On August 16, 1933, only a few months after Hitler and the Nazis come to power in Germany, one of the country’s most violent ethnic riots broke out at Christie Pits park(then known as Willowvale Park) the end of a playoff game for the Toronto junior softball championship.
Toronto was a predominately 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 predominately 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.