Church Street History Toronto

What Church Street used to look like in Toronto

Named, quite obviously, after the preponderance of cathedrals at its southern end, Church Street is one of Toronto's older thoroughfares. It's also a street rich with history, from the presence of our own Flatiron Building at Wellington to Ryerson's campus around Gerrard St. to the Village at Wellesley.

When the Market District was the centre of commerce in Toronto, Church was one of the city's most important north/south streets, providing access to places like City Hall (before it was located on Queen Street), the St. Lawrence Market and, of course, St. James and Michael's cathedrals. We might not be as church-focused in Toronto nowadays, but make no mistake, these were crucial destinations at the turn of the century.

Although not as majestic as Jarvis or as diverse as Sherbourne, Chruch was nevertheless a lovely tree-lined avenue until about the 1940s. In the years that followed, many older heritage properties were lost to redevelopment, which has robbed the street of historic character in stretches, but this was a familiar story across the city at the time.

We've already traced the history of the Village in the past, but I'll note here that its formation in the late 1970s and 1980s (prior to that Toronto's gay scene was located to the west on Yonge St.) revitalized what was a mostly sleepy area around Wellesley Street. As condo pressure increases on both ends of Church Street, a whole new set of changes are surely in store over the next decade. So let's take a moment to pause and consider what it looked like way back when.

PHOTOS

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Coffin Block (Church & Wellington), 1888

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Gooderham Building, 1890s

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Church south of Bloor, 1902

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Queen & Church, 1907

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King & Church, 1909

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Church north of Dundas, 1911

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Church & Adelaide, 1911

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Foot of Church, 1912

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Church south of Front, 1913

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Looking north on Church from the harbour, 1927

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Carlton & Church, 1931

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390-396 Church, 1937

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461 Church, 1939

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Church & Collier, 1959

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Fire at Church & Shuter, 1961

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King & Church, 1971

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Church south Carlton, 1971

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Church north of Isabella, 1971

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Church & Maitland, 1971

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Church south of Bloor, 1975

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Church south of Carlton, 1975

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Front from Church, 1975

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Church & Wellington, 1975

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Church south of Dundas, 1975

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Church south of the Esplanade, 1975

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Church & Dundas, 1975

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Church & Richmond, 1976

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Church south of Dundas, 1979

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Church & Wellington, 1980

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Near Church & Colborne, 1981

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Church & Front, 1981

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Church south of Dundas, 1982

Photos from the Toronto Archives


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