On August 16th 1933 arguably the largest riot in Toronto happened, known as the christie pits riot. It took place at a quarter final baseball game between a church team and a team of mostly jewish men(Harbord playground) which had many supporters coming to watch.
But only after the game would the real riot begin last 6 hours with thousands of people joining in on the brawl. Marking a turning point in Toronto’s history.The year of 1933 was one full of racial tensions in Toronto. This was partly because in 1932 Hitler rose to power in Germany and in January 1933 he was announced challendor. Some torontonians believed in his message and anti semitism was taking over Toronto as back then it was very british, protsent city. That summer people would call jews things like “dirty jew” and you could get beat up by local gang members. There were also signs that read “no jews, no dogs” and in the Beaches neighbourhood there were stories of men wear swastika symbols on their swimsuits and shirts, pattroling for what they call “undesirables” , part of new groups called swastika clubs.
Even the youth would throw garbage at jewish homes and shout nazi slogans. As you could see anti-semitism was acceptable back then and discrimination was just part of jewish people’s lives. It had gotten so bad that the mayor at the time, William James Stewart, negotiated with the gangs and clubs to try to stop further conflict. But four days later would be the softball game and that negotiation wouldn’t matter. The game was starting to reach the end with the church team winning when the pit gang, a group of trouble-making young men, went up onto a knoll and unveiled a white banner that some say was 2.5 metres high and wide and in the middle was a giant, black swastika.
The swastika had a huge meaning to the jews because they were hearing what was happening to the jews in Germany, so when the banner was unveiled supporters of the harbord playground (mostly young jewish men) ran straight at them tearing the banner into shreds. That’s even the 6 hour riot would begin, marking a turning point in toronto’s history.