Toronto Panorama 1856

The 1856 panorama of Toronto

The Toronto panorama of 1856 might just be one of the coolest things I've come across during my digging through archival photos of Toronto. In fact, it's one of those things that I'm surprised I hadn't stumbled across before. As I was trying to determine whether or not there was enough compelling material to extend our series of historical photo posts on Toronto, I noticed that the Wikimedia Commons was particularly loaded with material from the year 1856 in what was otherwise a pretty sparse decade for their holdings.

Lo and behold the reason for the preponderance of images is that 13 of them are related to one another. Shot by the photography firm Armstrong, Beere and Hime on the roof of the Rossin Hotel at York and King streets, the series of images doesn't quite form a seamless panorama, but given the technical limitations, the near 360 degree view of the old city is still remarkable.

What's also remarkable is that I could forget that I already knew about this panorama, too. Only yesterday was I fumbling through my bookshelves looking for a copy of Michael Redhill's novel Consolation. I wanted to give it a re-read in light of the fact that I've been doing so much with old photographs of late. Somehow, however, I didn't make the connection that Redhill's novel was in fact inspired by this very set of photographs that I had come across.

I suppose one of the reasons for my being so obtuse is simply that the novel -- or at least the copy that I have -- doesn't include the images themselves. This is actually quite a shame, as they're referred to a number of times, and, as I said, rather remarkable for their time.

So here it is. You can see the stitched file at this link, which is composed of the 13 photographs below.

201112-Toronto_1856_-_1.jpg201112-Toronto_1856_-_2.jpg201112--Toronto_1856_-_3.jpg201112-Toronto_1856-4.jpg201112-Toronto_1856_-_5.jpg201112-Toronto_1856_-_6.jpg201112-Toronto_1856_-_7.jpg201112-Toronto_1856_-_8.jpg201112-Toronto_1856_-_9.jpg201112-Toronto_1856_-_10.jpg201112-Toronto_1856_-_11.jpg201112-Toronto_1856_-_12.jpg201112-Toronto_1856_-_13.jpg

Images from the Wikimedia Commons.


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Toronto was just ranked one of the best cities in the world for work-life balance

Viral TikTok trainspotter from England visited Toronto to review Ontario transit

Toronto dog who's verified on Instagram begging for a place to live

Graph showing years of TTC security incidents highlights rising danger on public transit

Ugly Toronto subway yard could be transformed into a massive green space

Car smashes into Toronto bike shop and the metaphor is lost on no one

Toronto shaken up by school shooter scare but thankful police responded quickly

The far-right Ontario Party actually thinks Doug Ford is woke