Happy Holidays, Toronto: 'Tis the Season for Vintage Photographs

December 18, 2018 | Andrew

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Best wishes to everyone during the 2018 holiday season! The library's Digital Archive — which has over 150,000 historical items — includes many wonderful holiday-themed photos of Toronto. Here are a few interesting photos from the archive, along with some brief feel-good stories to put you in the holiday mood. All photos are courtesy Toronto Star Photograph Archive, part of our collections.

Santa Claus Parade (1962)

Santa Claus Parade Bird's Eye View 1962

A bird's eye view of the Santa Claus Parade in 1962.

Simpson's Metal Tree (1962)

Simpson's 60 Foot Metal Tree 1962

In 1962, a 60-foot-high metal Christmas tree was put on the corner of Simpson's Department store at Yonge Street and Queen Street for the holidays. It contained some 4,500 lights! For more history on Simpson's Department Store visit The Department Store Museum.

Snow Storm (1975)

Weatherman's Christmas Present Snow Storm 1975

Boxing Day of December, 1975 saw over 15 centimetres of snow fall. Fisherman David Franklin spent the day fishing for Rainbow trout off of Ontario Hydro's Hearn Generating Station — recently sold to a film company. Thank goodness there were not too many people going to work that morning or it would have been a giant traffic jam! The snow did provide an opportunity for many to try out Christmas gifts of tobaggans and skis and kept at least one Waverley Road resident busy with a shovel.

Scarborough's Mayor Gus Harris

Gus Harris 1979

Scarborough's Mayor Gus Harris gave four-year-old Chad Brandon of Stouffville, Ontario a boost to hang a handmade paper snowflake on a giant Christmas Tree at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

Towering Best Wishes: Westin Hotel (1984)

Westin Hotel 1984

The Westin Hotel on Queen Street at University Avenue offered a Christmas message and traditional hospitality. Guests were shifted to the hotel's south side so the windows of the north side could be lit every day after sunset to spell "JOY" and depict a Christmas tree. 

St. Paul's Anglican Church (1985)

Music of Christmas St. Paul's Anglican Church 1985

Thousands stood to join massed choirs in the Christmas carols in one of two special concerts at St. Paul's Anglican Church sponsored by the Toronto Star. In the program, tribute was paid to writer Sam Campbell associated with the newspaper's charities Fresh Air and Santa Claus funds. Three choirs and a Salvation Army band took part. 

Queen's Park (1985)

Queen's Park 1985

"The Spirit of Christmas" in the city was made stately at Queen's Park with sparkling lights highlighting its architecture and bandstand. 

Christmas at the Bradley House Museum (1986)

Colonial Christmas 1986

Brampton resident and Mississauga heritage management intern Marisa Asta-Williams knitted in front of a decorated mantel in her 1840s costume at Bradley House. A colonial Christmas was celebrated at the Bradley House Museum at Orr and Meadowwood Roads in Mississauga. 

Christmas Toys From Blue Knights (1989)

Police Chief Designate William McCormack 1989

While not quite winter when the ride took place, Metropolitan Toronto Police Chief designate William McCormack gave a thumbs up as he prepared to fire up police motorcycles as the Blue Knights Charity Ride began in Scarborough. Seven hundred motorcyclists, including many retired police officers, showed up to collect Christmas toys for children.

Giant Christmas Tree BCE Place (1992)

BCE Place 1992

The giant Christmas tree at BCE Place (now known as Brookfield Place) at Yonge and Front Streets was the focus for a variety of performers and groups to entertain lunch time shoppers including the Toronto Children's Chorus.



Season's greetings and a prosperous New Year to everyone! The blog contributors look forward to bringing you even more interesting content in 2019.

Read our post about Vintage Holiday Cards from the Digital Archive.