Starting in the 1950s, population growth surged in North York. Developers responded by building new housing and shopping centres; parks, museums and recreational facilities abounded; and North York got its first university.

A prime example of North York’s development at this time is the area now known as Don Mills, one of Canada’s first planned communities. As late as 1950, there were only around 20 farms in the locale. Business tycoon E.P. Taylor had an idea to develop the lands in the area, and by 1952 he had assembled 2,000 acres. Taylor’s original conception of a brewery and housing for the brewery workers was refined into a vision of a planned and fully integrated community that would meet the acute needs for post-Second World War housing. Designed by Macklin Hancock, and built by Don Mills Developments Ltd., the community was organized into four quadrants surrounding a shopping complex, the Don Mills Centre. The homes were distinguished by their modernist style and were situated on winding roads and culs-de-sac. Don Mills was unique in Canada when it was built, combining industrial, commercial, residential, educational, religious and recreational facilities, all in one compact development.


Aerial view showing Don Mills housing subdivision with curving roads and residential cul-de-sacs. Natural features are also visible including fields, trees and a river.
Aerial view of Don Mills
Series 12, File 1957, Item 88


View of split driveway leading to two bungalows. Garage on left, car port on right.
28 Deepwood Crescent in Don Mills
Series 249, File 47, Item 2
This image illustrates two of the house styles of Don Mills with low, sweeping roof lines and either integrated garages or car ports.
Overhead view of shopping complex with parking lot and cars in foreground. Visible on the building is a sign that says Eaton's.
Don Mills Shopping Centre
[ca. 1980]
Series 2563, File 33, Item 22

North York residents were fortunate to have choice when it came to housing stock. Single-family homes, semi-detached, row housing, and low- and high-rise apartment buildings were all available.


Black and white view of low rise apartment buildings with road and cars in foreground
Apartments in North York
[ca. 1960]
Series 249, File 4, Item 10
Black and white view of six story apartment building with water fountain in foreground.
Mid-rise apartment building in North York
[ca. 1963]
Series 249, File 4, Item 1
Colour view of bungalow houses on a paved street. A woman and two childen are visible in a driveway to one of the homes.
Suburban homes in North York
[ca. 1960]
Series 249, File 356, Item 26
Colour view of high rise apartment building with grass and smaller buldings in foreground.
Highrise apartment and townhouses in North York
[ca. 1970]
Series 249, File 356, Item 34
Colour view of two story townhomes in a curving pattern with trees in front.
Townhouses on Valley Woods Road
[ca. 1970]
Series 249, File 356, Item 39