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Toronto of the 1970s

Posted by Derek Flack / September 26, 2010

Toronto 1970sToronto of the 1970s gives me an immediate, if not odd sense of nostalgia. I wasn't around to experience much of the decade, much less remember any of it, and yet when I look at these photographs I feel the urge to return to this time somehow. I've already said as much in a shorter photo post about both the 70s and the 80s in Toronto, but having just uploaded all these images, the freshness of the sentiment compels me to repeat myself.

The Toronto of the 1970s was, in the words of Anthony Astrachan, "a city that works." Unlike a number of major urban areas in the U.S., Toronto's downtown core was not rendered a ghost town by suburban emigration, and with the rise of the Parti Québécois in Quebec, the city experienced such an influx of English-speaking Montrealers and Montreal-based companies that it became the fastest growing in North America. In spite of this, it's worth noting, Toronto was yet to become the cultural and culinary destination it is today.

And just as Toronto experienced a building boom -- most notably in the rise of concrete apartment structures, downtown office towers, and the construction of the CN Tower -- urban planners held little regard for historic structures, knocking down such iconic buildings as the Temple Building, the original Toronto Star Building, the Mercer Reformatory and many more.

But, lest I digress into what is surely a topic for another post, I'll draw the introduction to a close and present the photographs. Where possible, I've included the date that the photographer has labeled the image with, but many don't have specific years affiliated with them. Enjoy!

Lead image of a wonderfully saturated red TTC bus by skaliwagg66.

Gone but not forgotten, 1970s record shops at Yonge and Gould
Toronto 1970Photo by cthompsonx.

Maple Leaf Gardens with the Odeon Theatre in the background, 1970
Odeon TheatrePhoto by cgfletcher.

Pre CN Tower skyline and Pier 6
Toronto 1970sPhoto by mcwidi_2.

Here it comes!
Toronto 1970sPhoto by Photoscream.

Flatiron building and skyline
Toronto 1970sPhotoscream.

Joy Oil gas station from above (ca. 1970-73)
Toronto 1970ssteveartist.

City Hall (ca. 1970)
Toronto 1970sPhoto from Toronto History.

University Theatre in the background
Toronto 1970sPhoto from Toronto History.

Approaching Yonge and Bloor (ca. 1971)
Toronto 1970sPhoto from Toronto History.

Nathan Phillips Square 1973
Toronto 1970sPhoto by Robert Taylor.

Lewis Hine-esque photo of CN Tower under construction
Toronto 1970sOriginally published in Time Magazine.

Red Subway 1971
Toronto 1970sPhoto by Robert Taylor.

Postcards (these somehow really seem to capture the 70s feel to me)
Toronto 1970sToronto 1970storonto 1907s


For more of 1970s Toronto, take a look at this YouTube video from Love4SK (don't mind the longish intro and the few examples of repetition).



rick mcginnis / September 26, 2010 at 05:15 pm
I was there, Derek, and looking at the pix I can already feel the chafe of doubleknit, and the weird, lopey walk that earth shoes gave you. It goes without saying that I don't want a ticket on that particular time machine.
e / September 26, 2010 at 05:16 pm
Toronto, at the time, was definitely the city that others envied - the city was led by great mayors, no incompetence at City Hall, the TTC was always up to date, and lets not forget that Toronto was arguably the most progressive city in architecture.

Derek replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / September 26, 2010 at 05:49 pm
Ha, ha... That's the thing about nostalgia - it's invariably false.
tanya / September 26, 2010 at 05:51 pm
Everything looked so clean and civilized back then.
W. K. Lis / September 26, 2010 at 06:57 pm
I wish the LED destination signs on buses, and coming vehicles, had the colours used on the old bus linens.
Becter / September 26, 2010 at 07:07 pm
I remember riding those old streetcars and buses. Thanks for the great pics
Shawn / September 26, 2010 at 07:31 pm
Great article; I spend all my time downtown and I wasn't born when these photos were taken and its quite interesting to see the contrast.

The photo of the worker on the CN tower freaks me out and I'm not afraid of heights...
Dean Footstink replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / September 26, 2010 at 07:41 pm
Thank you Rick, I was there too, and it makes me want to honour all those who put their safety on the line to make it possible to be different in TO. Jeez, I remember when bad Chinese Food was considered exotic! (As in the GOOF)
Ralph Evans / September 26, 2010 at 08:42 pm
Thanks for the memories!

You have pulled together a great collection of pictures from the past. I remember watching the upper portion of the CN Tower being built with a helicopter lifting each section into place.

The red subway trains at Davisville station!

Buying LP's at A&A's and Sam the Record Man!

I used to visit my dentist in the building on the north-east corner of Bloor and Yonge - shown just south of the Albert Britnell Book Store (now a Starbucks) This building was torn down to build the Hudson Bay store.

Kevo / September 26, 2010 at 08:55 pm
Pictures from the time before College/Carlton were realigned ;) I'm 21 (so I obviously wasn't born during the 70s), but even though the streets aren't clean like they used to be and city hall and the city aren't as functional as they used to be, I do like how Toronto has started to grow up and come out of its shell like other major cities have.

My dad, who spent his first 30 years in the city and experienced the major skyscraper rush in the city first hand (he moved BMO, Scotiabank, & RBC into their downtown buildings as a teenager), is always surprised how much there is going on when he comes to visit and how much more exciting it is now than when he grew up. Now we just have to combine all of that activity with some sanity at all levels of government so we can sort out some of the problems...
Derek replying to a comment from Ralph Evans / September 26, 2010 at 08:56 pm
Thanks for the note. Just to orient other readers, the building seen at the far left of the photo captioned "Approaching Yonge and Bloor" (with the Book Shop sign) now houses the Starbucks just south of the Toronto Reference Library.

