Spadina Avenue History Toronto

A visual history of Spadina Avenue

Spadina Avenue is long overdue for the visual history treatment on this site. Although it may not compare to Yonge in terms of importance and length or Jarvis in terms of (former) beauty, Spadina is one of those crucial thoroughfares around which the city developed as it pushed west from the area around the St. Lawrence Market. Whether on account of its proximity to Casa Loma, the dominant presence of Knox College, the public lavatory at Queen St., or just the wide expanse it cuts through the heart of the city, Spadina is one of those streets for which we have lots of archival photos.

It's also a place that exists as something of a microcosm of the city's history, from the rise of streetcar transportation, to the diversification of the Toronto's ethnic population, to the battle to prevent the street from being turned into an expressway in the 1960s, our local heritage can be spotted everywhere along here. And despite the significant changes that these photos document, Spadina's character has somehow stayed intact over the last century or so. Don't believe me? Compare the view at Queen and Spadina in the 1920s with what you see at the intersection today — you might just get a tinge of excitement over just how close the past seems.

Other sections, like the area around U of T, aren't so easily recognizable. As was the case with so many streets in the late 1940s, widening efforts eliminated the tree-lined character of the avenue between College and Bloor streets (north of Bloor, the street name changes to Spadina Road). And the construction of the streetcar right of way (ROW) in the 1990s did away with the diagonal parking that was once a recognizable feature of Spadina's make-up. Still, with so many other historical treasures left to be found, there's little point in bemoaning changes that have accompanied development over the years. If they ever tear down Casa Loma, on the other hand, I'll take up arms.

Note: The majority of the images below feature Spadina Avenue, but for the sake of comprehensiveness, I've also included plenty that depict areas north of Bloor Street — a.k.a. Spadina Road).

PHOTOS

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Public lavratory, 1890s

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Interior, 1890s

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Spadina looking north to College, 1890s

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Waterfountain, Spadina & College 1899

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Spadina & College, 1902

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Before Casa Loma, 1900s

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Foundation for Casa Loma, 1907

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Knox College, 1908

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Foot of Spadina, 1910

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Spadina looking north from Harbord, 1911

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View from Casa Loma, 1914

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Spadina & Dupont, 1915

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Streetcars were more fun in 1918

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Spadina & Queen, 1920

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Spadina looking north to Bloor, pre-widening 1922

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Northeast corner of Bloor & Spadina (Scotiabank has deep roots here), 1924

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Spadina Bridge, 1925

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Spadina Bridge, 1926

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Spadina & Front, 1926

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Spadina & Queen, 1926

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Spadina & Lonsdale (Forest Hill Village), 1927

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Looking south to College, 1927

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Paving work near Adelaide, 1928

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Spadina looking north to St. Clair, 1929

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Site of St. Clair Reservoir, 1929

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Northeast corner Dundas & Spadina, 1930

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Looking south from Casa Loma, 1930 (Royal York Hotel now in the background)

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St. Clair Reservoir, 1932

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Spadina looking north to Dupont, 1933

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Track work north of D'Arcy, 1937

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St. Andrew & Spadina, 1938

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187-191 Spadina, 1940

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Corner of Harbord & Spadina looking east, 1944

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Spadina & St. Clair, 1948

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Looking north to Bloor, 1948

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North from Spadina Crescent, 1948

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Different angle

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Post-widening, 1949

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Spadina looking north to Bloor, post-widening

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Spadina between Bloor & Dupont, 1949 ***

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Spadina looking south at Lowther, 1949

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Slides from the National Archives, 1957

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Slides from the National Archives, 1957

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Bloor & Spadina, 1960s

Victory Burlesque Toronto

Victory Burlesque, Spadina & Dundas (NE corner, building still standing), 1960s

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Spadina Expressway (now Allen Road) at Lawrence, 1963

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Knox College, 1980s

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Spadina & Harbord, 1990s

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And, this post wouldn't be complete without... The Spadina Bus.

Photos from the Toronto Archives unless otherwise noted


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