Vintage Toronto Grocery Stores

What grocery stores used to look like in Toronto

Following the popularity of my vintage gas stations post of a few weeks back, my latest in my archival adventures involves another urban element with which we're all familiar: the grocery store. After doing a few of these historical photo posts, one thing that's become quite clear is that it's the most familiar subjects that tend to evoke powerful nostalgia.

One would imagine this is because changes to these most familiar things — TTC vehicles, intersections we frequent regularly, service centres, etc. — tend to mark the passage of time most dramatically. Although they may strike us as perfunctory in the present, when we see how much they've changed over the years, it's oddly eye-opening. It's as though by looking back, we see them for very first time.

On a more practical level, these photos make it quite plain how much more sanitized supermarkets have become. While this tendency might not appear quite as stark it does when looking at old photos of the St. Lawrence Market, it's still intriguing to note the amount of butchering that went on in-house. Also interesting to track is the sheer growth in size of these outfits. Loblaws and Sobeys (née Dominion and A & P), for instance, had quite humble beginnings as neighborhood grocery stores before expanding to cover the city with supercentres.

1900s

William Davies Store (Queen and Bay)

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1910s

Meat Display (unidentified location)

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First Loblaws, 511 Yonge St.

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1920s

Brunswick Meat Market, Bloor St.

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1930s

Scott's, Davenport and Dupont

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Stop and Shop, Avenue Road and Dupont

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Loblaws Warehouse, Bathurst and Fleet

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On the Danforth

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1940s

Dominion, Yonge and Bedford Park Rd.

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Dominion, near Old City Hall (via

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Grocerymania on Flickr)

1950s

Dominion, Cloverdale Mall

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Dominion, Cloverdale Mall

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Dominion, Cloverdale Mall

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Dominion, Cloverdale Mall

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Dominion, Avenue Road (south of St. Clair)

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Loblaws iced tea display

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Loblaws, Bathurst and Glencairn

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Power Supermarket (2055 Danforth Avenue,

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more info here)

Power Supermarket staff

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Via

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jbcurio on Flickr

Via

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jbcurio on Flickr

1960s

Dominion, near Yonge and Eglinton

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Steinberg's, Bathurst and Shepherd

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All images from the Toronto Archives unless otherwise marked.


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