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What Queen Street East used to look like in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / February 27, 2013

Queen Street East HistoryA look back at Queen Street East has been a long time coming, especially insofar as I've already given the historical treatment to western portion of this most important of Toronto streets. That post is worth a look if you're unaware that prior to being named after the monarch, Queen was referred to as Lot Street and was crucial to the way that John Graves Simcoe laid out the Town of York. With possession of this information, you can spot remaining evidence of the old city and its sprawling lots all over the place.

But Queen East is interesting for other reasons as well. Amongst them (and there really are too many to name) is the general character of the street, which, for the most part, was every bit as developed and interesting as the west side even 100 years ago. Where Queen West has the Gladstone Hotel, Queen East has the Broadview Hotel. And while the current state of these buildings would come out in the former's favour, I make the comparison merely to underscore the degree to which an intersection like Queen and Broadview has posed as hub for over a century.

The presence of the old Woodbine racetrack should also be noted. Although it's a little difficult to imagine now, horse racing was a major draw in the 1920s, one that saw Toronto's monied residents bust out their finest attire. Old photos from Woodbine have a decidedly Great Gatsby-like quality about them, and offer a little portal into what this city was like so long ago.

Other highlights from the collection below include the various photos of the Queen Street Bridge over the Don River, the Don Railway Station, the ubiquitous streetcar tracks and the wonderful images of the Teck and Joy Theatres, neither of which remain. Watch out for some neighbourhood-specific posts on the east end in the coming weeks, but for now check out what Queen East used to look like back in the day.


2013227-queen-bridge-1899-s0376_fl0002_it0035.jpgQueen Street Bridge, 1899

2013227-se-frm-kew-beach-firehall-s0376_fl0005_it0033.jpgThe view southeast from the Kew Beach Firehall, 1900s

2013227-queen-east-lee-1906-s0376_fl0005_it0008.jpgQueen looking east of Lee, 1906

2012412-woodbine-1907-f1244_it0263.jpgWoodbine, 1907

2013227-queen-lk-west-don-bridge-1910-f1231_it0024.jpgLooking west toward the Queen Street Bridge, 1910

2013227-queen-east-from-river-1911-f1231_it0512.jpgQueen looking east from River, 1911

2013227-queen-bellefair-1912-s0372_ss0058_it0134.jpgQueen & Bellefair, 1912

2013227-630-634-queen-east-1912-s0372_ss0003_it0095.jpg630-34 Queen Street East, 1912

2013227-queen-don-river-bridge-east-1910-f1231_it1914.jpgQueen Street Bridge, 1914

2013227-king-queen-1915-f1231_it0509.jpgJunction of King and Queen streets, 1915

2013227-queen-east-george-1917-s0372_ss0058_it0654.jpgQueen & George looking east, 1917

2013227-leslie-farm-1920-f1244_it1093.jpgLeslie Farm, 1920

2011528-Toronto_Transit_Queen-Woodbine.jpgPeter Witt streetcar near Queen & Woodbine, 1920s

2013227-bank-montreal-queen-east-1921-f1231_it0849.jpgBank of Montreal, 1921 (intersection guesses?)

2013227-queen-kingston-rd-1922-s0071_it1604.jpgQueen & Kingston Road, 1922

2013227-779-queen-east-store-s0372_ss0058_it1235.jpg779 Queen Street East, 1930

2013227-teck-theatre-1932-f1231_it0641.jpgTeck Theatre, 1932

2013227-quen-logan-east-1934-s0071_it10221.jpgQueen & Logan looking east, 1934

2013227-queen-sherbourne-east-1934-s0071_it10212.jpgQueen & Sherbourne looking east, 1934

2013227-queen-east-jones-1934-s0071_it10225.jpgQueen looking east of Jones, 1934

2013227-queen-leslie-to-greenwood-1937-s0071_it11825.jpgQueen Street between Leslie and Greenwood, 1937

2013227-dominion-hotel-1945-f1257_s1057_it0521.jpgDominion Hotel, 1945

2013227-broadview-hotel-1945-f1257_s1057_it0518.jpgBroadview Hotel, 1945 (yes, this is now Jilly's)

2013227-quen-ontario-1947-s0372_ss0003_it1419.jpgQueen & Ontario streets, 1947

2013227-joy-theatre-1956-onward-f1257_s1057_it0464.jpgJoy Theatre, 1950s

2013227-berkeley-south-1960-s0372_ss0100_it0259.jpgQueen & Berkeley, 1960

See also:

The history of Toronto in photos

Photos from the Toronto Archives



Alex / February 27, 2013 at 03:39 pm
Wow! didn't realize Moss Park (the actual park) wasn't around back then. Queen and George pic shows buildings on both sides. Very interesting. Did some further WIKI'ing. Thanks for helping me learn something new each day, BlogTO!
Tucker / February 27, 2013 at 03:40 pm
That Bank of Montreal is, I think, at the corner with Beech, next to the Fox and opposite the Goof. I think it stopped being a bank not all that many years ago, too.
Mg / February 27, 2013 at 04:10 pm
The "Queen Street Bridge, 1914" photo must be from 1910 or before. The bridge & level crossing in this photo were replaced in 1911. The new bridge (the one that's still there) can be seen three photos beforehand ("Queen looking east from River, 1911").

The Bank of Montreal building is on the northeast corner of Beech & Queen.
Stephanie / February 27, 2013 at 04:37 pm
Who knew that they used to sell skin diseases in Toronto!
biscuit / February 27, 2013 at 05:00 pm
Yep, that's Queen and Beech. There's still a legacy BMO ATM there.
huh / February 27, 2013 at 08:30 pm
Where is this fabled place east of the Don?
lol / February 27, 2013 at 08:56 pm
pretty sad that they did with regent park.... ghettoized the whole area part of that mass tower in the park failure.... need to go back to human scale
nancy / February 27, 2013 at 09:48 pm
That Joy Theatre is now our Stratengers!
jack / February 28, 2013 at 12:56 am
i live there it still looks like this
Peanut Gallery replying to a comment from huh / February 28, 2013 at 03:04 am
It's the same distance from Trinity Bellwoods to the Eaton Centre, as it is from Queen & Broadview to the Eaton Centre *shrug*,+Toronto,+ON,+Canada&;daddr=Eaton+Centre,+Yonge+Street,+Toronto,+ON,+Canada+to:queen+%26+broadview,+toronto&hl=en&sll=43.652573,-79.379277&sspn=0.034591,0.062399&geocode=Fcv-mQIdM1NE-ykXVjPf-jQriDGOlWr8Xlw3ww%3BFagbmgIdH79E-yE3yLuMexSJiym9RgdRyzQriDE3yLuMexSJiw%3BFXUumgIdyjdF-ymJh8pObMvUiTFpONTHUiJNZw&t=h&dirflg=w&mra=ps&z=14
Godfrey Mallion / February 28, 2013 at 05:38 am
Derek The lead photo appears to be at Queen & Kingston Road, not Queen & Woodbine.
Brent / February 28, 2013 at 09:36 am
"Queen looking east of Lee, 1906" actually appears to be looking to the west. You can see the fire hall tower in the distance on the right side.
the lemur replying to a comment from Godfrey Mallion / February 28, 2013 at 10:50 am
Most likely because Woodbine Loop is at Kingston Rd, despite its name.
Geoff Birchall / February 28, 2013 at 11:43 am
Agreed that the BofM is at Queen and Beech. Spent many a night sitting on that rail or a future version of it. The Joy Theatre was also a favorite hang-out, then known as the Grads Club
John F Bromley / March 13, 2013 at 11:15 am
The view identified in this series as "near Queen and Woodbine" with Peter Witt 2438 staring down the photographer is actually a view looking south on Connaught Av.
Ron Thibodeau replying to a comment from Tucker / September 25, 2014 at 10:11 pm
The Bank of Montreal is indeed at the northeast corner of Queen and Beech. Now a grocery store. A colleague of mine worked on the design of the store.
sam / September 27, 2014 at 04:40 pm
I thought the Bank of Montreal, 1921 (intersection guesses?) is the one that's now the Serve Canada Building at the south west corner of Queen and River
Rebecca / October 22, 2014 at 09:20 pm
Nope, the bank is most definitely at Queen and beech. I live a block and a half up from it.
dave mason / November 10, 2014 at 03:37 pm
Amazing pictures
I rode my first horse race at the old woodbine in 1960
I would like to find a photo of the grandstand in that era
can anyone help
Ruth / December 20, 2015 at 10:39 pm
I'd like to find a picture of the houses on the corner of Queen and Woodbine. looking north ...houses on the north west corner
Other Cities: Montreal