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A visual history of Queen, King and Roncesvalles

Posted by Derek Flack / February 6, 2011

201126-Queen_King_Roncesvalles-laying_track.jpgContrary to one way of reading its title, this post isn't the product of some lofty intention to track the visual history of each of the streets listed above, but rather to peer into the past of yet another Toronto intersection. Although it might not always seem like it today, the junction of Queen, King and Roncesvalles was once a crucial transportation hub, serving as the departure point for commuter streetcars that travelled to suburban communities as far west as Long Branch in the early part of the 20th century and then later as the home of the Sunnyside Bus Terminal (on the northwest corner).

To some extent, the intersection also serves as the southwesterly gateway to the city, where lower density gives way to the urban settings along the three streets that compose its eastern and northern ends. To the west along the Queensway, one encounters the beginnings of the city's suburban reaches.

Having already featured articles on the southeastern and northwestern sides of the intersection, for today I'll confine myself to images. Alas, there are, however, a few holes. As plentiful as images from the 1920s and 30s are, the survey below shows nothing from the 1940s-60s. Should you know of digitized version of images that capture Queen, King and Roncesvalles from these decades, please let us know.




20090514-EdgewaterHotel-70s.jpg201126-roncy1971.jpg(Photo by lindsaybridge)

201126-qr-1992.jpg(Photo by davidwilson1949)

20090514-Edgewater_Hotel-2009.jpg(Photo by Rick McGinnis)
201126-edgewater_sign.jpg(Photo by tanjatiziana)
201126-qkr_mcivoy.jpg(Photo by McIvory)



RG / February 6, 2011 at 06:33 pm
This intersection has such potential (the joining of two great commercial streets, the connection with the Lake), but it's so poorly developed. I'd love to see the McDonald's bulldozed, and the old Edgewater turned into a great hotel with roof-top terrace overlooking the Lake...
JLankford / February 6, 2011 at 06:41 pm
As someone who takes the 501 nearly every day, it's a sad sight to see the intersection in such shambles. The McDonalds isn't even the worst of it, especially after the 'reno'. It is terribly underdeveloped though, considering how many people pass by and are dropped off at Roncesvalles.

Does anyone know what's going in the old Coffee Time's spot? I can't believe it's been sitting empty for so long; it seems like it could have real potential depending on what moves in.
christine / February 6, 2011 at 07:19 pm
in the 1920s photo, there's a shop called Men's Toggery Shop.
What's Toggery????
Victim / February 6, 2011 at 07:23 pm
Coffee Time may still hold the lease on it. A lot of their locations are being turned into Eggsmart's (owned by same corporation).
SMurphy / February 6, 2011 at 07:25 pm
1. clothes, collectively.
2. a particular outfit of clothes.
See also: Clothing
alan / February 6, 2011 at 07:37 pm
interesting tosee the 1990's photo with the 2 streetcar styles...the pcc and the style we know today...
mike / February 6, 2011 at 09:21 pm
Have to echo what RG said...so much potential. Coincidentally I finished work early and was down near that intersection and stopped in at the McDonald's for a bite. It was spectacularly sunny around 5pm as I gazed towards the lake and I just wondered why this area isn't better developed. So disappointing.
hi / February 6, 2011 at 09:34 pm
Pictures from the 70s always seem bright and young.
Adam Sobolak / February 6, 2011 at 09:43 pm
I'd rather aim for a Gray Coach-era restoration of McDonalds (and a de-stuccoed Edgewater--sign optional) than demolition.

And someday, a retrospective on the Pickin' Chicken chain is called for (perhaps)
iSkyscraper / February 7, 2011 at 09:40 am
TTC should bring back decorative paving for its ROW. Most other streetcar or street-LRT cities (including the new ones like Seattle, Portland, Houston, etc.) do this and it makes the street much more attractive. I know there are maintenance issues, but you can now color and stamp patterns into concrete to look like pavers, or do other tricks to reduce durability concerns. The photos above show what a difference it makes.
mike in parkdale / February 7, 2011 at 09:52 am
see in the 2nd photo from the 70's (looking east down Queen) - there's a CIBC and a Royal bank on the corner. Now we're lucky to find an ATM inside a 24 hour store. Oh, and my mom worked at that Royal Bank waayyy back when
NC / February 7, 2011 at 11:05 am
Ahhhhh ... my old intersection!! One of my favorite parts of the city! Definitely a few issues, but I love the character. The partly gentrified, partly decayed, partly bed-bugged (unfortunately it's true) ambiance. I hope it retains some of it's tarnish to be honest.
Ratpick / February 7, 2011 at 11:36 am
That's an Eggsmart going into the old Coffee Time, judging by what I was able see behind the covered windows the other day.

