What Toronto looked like in the 1950s Through these Fascinating Photos

Toronto in the 1950s was a bustling, growing city. It was the largest city in Canada and the commercial, financial, and cultural center of the country. At the time, Toronto’s population was around 1.1 million people, and it was known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, as well as its bustling business and financial districts.

Toronto’s economy in the 1950s was largely centered around its strong manufacturing and trade industries. At the time, Toronto was home to many large factories and industrial facilities, and the city was a major hub for the production of goods like cars, clothing, and food products. The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 also had a major impact on Toronto’s economy, as it expanded the city’s port facilities and made it an even more important center for trade and commerce. This brought new jobs and economic opportunities to the city and helped to solidify its position as a major player in Canada’s economy. Toronto’s financial sector was also growing during this time, and the city became home to many banks and financial institutions. This helped to make Toronto a major financial center in Canada, and it remains so to this day. Toronto’s economy in the 1950s was strong and diverse, with growth in industries like manufacturing, trade, and finance. This set the stage for the city’s continued economic success in the decades that followed.

Toronto in the 1950s was also home to a thriving music scene. Jazz clubs and music venues were popular, and many famous musicians, including Oscar Peterson and Moe Koffman, got their start in the city. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra was also founded during this time, and it quickly became one of the city’s most popular cultural attractions.

Here are some stunning historical photos that will take you back to the 1950s in Toronto. Also check, Toronto  in the 1920s and 1930s

#1 Back to the top of the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building, 1959

#3 Looking north on University Ave. from the west sidewalk, just below Elm St., 1959.

#4 A Marani and Morris set piece, looking southeast across University Avenue at 505 University (Shell Oil Building) and 481 University (Maclean Hunter Building), 1959

#5 TTC Charter streetcar on Maclean Ave. below Queen Street, 1953.

#8 This is Frank’s Italian Shoe Repair business opened in 1955.

#9 QEW/Highway 27 (now 427) area – Credit Angelo Nicoletti, 1958

#11 People outside their house on Balfour Avenue in East York, 1950s

#13 The Easter Bunny visiting Cloverdale Mall at Dundas and the East Mall, which was then called Roydon, in 1957.

#14 Riding Joan. Robert W. Shannon was in the Toronto Mounted Unit, 1950

#16 Oakridge Public School on the Danforth in Scarborough, 1953

#21 Wedgewood Avenue In North York. Looking northeast from 109 Wedgewood, 1950

#22 TTC Subway car in Lawton loop ,Yonge st above st clair, 1953

#23 Osvald and Lydia Einer, on Gerrard Street East near Bowmore Road, early 1950s

#25 Portion of the former Central Prison, Strachan Avenue, west side, south of King St., 1953

#26 Portion of the former Central Prison, Strachan Avenue, west side, south of King St., 1953

#27 TTC Streetcar 2482 interior view during a fan trip – 12th of June 1955

#28 Fran’s Restaurant opened in 1950 at 20 College Street

#29 The abandoned control tower from the King Airport on north side of King Vaughan Road just east of Highway 400, 1950s

#30 Old Loretto Abbey, 403 Wellington St. W., circa late 1950s.

Old Loretto Abbey, 403 Wellington St. W., circa late 1950s.

Here is another shot of that location, looking west along the Wellington frontage. Likely only a short time before it was demolished.

#38 three young friends eating bananas and sitting on the ground in front of 5 Sherwood Ave. in Scarborough, 1956

#41 Wilfred Ave, looking east towards Bayview Ave., 1957

#42 TTC Hillcrest yard , gets Delivery of New Trolley bus t48 Brill., 1953

#43 ST Clair streetcar NB on Yonge st at Berwick ave on a Diversion run, 1952

#44 Yonge and Crescent Road, looking west from new Rosedale subway Station, 1954

#45 Bus on Yonge Street near Alexandria Street, 1954.

#46 Looking north on Weston Road to Rogers Road, 1954.