In fact, that photo, more than most of the others, really registers the difference between the TO of the 70s and of today. So much, of course, has changed.
Matt / September 26, 2010 at 09:07 pm
Say what we will about clean streets vs. dirty streets, the city looks a lot greener today. So few street trees on the main avenues back then, and what were there seem much stubbier.
rick mcginnis replying to a comment from tanya / September 26, 2010 at 09:16 pm
Don't be fooled, Tanya - Toronto was a bit of a dump then, and a lot more violent; bar fights far more common, "queer bashing" practically a licensed sport, and as "dean footstink" put it, conformity a lot more rigid. Got spat on at Bay & Bloor(!) for dressing "punk." No kidding.

Transit service was, to be honest, a lot better - the one part of the city that was reliably clean, at least.
maybe? / September 26, 2010 at 09:35 pm
The skyline looks better without the CN Tower. To me anyhow.
Djarman / September 26, 2010 at 09:49 pm
Rick McGinnis is correct on all counts. Bar fights were common, so was queer-bashing. Every Halloween, gays (many in drag) would hold a parade on Yonge Street outside the St. Charles Tavern, and people in the crowd would throw eggs at them (the police had to protect the parade). The food was terrible, and every Friday and Saturday night there was a traffic jam on Yonge Street with teenage boys revving their V8 engines as they crawled a few blocks forwards.

HOWEVER: The TTC was clean (there was no food allowed, there were no free newspapers to litter, and people didn't put their feet up or block the seats). The sidewalks were alos cleaner, and, here's a big difference: guys weren't spitting everywhere. Now, it seems like everybody just hoarks away whenever they feel like (including some women). It's disgusting.

So, yes, more conservative, but since then a general decline in civic courtesy and etiquette.
Damon / September 26, 2010 at 09:54 pm
Forgive me for blog-whoring a little, but if you enjoyed these photos as much as I did, you might also enjoy looking at a collection from 1977 taken by a Japanese tourist, that I re-shot from the same viewpoints in 2007. The series starts with the link provided. Click 'next day' to continue.
e / September 26, 2010 at 10:51 pm
One thing's for sure: Yonge Street was a whole lot more exciting back then!
curious / September 26, 2010 at 11:25 pm
Question - What is that building just east of the bank towers in photo #4? You also see it on the right-hand side in photo #6. I've seen it before in these photos and I'm curious what it is.

I don't remember seeing it in person, was it demolished?
Ralph Evans / September 26, 2010 at 11:29 pm
That is the original Bank of Commerce (CIBC) building.

It is still there and connected with Commerce Court.

Derek replying to a comment from curious / September 26, 2010 at 11:31 pm
I *think* that is the original Toronto Star building, which was demolished in 1972.
Mike / September 26, 2010 at 11:56 pm
A lot of people say those were our glory days, but wow, sure does appear pretty crappy - parking lots everywhere and it looks like the sidewalks were even narrower than they are now.

Glad I live in today's Toronto!
David Toronto replying to a comment from e / September 27, 2010 at 12:09 am
Yonge Street was more exciting then because the Eaton Centre had still not been built and drawn in business off the street.
Moreover, many of the businesses then were not chain or franchise operations. Big business still hadn't taken hold and many family busineses contributed to the variety and life of the street.

Look at Yonge Street today and you have chain restaurants, chain clothiers--on and on with pattern-book predictability.
Mike replying to a comment from David Toronto / September 27, 2010 at 12:42 am
Fair enough about Yonge - but the same can't be said for the rest of the pictures.
mitjak replying to a comment from Damon / September 27, 2010 at 02:39 am
Excellent photographs, some more interesting than the ones posted here. Thanks for sharing!
scottd / September 27, 2010 at 08:26 am
I dont like the fake nostalgia (dust and scratches).
scott / September 27, 2010 at 08:54 am
>>>Buying LP's at A&A's and Sam the Record Man!<<<

Yeah, I love that pic too, and both stores are so busy! I bet it was taken on a Friday or Saturday night, back when shopping for records on Yonge St. was, for many, an important ritual.
Damon Schreiber replying to a comment from scott / September 27, 2010 at 09:29 am
I didn't live in Toronto in 1977, but I did visit it that summer and bought a record at Sam's (The Beatles' Help). Good times.
Nick W / September 27, 2010 at 11:01 am
Excellent set, and great comments so far (esp. rick and Djarman). The films in use at the time—many of these look like Kodachrome and Fujichrome to me—certainly add to the nostalgia for me.

I love the Nathan Phillips Square 1973 photo. It's a very rare glimpse of the old Ford Hotel which was demolished mere weeks after that photo was taken to make way for the Atrium on Bay. The Ford Hotel spent decades as the filthy and violent "soul" of the Ward, with its proximity to both Toronto's worst slums and to the bus terminal. I wish I could've seen it back in its day... might be the closest thing TO ever had to the Hotel Chelsea.
Christopher / September 27, 2010 at 11:12 am
Man, I really wish they would return the colour red to the Red Rockets.
George Smitherman replying to a comment from Djarman / September 27, 2010 at 11:54 am
"Bar fights were common, so was queer-bashing. Every Halloween, gays (many in drag) would hold a parade on Yonge Street outside the St. Charles Tavern, and people in the crowd would throw eggs at them (the police had to protect the parade)."

