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What Broadview Avenue used to look like in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / March 12, 2013

Broadview Avenue History PhotosBroadview Avenue might just be one of Toronto's grandest streets, if only on account of the sweeping view of the city it offers along the stretch between Riverdale and Hogarth avenues. A broad view to be sure — spanning Riverdale Park, the Don Valley and the density of the downtown core, it's still one of my favourite spots to take in the skyline. Beyond the view, the street was also rather important in general, being the first thoroughfare east of the Don Valley prior to the construction of the Prince Edward Viaduct. This was the beginning and end of the east side of the city, a distinction the street may or may not retain now that it's so easy cross what was once a significant topographical barrier.

As appropriate as it is, Broadview didn't always go by this name. Prior to 1890 or so, it was Don Mills Road (and before that Mill Road), both of which reference another crucial function of the street: as an access point to the many mills that once lined the Don River. In fact it was a mill owner in the Todmorden area, one Timothy Skinner, who's credited with building the street in the first place back in the late 18th century.

Architecturally speaking, Broadview's home to a few local gems. While not necessarily in the greatest shape today, the former Broadview Hotel (now Jilly's) at Queen is actually a lovely old building that dates back to 1893. Also nice to look at are the Toronto Public Library at Gerrard (1910), the Playter Society Building (1911), or even the column-heavy CIBC branch at 90 Danforth Avenue (1918).

While the section of the street between Queen and Dundas isn't much to look at today, there's a certain gritty appeal for nerds like me that's destined to give way to condo pressure in the near future. That's not really on occasion for regret — the area is certainly due for redevelopment — so much as a reminder to pay attention the next time you pass by. Change is afoot.


2013312-broadview-single-truck-1897-s0071_it3365.jpgSingle car truck on Broadview, 1897

2013312-library-gerrard-broadview-1912-f1244_it7084.jpgToronto Public Library at Gerrard and Broadview, 1912

2013312-broadview-danforth-west-1912-s0372_ss0010_it0038.jpgBroadview and Danforth looking west, 1912

2013312-broadview-dan-east-1912-s0372_ss0010_it0037.jpgBroadview and Danforth looking east, 1912

2013312-danforth-broadview-pre-viaduct-east-f1244_it7391.jpgLooking towards Danforth and Broadview, pre-Bloor Viaduct (ca. early 1910s)

2013312-riverdale-park-1913-s0372_ss0052_it0157.jpgRiverdale Park, 1913

2013312-riverdale-park-1914-f1231_it0027.jpgRiverdale Park, 1914


2013312-queen-braodview-1914-f1231_it0648.jpgQueen and Broadview, 1914

2013312-riverdale-park-boxing-1915-f1244_it0971b.jpgBoxing exhibition, Riverdale Park (Broadview in distance), 1915

201312-broadview-1917-snow-s0372_ss0058_it0728.jpgSnow removal on Broadview north of Gerrard, 1917

2013312-245-broadview-1922-s0372_ss0058_it1008.jpg245 Broadview, 1922

2013312-357-Broadview-ave-s0372_ss0001_it0295.jpg357 Broadview, 1918

2013312-broadview-queen-east-1918-s0372_ss0058_it0742.jpgLooking east across Broadview and Queen, 1918

2013312-broadview-north-of-queen-1920-s0372_ss0058_it0856.jpgBroadview looking north of Queen, 1920

2013312-broadview-south-dundas-1920-s0372_ss0058_it0858.jpgBroadview looking south from near Dundas, 1920

2013312-broadview-south-gerrard-1920-s0372_ss0058_it0860.jpgBroadview looking south from Gerrard, 1920

2013312-broadview-victor-1926-s0372_ss0058_it1153.jpgBroadview and Victor, 1926

2013312-northeast-corner-broadview-queen-s0372_ss0058_it1456.jpgNortheast corner of Broadview and Queen, 1937

2013312-broadview-eastern-1937-s0372_ss0058_it1482.jpgBroadview and Eastern Ave in the snow, 1938

2013312-broadview-hotel-1945-f1257_s1057_it0518.jpgBroadview Hotel, 1945


Photos from the Toronto Archives



Mike / March 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm
Assuming that first picture is looking south, it doesn't look all that different from today.
Tucker / March 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm
No, indeed, an awful lot of these buildings are still there, even a lot of the houses.
HUH? / March 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm
How do you figure that "Queen and Dundas isn't much to look at today"

There is the Curling Club, 3 churches, a school, a new housing development, a park, the Legion, St Johns Bakery, Jack Laytons old office.

So for a stretch that's barely a 3 minute walk, id say there are a few interesting things to look at on a walk.
Aaron / March 12, 2013 at 01:44 pm
What a great retrospective... My lady and I were lucky enough to move into the area a couple of years ago, and we couldn't be happier. Thanks BlogTO!
Bobbo / March 12, 2013 at 03:17 pm
The 1934 replica of the #327 streetcar operates at the electric railway museum in the northern part of Milton.
JC / March 12, 2013 at 05:47 pm
Quite a coincidence that the Vintage Toronto facebook group also dug up and posted all of these pictures just a few days ago on Sunday...;type=1
Anna F. / March 12, 2013 at 09:01 pm
Nice work once again, Derek! Thank you.

The Broadview Hotel is now Jilly's, but at least the building is still standing. Perhaps some day it'll become the east-end version of the Gladstone or the Drake.
Derek replying to a comment from JC / March 12, 2013 at 09:01 pm
We love Vintage Toronto (case in point:, but we don't rely on them for ideas (second case in point: The above post is part of a commitment I/we've made to feature more neighbourhoods and streets east of the Don Valley.
No chance replying to a comment from Anna F. / March 12, 2013 at 09:27 pm
No one wants the douchery of the Drake in the east end.
jeff g / March 13, 2013 at 07:07 pm
What's sad about this is quite a few of the photos are near identical to the how things look today. Including those antiquated train tracks in the street.
sbasiuk / March 24, 2013 at 11:20 am
LOVED these beautiful shots of Broadview, we should be happythat we can still identify these photos. Would have stayed longer if the rest of the city didn't keep on growing....
Sam Elgohary / May 19, 2013 at 03:41 pm
Seemed too peaceful back then
LUTSCH LILY / July 18, 2013 at 03:55 pm
les photo's sont magnifiques. merci les partager avec nous.
Derek Millington / October 30, 2015 at 10:40 pm
looking for information on the Broadview Coca Cola Bottling at 100 broadview.
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