Sep 22, 2021

By Christine Ross

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Listen to Christine’s report here.

A violent riot in Toronto almost 90 years ago remains one of the worst incidents of antisemitism ever in this city. And yet many have never heard of it.

Now, the ‘Christie Pits Riot’ is being presented as an audio walking tour, by Toronto theatre company The Hogtown Collective featuring critically acclaimed Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman.

It was six years before the World War Two when festering hatred against Jews led to this riot involving thousands during an amateur baseball game between Jewish and Protestant teams.

“By the time the game was over, a group of fans lifted up a banner and on it  was that hated symbol the swastika,” said co-creator Drew Carnwath.

Surprisingly, nobody was killed in the riot where bricks and bats were used as weapons.

“On the beaches, on the boardwalks of Toronto, residents started to put up signs no dogs and no Jews, who were no allowed in many public places.”

Co-creator Sam Rosenthal’s grandfather owned a drugstore just steps from Christie Pitts at the time of the riots.

“The night that the youths unfurled the Nazi flag, essentially, the Jewish men were ready and they stood up and it turns into a crazy race riot with thousands of people,” said Rosenthal.

Sadly, what happened almost nine decades ago in this park along Bloor, could be ripped from today’s news headlines. Hate crimes reported to Toronto police spiked more than 50 percent last year with Jews  targeted more than any other group.

To hear the Christie Pits Riot radio drama that launches September 30th, click here

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