A Toronto Album 2: More Glimpses of the City That Was


115 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55002-393-4
DDC 971.3'54103'0222






Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is the editor of the Canadian Book Review Annual.


Mike Filey’s bestselling photographic history, A Toronto Album:
Glimpses of the City That Was (published in 1970 and reprinted in 2001),
documented the period 1860–1950. In this sequel, the popular Toronto
historian concentrates on the 1930s through the 1960s. More than 120
beautifully reproduced black-and-white photographs are accompanied by
captions and, in many cases, descriptive text.

The book opens with a quartet of photos illustrating the dramatic
changes in the city’s skyline over seven decades. The images that
follow depict a wealth of social, architectural, sports, and cultural
highlights from the middle decades of the 20th century. We glimpse,
among many other things, the famous (swimmer Marilyn Bell) and the
infamous (the Boyd Gang); notable visitors ranging from the royal family
to Elsie the Cow; the aftermath of disasters, both natural (Hurricane
Hazel) and manmade (the burning of the S.S. Noronic); contributions to
the war effort; the birth of the shopping centre; Cold War angst (evoked
in photo 65, “Curious Torontonians visit a model H-Bomb shelter set up
in front of City Hall, August 1955”); the golden age of movie
theatres; the construction of the CN Tower; and the transformation of
Toronto Island.

The inexorable rise of the automobile is documented (photo 125,
“Clearing out South Parkdale for the new Gardiner Expressway, circa
1956,” will induce shudders in many Torontonians), as is the sad loss
of architectural treasures. One notable victim of what the author aptly
describes as Toronto’s “wild rush to be new and exciting” was the
imposing Eighth Toronto Post Office, which was demolished in 1957 to
make way for the city’s first modern skyscraper—the TD Centre.

Filey, a member of the Ontario Heritage Foundation, writes a regular
column, “The Way We Were,” for the Sunday Toronto Sun. His other
books on Toronto include The TTC Story, Discover and Explore Toronto’s
Waterfront, I Remember Sunnyside, and the Toronto Sketches series.


Filey, Mike., “A Toronto Album 2: More Glimpses of the City That Was,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/9907.