Virtual Exhibit: 114 Stories X 114 Storeys
Below is the virtual exhibit of 114 Stories X 114 Storeys. The original, in-person photo exhibit had been on display in the CN Tower before closures to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Welcome to a 360-degree celebration of Toronto’s changing faces and places. The 114 Stories X 114 Storeys exhibit explores the facts — and fiction — behind 10 of our city’s best-known landmarks. This unique collaboration between the CN Tower and the Toronto Public Library, showcases our city’s diverse cultures and communities through stories and images of famous Toronto sites, drawn from the library’s extraordinary Special Collections — as well as current views from the CN Tower.
- Fort York
- Yonge Street
- Toronto Islands
- Ontario Place
- Canadian National Exhibition
- Kensington Market
- Royal York Hotel
- Union Station
- Prince Edward Viaduct
- 1904 Toronto Fire
- CN Tower
Built by the British Army and Canadian militia groups in 1793, the Fort York garrison was intended to defend the new capital of Upper Canada from possible attack by the United States.
The city of Toronto literally grew up and expanded around the now historic site, as illustrated in these photographs. In 1905, the city had proposed a streetcar route to the CNE that would have divided the fort in two. The streetcar line was never built due to strong public outcry. The site was again threatened in the 1950s, when it was proposed the Gardiner Expressway be built on top of the site. Planners rerouted the highway so that it would run just south of the Fort York grounds.
Spending a week amid Fort York’s 150-year-old restored buildings near Bathurst and Front Streets, the Grade 4 class at St. George’s Junior School in Etobicoke lived the life of 19th-century soldiers.
As one of its oldest and longest streets, Toronto’s Yonge Street is the city’s gathering place for parades, street performances, festivals and protests. The street was named by Ontario’s first colonial administrator, John Graves Simcoe, for his friend Sir George Yonge, an expert on ancient Roman roads.
The Yorkville Town Hall served as town hall until 1883, when Yorkville was annexed into Toronto. The hall became known as St. Paul’s Hall and had a public library, and hosted various clubs and community events. The hall survived until 1941 when it was destroyed by fire and was demolished. Some 30 years later, the Toronto Reference Library was built across the street, populating the full block north of Asquith Avenue.
Easter strollers — an estimated 20,000 of them — packed Yonge Street from Gerrard Street to King Street for the 1961 Easter Parade. Many of them waited impatiently along the sidewalks for the expected parade to move down the pink-tinted street, only to learn that they themselves were to be the parade.
Lit by the iconic Sam the Record Man sign, Yonge Street was awash with jubilant baseball fans who partied well into the wee hours, celebrating the Toronto Blue Jays’ first World Series win.
The Toronto Islands (also known as Menecing, meaning “on the island,” in the Ojibwa language), have provided a protected harbour for Toronto. This feature was noted by John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada in 1793, when he selected Toronto as a site for settlement and the future capital of Upper Canada.
Hanlan’s Point was home to a baseball stadium erected in 1897 for the minor league Toronto Maple Leafs baseball club. It was destroyed by fire twice, in 1903, and again in 1909. Adjacent to the Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park, the site was in use for various sports until the late 1930s. The Maple Leafs left the Toronto Islands for Maple Leaf Stadium after the 1925 season, but the field remained in use until the construction of the Toronto Island Airport in 1937.
Edward “Ned” Hanlan (12 July 1855 – 4 January 1908), the renowned rower, was the first Canadian athlete to gain international recognition. Growing up on Toronto Islands, young Hanlan got his start by rowing several kilometres across the harbour each day to attend George Street Public School. Cheered on by 100,000 spectators, Hanlan became Canada’s first world champion in an individual event on 15 November 1880 in London, England. He was the world sculling champion from 1880–1884.
At the pinnacle of his fame, Ned Hanlan took over the management of his father’s hotel, which became the centre of social life on the islands. It was akin to a summer palace, an ideal place to holiday during the hot, humid Toronto summer, until the building was destroyed by fire in 1909.Grateful for the fame Hanlan had brought to the city, Toronto City Council officially changed the name of West Point to Hanlan’s Point, which it retains today.
