toronto 1940s photos

Recovered rare 80-year-old photos show a completely different version of Toronto

Toronto is a rapidly changing city, most times unrecognizable from decade to decade, and a new batch of recovered photos show just how much has changed over the past 80 years.

Artist, graphic designer and local historian Jeremy Hopkin stumbled upon a small collection of homemade stereoview cards — an early form of 3D photography where two nearly identical photos produce a single image when viewed through a stereoscope.

All of the photos were taken decades ago, from 1941 and '42 and show a completely different city than what we are used to today.

Hopkin figured out that the photos were snapped by a W.S. Sinclair, who appeared to live at 561 Ossington Ave.

He's been sharing the photos on Twitter. They are extremely cool to look at and compare against what the city looks like in 2023.

Through some sleuthing, Hopkin figured out that Mr. Sinclair was renting a room in the house, which at the time, was owned by a William J. Murphy, who Sinclair also photographed.

Snapped in November of 1941, the houses at 560 & 562 Ossington still stand today and look exactly the same.

In February 1942, Mr. Sinclair visited 78 Queen's Park Crescent, the former residence of Sir Joseph Flavelle, and snapped a quick pic of the haunting scene.

He also took a picture of Victoria College at 73 Queen's Park Cr., noticing the old car just driving by.

The snap of Hart House is exceptionally cool and pretty similar to what you can see today, though the scene is missing the green lawn and trees.

That same February day, Mr. Murphy also visited the southwest corner of University Avenue and College Street and took a picture of the Ontario Hydro Commission Building, which still stands stand at 620 University Avenue.

These are just a few of the pictures that Hopkin has shared with his followers, and he says he'll continue to share the pics in the months ahead, on the very same date that each photo was taken 80-years ago.

To follow along, make sure to follow @jeremy_hopkin on Twitter to discover a Toronto of days past.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Hopkin


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