1. alan skeoch
    April 2021

    1910? - Davenport Road sewer, brick worktorontoguardian.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/1910-Davenport-Road-sewer-brick-work-209×300.jpg 209w, torontoguardian.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/1910-Davenport-Road-sewer-brick-work-265×381.jpg 265w” sizes=”(max-width: 678px) 100vw, 678px” apple-inline=”yes” id=”A3B6C0FB-EDF2-4218-A53B-FE59E9004392″ style=”caret-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 18px;” src=”http://alanskeoch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/1910-Davenport-Road-sewer-brick-work.jpg”>

    Some readers will not like this Episode.   The information, however, is important
    We have come a long way since the back house was  a necessary fixture.  The story
    of Liverpool Andy and the Stonehooker fleet was written in Episode 323.  I thought
    there was a need for a little more proof as to the horrific sewage problem in Toronto harbour.

    Between 1870 and 1880  sewer construction was well underway in Toronto but 6,700 of the 11,000 homes visited by health 
    inspectors in  1885  still had outdoor privies….68%.  And of these 28% were full and 20% were rated foul.  

    Up until the sewer construction boom in the late 19th century the City of Toronto dumped all of its sewage into Lake Ontario from which
    the city drew most of its drinking water.  Officials in 1835 believed the huge size of Lake Ontario would dilute the sewage enough to minimize any
    pollution problem.   Not so.  The ‘dreadfjull smell’ along the Toronto lake shore got worse and  worse.  The Toronto island acted as a break wall and reduced
    current flow so that the Toronto harbour was quite still and the sewage built up.  In 1884 Mayor Boswell expressed his frustration with opposition to sewer 
    construction. “The sewage of this city is now assuming large proportions. Year after year new sewers are being erected. Where does all the filth from these sewers accumu- late? In the Bay of Toronto, of which you and I are so proud. Gentlemen, this cannot go on with safety, for our Bay will soon become a cess-pool…” Taxpayers did not
    want taxes increased os most resisted efforts to construct a sewer system.  Out of sight, out of mind.

    Beneath Woodfield Road

    Where the shape changes from balloon-shaped to round, beneath Gerrard St. E.

    Finally, on Tuesday, July 14, 1908, the qualified electorate of the City of Toronto approved a by-law for raising $2,400,000 towards the construction of intercepting sewers and a sewage disposal plant and $750,000 for the construction of a water filtration plant.55….For the first time in its 74-year existence, the City of Toronto would stop discharging raw sewage into Lake Ontario. Furthermore, water drawn from the lake for human consumption would be filtered. In 1891 Kivas Tully had estimated that 12 tons of un- treated solid matter were being deposited in the bay per day. In 1908, H. Rust, the City Engineer, reported that there was three to four feet of sludge on the bottom of the harbour.56 …However, even after the by-law was passed there were delays while a suitable site was located for the sewage treatment plant. …However, even after the by-law was passed there were delays while a suitable site was located for the sewage treatment plant. Work finally went ahead on the intercept- ing sewers, pumping stations and a treatment plant which were completed in 1913, sixty years after the idea was first mooted and over thirty-five years after the Council had begun to consider the plan seriously. By 1930, there were over 678 miles of sanitary sewer and 65 miles of storm and relief sewers and private drains were being installed as a matter of course from new buildings….Sewer gas is that rotten egg smell that is produced by the sewage system. It is the result of the decomposition of waste materials. The gasses are a mixture of methane, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and other chemicals and they are more than “just unpleasant” to smell. Even at low levels, the gases can irritate your eyes, make you cough or produce dizziness. Higher levels are very serious and they can pose a serious health risk and in some cases they can cause fires or explosions.”

    This interesting and lengthy scandal is detailed in Catherine Brace, One Hundred and Twenty years of Sewerage – the Provision of Sewers in Toronto 1793-1913, (unpublished University of Toronto M.A. Thesis, 1993) 121-131.

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