Toronto’s 1st social housing project celebrates 100 years

People living in the east-end of Toronto are hosting an anniversary party that blends street festival with art project in honour of the city's first social housing project, which turns 100 years old today.

East-end community hosts anniversary party

Residents in an east-end community are celebrating the 100th birthday of the Riverdale Bain Co-op, which is Toronto's first social housing project. (

Toronto’s first social housing project is celebrating 100 years today.

People living in the east-end of the city are hosting an anniversary party that blends street festival with art project.

Pamela Schuller has lived in Riverdale’s Bain co-op for 20 years and says it still stirs her imagination.

“It’s magical every time to walk into the co-op. It’s kind of like time stops still here,” Schuller said.

The co-op is a cluster of English cottage-style buildings with open courtyards scattered across two city blocks. The co-op, originally called Riverdale Courts, is a combination of the three-storey tenement buildings and a few small houses. There are about 200 apartments.

“I mean it has a central steam plant that provides heat for the whole co-op. That’s the same like when it was first built.”

The design of the project was to counteract the overcrowding and unhealthy conditions of working class housing at the time.

It became a co-op in 1974 after the building's had become run-down.

Fascinated by the property’s history, Alice Dixon moved in less than a year ago and remains pleased with the space.

“The green space here is just amazing and it really feels like I’m out of the city when I’m here,” Dixon said.

Some, like Sean Frey, were on a waiting list for years to secure a unit in the complex.

Frey is now one of the organizers of the 100th anniversary celebrations, which include a procession of residents recounting the Bain co-ops history.