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What Toronto looked like in the 1980s Through these Fascinating Photos

In the early 1980s, Toronto surpassed Montreal in population with a population of 3 million versus 2.8 million for Montreal. Several factors contributed to Toronto’s growth over Montreal, including substantial immigration, especially from Asians and African Americans, the growing auto industry in Southern Ontario after the Auto Pact was signed with the US in 1965, a calmer political environment, lower personal income taxes than in Quebec (Quebec experienced two referendums on separation during these years, one in 1980 and one in 1995). Most Canadian companies have their head offices in Toronto, which also became the corporate capital of Canada.

During the 1980s, manufacturing jobs in Toronto had become more specialized (e.g., electronics), and the significant shift was to service jobs as Toronto became a major financial, administration, real estate, insurance, educational, wholesale, retailing, and tourism destination. Five of the six national banks were located in the city, making it the nation’s financial capital. Consequently, the town saw high-density core development and suburbanization, which increased the need for public transportation.

Here are some stunning vintage photos that will take you back to the 1980s in Toronto. It seems like the 1980s were not too distant from today, but they were different. It was a large city, but it still felt like a small town. The environment seemed safe, clean, and endlessly exciting.

#1 World’s Biggest Bookstore, 1980s

World's Biggest Bookstore, 1980s

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#2 College Street, Toronto, 1983

College Street, Toronto, 1983

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#3 Kensington Market, 1980s

Kensington Market, 1980s

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#4 Street vendor outside subway station, 1985

Street vendor outside subway station, 1985

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#5 CNE, 1985

CNE, 1985

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#6 Premium gas station, Lake Shore Road, 1980

Premium gas station, Lake Shore Road, 1980

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#7 South-east corner, Carlaw and Danforth avenues, 1989

South-east corner, Carlaw and Danforth avenues, 1989

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#8 Balloon fountain, Scarborough Town Centre, 1980

Balloon fountain, Scarborough Town Centre, 1980

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#9 Yonge Street, Toronto, 1982

Yonge Street, Toronto, 1982

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#10 Yonge and Dundas, Toronto, 1982

Yonge and Dundas, Toronto, 1982

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#11 Gerrard St. East in 1981

Gerrard St. East in 1981

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#12 1050 Chum radio advertisement, 1980s

1050 Chum radio advertisement, 1980s

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#13 A postcard featuring Exhibition Stadium, 1980s

A postcard featuring Exhibition Stadium, 1980s

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#14 A photo from the modern day, featuring a 1980s-era police car from Metro Toronto.

A photo from the modern day, featuring a 1980s-era police car from Metro Toronto.

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#15 Gerrard and Parliament, Toronto, 1981

Gerrard and Parliament, Toronto, 1981

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#16 Pape Station, Toronto, 1983

Pape Station, Toronto, 1983

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#17 Markham Street looking north to Bloor Street, 1982

Markham Street looking north to Bloor Street, 1982

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#18 Exhibition Place game stall, 1980

Exhibition Place game stall, 1980

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#19 Dundas Street and Pacific Avenue, looking north, 1987

Dundas Street and Pacific Avenue, looking north, 1987

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#20 Street performers at Ontario Place, 1981

Street performers at Ontario Place, 1981

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#21 Akropol Greek Bakery, 458 Danforth Avenue, 1987

Akropol Greek Bakery, 458 Danforth Avenue, 1987

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#22 Street vendor, Queen and Soho streets, 1988

Street vendor, Queen and Soho streets, 1988

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#23 South-west corner, Dundas Street and Pacific Avenue, 1987

South-west corner, Dundas Street and Pacific Avenue, 1987

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#24 Yonge Street in 1983

Yonge Street in 1983

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#25 Spadina and Wellington, 1983

Spadina and Wellington, 1983

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#26 Man walking by phone booths in 1980.

Man walking by phone booths in 1980.

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#27 King and Spadina, 1980s

King and Spadina, 1980s

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#28 Liberty Village, 1980s

Liberty Village, 1980s

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#29 Queen and Bathurst, looking east, July 13, 1983.