#48 Centre Island….Manitou Rd, otherwise known as the Main Drag, 1950s

#50 The station is on the south side of Rogers Road, 1950s

#51 Here’s a non-TTC slide that I purchased from John F. Knight last year showing the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Crown Arch at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1953

#52 Happy New Year from the fine folks at Canada Post. Royal Mail Truck, 1957

#53 Portion of the former Central Prison in use by John Inglis & Co., Strachan Avenue, west side, south of King St. Photo by James V. Salmon, May 1953.

#54 C.N.R. No. 6131, looking east towards John Inglis factory and Strachan Avenue bridge, May 2, 1955.

#55 TTC Streetcar 2482 at Kipling Loop – 12th of June 1955

#56 Victoria Park Avenue, looking northwest to the farm of Arthur Hill, southwest corner of Victoria Park Avenue and Old Finch Avenue, 1955

#57 Store at 1165 Bloor St. West, just west of Dufferin, 1959

#58 Jack Kent Cooke (centre) with Mayor Nathan Phillips (right) and Metro Chairman Frederick G. Gardiner (left), Maple Leaf Stadium, 1955

#59 Demolition of a block of houses in what would become the Regent Park housing project, 1953

#60 Demolition of a block of houses in what would become the Regent Park housing project, 1953

#61 “City To Rebuild Slums” – A still from ‘Farewell Oak Street’, the 1953

#62 North side of Dundas St. E., looking west to TFD Fire Station 7 at Parliament St. – A still from ‘Farewell Oak Street’, 1953

#63 A still from ‘Farewell Oak Street’, the 1953 documentary film by Grant McLean, NFB.

#64 A Canadian Pacific passenger train lead by nearly new FP9 1415 heads southbound down the Don Branch bound for Toronto’s Union Station, 1954

#66 Yonge St. & Davisville Ave., a view looking north, 1954.

#69 Another view of the Oak Leaf Steam Baths, looking southwest from Bathurst and Robinson. The old Pepsi truck is a neat detail.” 216 Bathurst Street, late 1950s.

#70 Bathurst, north of Queen. A late 1950s view of the Oak Leaf Steam Baths (closed in 2015).

#71 Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church, Sheppard Avenue East., Agincourt, 1958

#72 Eaton’s representative, early 1950s, during a parade downtown.

#73 Eaton’s representative, parked in front of the cenotaph at Old City Hall, early 1950s

#74 John Foran & Aunt Cathy at Sunnyside Beach, 1958.

#76 West side of Seaton Street, north of Gerrard, 1958.

West side of Seaton Street, north of Gerrard, 1958.

Specifically, the large building (320 Seaton) was the original Seaton House, opened in 1931 as a Depression-era shelter, and demolished in 1958.

#77 Rexton Equipment Limited, Danforth Road, south east side, north of Mack Ave., 1955

#78 A view looking north east to the downtown Toronto skyline, pre-modern office towers, 1959

#79 Another view from the Bank of Commerce building, 1959.

Another view from the Bank of Commerce building, 1959.

Looking SE, over the LCBO office/warehouse, towards the Redpath plant. Coolest part of this shot is the O’Keefe Centre, under construction, in the foreground.

#80 Lawrence Avenue East & Pharmacy Avenue looking southwest, 1952

#81 Lawrence Avenue East & Pharmacy Avenue looking southwest, 1952

#82 A view looking south from the Bank of Commerce building, 1959.

#83 A house on Parliament St. just south of Wellesley, Summer of 1957.

#84 Newly arrived immigrant from Italy working on the Yonge street subway, early 1950s.

#86 Construction for a Dominion (Now a Shoppers Drug Mart) at 550 Eglinton Avenue West, 1956

#87 D.B. Hood Public School on Dufferin Street, 1958.

#88 View north from 260 Yonge St., near Shuter St., 1950

#89 Bridge, Steeles Avenue West, East of Dufferin Street, 1959.

#92 Simcoe St. and Front St., looking north east, 1952.

#93 Davenport west of lansdowne – Credit ‎Leonard Jacks‎, 1954

#95 The CHUM Satellite Station would travel all over the GTA and beyond from 1959

The CHUM Satellite Station would travel all over the GTA and beyond from 1959

The DJs would be there broadcasting live and giving out autographs, CHUM charts, CHUM fans and many other cool things. Besides inside the Princes' Gate at the CNE

#98 MacLean Hunter Building, Dundas Street at University Avenue, 1950.

