history sunnyside toronto

10 strange and unusual things you might not know about Sunnyside in Toronto

Opened in 1922, Sunnyside Amusement Park was the Coney Island of Toronto, packing in massive crowds each weekend for swimming, rides, the boardwalk, and the general spectacle of it all. Not much of the old resort remains, but you can still spot signs of its rich history along the waterfront.

Here are some things to know about Sunnyside in Toronto.

1. There used to be a massive dock in front of the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion. This was the most popular place to swim in Toronto before the proliferation of air conditioning and the rise of residential pools.

2. Long before there was a pedestrian bridge connecting King, Queen, and Roncesvalles to Sunnyside, there was a full-size street that allowed cars to access the area.

3. As late as 1971, there was an inter-city train station at Sunnyside. Originally a part of the Grand Trunk Railway, it was eventually demolished in 1973. Beaty Boulevard Parkette can be found in the space formerly occupied by the station.

history sunnyside toronto

What the intersection of King and Queen St. used to look like.

4. The building that houses Easy Breakfast was once a gorgeous hotel. Opened in 1884 as the Park Hotel, it's most lasting moniker was the Ocean House Hotel, which stayed in operation until the mid 1950s.

5. When the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion opened in 1922 you could rent bathing suits and towels. This, I should note, was well before the invention of the washing machine.

6. The first Miss Toronto pageant took place at Sunnyside in August 1926, an event which was subsequently held at various venues all the way until 1992 when it was cancelled.

7. The Palais Royale was once one of the city's great jazz venues, hosting masters of swing like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Glen Miller.

history sunnyside toronto

The former Sunnyside Amusement Park.

8. When the outdoor swimming pool opened at Sunnyside in 1925, it was claimed to be the largest in the world. In any case, roughly 28,000 people showed up to have a look at it on opening day.

9. The rise of Sunnyside in the 1920s was a major factor in the demise of Toronto's other two amusement parks at the time - Hanlan's Point and Scarboro Beach, but by 1955 it was demolished by the Toronto Harbour Commission.

10. On occasion coconuts will wash up on shore at Sunnyside Beach. No one has been able to establish precisely where they come from, though a likely theory is that they're floated down the Humber River as a Hindu religious offering.

Lead photo by

Toronto Archives


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