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Landmarks of Toronto – the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion

April 2020

The iconic Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion is a landmark on Toronto’s waterfront, an almost 50, 000 square foot pavilion constructed in the Beaux Arts style.

It’s also one of the few remnants left of the Sunnyside Amusement Park, a popular amusement park in west Toronto that operated from 1922 until closing in 1955.

Opened on 28 June 1922 by Toronto Mayor Charles A. Maguire, it provided changeroom facilities for bathers in Lake Ontario at Sunnyside Beach, a highly popular spot for swimmers at the time. Each wing held outdoor changing areas, lockers and showers for women on the east wing, and men on the west wing.

The centre of the pavilion has an open upper and lower terrace garden area for special events, like the first Miss Toronto beauty pageant in 1926, and light refreshments.

Due to the lake often being too cold for swimming, a swimming pool was built on the east side of the pavilion in 1925. At the time, it was the largest outdoor swimming pool in the world; measuring 300 feet by 75 feet, it could accommodate 2, 000 swimmers. Unofficially called “The Tank,” both the pool and the pavilion were renovated in 1980, at which point the pool was re-named the Gus Ryder Pool, named after the coach for Marilyn Bell, the first person to swim across Lake Ontario.

During the renovation, new change rooms were built and the west wing, which had housed the men’s changeroom, was converted to a café with a patio on the beachfront boardwalk, and a tea garden.

The central portion and with the upper terrace is still used for special events, catered by the café.

Just to the east of the pavilion, is the Palais Royale, a former dance hall built in 1922, that also became part of the former amusement park. Entertaining the dancing couples were big bands like the Count Basie Orchestra and the Bert Niosi Orchestra, Canada’s “King of Swing.”

The Palais Royale is now a special events hall.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunnyside_Bathing_Pavilion, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunnyside_Amusement_Park, http://torontoplaques.com/Pages/Sunnyside_Bathing_Pavilion.html, https://www.sunnysidepavilion.com/about-us, https://www.blogto.com/city/2010/06/nostalgia_tripping_sunnyside_beach_pavilion.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/landmarks-of-toronto-the-sunnyside-bathing-pavilion/

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