Queens Quay History Toronto

This is what Queen's Quay in Toronto looked like before the condos

This is what Queen's Quay in Toronto looked like before the condos

Queen's Quay, like so many areas around downtown Toronto, has undergone massive change over the last few decades.

Once a street that serviced waterfront industry and passengers about to embark on ferries headed to the Toronto Islands, one of our city's most southerly streets is now something of a neighbourhood unto itself, complete with condos galore, tourist attractions and office space.

But what did the street look like before all this development? Although it's probably not a place to get particularly nostalgic about, it's always intriguing to situate the city within the context of its industrial past.

queens quay toronto

Queen's Quay was born at the turn to the 20th century, when various efforts were made to expand the city southward by filling in the harbour.

queens quay toronto

Queen's Quay, 1910

Up until the early 1970s, the street bore an almost exclusively industrial character save for the ferry docks. Streetcar service arrived in the late 1920s, only to disappear some 50 years years later before its eventual return in 1989.

queens quay toronto

Looking west from Bay Street, 1927

Throughout this period, Queen's Quay was a mostly tired stretch of road, home to various silos and warehouses, and, of course, the Toronto Terminal Warehouse.

queens quay toronto

Looking south near York Street, 1927

If you weren't going to work here or destined for a ferry boat, chances are you skipped Queen's Quay altogether. Things would slowly change in the 1970s when the Toronto Terminal was converted to the York Quay Centre and the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel was built.

queens quay toronto

Looking northwest from York Street, 1927

In the years that followed, condos slowly sprouted up between these two anchors, before the street was officially extended west from Rees Street to Stadium Road in the mid 1980s.

queens quay toronto

Looking west from Bay Street, 1927

By that time, the a real estate boom was starting to gear up, and the prime waterfront property would quickly be bought up by developers. It's not all about condos here, however.

queens quay toronto

Queen's Quay and York Street, 1930

The southern tip has seen promising developments like Harbourfront Cenre, HTO park, Sugar Beach and the Power Plant art gallery.

queens quay toronto

Taxis at the ferry docks, 1931

It remains to be seen just what the character of the street will be when all the current projects are complete and ambitious and controversial Sidewalk Labs neighbourhood of the future comes to fruition.

Here are some more photos of Queen's Quay before all the condos arrived.

queens quay toronto

Royal Trust Building, 1960s

queens quay toronto

Looking east at Bonnycastle, 1960s

queens quay toronto

Looking west at Bonnycastle

queens quay toronto

Queen's Quay, 1970s

queens quay toronto

Canada Malting, 1970s

queens quay toronto

Pier 6 (now demolished), mid 1970s

queens quay toronto

Redpath Sugar, 1970s

queens quay toronto

Aerial view, 1970s

queens quay toronto

Captain Johns, 1980s

queens quay toronto

Aerial view York Quay, 1980s

queens quay toronto

Aerial view, early 1980s (future site of Scotiabank Arena at bottom left)

queens quay toronto

Queen's Quay and skyline, 1980s

queens quay toronto

Queen's Quay skyline, 1980s


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Toronto Pride say police welcome to participate in parade next year

Iconic Chinatown building gets ghastly makeover

Air Canada and WestJet ban pilots from using cannabis

Police just scaled a Brampton apartment in dramatic takedown

Street fight on King West caught on video

Toronto rallies around injured dog found under TTC bus

Bus catches on fire inside Toronto subway station

Toronto temperatures are going to dip to -1C this week