Bloor Street History Toronto

A visual history of Bloor Street

A comment containing a great photo of the old sign at Duffy's Tavern on our post yesterday inspired me to fill in yet another gap in our series of historical posts about Toronto: Bloor Street. Although we've devoted some attention to the intersection of Yonge & Bloor, the rest of the street hasn't received its well-deserved time in the spotlight. That's a bit of an oversight when you consider just how important an artery it is for this city.

I suspect, however, that Bloor gets somewhat overlooked when talking about Toronto's grand streets because north/south corridors like Yonge and Spadina played a more important role in the early development of the city. When Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe created Toronto's Park Lots in the 1790s, Bloor was the northern terminus of the long narrow estates that would eventually determine the general shape of the downtown streetscape.

Looking at photos of Bloor in the early 20th century, one realizes that the street didn't become the busy thoroughfare we know today until around the 1920s — and even then, the density was limited to the central stretch between Sherbourne and Bathurst or so.

Further to the west near High Park, the area around Bloor was downright bucolic. But you'd have to pass the industrial hub around Lansdowne on your way to the tranquil looking Mineral Baths, which are sadly long gone. On the other side of the city, the street actually terminated at Sherbourne prior to the construction of the Bloor Viaduct, at which time a section of the Rosedale ravine was filled in connecting taking the street southeast to Parliament and then across the two valleys to the Danforth.

Along with the completion of the viaduct, the other watershed moment in the street's history was surely the arrival of the subway in 1966 (subsequently to be extended further east and west in 1968 and 1980). Although Bloor was already an important street at the time, the presence of the subway still brought about profound intensification. Take a look at the Ellis Wiley photo looking west at Bay in 1970. The scene is almost unrecognizable.

Other parts of the street retain a more obvious link with the past, like the dominance of Honest Ed's at Bloor and Bathurst (though the current sign dates back to the 1970s) or the newly restored Bloor (Hot Docs) Cinema. Bloor may not reveal much connection with the past along the unfortunately named Mink Mile, but further to the east and west, there's lots of the old character of the street still on display.

PHOTOS

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Gooderham Residence (pre-fence) at St. George & Bloor, 1892

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Bloor and Sherbourne, 1907

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Building up Bloor East toward Sherbourne, 1908

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Bloor & Avenue Road, 1908

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Meteorological office at Bloor & Devonshire, 1908

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Ossington & Bloor, 1911

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Bloor between Yonge and Avenue Road, 1912

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Across from High Park, 1914

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Looking west on Bloor to Keele, 1915

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Filling in Bloor East to connect with the Viaduct, 1915

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Looking east from Keeke, 1915

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Bloor Viaduct construction, 1916

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Bloor Viaduct construction, 1917

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High Park Mineral Baths, 1917

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Madison Theatre (later rebuilt as the Bloor Cinema)

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Old house on Bloor between Yonge and Bay streets, 1920

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Bloor Viaduct, 1920

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UTS, Bloor & Huron 1922

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Looking west on Bloor at Lansdowne, 1923

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Northwest corner Bloor & Bathurst, 1922

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Dundas & Bloor, 1923

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Bloor & Parliament looking east, 1923

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Bloor & Lansdowne, 1923

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Bloor looking west to Dundas, 1925

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Southeast corner Yonge & Bloor, 1926

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Bloor & Balmuto, 1927

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Looking east on Bloor at Yonge, 1929

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Bloor & Bay, 1929

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Looking west at the Humber Bridge, 1930s

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Varsity Stadium, 1930

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Looking west on Bloor toward Sherbourne, 1931

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Bloor Subway near Lansdowne looking west, 1931 (you can get a similar view today from the West Toronto Rail Path)

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Gates at Bloor and Avenue, 1932

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Yonge & Bloor, 1938

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Bloor & Jane, 1943

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Bloor & Bedford, 1947

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Dufferin & Bloor looking north, 1949

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Looking west to Yonge & Bloor, 1950s

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Subway entrance at Yonge & Bloor, 1960

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Bloor just west of Bathurst, 1960

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Streetcars on Bloor, early 1960s (note the brand new Colonnade Building)

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Looking east across Holt Renfrew and the so-called Mink Mile, 1960s

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Honest Ed's previous sign, 1960s

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Christie Pits aerial, 1965

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Aerial view of Bloor & Avenue Road, 1965

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Bloor Viaduct, Rosedale section 1965

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Bloor & Bay, 1970

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Bay & Bloor, 1970

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Tandem streetcar, 1970s (via Chuckman's blog)

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Royal Bank at Yonge & Bloor 1970s

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CIBC (and Pilot Tavern) at Yonge & Bloor, 1960s

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Shops on Bloor, just east of Spadina 1976

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University Theatre (now a Pottery Barn), 1980s

Photos from the Toronto Archives unless otherwise noted


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