Beach Memories: What do you remember about East Toronto gas stations?

Do you remember this iconic gas station? PHOTO: Submitted

This brief history of garages and gas stations in the Beach area requires your participation, dear readers. I’d like you to give me your opinions, recollections, and any pertinent information you may have about the area’s gas stations and garages. Keep this in mind as you read through – I will let you know how to give me your answers at the end of the article.

There were over 100 gas stations and garages in our area in the past. These stations were responsible for hundreds of jobs. From one-person operations to companies with dozens of staff in the automobile sector, these garages and gas stations were a great boost to the local community.

Every major street, like Queen Street East, Kingston Road, and the Danforth, had these types of shops on the major corners. Did you have a favourite? Do you remember the names of the people who ran any of these operations? What do you remember? I remember quite a few of them myself. Some were large, some were small, some had different types of architectural design.

Consider the photo that accompanies this article: Can you tell me the location of this particular gas station? I will provide the answer in my next article. Most of these types of gas stations have been demolished, but there is one left standing in the west end of the city. It is on the south side of Lakeshore Boulevard, near Windermere Avenue. This station was proclaimed a heritage building by Heritage Toronto several years ago, and it still stands in all of its forgone majesty, as a symbol of when this type of architecture was king or queen of the gas stations. (Special thanks to the reader who sent in the photo, by the way.)

The next question to you dear readers, is this: There is a “garage” located on the northwest corner of Main Street and Kingston Road. In my humble opinion, it is one of the best in the area. What is its name?

There were two other gas stations on the corner of Main and Kingston Road. What were the locations, and what were their names? There is a special prize for those who have the correct answer.

Part of why I started thinking about gas stations and garages, is because there will be a special car show in Bob Acton Park, 45 William Hancox Ave., on Sunday, Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. With free admission, it’s put on by Community Centre 55.

For all of you car, gas station, and history buffs, this is your chance. I will be at this car show ready to take any of your comments and evaluations of the Beach and East End’s gas stations and garages. You can also send leave a comment below. Then, stay tuned for more written on the subject – with information from you, dear reader.

History honks to you!


Gena Domagala is a local historian and the unofficial Mayor of the Beach.

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2 comments

I remember the FINA gas station at the corner of Queen/Glenmanor where Swiss Chalet and the condos are now. I used to hang out there as a little kid, pumping gas and cleaning up for no pay, just a subway sub for lunch.

It was run by a great guy called Louie Spiro and later with his son Paul. My Father taught Louie how to use the pump on the first day he opened. LOL

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