Toronto 1943

Dazzling colour footage of Toronto in 1943

The 1940s is a period well documented photographically in Toronto, but it's quite rare to see colour documentation of this period. That's why the clip below from the Periscope Film Archive is such a gem.

Yes, it's silent and not much happens, but once you see the first bright red Peter Witt streetcar go by, you can't help but get excited. So much has changed, but here you'll spot plenty of touchstones that have carried through the decades.

There's a lot to see in this roughly four minute long video. The obvious stuff is the Royal York Hotel, Union Station, and Queen's Park, but for me the intriguing things are the TTC signs, the mailboxes, and the outdoor classroom (possibly in High Park or Victoria Park).

It's also rather fascinating to note the general lack of traffic in the city (and the active role of the traffic-conducting police officer). While the place depicted here feels immediately familiar, the interval of 70+ years also gives it a rather eerie feeling.

The view up Bay St. is remarkably similar, but the building facades are actually cleaner today (we don't burn much coal anymore). There's also lots of people out and about on downtown streets because there's no Eaton Centre or PATH to take them inside.

Have a look to see what jumps out at you from the Toronto of 1943.


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