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.

Sunnyside Pavilion
1920’s Sunnyside

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!).

1912 Sunnyside Beach
1912 Sunnyside Beach Source: Toronto Archives

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.

Sunnyside Pavilion
Sunnyside Pavilion-Today
1920s Sunnyside Beach
1920s Sunnyside Beach and Pavilion
Sunnyside Beach 1924
Sunnyside Beach 1924

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.

The “Tank”

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.

1920s Sunnyside Pool

Sunnyside Pool and Beach 1940s
1940s Sunnyside Pool

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.

Sunnyside Beach Pavilion
Front of the Pavilion

Sunnyside Pavilion

Sunnyside Pavilion
Currently under construction to bring it back to former glory

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…

Marilyn Bell Toronto

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!

Liz 🙂


6 comments on “Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion – A Grand Piece of Toronto History”

  1. That is an enormous pool. What wonderful pics! It looks as though no tornado could ever knock it down. They used to build things so solid. The biggest pool we have in Austin, TX is a spring-fed pool with a natural bottom, so it can cut up your feet on sharp rocks. It’s terribly cold, and women are allowed to go topless, so no thank you. But I liked it as a teen. Nice history lesson on Sunnyside.

    • That pool in Austin, sure does different. We have nothing like that here, only normal regular pools.

      Sunnyside is pretty cool there was always a whole amusement park too and dance halls etc. I’m working a part 2 coming soon.

  2. Amazing. Those pictures take me back to the ’20’s straight away. I used to live in Toronto a few years back. I had no idea about this! Thank you for sharing. Erin xx

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it Erin! Sometimes we miss things like this because in a big city there is always something bigger and better to look at. This is why I wanted to do a post on it, so people know that Toronto still does have some history here even if it’s hidden between 2 new condos lol 🙂

      I’m working on a Part 2 which is all about the amusement park and dance halls that were also in the Sunnyside beach area. Stay tuned!

      liz 🙂

  3. Wonderful, engaging look at the history of this iconic element of the Toronto shoreline, dear Liz (agreed, it’s really terrific that they’re restoring it). You know, in a town with two big lakes and numerous beaches dotted along both of them, one might expect some kind of similar bathing pavilion (or at least, for there to have been one at some point), but as far as I know (and I could be wrong here), Penticton has never had one. We have the darling little peach concession stand on Okanagan Lake, but that certainly is not the same thing in the slightest.

    Big hugs & many thanks for your great comment on my PNE post – happy CNE season to you!

    ♥ Jessica

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