Immigration stories of coming to Toronto from England and Europe 1950 to 1980

Thought some readers of this blog may find some of the background stories of the documentary the author of this blog is directing, and group writing  (1) regarding immigration  stories of people coming to Toronto (Junction mainly) (2) from England and all  of Europe and Asia in the years 1950 to 1980. 

We, me somewhat but the researchers have and are continuing to gather 1st experience stories, the common employment in the Junction quite surprising, not much like the common lore.

Here is an example of the research about why a person came to Toronto in 1950 as experienced by a British immigrant, followed by a view of Toronto in 1966. The 1st text is some of background material while the second text is one of personal experience, the use of the word “I” was encouraged.  As the railway, meat industry, West Toronto accounts are edited, will post them. We are now working I the experiences of the people from China and Malta.

1950 England, why move to Toronto was the question.

This person was of the management class, working for the 

It was a period of adjustment. The war in Europe had ended barely 5 years ago.

In the United Kingdom rationing was still in place, Meat, dairy produce, confectionary, coal and clothes were all rationed. Meat allowance was 2 ounces per person per month. Offal and poultry was not rationed but you needed to have a good friendly butcher to get some. Line ups were common in every store. Self service supermarkets had not permeated which made shopping a laborious chore. The underground (subway) still had machines which advertised bars of Cadbury’s chocolate for a penny but they had been empty since 1939. They did not come back into use for another two years. When rationing ended chocolate bars were sixpence.

There was little foreign travel because the limiting of the purchase of foreign exchange. The seaside resorts were beneficiaries here.

Food deliveries were by horse and cart. A daily milk delivery and a daily bread delivery. These were replaced later by electric vehicles. Coke which is a coal derivative and substitute were delivered by steam powered trucks. Mail deliveries were three times per day.

The roads were comparatively empty. The large automakers were back in peacetime production again but the majority of vehicles were exported ( mostly to the United States) to earn much needed dollars.

A few small vehicles started to invade the market. Their economical fuel consumption was their big selling point. There was the Meschersmidt which looked like a German flight cockpit on wheels. There was the Heinkel (known as the bubble car)) which also came from a German manufacturer and the Vespa scooter which was of Italian origin.

With the granting of independence to India and Pakistan and influx of immigrants started. In the first instance they found low paying jobs on London Transport. As independence spread to other countries particularly in the Caribbean more and more immigrants followed. The last major influx of immigrants came from Cyprus as that island became embroiled in it’s own troubles.he other big problem of the time was housing. Many houses had been lost in the blitz and this was aggravated by the return of servicemen to civil life. The government was committed to producing 200,000 housing units a year but I doubt if that target was ever reached.

On reflection it was not an unpleasant time. There was little road congestion because owning a vehicle was not common. There was little racial tension since there were so few immigrants.

1966 Toronto What was your experience as a banker arriving in Toronto. 

Note: it is stunning how people from different lands bought skills sets and job experience common with other immigrants from where  they originated.

Toronto was in the middle of a heat wave in the summer of 1966 with temperatures of 100F and above. I was wearing an overcoat (nowhere to pack it) with a suitcase on one hand and another suitcase under my arm. We have found you a hotel the officer announced. Not quite as grand as the Royal York but close by. It was the Walker House Hotel on the SW corner of York and Front. It was old and a little shabby and not air-conditioned. I dumped everything and went down to the reception desk and asked where could I get a beer? Next door, I was told, is the Hopbrauhaus. It was quiet and cool and I took my seat. The waiter came to take my order. I told him I wanted a beer. Ale or Lager he replied. I said I am so thirsty I would have one of each. A horrified look came on his face. One of each, he said, one of each he repeated indignantly. You can have one now and one later but you certainly cannot have one of each. That was my introduction to Ontario’s archaic liquor laws. I was not impressed.

I soon found a boarding house on Pleasant Boulevard near Yonge and St. Clair where there were many immigrants such as myself.

Toronto was very different in those days. The tallest building was the TD Centre which had only one tower and a restaurant of the 54th floor. A great view of the lake. Dining out was not the fashion then and there were few restaurants which catered to the discerning diner. Winston’s was one of them which was normally filled with power brokers and the affluent, Barberians popular with the expense account set. Others that were still around then were the Inn on the Park, and Ports of Call.
1(writing part with a group of people – now that long time readership this blog are no longer worried about the writing)

2(although granting bodies & distribution sponsors dictated the larger picture of Toronto be included)

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