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What Toronto looked like in the 1970s

The 1970s was an era of transition from a relatively quiet, industrialized, mostly Anglo-Saxon city to a financial and head office city with enormous economic power and a diverse ethnic population for Toronto. During the 1970s, the population of the city continued to grow and surpassed that of Montreal by the end of the decade. The main factor behind the rapid growth in the population of Toronto was strong immigration, increasingly by Asians and people of African descent, and the increasing size of the auto industry in Southern Ontario.

Toronto replaced Montreal as the main financial of Canada as head offices moved there from Montreal, notably the Royal Bank of Canada and other major banks. New skyscrapers were built, mostly by banks, including the Royal Trust Tower, Canadian Place, CN Tower, Royal Bank Plaza, and South Tower. The loss of many of the old buildings in the downtown saw a new interest among Toronto’s citizens to preserve heritage buildings.

Toronto was also dirtier, sleazier, more industrial, and less sanitized than now and it didn’t have a lot of good restaurants in the early 1970s. The subway was a lot smaller, extending to Warden in the east, Islington in the West, and only reaching Eglinton in the North. There were big plans for highway expansion that were finally done away within the 1970s.

Toronto has certainly become a more interesting and diverse place to live in over the last fifty years. Here below are some stunning vintage photos that show what Toronto looked like in the 1970s.

#5 Railway network in the city of Toronto, September 1974.

#6 Fairmont Royal York hotel, Toronto, September 1974.

#18 Lancaster Bomber on display at Coronation Park, Lake Shore Blvd. W.,1970

#19 Stock-exchange of the bourse of Toronto, Ontario, in 1975

#21 Cars on the highway in September 1974 in Toronto.

#22 Hannelore Princess of Auersperg, friend Heino, strolling on a concert tour on May 15th, 1978 in Toronto

#23 “Fan, Heino, Ralf Bendix, walk before the 1st Heino concert on December 1st, 1975 in Toronto

#27 St. Lawrence Market, as seen from the King Edward Hotel, July 1974

#57 Crowds in front of Old City Hall. Note the old streetcar.

#66 University Theatre in the background of a street scene.

#67 City Hall (ca. 1970). Photo from Toronto History.

#70 Here it comes! The CN Tower at the beginning of construction.

#72 Maple Leaf Gardens with the Odeon Theatre in the background, 1970.

#73 Gone but not forgotten, 1970s record shops at Yonge and Gould.

#74 Yonge and Adelaide, looking across the intersection towards the distinctive concrete exterior of the Lumsden Building, 1970s

#75 Bloor Street West and Keele, 1970s. Looking north up Keele, streetcar headed west along Bloor.

#76 Mirvish Village, around 1970. Looking south along the east side of Markham Street. Gaston’s French Restaurant, Tiffany’s, Poster Palace, and the Pollock Gallery.

#77 An interesting view of King & Bay, looking down from the top of the Canadian Bank of Commerce building, 1970s

An interesting view of King & Bay, looking down from the top of the Canadian Bank of Commerce building, 1970s

Bank of Nova Scotia building in the foreground. Behind it, some lost buildings - Bank of Montreal building (nw corner), and the Bank of Toronto building (sw).

#79 Mayor Mel Lastman and new The City with Heart sign February 1979

#81 Zanzibar, Toronto, 1970s

Zanzibar, Toronto, 1970s

Mix of shops to the south: skate exchange, beauty salon, optometrist, restaurants. Bet the corned beef was good.

#85 A kid tempting a swan with a Ritz cracker at the Centre Island, 1970s

#87 Don Mills Bus. Gateway & Don Mills looking south, 1972

#90 A busy day along Mount Pleasant Road near Manor during the last few days of streetcar operation in July 1976

#92 CN Tower – construction view from King West and Widmer, view looks south past houses on Mercer St., 1974

#93 CN Tower – construction view from King St W, in front of the Royal Alex, 1974

#94 TTC Bus 7563 heading east on Eglinton West, at Kane Avenue TTC bus 7721 can be seen in the background in the second image, heading west on Eglinton Av W., 1974

#95 TTC Bus 7563 heading east on Eglinton West, near Kane Avenue TTC bus 7721, 1974

#98 Watching the action of a live TV broadcast at the CNE is fun for crowds who gather at the CBC tent near the west end of the Better Living Building, 1972

#100 TTC Tour Tram trips as it headed south on McCaul Street near the streetcar loop. Photo by J. Bryce Lee, June 10, 1978.

#101 Tour Tram trips. TTC Streetcar 2766 heads east on Queen near Bay, July 1973.

#102 The future Macdonald Block / 900 Bay Street site, looking east toward Bay. The building with the Studebaker sign in the distance is at 945 Bay, 1970s

#104 Al Laceby’s Garage and Sunoco service Station, Parke and Main Street North (Weston Road), 1970s

#109 A view looking north east from the TD Centre, 1971.

