In 1933, an anti-semitic race riot during a baseball game left many injured—and foreshadowed a decade of persecution and violence.
Crowds spill onto the streets during the Christie Pits riots. Fights broke out between Jewish and non-Jewish youth during a baseball game at the Toronto park.
It’s easy to imagine Toronto as removed from the violence of antisemitism and the rise of Adolf Hitler, but on an August evening in 1933, the animosity that troubled the streets of Berlin emerged in Toronto during a baseball game at Christie Pits. Earlier in 1933, Adolf Hitler emerged as the winner of the German election with a populist platform that promised the return of good fortune and pride to Germany after a decade and a half of economic misery.
During a neighbourhood baseball game between the Harbord Playground team and another represented by St.Peter’s church a couple of days before the brawl, someone pulled out a white flag containing a swastika. The action mobilized supporters and opponents of the Nazi Party. Up to 10,000 people converged upon the park as the game suddenly became a platform for racial politics, and soon enough, young men brawled for over five hours in what the Toronto Daily Star called “one of the worst free-for-alls ever seen in the city.”
Reports of the riot, visible in the top-left corner of the Toronto Daily Star on August 17, 1933, showcase the extent of injuries suffered by youth during the chaos. (image source: Toronto Daily Star/Toronto Public Library/Proquest)