Photos from Our Archives: Summer in Ontario

June 20, 2019 | Ann

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June often marks the start of summer weather in Ontario, whether it's 2019 or 1919.

Below is a sample of old — and not so old — summertime photos from Digital Archive Ontario (including digitized images from the library's Toronto Star Photograph Archive). They span several Ontario communities, all evoking warm weather.


For those who'd like to see how Victorians spent their summers in Ontario, Robert Wright & Co. published this beautifully illustrated book in the 1880s: A Souvenir of Brockville: The Beautiful City of the Thousand Islands


Today's summer fashion is less elaborate than the fashion at the beginning of the 20th century. It's now much roomier and cooler thanks to Spandex and other breathable materials! The ladies and gentleman above may or may not have been comfortable but they were fashionable for the time.


Take a close look at the above photo documenting one of the three scenic beaches in St. Catharines. Did you spot the children climbing up the slide in the water? How about the sunbathers on top of the roof? (You can enlarge the image on Digital Archive Ontario.)


When it was built in 1925, Toronto's Sunnyside pool was the world's largest outdoor swimming pool. Given the enormous crowd of residents who showed up to take a dip or enjoy some sun, an even bigger pool might have been welcomed on this hot day in 1947.


Some people relax with a cool dip in the water, others spend the season with buzzing beehives. Beekeepers like the one above keep themselves meticulously protected from both bees and the sun's rays while reaping the rewards of honey.

With the decrease in honey bees,  All About Ontario Honey by Ontario Beekeepers Association is a useful resource for anyone who wants to help the cause.


Leaping into a river is certainly one way to cool off. Away from their parents' scrutiny, these teenagers leaped from a dam into Credit River. The young man jumping on the left looks a bit more unsure than the boy on the right who embraces the fall with arms outstretched and back curved. 


If swimming or gathering honey is of no interest to you, perhaps you might prefer a cold drink. Or better yet, brewing cold drinks more for everybody else to enjoy, like Moe Coutu (above) did with Ontario's first brew pub, Welland's Own Pub Brew.

By the way, did you know there's a Niagara College Teaching Brewery?


Visiting cottage country for the summer seems like a nice escape from the hot city pavement. A canoe trip could be a refreshing journey — just be sure to examine the canoe for holes so that your trip isn't too refreshing...


Marilyn Bell held a lofty goal back in 1954 — to cross Lake Ontario as the first Canadian swimmer at the young age of 16. Bell's accomplishments are well noted in Historica Canada. In 1987, Marilyn relaxed in the water with her family (above photo). More images of Marilyn Bell's great swim across Lake Ontario and other pursuits are available from the Digital Archive of Ontario.

If you're in the area, why not stroll along in Marilyn Bell Park just west of Ontario Place on a nice summery day?


Two children (left) look forward to another year of summer camp. At Camp Oochigeas, a boy (right) steadily paddles across Lake Rosseau in the District of Parry Sound, Ontario. 


It must have been quite a heat wave. This water main worker went straight to the source for relief, filling his hard hat with cool water as it bubbles and sluices through the open pipe as famous Toronto photographer Boris Spremo captures the lively shot above. 



We don't blame you if you just want to get outside and soak in some sunshine. But if you need a break, find some shade and explore more vintage Ontario images on Digital Archive Ontario.