Toronto 1950s

Stunning colour photos of Toronto in the 1950s

Toronto was a quieter place in the 1950s. Our skyline was made up of a handful of buildings from the 1930s, our brick buildings were stained with soot from the industry that still dominated our waterfront, and you couldn't get a drink or go shopping on Sundays.

Yes, there was a time when this was a downright sleepy town.

That said, Toronto was already starting to change in the 50s. It would take a decade or two for these little seeds to blossom into the type of full scale transformation the city experienced in the late 1960s and early 70s, but the signs are there.

In these photos you see the birth of the subway and the suburbs, tidy downtown streets that are about to explode with neon signs and taller developments.

While Kodak released colour film in the late 1930s, it wasn't until the 1960s that its use became widespread among amateurs. As such, the collection of colour photographs of Toronto from the 1950s is tiny compared to that of the decade that followed.

Perhaps because of this, they provide an alluring glimpse of a cheerful if somewhat boring city on the brink of great change.

The images below represent a mix of photographs, postcards, and other marketing materials that were deemed important enough at the time to be produced in colour.

Behold, the Toronto of the 1950s in vivid colour.

Toronto 1950s

The Toronto skyline in 1956. Photo by PJs Deceased.

Toronto 1950s

The massive railway lands before the CN Tower and condo developments. Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.

Toronto 1950s

James and Albert streets. Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.

Toronto 1950s

Postcard view looking up Bay towards Old City Hall.

Toronto 1950s

Old City Hall and Peter Witt streetcar. Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.

Toronto 1950s

Toronto Telegram Building at Bay and Melinda streets.

Toronto 1950s

Postcard view looking up Yonge St. north of Queen St.

Toronto 1950s

Postcard view of the pre-sign Royal York.

Toronto 1950s

Yonge St. near Summerhill. Photo via John Bromley's Archives.

Toronto 1950s

A streetcar passes Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Yonge St. pre-subway. Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.

Toronto 1950s

Postcard view looking north to Yonge and Dundas.

Toronto 1950s

Redpath Sugar under construction on Queens Quay. Photo via the Wikimedia Commons.

Toronto 1950s

4972 Dundas West. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

Toronto 1950s

People getting out from Sunday service. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

Toronto 1950s

The quiet Toronto waterfront (likely Ashbridges Bay). Photo via the Wikimedia Commons.

Toronto 1950s

Toronto harbour and ferry late 1950s. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

Toronto 1950s

Postcard view of a picnic on the Toronto Islands.

Toronto 1950s

A Peter Witt streetcar near Yonge and Lawton. Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.

Toronto 1950s

Davisville Station in 1956. Photo via Transit Toronto.

Toronto 1950s

Postcard view of Gloucester train at King Station.

Toronto 1950s

Postcard view of the Scarboro Motel, 1950s.

Toronto 1950s

Rexdale in the late 1950s. Photo via Toronto Archives.

Toronto 1950s

Old Don Mills Rd. Bridge (now part of the bike trail system). Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.

Toronto 1950s

The birth of Don Mills. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

Lead photo by

Chuckman's Nostalgia


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