#99 Looking northeast at the intersection of Church and Queen Streets, 1954

#101 TTC Streetcar 2572 heading westbound Front & Yonge 18 Mar 1954.

#102 Church Street looking north at Bloor Street, 1954

#103 Front – Tim McNeill, Janet (Wolkowski) Soucie, Brian Wolkowski. Back – Uncle Victor Wolkowski. We are on the veranda of 20 Royal St., 1957

#105 Church St. and Alexander St. looking North east.. Lewis swanson, 1954

#106 Sam Shopsewitz and members of the Shopseys Hockey Team, 1950s

#108 From the days of stock car racing at the CNE, 1950s

#110 North-West corner of Bathurst & Wilson Ave., 1956

#111 TTC Prevost buses. Parked inside Young peoples Theatre when TTC owned the bldg., 1954

#112 Scarborough Junction School Section No. 10, 1956

Scarborough Junction School Section No. 10, 1956

It was established in 1847 and in 1850 a frame school was built for the children of the community to attend, later to be replaced by a brick building in 1870. In 1900 a two-room, two-storey school was built on Kennedy Road, just south of Danforth Road because the community was growing rapidly. When two more rooms were added in 1906 the Junction School became the largest public school in the Township at the time.

#113 Looking down one of the aisles in the blouse department, Eaton’s department store, 1950s

#114 Imperial Oil Esso service station, operated by A. Sullivan; located at Jane Street and Humber view Road, 1950

#115 Canadian Red Cross worker at the Malton airport, 1950

#117 Frank Sullivan, Island Canoe Club, Long Pond, Centre Island Toronto, 1950s

#118 Early construction at Canada’s Wonderland, 1950s

#119 Mercedes-Benz at 100 Davenport Rd, At Bay St., 1950s

#125 Toronto Harbour Police performing a rescue in Toronto Harbour, 1950s

#127 Birch Cliff Heights kindergarten class from 1959

#130 Former CPR North Toronto Station, 1950.

Former CPR North Toronto Station, 1950.

The clocks in the tower were removed between 1948 & 1950, which gave access to several generations of pigeons that called the tower their home. The entire building was wonderfully restored with new clocks and still stands, currently serving as the flagship store of the LCBO.

#131 Waterworks, Centre Island, filtration plant, 1954.

#132 Barker, John house, Albion Rd., north east side, around Calstock Drive, 1955.

#133 The southwest corner of Main Street at Stephenson Avenue in 1954

#134 Children playing together in their suburban neighborhood, North York, 1950s.

#135 Early 50s TTC Gray coach Sightseeing busses in laneway behind 35 yonge st, ttcs old head officetill 1958

#142 Employees operating Pako Corp. Filmachine at the ‘Kodak Heights’ facility, 1950

#143 Corner of Bathurst Street & Charleswood Drive – Credit Howard Hoffman‎, 1956

#147 Subway cars being offloaded from a shipment, 1950s

#152 A crowd attending the official opening of the subway line, 1950s

#155 A boat with a very different-looking skyline, 1950s

#161 Lake Shore Boulevard streaking across the city, 1950s

#164 The massive railway lands before the CN Tower and condo developments, 1950s

#166 Postcard view looking up Bay toward Old City Hall, 1950s

#168 Toronto Telegram Building at Bay and Melinda streets, 1950s

#169 Postcard view looking up Yonge St, north of Queen St, 1950s

#172 A streetcar passes Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Yonge St. pre-subway, 1950s

#173 Postcard view looking north to Yonge and Dundas, 1950s

#174 Redpath Sugar under construction on Queens Quay, 1950s

#177 The quiet Toronto waterfront (likely Ashbridges Bay), 1950s

#179 Postcard view of a picnic on the Toronto Islands, 1950s

#180 A Peter Witt streetcar near Yonge and Lawton, 1950s

#182 Postcard view of Gloucester train at King Station, 1950s

#185 Old Don Mills Rd. Bridge (now part of the bike trail system), 1950s

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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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