Good times :)

Most people can't afford the price of eggs, nowadays!
Anon replying to a comment from George Smitherman / September 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm
Or they began to find strange irony in throwing unfertilized ova at gay parade marchers and moved on to fruit and vegetables instead.
Isabell Owen / September 27, 2010 at 01:50 pm
I use to live at Summerhill and Yonge, use to walk from there to the lake on yonge St. every weekend. Lots to do and see, wouldn't have changed it for the world. Free entertainment, just looking round at what other people were doing at the time.

I miss Toronto, but i'm sure liking it up north, for the fresh
air and reasonable rents.
Aaron / September 27, 2010 at 01:52 pm
Why not just link to the wonderful, Urban Toronto forum and their much more extensive collection of carefully selected photographs? I'm sure you're getting your ideas from there anyway.
Zed / September 27, 2010 at 02:57 pm
Weird how most of the pics with roadways don't have a mass of vehicles clogging the streets. Not one pic has a cyclist either. Now that's open spaces.
tripper / September 27, 2010 at 03:27 pm
Weren't these the days when you had to go to Buffalo if you wanted a drink?
Beverly / September 27, 2010 at 04:12 pm
Lead pic is intersection of Mount Pleasant & Eglinton...crossed it daily to attend Northern Secondary School.
e replying to a comment from David Toronto / September 27, 2010 at 06:33 pm
I actually like the inclusion of Eaton Centre, although a lot has to be demolished for it.

But what I was really talking about was all the neon signs, and how much of a spectacle it used to be.. I wish that still existed.
norm / September 28, 2010 at 11:37 am
To Nick W et al, I worked at the Ford Hotel as desk clerk in 1965-66 and yes it was quite the place for seeing the world walk through. It was owned "quietly" by Sheraton Inc. and was a real money maker for them with occupancy running around 80% annnually. Rooms sold from $3.25 (bath in the hall) to some newly renovated rooms at around $13.00. If someone balked at the quality we immediately sent them to the other Sheraton (King Eddy) for around $25 a night. The rooms were worn but clean. I did not rent to hookers or anyone without luggage; although we did ask for cash if you had only a small carry bag. New immigrants to Canada were sent to the Ford with credit chits for rooms and meals at Murrays restaurant off the lobby. Many stayed for a week or two until they got an apt. or rooms elsewhere. It was a great place to learn about people, morals, behavior good and bad, and always entertaining. I will say that it's poor reputation was not quite what I experienced in those 2 years. I met many wonderful staff and visitors and very few bad apples during my time there. Anyone remember the Tropical Room???? Thanks.
Marc / September 30, 2010 at 10:13 pm
Wow. Everything was better back then. I was not born yet, but I was able to see and be a part of, as a young child in the 80s, some of the 70s mode that was still around before the major changes occurred.

Yonge Street was really Yonge Street back then. Notice how the historical colonial buildings were clear and making up the look and style of the street, despite the modernisms on Yonge. Now, Yonge Street is just a mess, too busy, inconsistent, abused, dirty and it shows that it has been raped too many times. Up until the mid-80s (as evidenced by these pictures), Yonge Street then was a little more like today's Queen Street, though with touches of the glitz it still has today.

That second and third last photographs (not including the video clip) should have been the maximum development and changes that downtown Yonge should have reached.

The thing with these photos is that transit/the subway should have been continuing expansion constantly at that time, therefore any photos of downtown before the 90s, would have shown construction work and digging to make more subway lines, such as on Queen, King, Lakeshore, etc.
Marc / September 30, 2010 at 10:15 pm
* I mean too busy, as in the buildings on Yonge today have too much detail and different identities going on.

I also want to add that today's Yonge Street looks plastic and without culture.
frank deanrdo / November 14, 2010 at 08:41 pm
great to see Toronto Canada back in the 1960's & 1970's. It is fun to look at old photos of places back in the day.
Don/New Toronto / January 3, 2011 at 09:13 pm
It makes me feel like heading back north the u.s.a. is not a friendly place.I left TO in the late 70s and should have looked back, to late not my love for Canada will die with me here in Viginia u.s.a.
Rick / January 19, 2011 at 02:00 pm
I remember many of those places and to be honest...
I really miss those days.I was just a kids but felt no fear about going anywhere in the city with just a few friends.Our parents had one rule..Home when street lights came on.
Things just seemed slower paced and much simpler.....Maybe it was just a kids view and kids of today will say the same about pictures from 2011. But as a kid growing up back then, I really loved the City but now I find it has gotten so busy and rush rush everywhere as you can tell by everyones driving.Things change that is for sure.....Wonderful memories.
Rick replying to a comment from George Smitherman / January 19, 2011 at 02:04 pm

I thought you were joking at first....But true ..........
It happened
Jo / January 29, 2011 at 05:14 pm
Ah, the memories. Spent a bit of time in Toronto in the early 70's picking up health food for our store in Kirkland Lake. I think we were the first health food store to open north of Sudbury. Carl Forbes and Mike Leahy owned the store...what a time that was!
Shannon replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / February 28, 2011 at 02:33 pm
I was in my twenties in the 70's. I have been looking for info and pictures to remind me of TO in the mid to late 70's and early eighties on Yonge St. as I am writing a novel.
The times they were a changin' yet!
You could park downtown and it you didn't have to mortgage your first born.
The Hell's Angels were in their prime and biker colours were shown with pride. None of the pictures that I have seen on various sites show the time Yonge street was closed down to imitate Spark's St. in Ottawa. Take away the sex shops and the people loved the open air feel of Toronto with tables in the street, glass blowers, warm chestnuts, just individual trades people showing their wares , making money and people interacting in a way that they cannot do today.
Their was the seedy side that at night took over and eventually shut down what could have been.
That is how I remember that time. Hot pants, low wages, sexual intimidation in the work place, as well as areas and jobs that women were not allowed to enter simply because of their gender were also part of that time. Pictures only show part of that.
Shannon replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / February 28, 2011 at 02:41 pm
Someone on one of these sites asked where the mono rail was. There was one in Scarborough for awhile.
Nervousness in my last and first entry caused a grammatical and extra word error. That’s why writers have editors.
Ralph Evans / February 28, 2011 at 02:44 pm
The monorail was at the Metro Zoo, in Scarborough.

