I was born in the UK and spent some of my youth there, but Toronto became my home while I was still a child. Since then, I’ve been to many other countries but always lived in Toronto. I can’t quite explain why I’ve never moved, other than to say it’s a comfortable place to live, large enough to offer most of the benefits of a big city, but small enough to avoid the problems. At least, thus far.
In the early 1960s a rush of development started in Toronto that has continued to this day. In the process, much of the older architecture was replaced by modern skyscrapers. When the replacement started, I was too young to have much appreciation for the need to document what the city looked like. As a university student in the mid 1970s, I started to document a little of the process of change as well as some older buildings that remained.
In the 1980s, the City Council finally recognized the value of some of the older buildings and began taking measures to preserve them, producing some interesting contrasts between wildly differing styles of architecture.
Perhaps the best example of preservation of the old city is in the University of Toronto which sits about a mile from the financial centre. That places the university in the centre of the city and makes it an oasis of calm in the midst of a very busy downtown.
The university is quite large, covering approximately half a square mile and comprising over a hundred buildings.
Even the university has its ugly duckling. The university library, sarcastically called “Fort Book” by the students, is one of Toronto’s more obvious examples of brutalist architecture.
Some old buildings have modern additions. They can fit, in other others look quite strange.
Today, despite the City Council’s attempts to the preserve some of the old, Toronto has a skyline typical of most large cities, dominated by the Toronto icon of the 1970s, the CN Tower.
Which sometimes seems to be in view, no matter where you look.
But it mostly it looks like an extended Canary Wharf, an addition to London that I apologize for on behalf of Toronto. (The original developer, Olympia and York, was a Toronto based company.)
Like any big(ish) city, Toronto also has its interesting and odd neighbourhoods.
But the stark modernist architecture can also provide interesting photo opportunities.
Our seasons also provide some fun photo experiences.
Yes, that is ice in the harbour, it was as cold as it looks, about minus 20C if I remember correctly. The shot was taken from one of two ferries outfitted as icebreakers. They provide a connection to the city for the residents on the island we’re heading to. Canadians call our country “The Great White North” for good reason.
Ultimately, the city has settled into a model of using old architecture, where there’s an option, by keeping the shell of the building and replacing everything else. It’s a good compromise that keeps the character of neighbourhoods intact while keeping amenities up to date.
The photos above were taken over a period of more than forty years, which accounts for the wide variety of cameras and lenses used. I’ve traded up for a very long time by returning a well-used but sometimes fairly new camera to move on to something new. I like the challenge of changing equipment as much as the