House of Providence served Toronto poor of all faiths
The Bulletin, October 2014 — By the 1850s, Toronto’s meagre social and charitable services were becoming almost unmanageable. This was the era of mass immigration, and thanks in part to the railroad, the city was flooded with newly arrived Europeans looking for a better life. The majority of these immigrants arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and many were struggling with disease.
At the same time Toronto was experiencing a boom and bust economy, making many of the working class vulnerable to malnutrition and forcing them to drink contaminated water, which lead to cholera outbreaks. Slums bursting with one-room shacks that held 30 people each began to spring up in the back alleys of already overcrowded neighbourhoods. The city’s answer to these new industrial-age problems had two stages. The first being to expand publicly supported initiatives, like the re-establishment of the Toronto General Hospital on Gerrard east of Parliament, and the second was to build new schools, hospitals and residential homes sponsored by various religious groups.
By Bruce Bell