vintage photos winter toronto

What winter looked like in Toronto 100 years ago

Vintage photos of Toronto in the winter offer a reminder that snow, ice, and cold temperatures have always been a crucial part of the experience of living in this city.

There might be fewer ice boats today, but we still try to make the most of the harsh season by tobogganing in our parks, skating on Grenadier Pond, and heading down to the frozen harbour (please be safe). 

While our forebears might not have had Gore-Tex jackets, it's quite remarkable how robust winter activities were in the past. Dare I say it, they might have had even more fun than us.

Or perhaps they were just tougher when it came to the cold. In any case, there's something about the sight of hundreds of people going down tobogganing runs in High Park that is rather exhilarating. I think I'm going to dust the old sled off.

Behold, what winter looked like in Toronto a century ago. 

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12 horse team pulling snow sweeper Ca. 1890s. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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That's a lot of coal! Toronto skyline 1904. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Sleighing at Queen's Park in 1906. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Snowy University Avenue 1908. You can see Queens Park peeking out in the background. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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High Park toboggan runs ca. 1910. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Ice fishing, Centre Island 1909. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Apparently a huge toboggan at Christie Pits in 1909. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Parking at the Old City Hall quadrangle in 1910. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Kew Beach in 1911. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Snowball fight in Rosedale Ravine back in 1912. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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A propeller sled! Toronto Bay in 1912. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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A frozen pier near the Eastern Gap in 1912. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Ice-encased church post-fire on Carleton Street 1912. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Ice boats on the harbour in 1912. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Hockey at Christie Pits in 1912. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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High Park in 1913. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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High Park tobogganing in 1914. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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High Park toboggan runs in 1914. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Wychwood Barns in 1915. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Trinity College Gates in 1916. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Bloor Viaduct under construction in 1917. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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A frozen and very industrial-looking Toronto Bay in 1920. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Ice boats in front of the Harbour Commission Building in 1920.

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Glen Road bus in 1923. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Snow plough in 1924. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Snowstorm on Richmond Street in 1929. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Snowy Casa Loma in 1936. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Snow blower at night in 1943. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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The great snowstorm of 1944. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Looking up Bay St. during the great snowstorm of 1944. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

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Snowstorm at John and King 1961 (can that driver see out of the windshield?). Photo via the Toronto Archives.

Photos by

Toronto Archives


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