It closed after a fatal crash.
Feldwebel Wolfenstool / February 28, 2011 at 03:15 pm
I went to Rye High in T,O., lived there 5 years. I have a shitload of Super-8 film in Hamilton, I think,, when I was a young budding photog...a whole bunch of on-the-tripod-360-degrees-single-frame-zoom-in-zoom-out-throw the camers in the air Michael Snow wannabbee shit, from the roof of the penthouse of the Ford Hotel, which was across the street from the Bay St. Greyhound Terminal. Recently pulled all my old painted wall advertising stuff from Panoramio. Some asshole has been covering them up with shit "art". Most are gone...the old building they were on are gone.
Paul b Burford / March 9, 2011 at 04:02 pm
I was disapointed no Pictures of HOUSE OF LORDS
Dianne / March 16, 2011 at 07:29 pm
I walked past House of Lords today and realized I had forgotten all about this place. Wanted to go there way back but never could afford to have my hair cut there! I did wonder what happened to the shoe store in that area that sold platform shoes in the 70's and rumored that Elton John shopped there.
Stella / March 24, 2011 at 01:11 pm
I stayed at the Spandia Women's Hostel in the early 70s.. there was a hostel for men across the street.. Wonder what ever happen to the women who stayed at the fast friendships were made.and I met many interesting / adventurous people/ hitch hiking across the country/ myself included.... There was one girl who stood out at the hostel.. her name was Nancy.. I bet she's very successful today as she was a very bright, young woman..The early 70 era was an amazing time/ great memories.. Anyone out in Cyberspace with a time machine... call me... but alas! we can't go back in time... Stella
Wayne Basnett / April 16, 2011 at 02:26 pm
Bruce La Rochelle replying to a comment from norm / June 17, 2011 at 02:14 pm
I hope that Norm will write more about the Ford Hotel and those times. It would make for an important contribution to history, in my view. The Ford had apparently changed by the mid to late 1970s. The sister of one of my colleagues in Chartered Accountancy died of a heroin overdose there. Maybe that's more the times than the hotel.
Fantomex replying to a comment from Feldwebel Wolfenstool / July 25, 2011 at 05:58 pm
Could you post any of these pictures and film on a blog, then? Or on YouTube? I'd like to see them.
Brown Line / September 7, 2011 at 12:10 am
I'm a Chicago native who attended U of T between 1971 and 1975. A lovely city, good times - though the fact that I was young makes the memories a bit rosier. I well remember Britnell's Bookstore at the corner of Youge and Bloor, back when there was nothing higher than three stories.

Comparing my memories of 40 years ago with a visit I made last year:

* Billy Bishop is a *really* pleasant airport.

* TTC hasn't changed that much, though I miss the whistle that the conductor would blow before he shut the doors.

* The ROM is bigger and brighter, though the core collection hasn't changed very much. It's still a fine museum. The new addition, though, is ... well, let's say it's "interesting".

* The Rochedale residence at Bloor and Huron was a mess and an eyesore, and I'm glad it's been cleaned up. I miss the old SCM Bookstore, but the shoe museum is an interesting place to visit.

* Some things haven't changed: Kensington Market (especially Global Cheese), Honest Ed's, the Albert's Hall ale house (though the Climax Jazz Band is long gone).

* Canadian beer and ale use to be infinitely better than anything you could get in the States; but microbreweries in the States now make beers as good as anything I've had in Canada.
sandra / September 22, 2011 at 01:50 pm
Those pics brought back some great memories. I used to go to a club at Yonge & Dundas called Latin Quarters and at Yonge & Bloor area MOMO's. I had great times back then. No fear of walking on Yonge St at any hour of the nite. Shopped at Sam the record man at least once a week. It was like a ritual. Had my hair done at House of Lords and bought shoes from Master Johns. My husband and I were part of the many kids that drove up and down Yonge st with our high performance Mustangs. Those were great times and a great city!! I am sure it still is.
Bill / December 12, 2011 at 10:42 pm
The Toronto Reference Library at the corner of Yonge and Asquith north of Bloor is a great example of 70's architecture - open concept,lots of glass, atrium, plants, waterfalls. Really changed the look of that stretch of Yonge when it opened in 1978. I worked as a summer student in the late 70s helping them move their collection from the old Reference library down by UofT.
Chris / December 13, 2011 at 10:46 am
This is a total shot in the dark, but since this is a post about Toronto in the 1970's, I figure it's worth a try.

On December 17th, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono hired a skywriter to write "War is Over If You Want It Happy Christmas John and Yoko" over Toronto.

I'd be dying to see footage of this, if it exists. Please shoot me an email if you remember it happening, or, better yet, if you have home footage of the actual skywriting.

