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East York is a former municipality within the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was a semi-autonomous borough within the overall municipality of Metropolitan Toronto until 1998, when it was amalgamated into the new "megacity" of Toronto in 1998. Before the amalgamation, it was Canada's only borough.
It is separated by the Don River from the former City of Toronto. Traditional East York is southeast of the river, and the neighbourhoods of Leaside, Bennington Heights and densely populated Thorncliffe Park are northwest of the river. The heart of East York is filled with middle-class and working-class homes, with extensive high-rise developments along peripheral major streets and in Crescent Town and Thorncliffe Park.
East York was originally part of York Township. Following the incorporation of the Township of North York in 1922, York Township was divided by Toronto, Leaside and North Toronto. With the rapid growth that followed the opening of the Bloor-Danforth (Prince Edward) Viaduct in 1919, the residents of the eastern half of York Township (as an exclave of the western half) felt they had been neglected by the township when it came to roads, sewers and other municipal services. Left with the option to either join the City of Toronto or branch out on its own, 448 East Yorkers voted to incorporate a new township, while 102 voted to amalgamate with Toronto. The Township of East York was incorporated on January 1, 1924 with a population of 19,849. The western half of York Township retained its name.
East York was originally populated by working class English people who valued the opportunity to own small homes of their own, with front lawns and back gardens. Many had immigrated from Lancashire and Yorkshire. In 1961, 71.7% of the population identified themselves as having British origins.
In the late 1940s, after World War II, East York became home to many returning veterans and their families. Many inexpensive homes were built, including the houses around Topham Park, by the government, to house the returning veterans and the baby boomers. The local government was both socially conscious and frugal, fitting the residents' self-image of East York as filled with supportive neighbours and non-government organizations.
For many years, the borough did not allow the serving of alcoholic beverages in any restaurants, etc. The result was a heavy concentration of alcohol-serving restaurants and bars on Danforth Avenue, a main street in the city of Toronto running east-west just south of East York. The prohibition of serving alcohol was eliminated in the 1970s.
The borough of East York was established in 1967 through the amalgamation of the former township of East York and the former town of Leaside. Leaside was a planned industrial and residential community. East York has over the years been a residential enclave for senior citizens, as the original owners from the 1940s age and as younger families move out to suburbs to live in larger houses. East York had its own fire department with three stations, which are still in operation today under the combined Toronto Fire Services. Recently, rapid and accelerated gentrification has changed many neighbourhoods. Many one-story bungalows have added second floors, and many shops have been converted to more upscale shops. Canada's only borough, East York was semi-autonomous within the greater municipality of Metropolitan Toronto.
In 1998, East York, along with North York, York, Scarborough, Etobicoke and Old Toronto, were amalgamated into the new "megacity" of Toronto. East York's last mayor was Michael Prue who went on to become city councillor for East York, and then a Member of Provincial Parliament for Beaches'East York in 2001. Between 2002 and 2005, the East York Civic Centre's "True Davidson Council Chamber" was used to hold the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry/Toronto External Contracts Inquiry.