Sunday, March 13, 2011

Historic Scenes in Family Photos

So often I have looked through family photo albums and not really noticed the historic scenery that the album's photographs contain. The photos and their scenes perhaps have been viewed many times and there is then a tendency to skip past something that is telling and important.

This came to mind when I noticed a photo depicting the 1932 city of Toronto's skyline in an old Hadden album. I have seen the photo many times when scanning all the photos, at times even pausing to remark at how changed the city skyline is compared to the time in the photo taken by my grandparents.

Below is the Toronto skyline in a photo taken August 8, 1932. Having grown up in the city, I can recognize that the photo appears to have been taken from a point on the Toronto islands, a small group of naturally occurring islands that form a harbour on Lake Ontario.

The two prominent buildings in the photo are the Royal York Hotel on Front Street and to the right of the hotel building is the Bank of Commerce Building, then the tallest building in the city and a tourist destination with it's observation deck styled like that of the Empire State Building in New York City.

Below is the Toronto skyline as it looks today (photo from from about the same island location. The CN Tower, for a long time, the world's tallest free standing structure joined the skyline in 1976 and the Rogers Centre domed stadium (originally named the Toronto Skydome) joined the grouping in 1989.

The lesson for me is to slow down a bit and take a good look at all of the photos. The photographer, family member or professional, was wanting to capture a moment, a particular memory. We only appreciate that memory when we take the time to see it and feel it.


  1. I had to look closely to see the older buildings. The skyline has gotten much, much taller over the years.

  2. Toronto is one of my favorite places to visit. Thanks for sharing these photos!

  3. I've never even been to Toronto but I can appreciate the difference in the photos, thanks for sharing them. I promise I will look harder at my grandmother's pre-marriage photo album more closely, where she took lots of holiday photos!