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The history of Toronto in photos

Posted by Derek Flack / December 5, 2011

History of Toronto photosThe history of Toronto in photos is a post I've been toying with putting together for a while. Having spent considerable time digging through the digital holdings of the Toronto Archives, it just seemed to make sense to pull all of these various posts together into one place — hence the ambitious title. This is not, of course, an authoritative history of this city (far from from it), but the 90 some odd posts linked to below provide a thematically organized visual overview of Toronto that I hope will be worth a return visit or two for those interested in the city of yesteryear. I also have every intention of adding to this little archive as additional historical posts are published on the site.

The vast majority of the photographs featured below derive from the Toronto Archives, which means that should you see something that you really like, it's probably available for purchase from the source. For those interested in a less visually oriented take on Toronto history, there is also our Nostalgia Tripping series, which was designed to be a bit more about storytelling than just the photos.

After having scanned the links below, should you have ideas for other posts that you'd like us to pursue, I'd be grateful for the feedback/suggestions. Here is our ongoing history of Toronto in photos.

Lost Toronto
Toronto History

Toronto history TTC

Toronto History grocery stores

Streets and intersections
Toronto History Streets

Structures and buildings
Toronto History Bloor Viaduct

Non-TTC transportation

Toronto History Taxicab

Places / Neighbourhoods
Toronto History Islands

Vintage Toronto
Toronto History computers

Toronto History Pier 6

Art, maps and other documents
Toronto History Painting

It wasn't always so rosy...
Toronto history fire 1904

Toronto aerial

By decade
Toronto History

Other Toronto history resources
Toronto History

Sites worth visiting for historical content

Photos in this post derive from the Toronto Archives with the exception of the painting of a streetcar on Dundas, which is by Michel Binette ("Brush Strokes on Dundas Street" 1979).