Agree with Adam above. Would be nice to see the bus terminal restored. Edgewater has been completely gutted though. Nothing interesting left of it.
Crimson Cass / February 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm
I've always been fascinated by the Edgewater. Judging by the pictures, though, it's never been a spectacular building. The later addition of the stucco gave it some detail that it didn't have when first built. The sign, however, is awesome.

It is doubtful that it could ever be successfully renovated to the level of the Drake or Gladstone, with its location immediately beside the loud streetcar yard. People would not be impressed paying 4-star rates with all the clatter and noise.

When I first moved to the area in the mid-90s, it was quite the flophouse. Later, Days Inn struggled there for a while, but was obviously unsuccessful. Perhaps the best use for the building would be giving homes to the hard-to-house?
Jeremy / February 7, 2011 at 09:07 pm
The intersection has evolved even since the most recent images here were taken, with the widening of the sidewalk at the bottom of Roncesvalles, quite substantially in front of the Day`s Inn - Edgewater.
me / February 8, 2011 at 01:29 am
That stupid stucco job on the former Edgewater reminds me of those suburban Smart Centers. It's not a good look.
steve replying to a comment from me / February 8, 2011 at 02:32 pm
Agreed. There seems to be a tenancy to clad old brick buildings with dull, generic stucco to give it a pseudo modern look. I've even seen it done on old brick bungalows and two stories - but only the front façade. Terrible.
Paul / February 8, 2011 at 04:08 pm
I spent most of my teen years and early 20's in this area. From 1968-70 I lived around the corner in the 1500 block of King St.W. Memories! The old Parkdale theater was just east of the 5 corners on Queen St. It's a shame that pretty well ALL of the old neighbourhood theaters in Toronto are gone. In my day, that men's shop (toggery?) was known as "Ruth Frocks" for many years. The Edgewater hotel had a beer parlor that was a classic dive. The washroom had a trough in the floor where the patrons would relieve themselves. It was there that I sat and hoisted a few draft beers with my Dad for the first time ever. A draft then was 15 cents and a pack of smokes was still well under a buck in the late 60's-early 70's. Whatever happened?
richard replying to a comment from mike / February 12, 2011 at 10:59 am
"It was spectacularly sunny around 5pm as I gazed towards the lake and I just wondered why this area isn't better developed."

Hey! I've got an idea. We could make an amusement park there. With that sunny lakeside view, we could call it Sunnyside!

I wonder why nobody's thought of that before?
Jeremy / February 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm
It would very interesting to see a history here of Sunnyside
(maybe it's been done) that doesn't focus on the
familiar amusement park. Looking at archive photos,
I was surprised to see that the entire area south
Of the tracks is landfill, done circa 1910.
And that the tracks ran at grade at Jameson
before a trench was dug, dramatically changing
the area...
David Pickett / July 15, 2012 at 06:41 pm
I Have a few 2012 photos of this intersection if you are interested.

G.Bell / January 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm
Grew up in this area and spent the first 25 years of my life here, family home still there. This intersection is one of my favorites with so much action, you can go anywhere from here. Love the bridge over to Sunnyside & the tank, the short walk to High Park, for skating/toboganing. Knew all the shop keepers, they watched me grow up and as an adult they would refer to that, it was very much a village and such a cool place to grow up. I agree that this intersection needs much work. Rather than the McDonalds, would love to see it renovated back into the old bus station with the long retro lunch counter and booths and it would be really interesting to see if the Edgewater could be brought back in a classier fashion, perhaps rather that housing it could be rented as office space or studio's? Lots of great idea's posted here, love seeing and hearing about my old hood, love Parkdale and would love to see the grand lady at her best!
Maria / March 8, 2013 at 12:42 pm
As I recall, the building at the junction of King and Queen (Coffee Time)was a dress shop in the 1960's.
Nelly / April 22, 2016 at 04:36 am
The best thing that can be done for this corner, and in fact, for all of Queen & King St. would be to restore all the old buildings still in existamce., and give it a village look and feel. What the city has allowed the owners of these historical buildings along Queen and King streets is disgraceful! That beautiful building on the south east corner is being systematically destroyed. Eggsmart??? Ban that ugliness out of existence. That McDonalds? Would love to take a sledge hammer at least tobthe interior so we can restore the old Gray Coach station. I travel along Queen past this corner everyday and it makes me furious with a city so irresponsible, so short sited and arrogant that it allows its history and beautiful heritage buildings to be desecrated by slum owners and slum franchises. Shameful really. It's about time city officials begin to take pride in the heritage of this city and take steps to protectthe heritage buildings of the old villages that amalgamated into the city of Toronto.
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