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.