Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Frozen Chuch on Carlton Street in 1912

Beautiful and sad. A church on Carlton after a fire in 1912. I came across this one thanks to Derek Flack's fantastic old winter photos post for blogTO here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Forest Hill Village in 1927

Neat. This is Forest Hill Village — which is just a bit north of Spadina & St. Clair — in 1927. It was brand new back then: the village was incorporated just a few years earlier and wouldn't be officially swallowed up by the City of Toronto until 40 years after this photo was taken. 

Just a block to the west (i.e. to the left) of this spot is Cedarvale Ravine. Hemingway lived not far away just a few years earlier than this, and he'd take walks along Castle Frank Brook, which runs along the bottom of the ravine. It's also where the city planned to put the Spadina Expressway in the 1960s, until the famous grassroots campaign forced them to cancel the plans.

We're looking north at the intersection of Spadina & Lonsdale. That building on the north-east corner is home to a Second Cup now. The one of the south-east is a restaurant with yoga upstairs (Um, well, last I checked, anyway — it's just a few minutes from my place, but I don't go over there as much since my favourite breakfast place closed).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Yonge & Queen at 5 O'Clock, 1940

Of all the old Toronto photos I've ever posted to Facebook or Instagram (which you can follow me on, by the way, here and here), I think this might be the one that got the most likes. It's called "Five o'clock Rush, Queen & Yonge Streets, 1940". And it was taken by Charles D. Woodley. They've got a bunch of his stuff on the Stephen Bulger Gallery website, including a biography, which is where I've learned the few things that I've learned about him:

He was born in Toronto, in 1910, and he lived here his whole life. He got his first camera as a boy, in 1920 — even started a camera club at his high school, Bloor Collegiate, at the corner of Bloor & Dufferin. He once rode a bicycle home all the way from North Bay after a trip to Temagami — 200 kilometers down an unpaved Yonge Street. He liked to hitch rides on freight trains, too, took them across Canada and the United States. Over the course of his life, he would take photos in every province and territory in our country and in more than 50 countries around the world. He got married and had kids and was a teacher, too — he taught Geography at Western Tech.

He died, an old man, in 2003.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dream 04 "The Silver King" (Mary Pickford, 1900)

Mary Pickford was still Gladys Smith, just seven years old, when she dreamed she was on stage at the Princess Theatre. At first, there was nothing unusual about that night’s performance. She remembered all of her lines; the audience laughed and drew quiet in all the right places. She was happy and proud.

But then came the scene at the end of the first act, the scene when Denver discovers that he may have killed Ware, and from her spot standing in the wings, Gladys could see that the corpse on stage wasn’t Ware at all – it was her father. She knew it was him – knew it even though she hadn’t seen his face in years – and she was panicked.  He lay there, limp, and she wanted to rush out into the bright lights and save him, to somehow breathe the life back into him. But she couldn’t move. She stood there, bolted in place, and watched him, dead in front of all those people.

But when she wiped away her tears, she realized that his eyes were open; he was looking right at her and he was smiling. With her heart bursting in her chest, she rushed out to him, out onto the stage, to the roar of a thunderous applause.


Learn about Mary Pickford here
Explore more Toronto Dreams Project postcards here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Frozen Niagara Falls in 1848 (Probably)

Okay! A quick and not strictly Toronto one. I posted to this to Facebook months ago, but didn't get around to sharing it here. This is Niagara Falls, frozen over. Some people say the photo was taken in 1911, but apparently, amazingly, it seems more likely that it was actually taken in 1848. An ice damn which formed at Fort Erie that year caused the flow of water over the falls to stop completely. 

Toronto, as you might imagine, has had pretty a close relationship with Niagara ever since our city was founded. Back in the days when we had less smog, you could even sometimes see the spray from the falls all the way over here. We also dammed it in the early 1900s to provide the city (and much of the province) with hydro-electric power. In fact, the whole reason Toronto was built here in the first place was to replace the original capital at Niagara-On-The-Lake. It was too close to the border with the States back in those days, when a war with the Americans was just a matter a time.