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Toronto postcards from the 1980s

Posted by Derek Flack / August 29, 2014

Toronto postcard 1980sToronto postcards from the 1980s are a bit more difficult to come by than you might think. While we're blessed with a huge collection of these bits of nostalgia from the 1970s, less have made their way online from the decade that followed. That said, it's irresistible for me to pull together than ones that are floating around out there because I just love Toronto of the 1980s. During this period, the city was at once modern and sparse, on the brink of the condo development boom that would so drastically transform its landscape in the decades that followed.

Even the skyline postcard below hints at what's to come, with the first appearance of condos at the foot of Bay St. All in all, however, these postcards flaunt a Toronto that's not quite grown up, even if it wants to flaunt its skyscrapers and tourist attractions. The city appears a bit simpler of a place, brimming with optimism. It's a lovely little nostalgia trip.

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mike in parkdale / August 29, 2014 at 10:31 am
1 - I love that postcard of the Haida. I used to visit the ship every summer.

2 - the perfect soundtrack to this post is "Rise Up" by the Parachute Club. Seriously, go play it and look at the pictures again.
Nigel / August 29, 2014 at 10:56 am
At Royal Specialty Sales we sell postcards fro Toronto, Hamilton and Oshawa that are from the 60's and 70's
CaligulaJones / August 29, 2014 at 11:03 am
That first one had me humming the theme from Miami Vice and reaching for my pastel cotton suit.

And isn't that shot of The Mistake by the Lake (Exhibition Stadium) proof that it was a complete abomination for baseball? Not that its replacement is much better, though.
Miscreant / August 29, 2014 at 11:23 am
Ah, the 80s. Nothing quite pulls on the heart strings like the decade of my youth.

I can almost taste the cotton candy my dad bought me at the ball games.
Don / August 29, 2014 at 11:35 am
It is nice to see the waterfront without the wall of ugly condos - the real barrier to the waterfront.
Bite Mark / August 29, 2014 at 11:43 am
Ray replying to a comment from Don / August 29, 2014 at 12:03 pm
Council approved many more condos this week.
Kat Law / August 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm
Thanks for this, Derek Flack! It brings nostalgia tinged with forgetfulness and bewilderment at how things have changed so much so quickly. Sometimes I miss the "good ol' days" of living in Toronto. And also miss getting receiving tacky postcards in the mail.
AGC / August 29, 2014 at 12:17 pm
AHHhh yes, nothing like just corporate and bank buildings!
Don, visit the waterfront / August 29, 2014 at 12:26 pm
Don, try actually going to the waterfront for once. You will discover to your shock that there is no wall of condos. The condo development is NORTH of the Gardiner Expressway. Google it if you don't believe me. So typical of people in this city to bitch because they think the condos are on the waterfront when in fact they are NOT.
w-hat replying to a comment from Don / August 29, 2014 at 12:35 pm
Did you live in the city back then? There may not have been many condos, but there were more parking lots than you can shake a stick at, and they were just as bad.
Ah....Memories are made of this / August 29, 2014 at 12:39 pm
When people look back wistfully at a more "peaceful" time in the '80's, in reality they are just regretting the fact they are growing older. They imagine the city was better back then because they themselves were younger.
Nothing makes people more regretful and artificially nostalgic than realizing they are now approaching middle age.
Skye / August 29, 2014 at 01:08 pm
Thanks for reminding me why I love 80s design. Look at these postcards: all bright colours and shiny electric fonts and full of hopeful outlook.

Now, I'm willing to believe that I only feel that way because I'm an 80s baby, and so my general attitude was bright, shiny and hopeful at the time. Nevertheless: these postcards give me the warm fuzzies.
Greg Hannah replying to a comment from Don, visit the waterfront / August 29, 2014 at 05:00 pm
In fact you'd be wrong, I think you meant on the north side of Queen's Quay - and yes, it's not a wall of condos. Who cares if you can't see the lake downtown from the Gardiner?! You can see it from every other vantage point on that highway. Btw, I'm pro-condo/apartment, we're nearly out of space to build in Toronto, we have to build up as more people move into the city. As a life long resident Toronto is so much better than it used to be, through I admit I do miss places like the Yonge Street strip of the 70's & 80's with the pinball arcades, book stores, late night resto's., all the movie theatres and record stores. The market changed all that, can't blame condos for that. The problem with condos has been poor architecture with many of the buildings, but that has all changed. What's going up now and proposed to go up once construction crews are available to build these things is the dramatically improved design and architecture of these buildings.
James Powell / August 29, 2014 at 09:27 pm
There are two of these from the TTC collections- the photo of 4004 is on Wychwood Ave, almost in front of the church were my cub group met. (and "here supper supper" used to drive us on the Christie bus)

It's the same with the fishbowl bus, that is an official TTC postcard. Two more of them from the series are of the 125/150 birthday streetcars. (one was a PCC, one a CLRV)

SteveM / August 29, 2014 at 09:51 pm
Man Exhibition was an awful stadium.
To Greg Hannah / August 30, 2014 at 12:45 am
No, I said North of the Gardiner, and I meant north of the Gardiner. That is where City Place and the vast bulk of new condos have gone up.I can't tell you the number of Torontonians I have spoken to who have never been to City Place and think that it is on the waterfront. Harborfront is lovely, with a boardwalk, parks and trails. It is NOT a wall of condos.
Spike replying to a comment from CaligulaJones / August 30, 2014 at 10:51 am
Pray tell, what was going to be built that would have satisfied people like you? Keep in mind that the SkyDome was built because of people complaining of being washed out by rain and snow, and it's done the job of keeping out the rain and snow quite well for the years that it's been built.
Ryan / September 4, 2014 at 03:18 am
I miss 1987. The stars seemed to align that year.
Carmen replying to a comment from CaligulaJones / September 30, 2015 at 12:10 am
@CaligulaJones "That first one had me humming the theme from Miami Vice and reaching for my pastel cotton suit."

Best. Comment. Ever.
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