East York

Remembering what we were

Restoring logos on street signs would show our East York pride

East York became part of an amalgamated Toronto in 1998. The East York pride can still be felt and lives on. 

But it’s about time we got a facelift. 

In 2000 city council voted to remove the tags of the former boroughs from street signs in order to unify as one Toronto.

The logos still appear on various street signs across East York — some faded but nonetheless still present.

That could change, though.

Toronto’s public works and infrastructure committee has debated returning the logos — and the identity — of East York. 

The installation of logos on street signs is an important step to recognize a community within the larger metropolis and I’m proud and hopeful that East York could be the first.

The discussion on the feasibility of the signs also included the former borough of Scarborough. But East Yorkers seem to be the ones raising their voices the loudest.

East York Councillor Janet Davis, who supports the move, has made her voice heard. She says there is a strong sense of pride in being from East York, even among youth who don’t remember amalgamation.

Street signs with East York logos are not an act of resistance. They are a reminder that despite amalgamation, East York is still a proud and strong entity.

But some see the signs as the start of a street war.

Councillor Stephen Holyday, of the former municipality of Etobicoke, tells the East York Observer he is concerned over the practicalities of physically putting up logos.

Holyday says that even though some borough logos still appear on street signs in Toronto, it could take decades to complete the task, possibly leading to residents to get upset over the wait.

“It’s a really neat idea to put a previous city’s logo on,” Holyday says, adding that heritage stickers could create a sticky situation.

“Before the former municipalities, there were smaller boroughs and smaller villages. That’s another piece of history. It starts to get really complicated when you start talking about another layer of municipality.”

But what is wrong with a little reminder of what was? 

East York, once part of the former township of York, became a borough in 1967. My family owned a business in East York and I grew up surrounded by East Yorkers, East York stories and East York issues.  It’s where my grandparents immigrated to, started a life, and where my parents grew up. East York has what I haven’t experienced anywhere else in the city – sense of belonging and of community.

The notion that an amalgamated Toronto is somehow threatened by logos on street signs hints that some in Toronto are resistant to embracing history.

Toronto will continue to grow as an innovative and progressive city.

The proposed streets signs are a celebration of our history — an appreciation of what we once were, where Metropolitan Toronto is a mosaic that those signs represent.

For East York, what better way to recognize the past than by returning the name to places of prominence — on street signs — 50 years after the community became a borough.