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Postcard showing the Terminal Warehouse, Toronto, 1927. Illustration by Valentine-Black Co. Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library.


Queen's Quay Terminal Building exterior and interior, Toronto, between 1980 and 1998. Courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.


Looking west to Maple Leaf Mills silos and Canada Malting silos, Toronto, circa 1930s. Courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.


Queen's Quay Terminal Warehouse wharf, Toronto, circa 1920s. Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library.


  • A Treasure Trove

    The Toronto Terminal featured goods that may seem commonplace in our supermarkets today and even the cupboards in our own homes. But the rich supply of items in housed was once considered remarkable. In the 1930s, reporters visiting the warehouse were amazed at the wide variety of goods arriving by boat and train from all over the world. Thousands of products were stored in the warehouse: walnuts from Spain and Turkey, Chinese peanuts, Algerian figs, coffee beans from Sri Lanka, cocoa butter from the West Indies, tinned fruit from Australia, Norwegian cod-liver oil, Manchurian soybeans, Argentinian beef, and more. For decades, the Terminal Warehouse supplied Torontonians with the many flavours of the world.


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  • Through Good Times and Bad

    Both booms and busts have influenced developments and activities along the waterfront. In 1929, only two years after the Toronto Terminal opened, the stock market crashed — marking the beginning of the Great Depression.

    In 1932, a space in the Toronto Terminal was dedicated to providing clothing to city residents. Set up at the request of the Ontario Government and run by the Canadian Association of Garment Manufacturers, clothing — including coats, sweaters, and dresses — was supplied by 400 Ontario factories to towns and cities across the province at cost to keep people warm during the winter of 1932-1933. Like the jobs created by the building of Coronation Park, the warehouse offered some relief during a difficult economic time in Toronto’s history.


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  • New Connections

    While the waterfront setting once connected the Terminal Warehouse to treasures from all over the world, today, its picture-perfect setting draws global talent to the Harbourfront Centre. The Concert Stage and Harbourfront Centre Theatre have hosted international musicians, while the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery showcases work created both in Canada and abroad. During the 2018-2019 season, visitors enjoyed artwork from Guatemala-based artist Vivian Suter, Scottish artist Karla Black, and Senegalese artist Nabila Abdel Nabi.

    Each year, Harbourfront Centre hosts Kuumba during Black History Month. In Swahili, Kuumba means “to create,” and the festival showcases Black creativity through dance, storytelling, art, and theatre. International contributions have included dancers from Burkina Faso and the Canadian premiere of Calypso at Dirty Jacks – a documentary about music in Trinidad and a club in Port of Spain called Dirty Jim’s. In 2001, the festival hosted the Black Invention Museum. Founded by Lady Sala Shabazz in Los Angeles, the exhibition features inventions by African Americans, such as ironing boards and lawn sprinklers, many of which remain in use today.


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