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Huron-Sussex neighbourhood: 7 Washington St., the former home of architect Ron Thom where he lived while designing Massey College. A new book, Recollections of a Neighbourhood: Huron-Sussex from UTS to Stop Spadina, outlines the little-known history of the urban encalve bounded by Bloor Street to the north, Harbord Street to the south, Spadina Avenue to the west and St. George Street to the east. It is, ‘one of the most interesting neighbourhoods in all of Canada that nobody knows about,’ co-author Judith Keeler writes.

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671 Spadina Rd., the 'Birdcage' house. Starting out as market gardens and orchards, by 1870 the first few buildings were going up along Harbord. In the 1880s and 1890s, the neighbourhood really began to take shape: By 1889, the Toronto Street Railway introduced trolley service along Bloor and Spadina.

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The Chelsea Shop. Institutions helped development in the years before and after the turn of the 20th century: St. Thomas’s Anglican, the Toronto Conservatory of Music, and the University of Toronto Schools (UTS) all brought bustle and life. While the University of Toronto didn’t march north of Harbord until the 1960s, a few fraternity houses hinted at future expansion.

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Huron neighbourhood: Former Russian Orthodox church on Glen Morris Avenue, now the Studio Theatre.

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Many of the older houses in Huron-Sussex are surrounded by modern buildings. The mid- to late-1960s was a turbulent time for the neighbourhood. First, the university bought houses at a frenetic pace to fuel expansion; residents association president Julie Mathien, who moved into the neighbourhood in 1973, says she continues to meet people who are “still very bitter about the experience” of being displaced for the massive 14-storey Robarts library.

Photos by Dave LeBlanc/The Globe and Mail

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Details on the porch of one of the older houses.

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Robarts Library, University of Toronto, which opened in 1973.

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Houses across from Robarts Library.

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The 18-storey tower at the intersection of Bloor and Huron that was once Rochdale College. A bold, educational experiment in 1968, it ended by turning into a mess of drugs and lawlessness. It did have its successes though, says Ms. Keeler, a former student there, starting with the health food restaurant Etherea, 'one of the cities first.'

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Sculpture of the Unknown Student outside what was once Rochdale College. Ms. Keeler describes a dynamic place where one could buy food, booze, or arts-and-crafts night or day; a place full of hustlers, yes, but also those interested in gaining experience – Rochdale had a radio station, a daycare, and a print shop – for later in life. 'It was family, a vertical village of counter-culture characters … Rochdale gave many hope, and a home.'

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