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The Riot at Christie Pits

The Riot at Christie Pits

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Ethnic tensions had been rising in Toronto throughout the hot summer of 1933. Hitler had recently come to power in Germany and some residents of the eastern beaches neighbourhood had formed "Swastika Clubs" to protect their community from "undesirable elements."

On August 16, at Toronto’s Christie Pits, a baseball game between two local teams - one made up of Jewish players - ignited the simmering resentments. Some troublemakers unfurled a huge swastika flag, shouting, "Heil Hitler!" Retaliation from Jewish spectators and players was swift and reinforcements for both sides poured into the park. The result - never experienced in Toronto before or since - was a four-hour race riot.

The riot at Christie Pits remains a disturbing, even legendary part of the city's history. Authors Cyril Levitt and William Shaffir, carefully sifting fact from fiction, provide a compelling perspective on how ordinary Canadians reacted to the intensifying antisemitism in Europe.