The Great Cabbagetown Border Debate

The great Canadian and Cabbagetown author, Hugh Garner, is the ultimate authority on the true historical boundaries of Cabbagetown. There was no confusion in his mind nor in mine about the boundaries. I was born in Cabbagetown seven years prior to it being levelled for Regent Park. So I recall from my childhood the Cabbagetown that Garner spoke of in his classic novel. One reason for the confusion about Cabbagetown boundaries has to do with the fact that Cabbagetown and the neighbourhoods north of Gerrard were once lumped together into St. David's Ward. However, aside from the geographical boundaries, the name Cabbagetown is also synonymous exclusively with working class culture. Hugh Garner understood this. So listen to Hugh Garner, read his book, and learn the historical truth about Old Cabbagetown".

Ted Plantos, Author of "The Universe Ends at Sherbourne & Queen".

Ted, as it turned out, was a successful author and poet. Although not as well known as Margaret Attwood or Pierre Berton, he still had quite a body of published work under his belt. He told me that all our discussions about Cabbagetown had inspired him to write a short story. He sent me a copy of the story which he called Ragtown. When I asked him why he didn't call it Cabbagetown, he said American's wouldn't buy a book about a Canadian place. Anyway, the story was published in his last book, The Shanghai Noodle Killing, (Seraphim Editions, 2000) although the finished story is somewhat different than the draft he sent me. The book is 125 pages with 18 short, but very interesting stories. Hey, I'm even mentioned in the aknowledgements at the front, and he used my real name as one of the Ragtown characters. So I'm a little bit proud of that.

The Shanghai Noodle Killing can be purchased from Seraphim Editions at the below link. Ted had quite the immagination and it makes for a fun read.

Anyway, I suddenly stopped getting emails from Ted and his website disappeard at the same time. Then I found out months later that Ted died of cancer early in 2001. I was very shocked since he had never told me he was ill. I'm going to miss Ted, especially the many times we locked horns over some stupid little unimportant detail. I guess we were both pig-headed and that made our conversations all the more fun.

The borders of Cabbagetown have become hazy due to some geographical juggling. This caused what I have come to call "The Great Cabbagetown Border Debate." As a kid, Cabbagetown was my neighbourhood, my turf, my stomping ground, but most of all it was my home, and it was where I grew up. I walked those streets from long ago, so therefore, I claim that I should know the borders. The original Cabbagetown borders ran from the Don River in the east to Parliament Street in the west, and from Gerrard St. in the north to Queen Street in the south. These were the boundaries that were told to me by my Cabbagetown elders and I have no reason in the world to doubt the word of those that were there before I was born. The area north of Gerrard, which now claims the name, was never considered to be part of Cabbagetown. It was known as Don Vale, but quite often we kids called it "Winchester" because the kids up there went to Winchester Public School. Beginning in the 1970's, the old houses in this area were renovated and the area became very trendy and exclusive. Suddenly fancy boutiques and expensive little restaurants and pubs sprang up on Parliament between Wellesley and Gerrard and also along Carlton Street. Figuring this area needed a trendy name, they decided to call it Cabbagetown. Now the nice little tourist maps and walking tour maps of the area exclude the real Cabbagetown which lies to the south. Parliament Street is starting to settle down a bit now, there has been a few bargain stores popping up between the the ritzy joints of late. West of Parliament Street was known as Moss Park. I know a lot of people that grew up in that area the 40's and 50's, and they're just as proud of their heritage in Moss Park as those that came from Cabbagetown. They have no desire to claim a Cabbagetown background. South of Queen Street was called Corktown, but those living there were considered Cabbagetowners. The area on the eastern side of the Don River south of Gerrard was referred to as just Broadview. If you wandered north of Gerrard Street, you were in Riverdale. For the most part though, the whole area was just known as "Across The Bridge" to the Cabbagetown kids. That's not to say that Cabbagetowners excluded people from other areas into our groups or homes. We all had friends and relatives that lived outside Cabbagetown proper, and there was always a flow of people moving both ways. Punchy