I Remember Sunnyside: The Rise & Fall of a Magical Era

My local history reading and weeding project continues with I Remember Sunnyside: The Rise & Fall of a Magical Era by Mike Filey. I read the revised edition from 1996. Sunnyside was a popular amusement park along the shore of Lake Ontario in western Toronto in operation from 1922 to 1955. Filey, undoubtedly Toronto’s leading historian, chronicled its creation, heyday, decline and destruction. Filey’s books are famously filled with photos and informative text. This oversize book, while a mere 144 pages, nevertheless took me four days to read as this was not merely a book full of captions. Full pages were covered with text, with the first chapter outlining the history of amusement parks in Toronto before Sunnyside. We learned of the public transportation systems that led to the park–including free streetcar rides to all children going to the bathing pavilion–and the golden years of dancing, the variety of attractions, concerts and the midway. Traffic congestion along the lakefront sounded the death knell for the park and it was dismantled after a series of arsons. The public had no time to mourn the loss of the park when all of a sudden the wrecking ball arrived to thwart any more firebugs. I looked over old and new maps to learn about the reconstruction of the area and while I knew where the park once stood, I liked matching up the old and new photos Filey provided to see what remnants of 1955 were still around today. The Palais Royale, swimming tank and Boulevard Club are all that remain. 

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