What's online

Our favourite photos

Looking for gift ideas? The Archives has available for sale in the Research Hall, a pre-printed selection of some of our favourite photographs.

Coming in three sizes, 8" x 10", 11" x 14" or 16" x 20", these beautiful, archive quality prints, would be an ideal addition to your home or office, or make a perfect present for a friend or relative.

The City of Toronto Archives has over one million photographs within its collection, and almost 50,000 are able to be viewed online. Below are just a few of the Archives' staff favourites.

Reproductions of all of our images can be purchased from the Archives. See our guide on how to order digital reproductions of our photographs or contact us. For a complete list of images by series, see our list of digitized photos.


 

Bloor Street Viaduct, looking east

Bloor Street Viaduct, looking east
July 18, 1917
City of Toronto Archives
Series 372, Sub-series 10, Item 841

Taken by city photographer Arthur Goss, this photograph of the Bloor Street Viaduct under construction was used as the cover image for the City of Toronto Archives' book Toronto's Visual Legacy, celebrating the city's 175th anniversary. The viaduct gained fame internationally through Michael Ondaatje's novel, In the Skin of a Lion.

 

Old Union Station, with steam locomotive.

Old Union Station
City of Toronto Archives
1907
Fonds 1244, Item 99

This iconic image of Old Union Station was captured by freelance photographer William James. This image depicts the old Union Station in the heyday of steam locomotion. Old Union Station, located to the west of the present station, was demolished in 1927.

 

Horse diving from platform into lake
Diving horse
1908
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1244, Item 192

Another James image catches Toronto's famous diving horse plunging into Lake Ontario. J.W. Gorman's equine show was a popular attraction at Hanlan's Point on Toronto Island during the early twentieth century.

 

Girl standing in front of slum dwelling, with Toronto's old City Hall in background
21 rear, Elizabeth Street
May 15, 1913
City of Toronto Archives
Series 372, Sub-series 32, Item 187

Commissioned by the Toronto Health Department, this Arthur Goss photograph was to be included in a report regarding the poor state of Toronto's housing. The property was located in The Ward a notorious slum in the heart of the city. This property, demolished soon after, was located where the Nathan Philips Square ice rink is today. You can see Old City Hall in the background.

 

Group of people, sitting atop a moving car driving down Bay Street, during VE celebrations
Group on car on Bay Street 
May 7, 1945
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1266, Item 96241

This shot was captured by John Boyd, photographer for the Globe and Mail. It was taken on Bay Street on May 7, 1945, the day Germany unconditionally surrendered to the allies. The Archives has over 140,000 photographs in the Globe and Mail collection, many of them taken by Boyd, from 1922 to 1953.

 

Three firemen, facing camera, walking on sidewalk
Three Firemen
1910
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1244, Item 15

Three members of the Toronto Fire Brigade are the subject of this William James image. They are depicted walking down Lansdowne Avenue, north of Davenport Road. It was claimed that the firemen had to walk half a mile leaving their fire wagons, which could not make it through the mud!

 

Hunters and dogs ca.1907

Hunters and dogs
ca.1907
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1244, Item 159

William James was a freelance photographer who also sold many images to the Toronto Star. This photograph depicts foxhunters and their hounds cantering over the ravine bridge on Bathurst Street, just north of St. Clair Avenue.

 

Fishermen in Grenadier pond July 1939
Fishermen in Grenadier pond
July 1939
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1231, Item 629

This rustic–looking scene was taken on the banks of Grenadier Pond in High Park just before the outbreak of the Second World War. The pond has been used by anglers since the early nineteenth–century, and the City continues to permit this sport today, provided you have a licence.

 

Queen Street subway, looking east November 17, 1897
Queen Street subway, looking east
November 17, 1897
City of Toronto Archives
Series 376, File 2, Item 8

Commissioned by the City Engineer's Department, this photograph illustrates the near completion of the construction of the subway, or underpass, at Queen and Dufferin Streets. Visible in the background is the Gladstone Hotel.