Queen and Bathurst, looking east, July 13, 1983.

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#30 Streetcar turning south onto Church past a Sears delivery van, February 13, 1980.

Streetcar turning south onto Church past a Sears delivery van, February 13, 1980.

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#31 Ontario Place from the CN Tower, 1980s

Ontario Place from the CN Tower, 1980s

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#32 Yonge Street toward the end of the 1980s.

Yonge Street toward the end of the 1980s.

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#33 Bloor Street near Bay, facing north with the Holt Renfrew building in sight, 1980s

Bloor Street near Bay, facing north with the Holt Renfrew building in sight, 1980s

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#34 A diner on Bellair Street, 1980s

A diner on Bellair Street, 1980s

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#35 The skyline in 1986.

The skyline in 1986.

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#36 The PATH in the 1980s.

The PATH in the 1980s.

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#37 Overlapping signs in Chinatown.

Overlapping signs in Chinatown.

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#38 Marching Band, Toronto, 1983

Marching Band, Toronto, 1983

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#39 Queen and Spadina, Toronto, 1985

Queen and Spadina, Toronto, 1985

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#40 Queen West and Portland, Toronto, 1983

Queen West and Portland, Toronto, 1983

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#41 Pears Avenue, Toronto, 1984

Pears Avenue, Toronto, 1984

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#42 Yonge Street, Toronto, 1981

Yonge Street, Toronto, 1981

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#43 Phone Booths, Toronto, 1980

Phone Booths, Toronto, 1980

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#44 Yonge and Dundas, Toronto, 1984

Yonge and Dundas, Toronto, 1984

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#45 177 Carlton Street, Toronto, 1980

177 Carlton Street, Toronto, 1980

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#46 Yonge Street, Toronto, 1980

Yonge Street, Toronto, 1980

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#47 Yonge Street, Toronto, 1981

Yonge Street, Toronto, 1981

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#48 Toronto International Airport, 1983

Toronto International Airport, 1983

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#49 Santa Claus Parade, Toronto, 1981

Santa Claus Parade, Toronto, 1981

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#50 The Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada, 1987

The Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada, 1987

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#51 Skating rink in front of Toronto City Hall, 1980

Skating rink in front of Toronto City Hall, 1980

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#52 Nathan Phillips Square Toronto, 1982

Nathan Phillips Square Toronto, 1982

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#53 Bay Street, Toronto, 1981

Bay Street, Toronto, 1981

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#54 Pedestrians, Toronto, 1981

Pedestrians, Toronto, 1981

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#55 Yonge and Dundas, Toronto, 1985

Yonge and Dundas, Toronto, 1985

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#56 PCC streetcar on College Street, 1980

PCC streetcar on College Street, 1980

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#57 Bye Bye Birdie rehearsal, Scarborough Theatre, 1985

Bye Bye Birdie rehearsal, Scarborough Theatre, 1985

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#58 Building under demolition, 1980

Building under demolition, 1980

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#59 PCC streetcar 4392 on Church Street, south of Richmond Street, 1980

PCC streetcar 4392 on Church Street, south of Richmond Street, 1980

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#60 The Silver Rail, 1980

The Silver Rail, 1980

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#61 PCC streetcar 4643 on King Street East, 1980

PCC streetcar 4643 on King Street East, 1980

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#62 492 – 500a Danforth Avenue, 1982

492 – 500a Danforth Avenue, 1982

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#63 Greek Village Dining Lounge, 551 Danforth Avenue, 1985

Greek Village Dining Lounge, 551 Danforth Avenue, 1985

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#64 Keele Street in 1984

Keele Street in 1984

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#65 Downtown Toronto in 1983

Downtown Toronto in 1983

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#66 Near Queen and Bathurst in 1983.

Near Queen and Bathurst in 1983.

