Toronto has a wonderful piece of history sitting on its waterfront called the “Sunnyside Beach Pavilion” that has been around since 1922. I have seen this structure at least a million times in my few short years living in Toronto and never ceases to amaze me on how beautiful it is. I even looked at is at a potential wedding venue 2 years ago that is how much I’m enamored with this structure.
The name “Sunnyside” had been used to denote a beach and its surrounding area for 70-plus years before the amusement park and beach pavilion opened. The name may have been coined by George Howard, a prominent citizen whom in 1848 had built a home overlooking the shore on the sunny side of a hill (source).
By the 1920s, swimming at the foot of Roncesvalles Avenue had been popular for over thirty years, as there was a swimming area near a pumping station. This changed in 1913 when the pumping station was demolished to make way for the bridge connecting Lakeshore Road and the King/Queen/Roncesvalles intersection. A staircase was built for pedestrians to walk down to the shoreline. A slide was installed for bathers to slide down into the water (COOL!).
By 1920, this area was filled in and the beach was moved farther to the south. For the year 1921, the beach was recorded as having over 302,525 visitors (Source).
This influx of bathers to the area meant that there was a space needed where they could change, so on June 28th, 1922 the “Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion” was born.
Information about the Beach building
The building, constructed of concrete, cost $300,000. Each wing held an outdoor changing area, lockers and showers, the women’s side on the east, and men’s side on the west. It offered over 7,700 lockers for patrons, a roof garden for 400. Admission fees were 25¢ for adults and 15¢ for children, and bathing suits and towels could be rented. In the center was a staircase leading to an upper terrace which overlooked the change areas leading to a rear terrace which ran the full length of the building and overlooked the beach.
If you have ever been to Ontario and attempted to swim in the waters you would quickly realize that they are not the most ideal for swimming..cold! And so in 1925 a giant swimming pool called the “Tank” was built and could accommodate up to 2000 swimmers. It was considered at that time the largest swimming pool in the world and you can still go swimming in this pool today.
Bathing Pavilion Today
In 1980 the Bathing Pavilion was renovated with the outdoor lockers and changing areas being demolished and new changing rooms were built.
The pool was rededicated as the ‘Gus Ryder Pool’, named after Marilyn Bell’s coach, the founder and coach of the Lakeshore Swim Club of New Toronto. I also just happened to find a plaque about Marilyn Bells near by as seen below…
And that my friends is a brief history on the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion.
As a lover of history in Toronto it thrills me to the bone that Toronto has taken the time to preserve this piece of history. I sometimes find our city is so preoccupied with putting up millions of condos that us regular folks can’t afford that they forget that we don’t have tons of places like the Sunnyside Pavilion still standing that they should not so quickly discard.
I look forward to sitting by this structure for many more years to come.
Do you have something like this in your home town? Or a structure that has lots of history that your city takes pride in preserving it? Let me know!