Top 20 Photos from Toronto’s History

Have a look at Toronto in the "Good Old Times"

PCC streetcar on Queen Street East
An old model of PCC streetcar on Queen Street East (1954)

Click individual photos to enlarge and enter the Lightbox Gallery.

Toronto and its History: How much do you know your city?

Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. The city sits at the Northern tip of Lake Ontario and its history dates all the way back to the 18th century. As you can see in one of the pictures, the city was severely damaged by 2 large fires in 1849 and 1904. Nowadays, stronger than ever and with the population of 2.6 million, the city continues to flourish and attract many visitors every year.

Some facts about Toronto's development through the history: By 1851, the Irish were the largest ethnic group following the immigration of many fleeing the Great Irish Famine. The sewage system was built in the 19th century. The horse carriages slowly started to be replaced by cars and trains - long-distance railway lines were built in 1854. The Gooderham and Worts Distillery (now known as part of the popular Distillery District) was once one of the biggest whiskey factories of the 19th century. Horse-drawn streetcars gave way to electric streetcars in 1892. With the flourishing trade connections and industry, together with a large number of immigrants, Toronto started its transformation into a multi-cultural metropolis that it is today.

Let's travel back in time and look at some of these beautiful historic photographs documenting important events, daily life, and the changing of the face of the city.

Do you recognize some of the places? You might be surprised how they looked decades ago and mesmerized by the look of the people who once walked the streets of Toronto. All the featured photos are digital copies of the originals from The City of Toronto Archives.

Horse carriage on Jarvis Street
Horse Carriage on Jarvis Street (1884)
Bloor Viaduct construction Toronto archives
The Bloor Viaduct Construction (1917)
Workers on Bloor Viaduct Construction
Workers on Bloor Viaduct Construction (1917)
Woman in backyard Toronto archives
21 Elizabeth Street in the Financial District (1913)
Chestnut street 1914 Toronto archives
The Rear of 210 Chestnut Street reveals the conditions people there lived in around (1914)
Toronto traffic 1930 Front street
Front Street traffic just West of Yonge Street (1934)
Avenue Street old cars Toronto archives
Look at these lovely cars on Avenue Road! (1937)
Bay street 1918 Toronto archives
Bay Street looking southeast from Louisa Street (1918)
Toronto bus terminal Bay street
Toronto Bus Terminal Bay Street at night (1935)
Coxwell car house Leslieville Toronto archives
Coxwell car house, Leslieville (1961)
Eglinton Avenue West Toronto archives
Eglinton Avenue West from Avenue Road (1935)
Elizabeth Street playground Toronto archives
Elizabeth Street Playground around 1913
Iceboats Toronto Harbour Commission building
Iceboats in front of Toronto Harbour Commission building (1920)
Street workers Dundas Toronto archives
Dundas and Bay Streets around 1923
Railway bridge construction Toronto archive
The construction of the railway bridge over Queen Street East near De Grassi street, placing the first girder (1926)
Concession Hanlans point Toronto archives
The illuminated Concession Hanlans Point (1928)
Maple Leaf gardens refreshment stand Toronto archives
Maple Leaf Gardens refreshment stand (1955)
Diving horse at Hanlans Point Toronto archives
The "diving horse" at Hanlans Point (1907)
Opening New City Hall Toronto archives
The opening week celebrations and the New City Hall (1965)

All visual content is licensed by Creative Commons - you may use individual photos but you should link them to Toronto archives page.

7 comments on “Top 20 Photos from Toronto’s History

  1. I am 68 years old, born and raised in Toronto, I put 37 years into the Toronto Police Service as a Cop, and 3 years into the Canadian Navy. My Father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather put 104 years into the Toronto Rail Company and TTC. I am a true Torontonian with memories of eveything from Sunnyside, The Palace Pier, individual Police Services, Streetcars that reached the end of the line and you took the drive handle from one end and put it in the other end to drive back, Mapleleaf Stadium at the foot of Bathurst Street, Mapleleaf Gardens and a winning hockey team, the Blue Jays winning the world series in 92 and 93, the Young Street fire that created the Eaton Centre, Hurricane Hazel, the Polio Epidemic that took the life of my dear sweet sister Judy, Bell Canada party lines, the Air Canadaq crash at Malton that killed over a 100 passengers and stored thier bodies at the Hockey Rink at Islington and Highway 7, the opening of new City Hall, the building of the CN Tower, the building of the Gardiner expressway and the Don Valley Parkway and the list could go on forever.

    I am so proud to say this to you all!!!!


    1. Dear Dave,

      So nice to hear your stories. I feel you are very valuable to Canada. As you and your forefathers have made Toronto what it is now. And we all salute you and your family for that.
      Please do share picture of your Dad and Grandfather if you can.

    2. Great bullets that stir my own memories! Toronto born and raised from 1952, I don’t have the same scope as your items. But I love to add to my knowledge base of this great city! Thank you.

  2. These pictures are great! Wish I could go back and see all the corners of Toronto in that time. The bus terminal looks exactly the same!

  3. The Coxwell Carhouse was/is at Danforth & Coxwell, I think including that corner in Leslieville is a bit of a stretch.

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