As part of the ‘Riverside BIA: 40 Years, 40 Stories’ series, we’re sharing the story of the re-naming of the Queen Broadview Village BIA to Riverside BIA. Our thanks go to local historian, author and former BIA Chair Ron Fletcher for sharing anecdotes from the time of the renaming and contributions from local writer Aarti Sharma.
It was with great pride when our BIA, named Queen Broadview Village Business Improvement Area since its formation in 1980, proclaimed in its summer 2004 newsletter (yes, printed and hand-delivered!):
“In March of this year, the BIA Board of management received responses to the name change questionnaire supporting the change to Riverside from Queen Broadview Village in a two to one majority.”
This announcement marked both the end and the beginning of a process to revitalize the area.
What’s In a Name?
As local historian, author and former BIA Chair Ron Fletcher shared:
“When Stan Jones and I acquired a storefront on Queen Street East in the 1990s, the heritage buildings in the area with their rich red brick patina were very appealing. At the time it was the ‘Queen Broadview Village BIA’ and was one of the very few original business areas in the city that still had an ensemble of old buildings, some by notable architects. Several still had the old tin ceilings.”
“Until 1884, the area was known as Riverside, an unincorporated village with marching bands, sports teams, etc that made it a small but vital community. In that year (1884), a vote was held: should they incorporate, as the village of Parkdale had, or join the city? Toronto promised to build wooden sidewalks to end the muddy street and put in sewers. The City won the day.”
“In our newbie enthusiasm, Stan and I thought the historic name of Riverside might add a fresh appeal – what’s old could be new again. We proposed the idea to the Queen Broadview Village’s Board of Directors, and to our surprise, not only was the idea accepted, but we were elected to the board.”
So, alongside the announcement of the welcoming of the filming of “Cinderella Man” (a historic happening to say the least!), the news of the name change topped the BIA’s newsletter in summer 2004, along with upcoming work by a marketing firm (UP Inc) to help parlay that change into new branding and street presence.
With the Re-Naming Came a Re-Branding!
The work of renaming was followed by the work of rebranding to bring “an appeal of a compelling destination— an area worth visiting, spending time in and worthy of revisiting”, according to discussions of the Board of management at the time.
With these goals in mind, the BIA set out, with the support of a ‘City of Toronto’s Commercial Research Grant’ to contract a professional marketing firm called UP Inc, to develop and launch a marketing and advertising campaign.
Taking the Board through an exercise for re-branding, the UP Inc team interviewed members and came up with image associations to ‘Riverside’ which conveyed the history but also the meaning of the area, as the area runs along the Don River as well as as a part of South Riverdale, a then already well-known area incorporating the historic Riverside and Leslieville communities. The word ‘District’ was adjoined to ‘Riverside’ as ‘District’ has a historic connotation and it also conveyed a destination (like the nearby popular Distillery District).
Early Riverside District BIA branding was born:
Since that time the Riverside BIA brand and look on the street and online has certainly evolved with the times (to become and award-winning!…but that’s another story 😉
The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.