Thanks internet!
Rick replying to a comment from David Toronto / December 30, 2011 at 05:15 pm
i'm sure you do Comrade Dickwad.
Beard / January 1, 2012 at 07:14 pm
Great seeing the pics. I worked in Toronto in the early sixties lived on Roxborough St. Rosedale and worked at both the King Eddie and the Ford Hotels. I was at the King Eddie when Burton and Taylor, Ava Gardner and various others were there for the O'Keefe opening in 1963 or 64 not sure which I was a desk clerk then moved on to the Ford as a night Auditor saw it all in those days and what a lot to see the manager used to say "that if a cockroach came to the front desk we would room it in" Jean was the House Dick ex RCMP and I accompanied him on occasions when a room was to be entered due to carnal happenings. Lots of Bulls always at the Hotel but great fun and enjoyed myself immensely even though I used to cock up the audit from time to time. Happy days long gone!
linda / February 10, 2012 at 06:16 pm
To Norm: you described the Ford Hotel well, but you missed the Penthouse Apartment at the top. It was great, well furnished, a jewel with a lot of character.
Ben / March 4, 2012 at 12:14 am
This is a great time capsule. I grew up in 70's Toronto. Many of my memories as a teen weren't worth remembering! But I still enjoy looking back, especially with old pictures.

For some cool video images, search YouTube for "Toronto People City". This is the early 70's "sign-off" video for what was Channel 79...CITY-TV and the melodic vocal tribute that accompanied it. It's a classic!!!
Barry Cull / April 21, 2012 at 07:23 pm
Does any one remember Duffy's Tavern on Ronncesvales, right where the road splits into a "Y", somewhere near St. Clair I think.
Pat Deane replying to a comment from Ralph Evans / June 4, 2012 at 02:49 pm
Was delighted to come across this blog as I'd been racking my brain trying to remember the name of the bookstore where I unused to spend half of my pay check every week when I was working around the corner at Crown Life. God, I loved that book shop!
Boobie Needham / July 22, 2012 at 08:31 pm
Jus' Reminiscing...
norm opperman replying to a comment from linda / August 27, 2012 at 11:36 am
Hi Linda, just clearing out old e-mails and saw your comment on mine from old Ford Hotel nostalgia. I wrote a separate sheet on my time at the Ford and would send it to you if you are interested. Did you live in one of the penthouses at the Ford? I remember the hotel manager lived in one and the publisher of a gutter press tabloid lived in another (his mail was very interesting!.
Linda / August 29, 2012 at 10:24 am
Hi Norm:
I would be interested in the separate sheet o your time at the Ford. I did not live in the penthouse,but my very good friend did, and we spent many hours enjoying it. His name was Frank Lively,& unfortunately he has passed away. It was circa 1967-69. Not exactly sure of year. We always marvelled at what a great place it was atop of what was then a decaying hotel. Thanks for getting back to me.
Kathryn / October 14, 2012 at 06:58 pm
Wonderful trip down memory lane. I was squinting to see the Nathan Phillips Square because there seemed to be a lot of people around the cement pond. My friends and I use to skate on it when playing hookey in high school. I can still still hear Grace Slick belting out,"Go ask Alice when you're ten feet tall...." at a free summer concert.I guess those memories were in the latter 60's. We partied on the Island and went to a club called Club 888,I believe, which was for younger teens, thus no booze, and roller skated at the Mutual Arena and just hung out in Yorkville. Left Toro in the early seventies but have gone back numerous times and love it.
clayton / November 6, 2012 at 05:53 pm
Does anyone remember the Dovercourt Tavern and do they have any stories from there from about 1968 to 1973.
Craig / November 15, 2012 at 01:27 am
I acquired an old tourist guide to Toronto printed in 1970 - 71, and another foot guide in 1983. The differences were stunning. The 1971 version went through all of the ways you could survive with no cash - which my father did at the time - and by 1983, much of the city had completely changed. My memory of the place is very different. What stuns me is that about every 5 years or so it seemed to be a completely different place - the same, yet in a furious state of change. In some ways, the 1970's must have been quite a fermenting pot of stew.
Alexandra / March 5, 2013 at 12:58 am
Lovely Memories for my Dad and Me!!
Gordon replying to a comment from sandra / March 24, 2013 at 02:52 pm
An old Delfonics song came on the radio that reminded me about dancing with a little Italian girl I was dating at the time, at the club upstairs at Yonge and Bloor. I racked my brain to finally remember Momo's and a google search brought me here.

I loved that club, loved Yonge Street and it's such a surprise to read here that things seem to have gone so far downhill.

So many times I remember waiting for the half-hourly Yonge or Bloor buses that ran after the subway stopped running at 1:00am. Not once did I ever think about, let alone worry about, my safety.

I live in Atlanta now, but I'm happy to have grown up in Don Mills and spent my weekends on Yonge Street.

