Local author David Wencer’s article on the 1936 heat wave.

A bit of the article.
In an effort to cool down, many Torontonians went to Toronto’s beaches, with record crowds reported at Balmy Beach, Sunnyside and the Island. On July 7, ferries reportedly carried 22,293 passengers to the Island, compared to 13,302 on the same day the year before. Extra streetcars were pressed into service to accommodate the demand to reach the lake shore.
Without the availability of home air conditioning, Torontonians needed to be creative to keep cool. Gas stations reported increased business as many of the wealthier Torontonians left for summer cottages. For others, the coolest option was to remain at home for, as the Telegram noted, “travel by any means was a perspiring business. A number of households took their meals in cellars, and many more ate sandwiches and drank lemonade… on porches and in gardens.” Many opted to sleep in their cars, and some took to sleeping on their lawns. One woman reportedly took refuge in a cemetery, using a cool tombstone as a pillow. The Star reported that “thousands of citizens slept on the grass in front of Exhibition Park. Some brought rugs. Some brought mattresses. This morning [July 9] the waterfront looked like one vast dressing-room… With banjos strumming and car radios blaring, hundreds of young people here were really enjoying themselves, forgetting the simmering city in the cooling waters of the lake.” Under normal conditions Toronto’s parks and beaches were closed to the public at night, but during the heat wave the relevant laws were not enforced.

 David Wencer, originally published November 16, 2011
full article at Toronto Heritage click here

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