History buffs with time to kill need only to venture over to the Toronto Public Library’s digital photo archive where they can spend hours freely exploring the library’s vast collection of images of olde Toronto.

We had a blast mining the archives searching for real estate ads from the 19th and early 20th century and now we’ve returned to the digital stacks to bring you photos of historic Toronto landmarks and sites. These historic images have been juxtaposed with photos of how these notable city sites look in the present day.

We hope you enjoy the return trip through olde Toronto and back again…

Queen Street West and University Avenue, 1953

This photo looking north on University from Queen shows how much the scale of the street has changed in the last 60 years. It also pre-dates the Osgoode subway station which opened in 1963.

Saint George the Martyr, John Street and Stephanie Street, 1955

Saint George the Martyr opened in 1845 to serve Toronto’s growing population. The city had 18,000 residents at the time. The land the church sits on was donated by the powerful Boulton family who also owned the nearby Grange manor, the first home of the Art Museum of Toronto. William Henry Boulton was major of Toronto three times, in 1845, 1846 and 1847.

King Street West and Spadina Avenue, 1954

Aside from the Cabana Room being long closed, not as much has changed looking northwest at the intersection of King and Spadina, though traffic is certainly heavier and the streetcar system is more active.

Foster Colley L.L. House, Adelaide Street West and Peter Street, 1914

One hundred years can do a lot to change the scale of the street, as condos now tower over the house and Adelaide and Peter.

Royal Alexandra Theatre, King Street West, 1955

A mailbox sits where a phone booth once stood and the illuminated awning expanded to stretch the entire facade, but not much else has changed at the Royal Alexandra Theatre since 1955.

Adelaide Street West and John Street, 1890


From 1831 to 1891, this brick building at Adelaide and John housed the Upper Canada College boarding house.

All present day photos by James Bombales. All archive photos courtesy of the Toronto Public Library.

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