70s toronto

30 signs you grew up in Toronto in the 1970s

Toronto in the 1970s might look brown, orange and beige in photographs, but the decade was never anything less than electrifying. The city was dirty - still covered in a coat of industrial soot - and a majority of people smoked like chimneys. Bloody, bare knuckle brawls erupted regularly at most bars, and ugly bigotry was still rife.

Thankfully, the optimistic glow of the late 1960s shone through. Ontario Place brought a touch of Expo '67's magic to Toronto's shores, while the Metropolitan Zoo, the Eaton Centre, the CN Tower and the Blue Jays all delivered some much needed iconography to the city.

Disco begat punk, David Crombie was mayor, and Moses Znaimer started a televisual revolution at Queen & Church that still reverberates around the world. Everyone who grew up in Toronto in the 1970s will remember it slightly differently, but these are some of the retro ties which universally bind us.

Behold, 30 signs you grew up in Toronto in the '70s.

1. You treasured the arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays - the breathless reporting from training in Dunedin, the pre-game parade, the snow drenched opening game, the disastrous first season and their disco theme song: All of it, golden.

2. You and everyone you knew that had access to a TV set watched Baby Blue movies on Citytv, Channel 79 UHF.

alpine way toronto

3. You rode the Alpine Way at CNE as a way of not only getting around, but to also check out where the action was; You used the Bulova Tower as a meeting place if you got separated from your friends.

4. You were always enthralled at the Ontario Science Centre, whether you were there on school time or your own time.

Coles Toronto

5. You bought cheap books at Coles.

CN Tower

6. You remember where you were when the antenna was placed atop the CN Tower, and heard the urban legend about the workers who bolted it on urinating from its top over the city when they were done.

yellow police car toronto

7. Because they were yellow, you could always spot Metropolitan Toronto Police cars a mile away.

Frank Vetere

8. You thought the only pizza that mattered was made by Frank Vetere's.

9. For holidays and birthday parties you braved sticky floors and visited the Pop Shoppe.

terrace toronto

10. You roller skated at the Terrace.

yonge street 1970s

11. Seeing double bills at local drive-ins was how you got lucky in the summer.

House of Lords

12. You wanted to get your hair cut at House of Lords.

bike helmet toronto

13. You thought only cowards wore helmets.

toronto street food

14. When downtown with you often bought roasted chestnuts, candy apples or popcorn from the vendors on seemingly every corner.

15. The opening of the Eaton Centre was an incredibly exciting thing, especially if you lived in the suburbs as now you had a good reason to come downtown.

King of kensington

16. Your parents watched The King of Kensington.

uncle bobby toronto

17. You watched Uncle Bobby.

18. Binkley & Doinkel scared the shit out of you.

19. You went to the Zoo when it opened, and it pretty much blew your mind.

Elmer Toronto

20. You took pride in the fact that your school flew the Elmer flag, signifying that no accidents had occurred there.

stubby beers

21. Your dad drank his beer out of stubby beer bottles.

Hostess Chips

22. You actually tried Grape, Orange or Cherry flavoured Hostess potato chips (and 40 years later still can't get the taste out of your mouth).

23. You were excited by the launch of Global TV because they showed The Love Boat every night.

Knob Hill Farms

24. You enjoyed family trips to Knob Hill Farms.

drive inn

25. You were scared but curious of the Yonge Street "Sin Strip" which ran from Bloor to King, especially the grindhouse theatres like the Coronet, the Biltmore and of course the Rio. The death of Emmanuel Jacques shocked and saddened you and it was the first time you heard that it was no longer "Toronto the good."

Larrys Hideaway

26. Larry's Hideaway seemed like the coolest/scariest place in the city.

27. You stayed up to watch Night Music with Reiner Schwarz on TVOntario and it changed the way you thought about music.

28. You were awed by Ontario Place - the concerts, IMAX films at the Cinesphere, and Children's Village all became seminal Toronto experiences.

29. You knew all the words to Citytv's sign-off song, "Toronto - People City".

TTC 1970s

30. You respected the "no food or drinks allowed" rule on the TTC because it was clean and looked like this.

Retrontario plumbs the seedy depths of Toronto flea markets, flooded basements, thrift shops and garage sales, mining old VHS and Betamax tapes that less than often contain incredible moments of history that were accidentally recorded but somehow survived the ravages of time. You can find more amazing discoveries at www.retrontario.com.

Lead photo by

Toronto Archives


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