An ordinary-looking storey and a half house with a manicured lawn and evergreens in front.
Hydro Substation, 386 Eglinton Avenue East, [ca. 1945]
Series 1251, Item 14

This substation, located on Eglinton Avenue, between Mount Pleasant Road and Bayview Avenue, is now completely overshadowed by tall apartment buildings which replaced the small bungalows it was meant to emulate.


In order to provide well regulated service to its customers, the Toronto Hydro-Electric System had to have a sufficient number of sub-stations, properly located from an engineering standpoint. While everyone wants to have excellent and uninterrupted electrical service, not all people welcome having a sub-station in the vicinity of their home. In order to make their buildings more acceptable to the neighbours, the THES sometimes designed them to look like something other than a sub-station.


Two-storey brick building with stone accents.
Front and rear view of the Parkdale Station
The Toronto Hydro Electric System Seventeenth and Eighteenth Annual Reports, 1927 and 1928
Series 1143, Item 3779


The Parkdale substation, located at 1457 Queen Street West, was built in 1928.

Two-storey stone building .
Glengrove Station
The Toronto Hydro Electric System Twentieth Annual Report, 1930
Courtesy of Toronto Hydro


The exterior view of this gorgeous building is now softened by mature trees and creeping ivy on the limestone walls. Its function as a hydro substation is not at all obvious to passers-by who may even mistake it for a library.


The Parkdale Station looked a bit like a high school and the beautiful Glengrove Station, built in 1930, reminded some of a university building or a public library. Later in the 1940s, the THES designed some of its sub-stations to look exactly like the small bungalows that were popping up all over newly developing areas in Toronto.


Small Cape Cod style house with Volkswagen bug in driveway.
Hydro Substation, 24 Malcolm Road, [ca. 1945]
Series 1251, Item 13
Open back of house showing hydro equipment.
Hydro Substation, rear view, 386 Eglinton Avenue East, [ca. 1945]
Series 1251, Item 18


Constructed to look like thousands of other small bungalows in Toronto, these substations were so authentic that they were sometimes broken into by burglers.


In 1930, the THES also proposed to build itself a head office. Initially their offices had occupied rooms in both the basement and attics of City Hall. In 1912, they moved to quarters at 226 Yonge Street at Shuter Street, and in 1922 they moved across the street to the Ryrie Building at 225-229 Yonge Street.

Their proposal for a new head office was approved by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission in January 1931 and in May the land was purchased at 14 Carlton Street, just east of Yonge Street. The new building provided some much needed employment to the building trades as it was constructed during the depths of the Depression. Built at a cost of $1,335,000 the structure had some charming art deco flourishes along the roof line, and large plate glass windows on the ground floor.  The building opened to the public in May 1933 and is still in use as Hydro’s head office today.


Blueprint of tall square building.
Front elevation blueprint of the Toronto Hydro head office building at 14 Carlton Street, June 16, 1932
Series 410, File 454


Tall, square stone building.
Toronto Hydro-Electric System head office building at 14 Carlton Street, May 8, 1933
Fonds 1231, Item 1662


Built only two years earlier in 1931, Maple Leaf Gardens can be seen immediately to the east of the THES head office building.


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