At one time, the sole Canadian factory of the Gutta Percha & Rubber Manufacturing Company was located in Parkdale. Lost Toronto has dug up some good information and images of the factory here.
Looking North up West Lodge, at the end of the street can be seen a 1946 view of the factory.
In general, the Gutta Percha Factory is evidence of Parkdale’s changing relationship with industry, and its presence in the village relied on finding the right political moment. As noted earlier, the village desired to market itself as a “suburban retreat”, for persons wishing to live in relative comfort while commuting to Toronto. It was this desire that resulted in a seemingly contradictory attitude from the town council: In December 1879, Harris and Crowhurst’s sheet metal factory (located on the West side of Dufferin Street) was producing portable houses (to be shipped to Australia) in a Parkdale factory. However, a month later it was reported in the Mail that a cotton manufacturing company had asked Parkdale’s council for tax relief in return for choosing the village as its base of operations, but found that Parkdale was the “last place to procure a bonus. Its residents desire nothing but ‘flowers and a rural home’ – as one of the councilor poetically puts it”.
It would not be until January 1883 when the annual election would produce a majority in Parkdale’s town council for the village’s pro-development proponents. This allowed Parkdale to adjust its trade bylaws, allowing them to directly compete for industries with Toronto. As a result, the Gutta Percha Rubber Company was granted a ten-year tax exemption, a special water rate, and free gas. In return, the factory provided over one hundred jobs, mostly to people living in the municipality. This was an important time for industry in Parkdale, and the residents certainly benefited from the increase in near-by jobs. Of course, once the village was annexed, Parkdale lost the ability to adjust its own laws and thus its ability to compete with other areas of Toronto for industrial development.
Whitzman, C. (2009). Suburb, slum, urban village transformations in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, 1875-2002. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Mechanical rubber goods manufactured by Gutta Percha & Rubber, Limited, successors to the Gutta Percha & Rubber Mfg. Co. of Toronto, Limited.. (1910). Toronto, Ont.: Gutta Percha & Rubber.
Also, be sure to take a look at an archive of Globe and Mail’s past issues online via the Toronto Public Library