Robert Wong, along with his brother Tommy, started the Central Airways Company at the Toronto Island Airport in 1946. Most of the early student pilots were Chinese, and through the decades, they trained over 8,000 pilots while witnessing the changing Toronto skyline.
"We shall utilize the natural setting of the waterfront, modern structural designs, and hope to create the mood of gaiety and openness which helped make so popular the Ontario Pavilion at Expo ‘67.”
Quote from Ontario Premier John Robarts, announcing the project to build Ontario Place on three artificial landscaped islands just off-shore in Lake Ontario.
The Cinesphere, Ontario Place’s iconic geodesic dome, was home to the first permanent IMAX installation in the world. The facility opened in May 1971, with a screening of the film North of Superior.
From the air, the Forum looked like a sea of bodies as more than 25,000 young fans of K.C. and The Sunshine Band set an attendance record for the season. The outdoor concert venue offered an intimate theatre in the round experience; featuring a rotating stage which gave every seat in the house, in turn, an excellent view.
Although it is best known today for its midway and its eclectic food offerings, the Canadian National Exhibition has featured so many more experiences throughout its 140-year history. Fair-goers were treated to exhibits on some of the world’s greatest technological advances in industry and agriculture, including electric railway transportation in 1883, Edison’s phonograph in 1888, the wireless telephone in the 1890s, radio in 1922, television in 1939, and plastics in the 1940s.
Originally known as Canada's Great Industrial Fair, its name was changed to the Canadian National Exhibition in 1912. At that time, the hope was to better reflect the scope of this always-diverse fair.
One of the busiest places on the CNE grounds was the Lost Children Tent, where youngsters temporarily out of touch with their parents or guardians were cared for by the police.
This aerial view shows the CNE site on the Toronto lakeshore prior to the construction of the Gardiner Expressway (1964) and Ontario Place (1971). Most prominently (in the centre left) is the CNE Grandstand and, east of that, the Princes’ Gates (not the Princess Gates), which were named after Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII), and George (later the Duke of Kent).
The Toronto International Powwow, as it was called by organizers, featured 1,500 dancers and 20 to 30 drummers, making it the largest powwow ever held in North America to that date. The event was attended by indigenous peoples from almost every Canadian province and U.S. state.
For decades, Kensington Market has been a microcosm of the cultural diversity of Toronto. In the early 20th century, the area known as “The Ward” was populated by Eastern European Jewish immigrants and Italians.
In the 1950s, immigrants from the Azores fleeing political persecution settled in the area around Dundas Street West. Later in the 50s and 60s, the neighbourhood welcomed a new wave of immigrants from the Caribbean and East Asia, as well as a number of political refugees arriving from the United States in opposition to the Vietnam War. In the 1980s and 1990s, Kensington continued to diversify with immigration from Somalia, Ethiopia, Iran, Vietnam, Chile and Central America.
The record store opened by songwriter and recording artist Stranger Cole was the first Caribbean shop in Toronto’s Kensington Market area.
The Royal York Hotel, originally owned and built by Canadian Pacific Railways, opened in 1929. Although it is now dwarfed by its neighbours, the hotel was for a brief time the tallest building in Canada and the British Empire, with 28 floors and 1,048 guest rooms and suites. The north side of Front Street, west of Yonge Street, has seen the presence of a hotel for over 160 years.
The Queen’s Hotel originally stood on the current site of the Royal York Hotel. In 1927 Canadian Pacific Railways acquired the Queen’s Hotel, across the street from the newly opened Union Station, so it could demolish it and build a larger hotel.
The Royal York Imperial Room was a significant concert venue for Torontonians in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The small room hosted international and Hollywood stars as well as big bands before a tiny pine-wood dancefloor. Legendary performances: Marlene Dietrich on her farewell tour, the last performances of Johnny Hodges with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Eartha Kitt, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald, and the first appearances, in 1982, of future Canadian Star Jim Carrey.
Built by Grand Trunk Railway to better accommodate the increasing transit needs of a growing city, this second incarnation of Union Station, featuring Italianate/Second Empire design and three large towers, opened on Canada Day (then Dominion Day) of 1873 and served as Toronto’s central rail hub for 50 years.
