What Sunnyside looked like before the Gardiner arrived

Posted by Derek Flack, April 18, 2012 on Blogto.com
Copyright © 2004-2014. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 (Canada) license
Disclaimer: Comments and entries represent the viewpoints of the individual and no one else.  This interesting post was suggested by Anna Burtola of the Parkdale BIA.

Sunnyside Toronto ParkAlthough still a well-known beach, the Sunnyside of today only hints at the area’s former glory. As one makes his way from the Humber Bay Arch Bridge heading east across the Boardwalk or the Martin Goodman trail, it’s difficult to imagine that he’s approaching what was once the city’s most popular amusement area, a place that could look almost Coney Island-like on its busiest of days.Opened in 1922 (the name predates the amusent park), some landmarks from Sunnyside’s early days remain — the Bathing Pavilion chief among them — but with the arrival of the Gardiner Expressway in the 1950s, the so-called “poor man’s Riviera” was confined to memory.

Sunnyside’s demise can’t, however, be attributed solely to the war-path of urban development that accompanied the foundation of Metro Toronto in 1954. To a great degree the area’s faded lakeside glamour can be attributed to the rise of car-culture and the burgeoning tradition of heading north to cottage country. The park’s heyday came at a time before personal car ownership was widespread, and city-bound Torontonians were desperate for accessible summer entertainment.

There’s plenty of good reading about this bit of Toronto’s lost history out there. Along with a host of web articles, Mike Filey’s I Remember Sunnyside probably provides the most in-depth account of what an exciting place this really was (just picture Duke Ellington playing the Palais Royale on a steamy summer night). From a photographic standpoint, we’re less spoiled. Although the Toronto Archives has a decent supply of scanned images of the area dating back to its days as lazy swimming area dotted with hydro poles, there are precious few that capture the notorious nighttime scene and the park’s attractions.

Even without them, one gets the sense that this would be an extraordinary place to visit should one manage to get his or her hands on a time machine.


2012417-sunnyside-bathers-1907-f1244_it0244.jpgSunnyside bathers, 1907

2012417-meyhers-hotel-1911-f1231_it1107a.jpgMeyhers Hotel, 1911

2012417-sunnyside-1914-hydro-f1548_s0393_it1089.jpgHydro poles, 1914

SunnysideSunnyside layout, 1914

2012417-sunnyside-station-1915-GTR-f1231_it1024.jpgSunnyside Station, GTR

2012417-sunnyside-crowd-1920-f1244_it1362.jpgCrowds, 1920

2012417-west-sunnyside-1920-f1244_it1117.jpgWest Sunnyside, 1920

2012417-sunnyside-pavillion-1922-f1231_it0540.jpgSunnyside Pavillion, 1922

2012417-kqr-intersection-1923-s0071_it1976.jpgKing, Queen and Roncesvalles leading to Sunnyside Bridge

2012417-sunnyside-bridge-1923s0372_ss0031_it0010.jpgSunnyside Bridge, 1923

2012417-sunnyside-spring-1923-f1266_it0423.jpgSpring 1923

2012417-bathing-cars-sunnyside-1924-s0071_it3272h.jpgBathing cars, 1924

2012417-sunnyside-band-stand-1924-f1266_it2560.jpgBandstand, 1924

2012417-sunnyside-boardwalk-1924-f1266_it2413.jpgBoardwalk, 1924

2012417-sunnyside-bathing-station-1924-f1244_it0219a.jpgBathing station, 1924

2012417-sunnyside-traffic-1924-f1244_it2530.jpgSunnyside traffic, 1924

2012417-sunnyside-traffic-1925-f1266_it4966.jpgTraffic, 1925


2012417-sunnyside-boardwalk-1925-f1266_it4959.jpgThe Boardwalk, 1925

2012417-sunnyside-night-f1266_it5170.jpgLighting up the night, 1920s

2012417-miss-toronto-1926-f1244_it1028j.jpgMiss Toronto, 1926


2012417-sunnyside-tank-1929-f1231_it0659.jpgSwimming tank, 1929

2012417-crowd-sunnyside-1930s-f1257_s1057_it0090.jpgCrowds, 1930s

2012417-sunnyside-ship-julia-b-merrill-s0372_ss0041_it0262.jpgJulia B. Merrill and swimmers, 1931


2012417-sunnyside-pool-1940s-f1257_s1057_it0092.jpgSunnyside pool, 1940s


2012410-sunnyside-1949.jpgAerial view, 1949

2012410-sunnyside-20years.jpgThe Gardiner runs through it, 1960s

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