Anyone else remember MoMo's??
Vernon / April 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm
Those were the days ! The start of everything for the 50's born boomers. Just for something to do on summer weekends a few of us with a few dollars between us used to walk from Summerhill all the way down Yonge St. to King St. So much much to do, little places like the Nut Shop just below Yorkville on Yonge, restaurants, bars, Movie Theatres (50cents for kids) stores, shops, people. Memories in full color. End off zipping home in 13 minutes on the Subway and Street Car across St. Clair. Irreplaceable times and memories. Glad to be able to see these photos. Excellent.......I know each place intimately.
Lynne Morrison replying to a comment from clayton / June 3, 2013 at 07:57 pm
My dad owned The Dovercourt Tavern in the years you are inquiring about. :)
Nostalgicman replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / June 5, 2013 at 10:54 pm
It should go without saying that if you hate the era, you may not want to visit a website specifically highlighting pictures from the same area, let alone leave your comments from the peanut gallery. Signed: The 70's.
Ted Genova / June 24, 2013 at 06:56 pm
What I miss about yonge st is all the creative signs on storefronts, bars ,clubs and restaurants ...flashing, neon, outrageous... each vying for your attention...not the ugly, unoriginal,characterless,back lit flourescent corporate trash that graces so many streets around Toronto ,
I also miss the clubs and venues that are now replaced by too many stupid chains and franchises. Toronto, your character has changed and it not that nice.
George Koroway / July 7, 2013 at 04:15 pm
Does anyone know the name of the sporting goods/outfitter store which was located on the west side of Yonge St. just below or just above Wellesley St.?
the lonely troll replying to a comment from George Koroway / July 7, 2013 at 04:59 pm
Clayton Ellis / July 9, 2013 at 10:58 pm
Lynne Morrison,my uncle George Kinch worked there as a Bouncer in the early 70's does your father remember him?
Clayton Ellis / July 9, 2013 at 11:00 pm
Lynn Morrison, you can email me at, Thanks Clayton.
George Koroway replying to a comment from the lonely troll / July 17, 2013 at 09:21 pm
Belated thanks for the memory jog re. Hercules.
finger me / July 18, 2013 at 05:23 am
This is the right site for everyone who really wants to understand this topic.
You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that
I personally will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a new
spin on a subject which has been written about for many years.
Wonderful stuff, just excellent!
Katie G replying to a comment from Ralph Evans / August 23, 2013 at 01:37 pm
I lived in Toronto in the late 60's to the mid-70's. I had a fantastic time, made lots of life long friends and these photos brought all the good times back!
Elaine Reid / September 21, 2013 at 09:10 pm
Does anyone know of the name of the topless restaurant that was on young or just of young st. It was fairly close to the go train.
Mayor McCokehoover replying to a comment from George Smitherman / September 21, 2013 at 10:01 pm
Go out of your way to make a spectacle of yourself and you become a target.
beenthere replying to a comment from Dianne / October 1, 2013 at 11:11 pm
beenthere replying to a comment from Dianne / October 1, 2013 at 11:15 pm
That store was Master John's I believe.
Harold / October 9, 2013 at 10:17 am
Does anyone remember the Boiler room and Generator restaurants? I think the latter was at Yonge and Eglinton, but the former?? There was also a third owned by a Dutch guy.
Elaine Stinson / November 22, 2013 at 02:34 pm
I just stumbled upon this blog … and was immediately swept back to my coming-of-age in Toronto during the late 1960’s and 70’s. Moving from Ottawa, at the age of 13, to the city of Toronto was not unlike Dorothy arriving in the Land of Oz. Everything was illuminated. I instantaneously gave myself entirely to the hippie life … spending my days and nights, during summer vacations, walking up and down Yonge Street … moving rhythmically to the melange of music wafting through the summer air … slipping through the doors of Rochdale College … where the hallways were saturated with the heady scents of pot and hashish … going to Master John’s to buy my first pair of platform shoes … attending my first concert at 13 …front-row centre … Maple Leaf Garden’s … Led Zeppelin. I saw everyone there … David Bowie … Stevie Wonder … Elton John … Humble Pie … Mountain … The Stones … Leonard Cohen … Dylan … Joan Baez … Lighthouse … Crowbar … Writing an editorial column for a feminist newspaper … riding the subway … intrepid … just before the sun came up. At 18, I spent raucous nights at the Brunswick House … with the all-and-sundry, beer-soaked, enraptured clientele … and the door man – a “little person”, who would regale the spellbound audience with his rendition of “Oklahoma”, broom poised in hand – his faux guitar -- Elvis stance … perfect. I was introduced to cinema … galleries … art … literature … an open-mindedness that I had never known in Ottawa. It was the most wondrous time of my life. For many reasons, I had to relocate back to the Nation’s Capital … but I returned in body only. My spirit still lives in Toronto … haunting the Yonge Street of old … donned in platform shoes … fearless.

