Toronto 1880s photos

This is what Toronto looked like in the 1880s

Toronto seems almost unrecognizable in the 1880s.

Lacking major landmarks like the Ontario Legislative Building (Queen's Park), E.J. Lennox's City Hall, the Confederation Life Building or the Flatiron/Gooderham Building (all of which were completed in the decade that followed), it's remarkable just how few structures from this period survive today.

There are, however, plenty of clues that tell you this is our city. Be it the geography, the presence of names like Eaton and Gooderham, the church spires that dot the skyline or the bustle of Yonge Street, there remains something unmistakably "Toronto" about these photos.

The Toronto of the 1880s was a place in which electric lights and telephone polls were just arriving on the street, asphalt started to be used for roads (1887), streetcars/trolleys were finally allowed to travel on Sundays and the Cathedral Church of St. James was one of the largest buildings in the city.

Here's what it all looked like.

Grand Opera House

Grand Opera House

Toronto Skyline 1880s

Skyline

Toronto Rosedale 1880s

North Glen Road Bridge

Toronto 1880s

Original St. Lawrence Market

University College 1880s

University College (U of T)

Yonge Street 1880s

Yonge looking south from the YMCA

Yonge Street Arcade 1880s

Interior Yonge Street Arcade

Yonge Street Arcade

Yonge south of the arcade looking east

Toronto 1880s

Looking south across the city

Eaton's Catalogue 1880s

1884 Eaton's Catalogue

Industrial Fair 1880s

1884 Industrial Fair

Toronto 1880s

Horse-drawn streetcar

Toronto 1880s

The Red Lion Inn

Toronto Skyline 1880s

Waterfront looking east

Trolley Toronto 1880s

Two horse car at old North Toronto Station

Toronto 1880s

King and York streets

Toronto Wards 1880s

Toronto Wards 1889

Photos by

The Toronto Archives and the Toronto Public Library. Written by Derek Flack.


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

These are the fines you can get in Toronto and Ontario for COVID-19 right now

This is what the notice for non-compliance of social distancing in Toronto looks like

Toronto is considering closing High Park to prevent people from gathering for cherry blossoms

These are the latest social distancing rules in Toronto and Ontario

Ontario confirms 408 new cases of COVID-19 bringing total to 4,038

Toronto worries for raccoon stuck on roof of historic church

Home Depot and all hardware stores in Ontario are now closed

Canadian Tire is closing all stores and now their web site has too much traffic