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#67 Yonge and Dundas, 1985

Yonge and Dundas, 1985

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#68 Queen and Shaw streets looking west, 1980s

Queen and Shaw streets looking west, 1980s

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#69 Looking toward Queen and Bay street, 1980s

Looking toward Queen and Bay street, 1980s

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#70 Dundas and Victoria streets, 1980s

Dundas and Victoria streets, 1980s

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#71 King near Shaw Street, 1980s

King near Shaw Street, 1980s

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#72 Looking across the Massey Ferguson lands on King West, 1980s

Looking across the Massey Ferguson lands on King West, 1980s

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#73 King looking west from Berkeley Street, 1980s

King looking west from Berkeley Street, 1980s

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#74 Dundas and Mavety streets, 1980s

Dundas and Mavety streets, 1980s

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#75 Traffic Jam on King west near Portland, 1980s

Traffic Jam on King west near Portland, 1980s

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#76 Looking east across King from Duncan Street, 1980s

Looking east across King from Duncan Street, 1980s

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#77 Keele just south of Dundas Street, 1980s

Keele just south of Dundas Street, 1980s

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#78 King and Simcoe streets, 1980s

King and Simcoe streets, 1980s

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#79 Yonge and Temperance streets, 1980s

Yonge and Temperance streets, 1980s

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#80 Queen and Roncesvalles, July 18, 1983.

Queen and Roncesvalles, July 18, 1983.

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#81 Two types of streetcar and a trolley bus on Queen just west of Shaw, July 13, 1983.

Two types of streetcar and a trolley bus on Queen just west of Shaw, July 13, 1983.

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#82 Queen and Shaw, looking east, June 6, 1981.

Queen and Shaw, looking east, June 6, 1981.

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#83 Queen and Gore Vale, July 13, 1983.

Queen and Gore Vale, July 13, 1983.

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#84 Queen and Beverley, looking west, June 7, 1981.

Queen and Beverley, looking west, June 7, 1981.

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#85 Dead quiet Queen and Spadina in late summer. September 27, 1981.

Dead quiet Queen and Spadina in late summer. September 27, 1981.

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#86 Queen and Bay, June 7, 1981.

Queen and Bay, June 7, 1981.

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#87 A harsh and modern-looking Queen and Bay during a snowstorm. March 13, 1980.

A harsh and modern-looking Queen and Bay during a snowstorm. March 13, 1980.

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#88 Overhead view of Queen near City Hall, July 8, 1980

Overhead view of Queen near City Hall, July 8, 1980

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#89 Bay Street trolley buses, July 18, 1983.

Bay Street trolley buses, July 18, 1983.

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#90 Looking east on Queen across Church, May 31, 1981.

Looking east on Queen across Church, May 31, 1981.

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#91 Drummer’s Paradise on Church Street at Queen, July 21, 1982.

Drummer's Paradise on Church Street at Queen, July 21, 1982.

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#92 Richmond’s Trading Post on Church just north of Queen, July 21, 1982.

Richmond's Trading Post on Church just north of Queen, July 21, 1982.

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#93 Queen and Sherbourne with St. Paul’s Basilica in the background. June 2, 1981.

Queen and Sherbourne with St. Paul's Basilica in the background. June 2, 1981.

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#94 An ice cold Queen and Parliament, looking east, February 6, 1981.

An ice cold Queen and Parliament, looking east, February 6, 1981.

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#95 Queen and Sackville, looking east, June 6, 1981.

Queen and Sackville, looking east, June 6, 1981.

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#96 The Dominion on Queen during the bad old days. June 6, 1981.

The Dominion on Queen during the bad old days. June 6, 1981.

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#97 Intersection of Queen and King at the Don River, looking west. No Scotia Plaza, yet. Exchange Tower is under construction behind First Canadian Place. June 2, 1981.

Intersection of Queen and King at the Don River, looking west. No Scotia Plaza, yet. Exchange Tower is under construction behind First Canadian Place. June 2, 1981.

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#98 Looking east from the bridge over the Don River, June 2, 1981

Looking east from the bridge over the Don River, June 2, 1981

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#99 The New Broadview Hotel, a.k.a. Jilly’s, as “Kicker’s,” August 31, 1983.

The New Broadview Hotel, a.k.a. Jilly's, as "Kicker's," August 31, 1983.

