of religion or financial status – even if that meant tuition was paid in potatoes and wheat rather than dollars. Leading the college until his death, he influenced generations of Canadians and the development of Canadian hockey. Said Père Murray, “I love God, Canada and hockey — not always in that order.”

In 1968, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions as President of the College of Notre Dame from which thousands of Canadian and foreign students from poorer families have graduated. He was also inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1972), and, posthumously, into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998.

Murray was the son of an affluent Toronto family, and this was his childhood home from 1905 to 1921. A Heritage Toronto plaque is on display in the garden at the front of the home.