Transcription of:

Report of the Medical Officer of Health: Dealing With the Recent Investigation
of Slum Conditions in Toronto, Embodying Recommendations for the
Amelioration of the Same, page 5
Department of Public Health, Toronto
Series 365, File 14


[There is text from the book, followed by a photograph, followed by a caption for the photograph.]


…passage from the street, down a dark and precipitous stairway, and up again into a back yard, where the house was found thus concealed. Two houses in another section were situated over stables, with no evidence of any drainage. One 3-room shack was discovered in which were father, mother and 9 children, and in the filthy yard 3 dogs, a horse and chickens. All except the horse had access to the living rooms.


This is a rear tenement under the morning shadow of the City Hall, occupied by six “families.” There are six dark rooms in it. To the right is a “Sanitary Convenience,” intended to be used by all inhabitants of the row, except those in the third house. At the door of the third house may be seen the outside entrance to a closet in the cellar used not only by the people of that house, but by workers in the “factory” which occupies the top flat of all these four houses.

In the foreground is a muddy, dirty, unpaved yard and lane.

The tap with the pail under it is the sole water supply for all the houses, and the tenement-house, and the workers in the factory—40 persons in all. That tap is sometimes frozen in winter.

These are rear-houses. They cannot be seen from the street.

The rent paid for these houses is high.

Finally, on the day the photograph was taken, the owner had for some unknown reason cut off the use of the sole sanitary convenience for 30 people, by nailing it up, as shown in the picture.

The bare branches of the tree shown to the extreme right mark the place where stands an outside privy of another type, the condemned and out-of-date privy-pit. That closet belongs to a house on the front street rented for $10 a month. One of the best-known real estate firms in Toronto collects the rent. The house is unfit for habitation. The outside privy has been for some time overflowing. Its disgraceful state may be seen from the open street across a vacant lot. Into that vacant lot the husband of the poor woman who still struggles to keep that house decent casts, under cover of night, the “night soil.” The same thing is done from seven other dwellings of which we have reports.

In other words, what we have read of with disgust as having happened in the cities of Europe in the Middle Ages, happens in Toronto now before our very eyes.


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