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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Video: Bay Street, 1988

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What amazes me about this vintage video, shot in Dundonald Park, is just how little the buildings in the background have changed in the ensuing 23 years. I walk past this corner several times a week, and other than the boxy tuna-boat Fords and Chevies cruising along Somerset — and the old-style “Brewer’s Retail” beer-store signage — this really looks as if it could have been filmed last summer, from one end of the camera’s pan to the other. I’d almost swear the plastic playground furniture is still the same, though surely that can’t be true.

Dundonald is in the middle of some of the finest old tree-lined blocks in Centretown, and from looking at this visual record, I think it’s fair to say that the Centretown Plan really has done a remarkable job of preserving the built form it was created — way back in the mid -1970s — to protect. I always feel that it is deep affection for the remarkable character of streets like these that is at the root of many residents’ discomfort with “tower creep” like the recent 27-story condo building approved for Nepean Street.



  1. What amazes me is that 1988 was 23 years ago. When did that happen???

  2. Okay, looking at my own photos (not cheating with Google SV!) here are a few differences I’ve noticed, all details:

    – New play structure in the playground (I miss the old wooden ones!)

    – Bike lane (instead of parked cars)

    – The awning over the house at Bay & Somerset SW corner is gone

    – Was before the reconstruction of Somerset, which removed the wooden post at the above corner, and which added the green Chinatown lampposts (since painted red). It also had the cool old white signs.

    – some upgrades to the trimmings on 561 Somerset (the house with the green shingle roof) NW of Somerset & Bay

    – Brown car’s rolling stop still the same. 😛 Old Ikarus articulated bus on the #2 route

    – Treet at NW corner is now 2.5 storeys tall! Porch at that house now has shingled awning between 1st & 2nd storey. Wooden fence no longer there. Next door’s dark brown fence is now green.

    – Same bench in Dundonald park! Different trash can (if any), though.

    – There weren’t any parking meters then, and there aren’t now. But there were until recently!

    1. Sharp eyes Charles! I wish we had more vintage video to do this with. Of course, what really helped with this one was the camera’s slow pan around the same spot, was almost like time-lapse photography.