The Site & Its History
The Dufferin Mall site has hosted many uses throughout its history. Originally bisected by Brock Stream and forming part of the traditional territory of the First Nations, the site has since been used as a private driving course, a horse racetrack, and a 1950s shopping plaza, before becoming Dufferin Mall as we know it today.
About the Site
The development site is the northernmost portion of the Dufferin Mall property. It is approximately 1.8 hectares (4.45 acres) in size, and is bounded by Dufferin Street to the east, Croatia Street to the north, and Brockton Stadium to the west.
The development site, largely occupied by surface parking stalls, is illustrated below. Our Lady Queen of Croatia Church is not part of the development site.
The Site in History
The following in a brief overview of the history of the Dufferin Mall site. For a more detailed exploration of the site’s history and how it has evolved over time, check out this article by David Wencer in the Torontoist.
In the late 19th century, the site formed part of a larger 25-acre property owned by the Denison family, in what was the independent Brock Village. Brock Village was annexed by the City of Toronto in 1884. The property was bisected by Brock Stream, a tributary of Denison Stream, which flowed into Garrison Creek. Like many of the small natural watercourses that cut through the city, Brock Stream was diverted into underground sewers and then filled in.
In the 1880s, the property was developed as a driving park and horse riding track for private use by the Denison family. However, by 1907 the lands were leased to a third party, who developed the site as a public racetrack for thoroughbred horse races. Dufferin Racetrack, with its irregular egg-shaped course, was a popular destination for decades, with races regularly attracting thousands of spectators. The racetrack also played host to a travelling circus. Elephants and other circus animals would arrive by rail near Bloor Street West at Lansdowne Avenue, and were paraded along Bloor Street towards the Dufferin Racetrack.
Dufferin Racetrack was in operation until 1955, when several facilities around the city were consolidated at the new Woodbine Racetrack in Rexdale. Within a year, the site was sold and redeveloped as Dufferin Plaza, the precursor of Dufferin Mall. In the 1970s, the strip mall was expanded and converted into an enclosed shopping mall, as was the trend across North America. This was made possible by a new multi-level parking structure. Over the years, the mall has continued to grow through extensions of the mall itself as well as the development of outparcels.