 

Drinking fountain at College Street and Spadina Avenue April 26, 1899

Drinking fountain at College Street and Spadina Avenue
April 26, 1899
City of Toronto Archives
Series 376, File 2, Item 49

Commissioned by the City Engineer and taken by F.W. Micklethwaite, this photograph shows a drinking fountain just south of the Spadina Circle. These drinking fountains were commonplace in Toronto in the late nineteenth century, with a trough for horses, a common cup for people and even a basin for dogs! The Health department later deemed them a public health hazard and replaced them. One remains on King Street East near St. James Cathedral.

 

Row of buildings on south side of King Street East, near Yonge Street, looking west
King Street East, south side looking west
1856
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 1

One of the earliest photographs taken of Toronto, this 150 year old image shows Toronto's main commercial thoroughfare at that time, King Street East. In the foreground is the The Golden Lion, a dry–goods store and one of the city's most famous retailers. Constructed in 1847, this building was substantially altered and expanded in 1866.

 

Group of buildings on south side of King Street East, near Church Street, looking east
King Street East, south side looking east
1856
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 2

This is the second image of a series of twenty-five taken by photographers Armstrong, Beer and Hime. This photograph shows King Street East at the intersection with Leader Lane (known as Berczy Lane at the time). The Archives has a web exhibit based on this series of images by Armstrong, Beere and Hime, titled The Earliest Known Photographs of Toronto.
 

 

Yonge Street slip looking north
Yonge Street Slip, looking north
December 30, 1926
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1231, Item 927

William James' photograph reminds us of how industrial Toronto's lakeshore used to be in the early 20th century.

 

Roncesvalles Avenue lookingeast
Intersection of Dundas Street and Roncesvalles Avenue, looking south-east
January 19, 1912
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1231, Item 1670

What was the Merchant's Bank of Canda is now a Starbucks Coffee, otherwise not much has changed in this view.

 

Greengrocer's store on danforth Avenue
Greengrocer's on Danforth Avenue
ca. 19306
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1244, Item 339

This greengrocer's store would make the Danforth proud today, especially with apples at 15cents a basket!

 

Policeman directing traffic
Policeman, corner of King and Yonge streets
1912
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1244, Item 1008

As in the James image above, this photograph captures much of the commotion and excitement of, historically, one of Tornto's busiest intersections.

Cars and people in Humber River
Bathers and cars in Humber River
1922
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1244, Item 1237

This photograph was taken in those halcyon days when you could not only swim in the Humber River, but wash your car too!

 

Trinity College [now Trinity Bellwoods Park] gates
Trinity College gates, Queen Street West
1916
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1244, Item 1516

The gates of Trinity College bacame the entrance to Trinity Bellwoods Park when that building was demolished. The gates are the only survivors of what was one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Canada.

 

Jolly Miller pub on Yonge Street, looking south
Yonge Street, North York - looking south from Jolly Miller Hotel
ca. 1936
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1568, Item 137

Invoking memories of North York's rural past, Yonge Street appears as a mere country lane rather than the main arterial route north out of the city. The railway track parallel to the road, is in fact, a streetcar line that took weekending Torontonians all the way to Lake Simcoe.

 

Gooderham and Worts distillery
Office building in the Distillery District
November 18, 1918
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1583, Item 143

Formerly the Gooderham and Worts Distillery, the largest producers of whisky in the British Empire, the Distillery District is now an entertainment complex of shops, cafes and resturants. A National Historic Site, it is the largest collection of Victorian industrial buildings in North Amwerica and comprises of over 40 heritage buildings.

 

queen Street looking south-east
Looking east from Kew Beach Fire Station
1906
City of Toronto Archives
Series 376, File 5, Item33

Looking east over The Beach area of Toronto, what was once 'Cottage Country' for wealthier Torontonians, was quickly being developed. The structure in the right of the image is the old Kew Beach Public School building.


These and thousands of other images are available to purchase from the City of Toronto Archives. If you can't find what you're looking for on our website, come and pay us a visit.

 


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