Originally published as a “Historicist” column on Torontoist on October 2, 2010. Because the original links to the postcards vanished from Torontoist following a site redesign, and because I don’t appear to have any related Word documents, I have no idea if any text other than subject identification appeared under these images, nor what order they were originally presented in. Comments written under the postcards were written in 2020.
Usually when preparing Historicist, we dig through local archives and libraries to find the pieces of Toronto’s past that are brought to you every weekend. Sometimes the material finds us, as is the case with today’s gallery of postcards submitted by reader Todd J. Wiebe.
The postcards were among a large collection of items donated by the estate of fine art scholar Richard Wunder to the Van Wylen Library at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where Wiebe works as a librarian and assistant professor. “It is a very large collection,” says Wiebe, “and this past summer was the first we really got around to going through it.” As the materials were being processed and appraised, a worker in the library found the postcards and passed them on to Wiebe “because I’m from Southern Ontario.”
The set contains twenty-two postcards attached to each other accordion-style. They were produced by the Canadian branch of Scottish postcard maker Valentine & Sons. Based on the age of the landmarks depicted, we’re guessing that this package was produced in the mid-to-late 1920s due to the presence of Union Station (opened in 1927, though it had stood largely completed since 1920) and, given the presence of the city’s tallest buildings in the set, the lack of postcards for the Royal York Hotel (opened in 1929) and Commerce Court (opened in 1931).
Streetcars carried commuters over the viaduct until the Bloor-Danforth subway line opened in 1966.
That Casa Loma is referred to as Henry Pellatt’s residence makes me wonder if some or all of this series was produced in the early 1920s, as Pellatt was forced to leave the premises in 1923.
Judging from this view, it appears Lippincott Street was open to traffic in front of Central Tech.
All five of these churches remain active as of 2020, though the landscapes around them have changed radically.
Opened in 1899, City Hall was the heart of Toronto’s municipal dramas until city council moved across Bay Street in 1965.
Completed in 1913, the Canadian Pacific building is currently used for office space.
North Toronto station closed in 1930. It became the Summerhill LCBO.
Built in 1914, the building at the southwest corner of King and Yonge was the headquarters of the Dominion Bank until it merged with the Bank of Toronto in 1955. In 2020, it houses the One King West Hotel & Residence.
Toronto General moved to College and University in 1913. As of 2020, portions of the building fronting College Street houses MaRS.
Originally opened in 1903, the King Eddy gained its tower in 1922.
Several of the buildings in this postcard series seen together.
The Cayuga was one of several steamers owned by the Niagara Navigation Company. It was retired in 1957 and scrapped four years later.
Located in St. James Square, the Toronto Normal School trained several generations. Its site served as an incubator for OCAD, the ROM, and Ryerson University. Most of the building was demolished by 1963.
Not pictured: the iron gates. Or cows.
Two premiers presided over the proceedings at Queen’s Park during the 1920s – E.C. Drury’s UFO (United Farmers of Ontario) government gave way to Howard Ferguson’s Conservatives in 1923.
This appears to be an artistic interpretation of the Red Ensign, used as Canada’s flag through 1965.
Opened in 1915, the Royal Bank Building still stands at 2 King Street East.
Was the front of Union Station ever this serene during the day?
“University College” would be a more appropriate description for this postcard. Major additions to the U of T campus during the 1920s included Trinity College and Varsity Arena.
University Avenue was still a genteel, tree-lined street south of Queen’s Park when this postcard was produced. Laid out in 1829, it was originally conceived as a genteel park boulevard which would lead up to the intended site for the King’s College campus. It was closed to commercial traffic, and no streets were allowed to cross its path. The road was opened up for full use in 1859, and expanded south of Queen Street.