Vintage Then, Digital Now

A few months ago a friend showed me an interesting website and Facebook group called Vintage Toronto that was dedicated to reliving the past of Toronto through photographs. The website is similar to Mitchell Wollziefer’s post below about Historypin, however, it was set up by a citizen of Toronto, Bill Stevenson, and has been propelled by the public. The purpose of Vintage Toronto is to share photographs of places in Toronto from the past; but the site has become popular because people have commented on these photos about these locations throughout the years, their memories, and decisions made at the time by various governments that have shaped Toronto. It has become very personal and interesting because you learn about all kinds of different experiences and people that were impacted by these locations. These photographs range from popular destinations in the city such as University Avenue, Front Street, and the Toronto Island to local neighbourhood streets and parks. Some people have even posted old school class photographs that have reconnected people after many years. These photographs have even impacted my family because some people have posted locations of our street and it was fascinating to know what it was like in our area decades ago. Some of the comments were very detailed such as personal memories people attended at various homes, the growth of trees families had planted, and renovations that impacted the neighbourhood. I do not believe it was the creator’s intention for the site to become a debating ground for the way the city was and where it is heading. For example, there is a large debate in Toronto about the deconstruction of the Eastern portion of the Gardiner Express Way. The Gardiner dismantling has become a major platform in the mayoral debate in October 2014. The followers of Vintage Toronto reflect the disparate views of Torontonians, many of whom have commented, debated, and criticized decisions on this very topic. Vintage Toronto embodies remediation and reflection of the past while incorporating the contrast between the public’s opinions and memories with their views of social, political, and economic status then and now. If you are from Toronto, I highly suggest that you check this page out because this site has given me a stronger and more in-depth connection to my hometown. The Facebook group has organized some photographs into albums by streets and areas that was helpful for finding photos of locations close to my house and area. And if you are not from the city I think you should still check it out because there are thousands of photos and interesting albums about sports, lost cinemas and theatres, fires, malls, bars and pubs, etc. The photos below are from the Facebook page. Enjoy 🙂


^^ Dufferin Gates being built in 1959


^^ CNE Automotive Show 1976


^^ Bay St. & Harbour St., looking north, 1930 & 2011

–by: Hayley James


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