Notes and Disclaimer
When I refer to 'the Rock Oasis' I am speaking about the Bathurst-era Rock Oasis, not the transitional gym on Carlaw. I also use the present tense, even though the Bathurst gym will shortly no longer exist and the usage will seem incorrect in due time.
What I've presented here is my version of events. It is by no means authoritative.
Errors in my interpretation of the facts may have easily crept in during the compilation of this work. I gratefully appreciate the submission of any amendments or relevant additions to areas where I have been a little fuzzy -- or wrong -- in the comments. At times, different sources provided contradictory dates or information.
Even after all this research, I am still not absolutely certain of the exact year the Oasis structure was built! It looks like 1890, based on the Goads insurance maps and the Property Assessment rolls. But it might be a year or two earlier. Nor is it 100% clear whether the south tower was built as part of the original construction by John Doty, or later by the Bertrams -- or even the Berg family.
Construction in that era, particularly relating to the industrial waterfront, was often unregulated. Permits for some buildings exist, and not for others.
Because the web offers a fairly unlimited medium of communication, I have not edited the entries for brevity. In some cases, I have pursued the details to a degree that may not be of interest to everyone.
Lastly, it will be obvious that this history is maddeningly incomplete. I ran out of time -- as has the climbing gym at Front and Bathurst -- and I chose to focus my research on the Victorian and early 20th century time periods, which interest me the most. I am planning to investigate if there is additional information at the Fort York archives regarding the Rescue Inn; if I discover new data that I feel is interesting, I promise to update the appropriate sections.
Acknowledgments and Sources
Obviously, thanks go to Karen McGilvray -- for having the entrepreneurial tenacity to build and run a great rock climbing gym, in the face of countless obstacles. There will be other gyms that come and go in the GTA, but Oasis is the one she built, and I thank her for that. Her time and prior research regarding '27 Bathurst' were invaluable for this essay.
Thanks to the staff at Rock Oasis. You have always made the gym a friendly and welcoming place to climb. Cort, Sam, Jamie, Josh, Erika, Rami, Daniel, Grace, Max, Geoff, Adrian, Jean, Susan, Adrian, and the rest of you -- you guys are awesome.
Thanks to my many, many fantastic friends in the climbing community. I know you all share in this loss -- even if you don't climb at Oasis. When a climbing gym shuts down, it sucks for everyone. Thank you for your support and for the encouragement.
- City of Toronto Archives
- Toronto Reference Library
- Robertson's Landmarks
- Shipbuilding and the Waterfront Plan of 1912 - Michael Moir, York University
- Prominent Men of Canada, Pub 1892. G. Mercer Adam
- Globe and Mail & Toronto Star online archives (via the Toronto Public Library)
- Death or Canada - Mark McGowan, with Michael Chard, St. Michael's College, University of Toronto
- The Revenge of the Methodist Bicycle Company: Sunday Streetcars and Municipal Reform in Toronto, 1888 - 1897 - Christopher Armstrong, HV Nelles
- Maritime History of the Great Lakes and the Toronto Marine Historical Society
- Canadian Machinery and Manufacturing News, Volume 5, 1909
- Residential Intensification - Kings Regeneration - CHMC Case study
- An article by Steve Ladurantaye on Peter Freed
- Numerous City of Toronto municipal records and reports
- Stephen Otto, historian, who pointed out information regarding Dillon's Tavern and suggested numerous additional avenues and resources for research
- Mike Filey, historian: Trillium and Toronto Island: The Centennial Edition. Mr. Filey also directed me towards the Toronto Marine Historical Society.
- Bob Dunn, National Horseshoe Pitching Association Historian
- I can't recall the specific links used, but I am sure that relied on at least one or two articles by Peter Kuitenbrouwer, of the National Post
- Lots and lots of Googling
- Other sources generally linked where appropriate
Most of the historic street and map photos come from the City of Toronto Archives, who were gracious enough to put up with my bumbling presence and endless questions. Technically speaking, I was supposed to fill out an Image Reproduction Request form for every single photo from them, which I did for a good chunk of them, but I'm pretty sure I missed a few. Additionally, each photo is supposed to have a citation adjacent to or in close proximity to the image to which it refers, e.g. City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub-Series 5, Item 74. "A reference to the 'City of Toronto Archives' in the final credits or acknowledgements is insufficient."
Err... How about my paying $28.25 for the digital image of Series 372, Sub-Series 5, Item 74, and we'll call it even?
The modern photos were taken by me except where otherwise noted.
If anyone needs to know the provenance of any photo in this essay, contact me and I can instruct you on how to find it... Fair use, fair dealing, academic provisions, expired copyright, public domain, etc. etc. Welcome to the digital age! Arrrrr....
Alas, I am no methodical, trained historian. Any omissions, errors of fact or deficiencies of scholarship regarding the gym, its history, or Toronto history, are mine entirely. Any opinions expressed are mine, or are an interpretation of opinions expressed based on my notes.
Please submit any corrections in the comments, or to me directly. I would also gladly welcome additional information about or more old photos of the Oasis building from the past. I looked as hard as I could, but the Archives stymied me.
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