For post–Second World War Scarborough, the Golden Mile lived up to its billing. A mixture of farmland and munitions plants along Eglinton Avenue between Victoria Park Avenue and Birchmount Road turned into a pot of gold for the municipal tax coffers.
It also fulfilled the 1950s suburban dream of living and working in wide open spaces. A beacon of modern prosperity, Queen Elizabeth II made a stop at Golden Mile Plaza’s Loblaws store during her 1959 royal visit.
Scarborough Township purchased 225 acres of GECO’s wartime production facilities in 1948 with an eye to increase its tax base to fund anticipated growth. Within a decade, the Golden Mile boasted industrial plants owned by major manufacturers, including Frigidaire, Inglis, SKF and Thermos, which created tens of thousands of jobs.
While the east end of the Golden Mile focused on industry, the west became a retail hub. Golden Mile Plaza was the largest strip mall in Canada when it opened in 1954, and was complemented by Eglinton Square to its south. Golden Mile Motors became one of the busiest General Motors dealerships in the country. Many of those vehicles were driven off the lot into the subdivisions that spread across Scarborough to house the influx of workers, who boosted Scarborough’s population from 25,000 in 1945 to nearly 250,000 by 1964.
By Jamie Bradburn