Toronto’s reputation as “Hogtown” did not start in the Junction, but it was here that the reputation was forged. Like many industries, the stockyards were attracted to the Junction by the many rail connections that give the neighbourhood its name. In the Junction, you could get goods to and from any part of the country.
The Union Stockyards first opened in 1903 at the southwest corner of Keele and St. Clair. They were mostly known for dealing in cattle and hogs, although for many years the stockyards also dealt in horses. Frequently, animals would escape and it was not uncommon for local firefighters to be called in to wrangle a stray cow that had wandered onto a busy street.
The stockyards were a place where live animals were brought to be sold. Their presence, however, soon attracted many meat-packing companies that would buy animals and butcher them. These companies were for many years a major source of jobs in the area, and also a major source of unpleasant smells.
The stockyards closed in the early 1990s and in recent years the land has been redeveloped as big-box retail space.
By David Wencer