Friends of Christie Pits Park
Friends of Christie Pits Park

Christie Pits Riot of 1933
Christie Pits Riot Commemorative Plaque

On 17 August 2008, Heritage Toronto commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot by publicly presenting a plaque in the southeast corner of the park. The plaque reads:

Riot at Christie Pits
On August 16, 1933, at the end of a playoff game for the Toronto junior softball championship, one of the city's most violent ethnic clashes broke out in this park (then known as Willowvale Park). Toronto was a predominantly British and Protestant city struggling through the Great Depression, and youths in several neighbourhoods were harassing those they considered 'foreigners'. Widespread prejudice against Jews made them particular targets. Two nights earlier, on August 14, fans of the predominantly Jewish 'Harbord Playground' team were provoked by local 'Pit Gang members with a makeshift swastika, a symbol made familiar by the recent rise to power of the Nazi party in Germany. At the end of the game on August 16, another large swastika was displayed. Jewish fans attacked its bearers. As word of the fight spread, reinforcements - including Italian friends of Jewish youths - rushed to the area. The resulting five-hour riot involved baseball bats and iron bars, and spilled onto the streets. Though no one was killed, Torontonians were shocked by the violence. Mayor Stewart questioned the inadequate response of the Chief of Police to early warnings of impending violence, and stated that anyone displaying the swastika emblem would be liable to prosecution.

Christie Pits Riot
The only picture taken of the riot, by a Globe and Mail photographer
Toronto Archives; fonds 1266, Globe and Mail Collection, item 30791

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