The Best of Intentions

1949

Regent Park

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It was like "walking into a dream." So thought Mrs. Alfred Bluett when she previewed her new Regent Park home two weeks before her family was scheduled to be the first to move into the social housing project at Dundas and Sumach.

Aerial View of Regent Park, 1964, Photo by John McNeill, from the Globe and Mail

No longer would they have to endure a condemned house with cracked plaster, inadequate bathing facilities, poor heating, rats and sloping floors. When moving day arrived on 30 March 1949, Mrs. Bluett looked past a personal greeting from Mayor Hiram McCallum and the flower bouquet she received. Her eye was on the home of her dreams.

The Bluetts could thank Toronto voters for improving their living circumstances. A question on the 1947 municipal election ballot succeeded in asking citizens to approve “the clearance, replanning, rehabilitation and modernization of the area bounded by Parliament, River, Gerrard and Dundas Streets.” What had been one of the city’s worst slums was razed, and optimism was high that Regent Park North would offer improved health and living conditions for its residents.

Decay and other problems stemming from a sense of ghettoization eventually afflicted Canada’s largest social housing project, which led to its current redevelopment as a less isolated, mixed-income neighbourhood, including the stunning, state-of-the-art cultural and recreational facilities.

By Jamie Bradburn

Aerial View of Regent Park, 1964, Photo by John McNeill, from the Globe and Mail View the image gallery