College Street History Toronto

What College Street used to look like in Toronto

College has long been on my list of streets to give the historical treatment to. Although perhaps not as important a thoroughfare as University Avenue or as beautiful a street as Jarvis during its heyday, College isn't exactly a slouch when it comes to either designation. Named after King's College (now the University of Toronto), the street shouldn't be confused with College Avenue, the initial name given to what we now call University (presumably someone realized just how confusing that could become).

As is the case with Dundas below it, College doesn't exactly follow a straight line as it passes between Yonge Street and Lansdowne Avenue. Not only did a few landowners force rerouting around their properties, but as the street pushes west of Grace it crosses the area formerly occupied by the Garrison Ravine, which leads to some sweeping turns and dips in the road that are still obvious today.

Also noteworthy is the intersection of Yonge and College, which prior to the 1930s served as the street's eastern terminus. It still does by name, of course, but around the same time that Maple Leaf Gardens was being built, engineers realigned Carlton Street so that traffic could pass easily from one side of Yonge Street to the other. This, no doubt, pleased Timothy Eaton, whose flagship retail store (now College Park) occupied a prominent place on the southwest corner.

It was once expected that College would extend further west than Lansdowne, with a connection to High Park proposed by the influential Denison family. If you look at a map today, you can see how the street might have connected to Grenadier Road in Roncesvalles Village, but the railway corridor that sweeps between Lansdowne and Sorauren posed too great a barrier to such a plan. One suspects that this is ultimately a good thing, as a major east/west thoroughfare cutting through the heart of Roncesvalles would disrupt the vaguely insulated feeling the neighbourhood has.

PHOTOS

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College Avenue (not street!), 1876

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University College, 1880s

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College Street, 1890s (any guesses as to specific location?)

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Drinking fountain at College & Spadina (for horses, too), 1899

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Looking east along College from Bathurst, 1902

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Toronto Public Library at College and St. George, 1900s

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College and Spadina looking east, 1909

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The foot of St. George at College, 1913

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College and Ossington, 1915

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College and Montrose, 1915

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College and Clinton, 1915

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Bathurst and College, 1919

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Billboards at College and Robert, 1922

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College and Spadina looking east, 1927

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College and McCaul looking east, 1930

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College street east of Yonge, 1930

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Aerial view of College and Yonge (Eaton's store), 1930

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College/Carlton and Yonge before realignment, 1930

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Newsstand at College and Beverley, 1937

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College and Lansdowne, 1939

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College and Grace, 1939

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1269 College, 1940

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College and Bay looking west, 1948

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370 College, 1958

Photos from the Toronto Archives


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