George replying to a comment from Ted Genova / December 14, 2013 at 02:15 am
RYERSONIAN From Richmond Hill / February 21, 2014 at 12:40 am
I was born in 1992. I like Panera Bread.
Ian MacMillan / February 21, 2014 at 11:43 am
"The City That Works" hit it's high point with the policies of David Crombie and his reform council in the 1970's. Their stress on combining retail, commercial and residential uses in new construction across the downtown put us ahead of any city in the US. Of course, Mike Harris shut that all down, and we have been deteriorating ever since.
steven petrus / February 26, 2014 at 08:31 am
Love the pix. I remember Young Street from my travel back home to Syracuse when I attended Trent in Peterborough. It was 1975 and it was Toronto the good, after the shoe shine boy incident I believe. Between buses I would go for coffee at Franks, the only all night restaurant. If it was early enough I would wander Sam the record mans floors of albums. Or if I had a lot of time I would catch a show at the Gaslight, or El Mocambo . Back then Toronto played music for Toronto, no one gave a damn about the 49th parallel. Today’s Toronto is way to sterile, LA\New York wanna be( sorry if I hurt some feelings but TO has homogenized so much its lost it's funk, well the same can be said for N.Y. also)Anyway it was fun while it lasted, and I glad to have been there.
steven petrus replying to a comment from steven petrus / February 26, 2014 at 08:33 am
Love the pix. I remember Young Street from my travel back home to Syracuse when I attended Trent in Peterborough. It was 1975 and it was Toronto the good, after the shoe shine boy incident I believe. Between buses I would go for coffee at Franks, the only all night restaurant. If it was early enough I would wander Sam the record mans floors of albums. Or if I had a lot of time I would catch a show at the Gaslight, or El Mocambo . Back then Toronto played music for Toronto, no one gave a damn about the 49th parallel. Today’s Toronto is way to sterile, LA\New York wanna be( sorry if I hurt some feelings but TO has homogenized so much its lost it's funk, well the same can be said for N.Y. also)Anyway it was fun while it lasted, and I glad to have been there. Posted twice because my e-mail was wrong on the post
Jeff replying to a comment from curious / March 28, 2014 at 12:23 am
That's the Bank of Commerce building. The Toronto Star Building was located at 80 King Street and was directly north of the black TD towers in that picture and would have been hidden behind them in that photo. The Toronto Star building served as the inspiration for Clark Kent's Daily Planet Newspaper building. The Star moved out of that building to 1 Yonge Street in 1971.
Klara Csanyi / March 30, 2014 at 11:32 pm
Rochdale college and the strip happening
Ron / April 30, 2014 at 08:38 pm
Remember those days well and Yorkville and Sam and A&As. Used to walk Yonge st. all the time and that was a cool place to go. People went out more and were not captive in their homes with internet , they went out and experienced the downtown. Ate at the Saverin at Bay @ Adelaide a lot. Buying posters that glowed with a then called black light in my bedroom. 79 UHF had the baby blue movies with soft porn Friday night's. I was 19 then. Saw the CN Tower being built and sighned the antenna base that was lifted to the top by a contracted U.S. sky crane named Gertrude. Yes lots of good memories of that era.
George / June 5, 2014 at 02:47 am
To: Clayton & Lynn. Can't quite remember but do either of you know if the Dovercourt was known at one time (early '60's?) as The Arlington ????
crackerssouth / June 27, 2014 at 02:30 pm
Late 60's, two bucks worth of gas in the car, drive down to Yorkville from Oakwood and Eglinton. A stop at the Palm Room at the Embassy Hotel, over to Yonge street, another stop at Franks burgers at Yonge and Dundas beside Sams, someone ran in while we waited in the car, then home, and still had enough gas to drive around for a week
crackerssouth replying to a comment from tanya / June 27, 2014 at 02:44 pm
1977 changed the face of Toronto forever, with the brutal murder of a 12 year old shoeshine boy, named Emanual Jaques
Veruca Salt replying to a comment from Damon / July 14, 2014 at 03:43 am
uh-mazing! I've lived in the core of Toronto since I was born (1969) so I recognized every single "before", except the Victoria street shot gave me pause. Incredible how the landscape has changed in just 7 years since your photos. I love that you were able to do this, and pick it up from another photographer from the past. Whore, on! ... you deserve it ;)
Veruca Salt replying to a comment from Elaine Stinson / July 14, 2014 at 04:25 am
Elaine! I love how you captured your experience in the 70's. What a kool lady, I'm sure you still are. I came of age in the 80's in Toronto (born and raised here in the downtown core). But I remember my beautiful long-haired aunt who was probably your age who worked her butt off at a part time job while in high school, so she could buy leather platform boots from Master John's too. My grandmother thought she was insane spending such a vast fortune on a pair of boots. I could tell by the twinkle in her eye, and the way she kept them hidden when she wasn't wearing them that they were something to be prized! :) I too followed in similar footsteps... going to my first concert in the 70's at the ripe age of about 6yrs old. I'm ashamed...The Bay City Rollers! ... at The CNE Grandstand. Did you see any shows there? I was hooked after that and begged my mother to take me to every concert she went to after that... and luckily she went to many! So began my love of concerts and live shows. The Gardens were a great venue. I am so impressed you saw Zeppelin and Mountain! Wow. You're one lucky lady. I hope you're still writing for the cause. Thanks again for story... fascinating!
C Anusa replying to a comment from Jo / August 4, 2014 at 05:42 pm
Jo - can you elaborate on how Carl and Mike were? My mother is from there and I'd like to get more information about the store. thanks
Linda replying to a comment from George Koroway / August 9, 2014 at 06:36 pm
The Outdoor Stores most likely.
Spike replying to a comment from Gordon / August 9, 2014 at 09:32 pm
Gordon, don't believe these people-they're all full of shit. Toronto has ups and downs like any other city-it ISN'T going downhill at all. Just because the TTC's having some problems and we got derailed by Mike Harris somewhat doesn't mean that the city's in the sewer. I want to see these people live in Detroit or someplace in the Third World, and then still tell me, you, and anybody else that Toronto's 'going downhill'.
Cathie replying to a comment from Ron / August 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm
I thought it was a Sikorsky sky crane named Olga.
Melissa replying to a comment from David Toronto / September 15, 2014 at 08:06 am
I have lots of wonderful memories of the Simpson's - in the basement they had an Orange Drink/Hot Dog stand up stand. My mother used to take my lil sis and I there when we went shopping.
Melissa replying to a comment from steven petrus / September 15, 2014 at 08:11 am
Hi, I used to play those clubs back then, do you mean GasWorks though? Anyone remember the all night restaurant/coffee shop at College/Yonge? I can't remember the name - perhaps it was the LSD LOL..think maybe they had jukeboxes at the tables too!
steven replying to a comment from Melissa / September 16, 2014 at 06:38 pm
Ya, meant the Gasworks. The only Coffee shop I remember is the one on young that was up from Sam The record man, Franks or Frans, something like that, I was a little blurry. BTW What was the band, and are you still playing?
Violet / September 22, 2014 at 02:35 am
Steven, it was Fran's restaurant. People's restaurant used to be open all night too. Thanks to the blogger for the memories. Yes, Master John's for shoes and Juicy Lucy's for satin pants. :) The Gas Works and Young Station, Piccadilly Tube, Yes, to the Generator. But, for me too, Joker's Walk disco and another one I can't remember the name of, but lots of dancing and lots of fun. But, Rochdale was shocking even though I could be called a 13 year old hippie at the time, (runaway etc) the terrible filth and stink and 4 year old boy with hair down his little back, smoking dope, was enough to put me off the two times I was there. Anyone remember Zumburgers across the street?
Sp.Kapoglis / October 7, 2014 at 05:44 pm
Those pictures bring me back when i was a litle kid in Toronto!!My parents were Greek,and then we moved in Greece in 1973.I steel remember a lot of things.Very often we asked our mother me and my brother,to buy us candys and jelly from the grocery market.Besides my favorite was the street car,and waitting at the station to get it!!Now this remain a nostalgy and sometimes i wanna go back in my birthplace!!
Frank Bergson replying to a comment from Cathie / October 29, 2014 at 04:46 pm
I remember taking pictures of "Olga" from the top floor of the Bank of Commerce which was the highest point at the time....
Jack replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / November 3, 2014 at 09:33 pm
Toronto will be Detroit in 15-20 years probably sooner. Slum condos and over congestion. It wasn't more violent at all. It was agreat city, not now. Too many people.
Peggy replying to a comment from Kevo / November 14, 2014 at 04:53 pm
I know yours is an old post, but if your Dad moved BMO into the First Canadian Place building, he must remember the Building Manager, Gord Dunn. At one time, the Dunn boys managed the big bank towers on all four corners of King and Bay Streets. One Dunn male in each building. It sort of ran in the family.
Ben / November 16, 2014 at 01:18 pm
Great photos. We have some good ones on our blog site as well!
Lynne Morrison replying to a comment from clayton / December 19, 2014 at 09:53 pm
Hi Clayton,

