What Broadview Avenue used to look like in Toronto
Broadview 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.
Single car truck on Broadview, 1897
Toronto Public Library at Gerrard and Broadview, 1912
Broadview and Danforth looking west, 1912
Broadview and Danforth looking east, 1912
Looking towards Danforth and Broadview, pre-Bloor Viaduct (ca. early 1910s)
Riverdale Park, 1913
Riverdale Park, 1914
Queen and Broadview, 1914
Boxing exhibition, Riverdale Park (Broadview in distance), 1915
Snow removal on Broadview north of Gerrard, 1917
245 Broadview, 1922
357 Broadview, 1918
Looking east across Broadview and Queen, 1918
Broadview looking north of Queen, 1920
Broadview looking south from near Dundas, 1920
Broadview looking south from Gerrard, 1920
Broadview and Victor, 1926
Northeast corner of Broadview and Queen, 1937
Broadview and Eastern Ave in the snow, 1938
Broadview Hotel, 1945
- The History of Toronto in Photos
- What Danforth Avenue used to look like in Toronto
- What Queen Street East used to look like in Toronto
Photos from the Toronto Archives