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.
The Toronto skyline in 1956. Photo by PJs Deceased.
The massive railway lands before the CN Tower and condo developments. Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.
James and Albert streets. Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.
Postcard view looking up Bay toward Old City Hall.
Old City Hall and Peter Witt streetcar. Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.
Toronto Telegram Building at Bay and Melinda streets.
Postcard view looking up Yonge St. north of Queen St.
Postcard view of the pre-sign Royal York.
Yonge St. near Summerhill. Photo via John Bromley's Archives.
A streetcar passes Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Yonge St. pre-subway. Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.
Postcard view looking north to Yonge and Dundas.
Redpath Sugar under construction on Queens Quay. Photo via the Wikimedia Commons.
4972 Dundas West. Photo via the Toronto Archives.
People getting out from Sunday service. Photo via the Toronto Archives.
The quiet Toronto waterfront (likely Ashbridges Bay). Photo via the Wikimedia Commons.
Toronto harbour and ferry in the late 1950s. Photo via the Toronto Archives.
Postcard view of a picnic on the Toronto Islands.
A Peter Witt streetcar near Yonge and Lawton. Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.
Davisville Station in 1956. Photo via Transit Toronto.
Postcard view of Gloucester train at King Station.
Postcard view of the Scarboro Motel, 1950s.
Rexdale in the late 1950s. Photo via Toronto Archives.
Old Don Mills Rd. Bridge (now part of the bike trail system). Photo via Chuckman's Nostalgia.
The birth of Don Mills. Photo via the Toronto Archives.