Toronto by Night (aka long exposures galore)

long exposures Toronto by Night

It’s not that often that you get to glimpse history at night. Surely, if we’ve learned anything from history textbooks, it’s that the world existed in black and white (or occasionally sepia) and in perpetual daylight, until roughly about the mid 1950’s.

This would make perfect sense…if you were an imbecile.

But you aren’t, so to the past we travel once more. To take a look at nightlife in old Toronto and its amusement parks, theatres, baseball stadiums, and scenes of revelry. This was the era when billboards were alight with incandescent bulbs, everybody wore wool, and smoking calmed the nerves (though it allegedly “stunted” your growth as well, go fig).

We were still a long way off from house-dwarfing LED television screens; able to blind a man at 1000 paces. Crosswalks, well… didn’t exist, let alone beep and click, and birds weren’t being killed by an ever menacing city loom. The city had not yet become one giant TV commercial and things were good (with the exception of those two world wars and the depression, of naturally).

long exposures Toronto by Night
Yonge & King 1913

One could find entertainment on the islands at Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park and its eponymous baseball stadium. Another stadium appeared in 1908 at the foot of Bathurst and Lakeshore, which of course was only a stones throw* from the midway at the CNE.

Having returned from the islands, one could catch the Yonge street car up to Queen and catch a Vaudeville act at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre (later to become Loews Theatre), or a moving picture at the Comique, at Yonge and Dundas. If you happened to live on Wilton Avenue (now Dundas East), you might also stroll over to see a Leafs game at the Mutual Street Arena, their home prior to The Gardens.

Sunnyside to the west, as mentioned before, was another popular attraction; especially while illuminated at night. Looking out towards the lake, one could catch a glimpse of people like the Eaton family, yachting in the moonlight.

*not to be taken literally.

With pictures from the Toronto Archives.

.long exposures Toronto by Night

long exposures Toronto by Night CNE

long exposures Toronto by Night CNE fountain

Toronto by Night Dufferin gates

Toronto by Night yacht
Eaton Yacht 1912

Toronto by Night theatre

Toronto by Night sunny side 1925
Sunnyside at Night 1925
Toronto by Night Wilton
Wilton and Mutual Streets 1920
long exposures Toronto by Night bellevue
Bellevue and College 1911


About Christopher Butters 6 Articles
Born and raised in Toronto, Christopher Butters is a contributor with a strong passion for history, art, and anything motorcycle related. When he's not writing, he's often taking motorcycle trips to parts unknown, camping, or working on an oil paint sketch in a messy studio.