Construction on the current Union Station began in 1914, on land vacated due to the Toronto fire of 1904. It replaced the previous station, built in 1872, on Front Street between York and Simcoe Streets. The station opening was delayed until 1927 due to a shortage of materials caused by World War I. It was opened by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII.
A view of the huge new Royal York Hotel under construction, from the rear of the new Union Station.
Some wait for mail, while others for jobs. A scene at the Post Office in the new Union Station, with jobseeking strike-breakers sitting on the wall in the foreground, and a queue of business people in the background, calling for important letters held up by the strike.
When the Bloor Viaduct (officially called the Prince Edward Viaduct) was completed in 1918, there were many skeptical Torontonians who dubbed it “the Bridge to Nowhere” because it connected Toronto’s core to what was, at that time, a sparsely populated agricultural and industrial suburb. But the Viaduct’s designer and the commissioner of public works, R.C. Harris, was a visionary city builder, and even insisted that a lower deck be included in the construction of the bridge, for future rail transport. This then-controversial additional cost ultimately saved the city millions when the Bloor subway line was constructed in the 1960s.
The Great Toronto Fire of 1904 started late in the evening of April 19, with flames rising from the elevator shaft of the E & S Currie Limited’s neck wear factory, at 58 Wellington St. W., just west of Bay Street. By the time the fire was brought under control nine hours later, more than 100 buildings were destroyed. The fire caused $10.4 million worth of damage (the equivalent of more than $230 million in today’s dollars), and put 5,000 people out of work. It remains the largest f ire ever to have occurred in Toronto.
From where it began at Bay and Wellington, the fire quickly spread south and east, reaching Front Street in just a few short hours, and then moving south to the Esplanade and east to just past Yonge Street.
The SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) was the first domed stadium of its kind in the world, with a fully retractable motorized roof. It took two and half years to build, at a cost of $570 million (well over the initial estimated cost of $150 million). The name “SkyDome” was chosen as part of a province-wide “name the stadium” contest in 1987, and was one of four finalist names: “Towerdome,” “Harbourdome,” “SkyDome,” and simply “the Dome.” The winner of the contest won lifetime seats behind home plate (or of their choosing) to all events at the stadium.
Several sites were considered for the SkyDome, including Exhibition Place, Downsview Airport and York University. The final site, at the base of the CN Tower, was ultimately chosen for its close proximity to downtown and to major railway and transit hubs.
The Blue Jays became the first (and, to date, only) team outside the U.S. to appear in and win a World Series, and the fastest American League expansion team to do so, winning in its 16th year.
From this hole in the ground, 76 metres (250 feet) wide and 9 metres (30 feet) below the level of Lake Ontario, the world’s tallest free-standing structure would rise.
Workers erecting the steel base for the new Top of Toronto restaurant (now called 360), above the tower’s Main Observation Level, approximately 350 metres (1148 feet) in the air, grin back at Toronto Star photographer Boris Spremo, who is balanced on a steel girder just above them. Said Spremo: “Standing there, shooting out into space, felt rather like flying a plane without any wings.”
Perched nearly 450 metres (1,470 feet) above Toronto on a girder extending eight metres (27 feet) out from the growing CN Tower, iron worker Larry Porter pulls at the hook of a giant crane as he installs outriggers that will be used to lift the restaurant. In 1974, he was paid $8.01 an hour, including a $1-per-hour premium for working at a height above 305 metres (1,000 feet).
Worker Yvon Rainville, atop the CN Tower, lifts his coffee cup in salute to his fellow workers as the tower reaches close to 240 metres (785 feet). At this point in its construction, the tower is less than half of its finished height of 553 metres (1814 feet), though it is already a little bit taller than neighbouring skyscraper Commerce Court.
Buckled to winch wire, steelworker Val Ouellet shouts commands to the winch operator to lower a section of wooden collar under what would become the CN Tower’s revolving restaurant.
The helicopter, known as “Olga,” is seen transporting the first piece of the television antenna to be placed at the top of the tower.
Download colouring pages based on the exhibit!
Or visit the library's Digital Archive for thousands more historical photos of Toronto.