Just came across this when researching The Dovercourt Tavern. My dad owned it in the 1970's - wondering why you were inquiring and what your connection was?

Clayton / January 10, 2015 at 03:52 pm
Lynn, A lot of Maritimers used to frequent the Dovercourt,lots of my family members hung out there, I had a uncle George Kinch that worked there during the early 70's.I was about 16 at the time and we took lobsters from pei to sell in Toronto and many of our buyers were patrons of the Dovercourt.
Cas / March 2, 2015 at 12:34 pm
To Norm who worked at the Ford Hotel and asked about the Tropical Room.
For us it was a night out on the town with friends. I was young and not used to drinking. The first time I went there, I ordered a Zombie. With only one drink I saw cute little mice running up and down the walls and loudly proclaimed this to anyone who would listen. Out best friends still comment on that night over forty years ago!
tony / April 26, 2015 at 10:35 am
I miss the Toronto of the 1960's and 1970's. It showed such great promise then. Always excited. But Sundays drove me Crazy. Not much to do unless you were in Yorkville or the Islands with family.
tino / May 15, 2015 at 08:14 am
No mention of the Colonial Tavern? I saw RUSH perform there promoting their first album. BB King played there too.
Sally / July 17, 2015 at 02:20 pm
I moved to Toronto from Illinois in 1968 and left in 1976, the year the CN Tower opened. Yes, great memories. Still have my records I bought at Sam's. In 1969, during the moon landing, there were several thousand of us packed into Nathan Phillips Square, owning every inch of concrete while we watched on a huge screen. Loved Mariposa on the islands just before Woodstock when people began crashing concerts and security was required. Loved going to Second City and seeing Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, Martin Short, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Rosemary Radcliffe, Joe Flaherty, Dave Thomas, and I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. They found fame later when Saturday Night Live began. Annual Gordon Lightfoot concert at Massey Hall. Parties, parties, parties in our apartments in the Yonge Eglinton area. Starting and running a folk music club briefly. I was in my late 20s and early 30s and we had good times, indeed!
Ken replying to a comment from George Koroway / August 23, 2015 at 11:08 am
Central Surplus, I believe.
Anne / October 10, 2015 at 02:04 am
I remember in the very early eighties feeling very edgy going to the New Wave clubs...the Copa, the Diamond Club, Nuts and Bolts. I used to wear a skinny black leather tie I bought at Fairweather.LOL. I used to have several milk crates of new wave and punk music. When Teenage Head came to my high school (Wexford Collegiate) I was truly impressed! I grew up in Scarborough in the 1970s so a trip downtown was a must-do every weekend. I also vividly recall at the CNE those tall felt black hat where they put in sparkles the name of your fave band or singer. I had Robert Plant one year and Alice Cooper the next year. Wearing that hat, with my painter pants and rainbow suspenders and platforms. Good God, what a sight. Most of the CNE experience was looking for cute guys. Fun fun times.
dprang replying to a comment from e / February 9, 2016 at 01:16 pm
I left Toronto for the west in the 80's. We all need new experiences, yet Toronto is where my heart is for reasons you mention. My sociology professor, taught me to open my eyes and see change in the city. I remember taking my friend with me to a very slimy place near Allen Gardens. She did not notice what was going on around us as we sat and had drinks (cans only). My professor had told me this was where heroin was negotiated. Curious me had to see for myself. Sure enough, a big guy walked in wearing white buck shoes. Unlike the others, he was calm and radiated power. Later we walked across the park and saw the same people obviously sedated.
Derek, I like the pictures, thank you.
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