Marisa Torre / December 5, 2011 at 03:04 pm
what a treat!
like an early Christmas gift!
Thank you!!
HUK / December 5, 2011 at 03:19 pm
Punch buggy white, no punch backs!
mike in parkdale / December 5, 2011 at 03:31 pm
it's very handy to have all these links put together in once place. cheers
woohoo / December 5, 2011 at 03:37 pm
Dmiri / December 5, 2011 at 03:40 pm
Great work, Derek.
Marianne / December 5, 2011 at 03:45 pm
Thanks for these gorgeous photos of Toronto in her glory days!
Fig / December 5, 2011 at 04:01 pm
This is very comprehensive. Great piece Derek.
Maureen Vollum / December 5, 2011 at 04:16 pm
Derek, this is excellent!! Thanks for such a comprehensive list. You're a GREAT reason to read BlogTO.
ing / December 5, 2011 at 04:56 pm
Wow the T-Dot was an ugly town
lenny / December 5, 2011 at 04:58 pm
What a great summary! All in one place!
awe / December 5, 2011 at 05:03 pm
Kevin Steele / December 5, 2011 at 07:14 pm
The Archives are an awesome but daunting resource. I'm glad you've been going through them and sharing. Thanks.
George / December 6, 2011 at 02:04 am
just awesome!
harison tvamediagroup / December 6, 2011 at 04:48 am
Nice pics.Really your work is good. Thanks for sharing.
Michele / December 6, 2011 at 10:10 am
Love it. Will have to bookmark so I can spend a few hours checking out the links I missed. Thanks for putting this together.
Toronto's Historic Sites / December 6, 2011 at 11:28 am
We've always loved your posts on Toronto history and having them organized in one place is fantastic! Thanks for putting this together, Derek!
pat anderson / December 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm
Thanks for your work compiling this. Bookmarked!
Avril / December 6, 2011 at 03:13 pm
Incredible amount of work! Thank you so much for an amazing effort! Will come back to this site over and over!
BoGoWo / December 6, 2011 at 03:26 pm
the many faces of TO; and to me, TO is a City of faces.
this nicely ties the faces of the City to the owners of the many faces of TO.
Diane / December 6, 2011 at 07:35 pm
This is wonderful Derek - I could spend hours looking at pictures like these. Thank you so much for undertaking this project.
gngn / December 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm
nice furniture
Don Morris / December 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm
We lived there in the sixties for several years, we had a band called 'The Stitch 'n Tyme' and held the lease on 'The Flick' coffee house in Yorkville for a few years,wonderful memories!
JohnO / December 9, 2011 at 09:41 pm
REALLY cool!! I'm sharing this all over the place. Thanks for pulling all this together.
Taylor Jackson / December 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm
Great collection of photos! I'm off traveling asia but this is like a little post card from home! I'm definitely sharing it!
Sivaram Veluthapillai / December 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm
Wow! Great job. Thanks for the hard work in putting this together.
Leslie / December 11, 2011 at 11:10 am
If this comes together as a book, I'll be the first in line to buy it. Fabulous!!
Kian sh / December 12, 2011 at 08:31 am
It doesn't get better than this!! Thanks
Andrew / December 12, 2011 at 08:47 am
Derek, you've outdone yourself pal! Awesome stuff! Thanks!
Richard / December 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm
I don't even know how to tell you how incredible this is. What a wonderful thing to share. Thank you so much.
Lou / December 12, 2011 at 05:34 pm
We are just starting to build out live image loads on Anyone who would like to contribute just visit the site and send us a note. Great links amazing city.
MadMax / December 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm
What a great post!
I've always loved digging through the digital archives and seeing what gems you can come up with - fabulous :)
Paul Follett / December 13, 2011 at 10:13 pm
What a wonderful series of sites that any interested Torontonian could spend a lifetime exploring.
However, although there are many explicit sites dedicated to individual topics, the one topic that I am interested in is not covered. I am certain that greater effort should be devoted to the sculpture of Toronto. This spring I am going to give a tour of much of Toronto's sculptural heritage and I would really appreciate a look at some of the many photos that have been taken of the installation of this invaluable city heritage. Just consider the sculpture on University Avenue south of Bloor. Is there a place I should look for assistance for my city tour of Toronto's sculpture?
Trish Johnson / December 14, 2011 at 10:47 am
The painting of the street car on Dundas Street going by the corner of McCaul. That is exactly what it looked like in 1979 - 1980 when I was going to the Ontario College of Art. We used to eat in the Pancake Bakery. They had newsprint tablecloths and crayons. I love this painting.
Bradford / December 16, 2011 at 05:56 pm
I appreciate the photos that you have collected but as you stated it's an installation of our city's heritage. But I think you should look at all aspects of our citys heritage the bad side along with the good. I am referring to and who the Indeginous people were and what was taken from them including their ritual grounds which were the Toronto Islands.
Greg / January 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm
Just discovered this! I'm about to lose a few hours of my life.
John FitzGerald / January 19, 2012 at 06:56 pm
Thanks for pulling my photo. However, as I said, if you ever want to use any of my photos just ask me. Of, course you don't have to ask me if you just publish a link to my Flickr page.
musique 2010 / February 29, 2012 at 09:23 am
The website provided to us has some exciting functions. It realy raise my knowledge about the topic.
Amy / March 26, 2012 at 10:06 am
Faaaantastic. Can't wait to sit down and really look through all of this. Thank you!
sven sundqvist / May 8, 2012 at 02:47 am
Like be back when looking all these photos.(1967-72 was Bloor&Jane corner my place)
Janette Ray (Flack) / May 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm
my grandparents lived in Toronto for years and years...originally from England and we are Flacks as well!!
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Ali / December 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm
As a new immigrant, I would love to know what the Toronto was look like and this weblog addressing my curiosity. Thanks Derek!
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Walter / May 3, 2013 at 09:08 pm
Fabulous site Derek - a labor of love for sure.
BRUCE / May 24, 2013 at 12:02 am
I just whan't to say i am imprest with all you have put together! and realy like the way you show then and now it's realy somthing when you look back to a place were you lived as a child and can be brought back to those memeries, THANK YOU.
Kingstar Direct Media / February 19, 2014 at 11:10 am
Incredible photos and collection, Toronto has so much history - thank you for putting these together.
Laura / June 16, 2014 at 08:22 am
Amazing list, thank you!
Ladie / December 7, 2014 at 12:40 am
Nostalgia! It is no coincidence that I end up on this site 3 years to the day.
Elaine / February 21, 2015 at 08:29 pm
What a wonderful collection; I could browse for hours!
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