toronto 1940s

This is what Toronto looked like in the 1940s

This is what Toronto looked like in the 1940s

Toronto of the 1940s was a tale of two halves. The draining effects of the second world war kept the city in a state of austerity until 1945, when the six-year conflict finally drew to a close.

In the years that followed, an uptick in the economy saw the construction of new affordable housing, the start of building work on the Yonge subway line, and increased attention to solving slum conditions in the inner city.

The decade also brought unspeakable tragedy. In 1949, 118 people died when the SS Noronic, a lake steamer docked overnight on the Toronto waterfront, caught fire and rapidly burned. The disaster is still the worst loss of life from a single event in the history of the city.

Here's a look back at Toronto of the 1940s.

toronto 1940s

Northeast from the old Bank of Montreal building at the corner of King and Bay, demolished for First Canadian Place.

toronto 1940s

Store selling bankrupt stock at Dundas and Bay carrying an ad for Clayton's department store.

toronto 1940s

A Joy Oil gas station earmarked for demolition at Dundas and Parliament prior to construction of Regent Park.

toronto 1940s

Peggy's Cigar Store and Gold Seal Pharmacy on Dundas St. E. in Regent Park.

toronto 1940s

Moving house.

toronto 1940s

A muddy laneway that had drawn the attention of the Department of Street Cleaning.

toronto 1940s

South side of Queen Street W. at York. Now the site of the Sheraton Hotel.

toronto 1940s

The Scholes Hotel on Yonge St.

toronto 1940s

Fire at Lyons Furniture Store.

toronto 1940s

Kids playing on Gerrard.

toronto 1940s

Crooked store on Adelaide St. W.

toronto 1940s

"A Good Hotel"

toronto 1940s

The old Toronto Star Building on King Street W. near Bay.

toronto 1940s

A Toronto Star newspaper stand.

toronto 1940s

The Maple Leaf stockyards in the Junction.

toronto 1940s

Sweet Caporal cigarettes for sale at University and Dundas.

toronto 1940s

Collection of trailers being used as homes near Centre and Gerrard streets.

toronto 1940s

Street cleaning team inspects a pile of garbage.

toronto 1940s

The exterior of the Union Hotel.

toronto 1940s

The historic Walker House hotel at Front and York streets.

toronto 1940s

Construction of the Bank of Nova Scotia building on the northeast corner of King and Bay.

toronto 1940s

North up Bay from Adelaide.

toronto 1940s

The pool at Sunnyside.

toronto 1940s

Bathers on Sunnyside beach.

toronto 1940s

Boathouse on the Toronto Islands.

toronto 1940s

Sailboats on a tranquil Toronto bay.

toronto 1940s

Toronto police show off their new uniforms,

toronto 1940s

Kids in a "typical classroom," 1940.

toronto 1940s

High school fitness class, 1942.

toronto 1940s

Dentist prepares to examine a girl at a high school clinic.

toronto 1940s

Doctor performs a routine health examination at a Toronto school.

toronto 1940s

Kids sleeping on cots at the Wilkinson Open Air School. Outdoor educational facilities were established to help combat tuberculosis on the assumption fresh air and good ventilation would be beneficial to health.

toronto 1940s

Visiting nurse feeds a baby.

toronto 1940s

Toronto Island milkman makes deliveries using a sled.

toronto 1940s

Toronto's Department of Street Cleaning's baseball team.

toronto 1940s

The baseball Toronto Maple Leafs take to the field.

toronto 1940s

Ticket lineup at Maple Leaf Stadium at Bathurst and Lake Shore.

toronto 1940s

The view from the stands.

toronto 1940s

The Toronto snowstorm of December 11, 1944 is a contender for the worst of all time. In just over 72 hours, 55 cms of snow fell on the city, burying streets waist-deep. The wind and weight of snow was so severe that a Queen streetcar was knocked on its side, killing one. 21 people died as a result of the weather, 13 of them from cardiac arrest while shovelling.

toronto 1940s

A snow-covered parking lot during the storm of 1944.

toronto 1940s

Crews armed with shovels attempt to dig out a clear path on Bay Street.

toronto 1940s

Dutch immigrants at Union Station puzzle over a 1947 Ontario road map.

toronto 1940s

The typing pool at in unidentified office building.

toronto 1940s

Wartime "Food for the People of Britain" drive by the city's Department of Street Cleaning.

toronto 1940s

Food packages being wrapped for shipment to the UK.

toronto 1940s

Contestants in the Miss War Worker beauty contest.

toronto 1940s

Soldier with a baby at Union Station.

toronto 1940s

Returning soldier embraces children at Union Station.

toronto 1940s

Soldier locked in a passionate embrace on return to Toronto.

toronto 1940s

All smiles as a soldier returns from the second world war.

toronto 1940s

Miss Toronto 1947 poses for photos at Union Station.

toronto 1940s

City of Toronto tug "Ned Hanlan" in dry dock.

toronto 1940s

The Royal York hotel and skyline from the gutted upper deck of the SS Noronic. The lake steamer nicknamed The Queen of the Lakes caught fire while docked on the Toronto waterfront in early hours of September 17, 1949, killing 118 people.

toronto 1940s

The side of the burned out SS Noronic. In the aftermath of the fire, an investigation found the design of the ship was partly to blame for the high death toll. Many people leapt to their death on the dockside, others died from smoke and burns.

toronto 1940s

A machine prepares to break ground for construction of the Yonge subway in 1949.

toronto 1940s

Dignitaries pose for ceremonial groundbreaking photos in the cab of a digger.

toronto 1940s

Subway construction workers begin digging down on Yonge St.

toronto 1940s

The excavated ground beneath Yonge St. in the late 1940s.


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