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#100 Queen and Broadview, looking east at the stores on the north side of Queen, April 2, 1982.

Queen and Broadview, looking east at the stores on the north side of Queen, April 2, 1982.

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#101 Streetcars continue to operate at Queen and Broadview despite track work (Broadview Hotel is “Maxi’s,”) March 25, 1981

Streetcars continue to operate at Queen and Broadview despite track work (Broadview Hotel is "Maxi's,") March 25, 1981

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#102 Queen and Broadview, looking west, August 25, 1983.

Queen and Broadview, looking west, August 25, 1983.

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#103 Queen and Saulter, looking toward the rail bridge, June 6, 1981.

Queen and Saulter, looking toward the rail bridge, June 6, 1981.

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#104 Looking east from Queen and De Grassi under the rail tracks, June 6, 1981.

Looking east from Queen and De Grassi under the rail tracks, June 6, 1981.

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#105 Queen and McGee near the Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre, June 6, 1981.

Queen and McGee near the Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre, June 6, 1981.

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#106 Looking west from Queen and Carlaw in Leslieville, August 31, 1981.

Looking west from Queen and Carlaw in Leslieville, August 31, 1981.

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#107 Looking west through Leslieville near Queen and Carlaw, August 31, 1983.

Looking west through Leslieville near Queen and Carlaw, August 31, 1983.

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#108 The many gas stations of Queen and Jones, June 6, 1981.

The many gas stations of Queen and Jones, June 6, 1981.

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#109 Looking east at Queen and Leslie, June 6, 1981.

Looking east at Queen and Leslie, June 6, 1981.

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#110 Trolley Bus at Dupont/Annette and Dundas. Image from barp, 1980s

Trolley Bus at Dupont/Annette and Dundas. Image from barp, 1980s

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#111 The monorail at the Toronto Zoo, 1980s

The monorail at the Toronto Zoo, 1980s

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#112 A GO train coming into Union Station, 1980s

A GO train coming into Union Station, 1980s

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#113 The Flatiron building with Derek Michael Besant’s mural looking quite fresh, 1980s

The Flatiron building with Derek Michael Besant's mural looking quite fresh, 1980s

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#114 The Caribana Parade in 1987.

The Caribana Parade in 1987.

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#115 The Skydome under construction, some time around 1988.

The Skydome under construction, some time around 1988.

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#116 Toronto, 1993

Toronto, 1993

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#117 Dundas West and Keele, Toronto, 1983

Dundas West and Keele, Toronto, 1983

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#118 Dundas West and High Park Avenue, Toronto, 1982

Dundas West and High Park Avenue, Toronto, 1982

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#119 Bloor and Jane, Toronto, 1982

Bloor and Jane, Toronto, 1982

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#120 Lake Ontario, Toronto, 1984

Lake Ontario, Toronto, 1984

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#121 Yonge and Gould (looking south) Toronto, 1982

Yonge and Gould (looking south) Toronto, 1982

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#122 High Park, Toronto, 1982

High Park, Toronto, 1982

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#123 Dundas and Church, Toronto, 1983

Dundas and Church, Toronto, 1983

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#124 Toronto Skyline, 1989

Toronto Skyline, 1989

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#125 Dundas West and Medland, Toronto, 1984

Dundas West and Medland, Toronto, 1984

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#126 Woodbine Beach, Toronto, 1983

Woodbine Beach, Toronto, 1983

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#127 Dundas West and High Park, Toronto, 1982

Dundas West and High Park, Toronto, 1982

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#128 Yonge Street, Toronto, 1982

Yonge Street, Toronto, 1982

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#129 Yonge and Queen, Toronto, 1982

Yonge and Queen, Toronto, 1982

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#130 Dundas West and Mavety, Toronto, 1984

Dundas West and Mavety, Toronto, 1984

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#131 St. Clair and Dufferin, Toronto, 1983

St. Clair and Dufferin, Toronto, 1983

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#132 Queen West and Portland, Toronto, 1983

Queen West and Portland, Toronto, 1983

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#133 Yonge Street, Toronto, 1980

Yonge Street, Toronto, 1980

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