Businesses can also form gateways onto Yonge, as they encourage economic participation with mainstream society. Through businesses, new immigrants were able to contribute to the plethora of services available on Yonge Street.
During World War I, Greek refugees came to Toronto to escape the economic hardship in Greece during the War. Because of conflicts between the Greek Monarchy and Parliament, Greece remained neutral during the war, and as a result citizens suffered from a lack of international economic participation, which trickled down to the local level.
A large portion of the immigrants to Canada were single men looking to establish businesses temporarily in Canada to send money back home. Language and educational barriers prevented the Greek immigrants from holding administrative and professional positions, leading them to work as waiters, manual labourers and factory workers. Greek immigrants benefited from a wartime “gap” in essential services (such as grocery stores, restaurants, etc.) that allowed them to establish small businesses free of competition.
Many of these Greek-owned businesses were established along Yonge street. C.J. Bazos was one of these men. He was born in Greece but grew up in Chicago before moving to Toronto to establish his restaurant “Bazos Bros. Restaurant” at Yonge and Gould (on the new Student Learning Centre Site). The Bazos family was highly successful in Toronto. In fact, his brother, Frank revolutionized the way Canadians buy milk– at a convenience store– with his established business: Becker’s Milk, which is still around today.