What beaches used to look like in Toronto
Beach culture ain't what it used to be in Toronto. With the advent of air conditioning, the rise of cottage country and the private swimming pool (not to mention the steady degradation of Lake Ontario), it hasn't been necessary to jump in the harbour to cool off in quite some time. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, however, Toronto's beaches were immensely popular destinations when the city was blanketed in heat (as it is right now).
Anchored at various times by Hanlan's Point, Scarboro Beach, and Sunnyside (all of which also served as amusement parks), Toronto's beaches offered residents both a reprieve from the heat and some much-needed entertainment during a time when the city was, well, let's just say, not as vibrant as it is today. Of these, Sunnyside was the most popular, until waning attendance and the birth of the Gardiner Expressway spelled its doom (the Bathing Pavilion still stands, though).
Although almost all of Toronto past beaches remain in some capacity — with the notable exception of Leslie Beach, which was lost to the construction of the spit — few are major draws for locals and tourists nowadays. Once in a while, however, the area around Kew Beach offers a glimpse at just how busy the city's swimming areas used to be.
I'm not sure if it'll make today's heat any more bearable, but here's what Toronto's beach culture used to look like.
Scarboro Beach bathers
Scarboro Beach Water chute
Scarboro Beach Park
Beachwear at Kew Bathing Station
The former layout of Sunnyside Beach (the intersection you see is Queen, King, and Roncesvalles)
Bathing at Centre Island
Dudes showed off their cars at the beach back then, too (Sunnyside)
Sunnyside pool from the roof of the Bathing Pavilion
Swimming in Toronto Harbour
Toronto Island beach
Olympic Island beach
See also our Nostalgia Tripping series, which takes longer looks at the following:
All images from the Toronto Archives