#110 Police chase- O’connor & St. Clair looking east, 1971

#111 136 and 138 Riverview Drive, now demolished. 140 survives, 1970s

#112 Another year of the C.N.E. has come & gone. Not much to talk about the last couple of years, 1971

#113 18 Semi-detached houses being built on the north side of Highway 401 near CFTO television station on Snowhill Cres, 1975

#116 Surrounded with antiques; Joy and Neil Dixon preside at the counter of their coffee house; Grumbles; at 71 Jarvis St., 1970

#117 Early recycling – Three men in the truck are pointing to the name on the side; Glass Gobbler; which defines its job, 1977

Early recycling - Three men in the truck are pointing to the name on the side; Glass Gobbler; which defines its job, 1977

The truck picks up glass containers from 35 hotels and taverns and takes them to glass factories in Metro for re use. Centre is Happy Harry Atherley; driver; at right; Elliot Dalton; executive director of the Glass Container Council of Canada; left; Ted Meitz; project director.

#118 Roof of the Music Building at the CNE. Dad’s slides, Feb 1977

#120 Metro incinerator on Commissioner St., 1973

Metro incinerator on Commissioner St., 1973

Okay sign from 450-feet up. Riggers Fern Morin; left; and Emile Lebond; gave okay signs yesterday as they finished the last foot of the 450-foot incinerator chimney being built at the Metro incinerator on Commissioner St. The chimney which took Taylor Engineering took Taylor Engineering employees seven weeks to build; still has to have a steel jacket built inside. It will replace two smaller chimneys.

#122 Page Bros manufactured soaps, other cleaning supplies, and industrial chemicals, 1970s

#125 Texaco station, 1970s. Toronto city hall in the background.

#126 Looking north toward 335 Jarvis, then the Keystone Hotel. Jarvis Street Baptist Church tower peeking out behind, 1970s

#127 Another view of the Premium gas station at 789 St. Clair West, back in 1976

Another view of the Premium gas station at 789 St. Clair West, back in 1976

This was originally built as a Joy Oil service station, built in the 1930s. The building was razed years ago, the property is currently a Green P parking lot.

#130 Kingsway Theatre on Bloor Street, 1970s .It was double bill with Mansion of the Doomed and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

#132 Skyline of downtown Toronto from the Toronto Islands, 1970s

#134 A grungy March 1973 view along the Gardiner Expressway at Sunnyside, showing an inbound GO train heading to Union Station as PM rush hour traffic inches along the Gardiner out of the city.

#135 Boxing day shopping at A&A Records, Yonge T., Boxing Day 1975

#136 CN Tower view of the harbor front and docklands, late 1970s.

#138 Saugreen Lumber Mill Log Flume Ride at Centreville, 1974.

#141 Exhibition Stadium, C.N.E. grounds, as viewed from Ontario Place, captured by my father in September 1972. – Credit: Dan Ward

#143 Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… Yonge St. Vendor, mid-1970s.

#147 Looking north east to the Marine Museum. CNE grounds in Winter, 1970s

#152 Uncluttered Toronto Skyline from Ontario Place, 1970s.

#153 Another photo of Casa Loma, captured by my father in March 1970.

#155 Bathurst Street bridge and the rail yards, view looking west, 1970s.

#156 H.M.C.S. Haida when it was moored along a pier in Toronto’s harbor, 1970

#157 Canadian National Railways No. 6213 steam locomotive when it was located beside the Toronto Marine Museum, CNE grounds, 1970

#158 Kids play on a retired Sherman tank, across the street from the Automotive Building, 1970

#159 WWII relics on display at Coronation Park, Lake Shore Blvd. W., 1970

#160 The Princes’ Gates, CNE. Captured by my father in March 1970.

#162 The view of Bluffer’s Park under construction from the bottom of Eastville Avenue, 1973

#163 Wexford Heights Plaza with the recently closed Wexford Restaurant. Northeast corner of Warden & Lawrence, 1977

#164 Scarborough Mayor Paul Cosgrove in bike parade, Malvern, 1976

#165 Kensington Market, northwest corner of Augusta Ave. & Nassau St., August 2, 1974.

#166 Looking north on Augusta Ave. from Baldwin St., 1978.

#167 View looking south west from Nassau St. to Augusta Ave., 1970s

#168 Shot from the tip of Toronto Fire Department Aerial 24 in May of 1975

#169 An old parking meter and the newspaper box on Queen St. W. near Jameson Ave, 970s

#170 Ladies out shopping on Queen St. W. near Jameson Ave., 1972

#171 Yonge Street in the 1970s.

Yonge Street in the 1970s.

The House of Stein at this time was at 258 Yonge Street, on the southwest corner of Yonge St. and Trinity Square. Trinity Square used to be an actual street with the entrance / exit at this point on Yonge. Both were demolished to make way for the Eaton Centre in 1974.

#172 TTC D901 on shuttle bus service, northbound on Yonge St. at Woodlawn Ave., September 1997.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.


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