Inner City Outreach

Our Neighbourhood

BRIEF HISTORY OF JANE-FINCH


Joseph Crosson House, 1878 (Finch Avenue W. and northwest corner Jane Street)

Joseph Crosson House, 1878 (Finch Avenue W. and northwest corner Jane Street). Black Creek Living History Project, 2010.


The Jane and Finch community, also known as Black Creek or University Heights, is an inner city community located in the northwest corner of Toronto, Ontario. Like many other areas in Southern Ontario, Jane and Finch was once a small farming district—home to a community of German-Canadian pioneers for 150 years prior to its urbanization. (Tourists can still experience the community’s rural period at the Black Creek Pioneer village).

North York suburbs with high-rise apartments in background. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 217.

North York suburbs with high-rise apartments in background. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 217.

In 1962, city planners devised a plan to develop existing farm lots into a model suburban community with a mixture of low-, medium- and high-density housing, employment, commercial and social services. Within the coming years, a series of high-rise apartments were constructed along Jane street, later known as the ‘Jane-Finch corridor.’ A high influx of immigrant families from all over the world begin to settle into the new Toronto neighbourhood.

Jane and Finch intersection (year unknown). "Toronto Tower Renewal," ERA Architects.

Jane and Finch intersection (year unknown). “Toronto Tower Renewal,” ERA Architects.



By the mid 1970s, several social issues have surfaced from the rapid growth of the community and large concentrations of low-income households. The area soon becomes notorious for its prevalence of gangs, drugs and criminal activity. These social issues were known to be a result of “overcrowded schools, disconnected social services, inadequate recreational facilities, isolation from the rest of the city and the area’s overall poor self-image” (Lovell). Over the next three decades, many programs and non-profit organizations are birthed to address the needs of the community and to improve the neighbourhood’s negative image and create a sense of community pride.


Aerial view of Jane-Finch neighbourhood. Courtesy of Lance Dutchak.

Aerial view of Jane-Finch neighbourhood. Courtesy of Lance Dutchak.


Although the Jane and Finch area is still known for its high rate of poverty, criminal activity and social dysfunction, it is also one of the most ethnically diverse and multicultural neighbourhoods in the city of Toronto.

Resources:

Black Creek Neighbourhood Profile. City of Toronto, 2011.
Jane-Finch Neighbourhood Improvement Area Profile. City of Toronto, 2011
Lovell, Alexander. “Overview of Development in Jane-Finch” ACT for Youth CBR Presentation
Neighbourhood Equity Score. City of Toronto, 2014.