Dive Into The History Of Toronto’s Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool

City Living

The rumours are true – the Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool is the best outdoor public pool in the city!

Located at 1755 Lake Shore Blvd West, this is a ‘must-visit’ for all Torontonians. With a rich history and a picturesque backdrop, it’s easy to see why Sunnyside is loved by all!



The story of Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool began with the construction of the Sunnyside Beach Bathing Pavilion in 1921, before the pool even existed. The building was designed by Alfred Chapman, who was also responsible for the Princes’ Gates and the Ontario Government Building at Exhibition Place.

The pavilion provided thousands of beachgoers (more than 302,500 in 1921!) a much-needed place to change in and out of their bathing suits, offering showers, lockers, and washroom facilities in separate wings for men and women. You could even rent suits and towels! Admission to the pavilion was 25 cents for adults and 5 cents for children.



In 1925, after two consecutive “cooler” summers when the lake was often deemed too cold to swim in, the idea of a beach side pool was proposed. Construction began that year – to the tune of $75,000 – on a site adjacent to the pavilion. Not to be outdone by pools in other cities, Toronto ensured this one was a record-setter; measuring 91 meters by 23 meters, this pool could conceivably fit 2,000 swimmers! Its official name was the Sunnyside Outdoor Natatorium, but people tended to call it “The Tank.”

The pool became part of the new Sunnyside Amusement Park – a series of attractions funded through a $19M waterfront beautification and redevelopment project. The park was a huge draw, making Sunnyside one of the city’s most frequented destinations in the mid-1920s. Besides the pool, other attractions included the “Aero Swing”, a carousel, bumper cars, concession stands, and a wooden roller coast called the “Sunnyside Flyer”!


*This photo is property of the City Of Toronto Archives (Fonds 1244) and all rights belong to them.


Sunnyside became the new “place to be seen” in Toronto, and swimming was so popular that there was a dedicated streetcar service to bring kids from all over the city to the Sunnyside pool. Instead of a route number, it just said “Bathing Car”. How neat is that?!

After serving the city for over twenty years, the Sunnyside Amusement Park was eventually shut down int he late 40s due to the imminent construction of the Gardiner Expressway.


*This photo is property of the City Of Toronto Archives (Fonds 1244) and all rights belong to them.


Have you ever heard the name Marilyn Bell? Marilyn was a long-distance swimmer and was the first person to swim across Lake Ontario – when she was just 16! On the evening of September 8th, 1954, Bell, Florence Chadwick, and Winnie Roach all started to swim across Lake Ontario, starting at Youngstown, New York. Chadwick was offered $10,000 from the CNE if she could complete the swim, while Bell decided to complete the swim simply “for Canada”.


*This photo is property of the City Of Toronto Archives (Fonds 1244) and all rights belong to them.


Chadwick gave up due to stomach pains and vomiting, Roach called it quits at the three-quarter mark. Bell continued, and ended up swimming for 20 hours and 59 minutes! The plan was for the swimmers to arrive at the CNE waterfront where a large crowd of over 250,00 people had gathered. But Bell ended up at Sunnyside! The bright lights from the amusement park helped guide her navigate her way to shore. She later went on to swim the English Channel and Strait of Juan de Fuca.

In 1980, the pool was renamed as “Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool”  after Gus Ryder, who was the founder of the Lakeshore Swim Club of New Toronto and Marilyn’s swimming coach!


Image courtesy of TorontoHotSpots, with thanks.


Today, the pool is all that remains of the Sunnyside amusements. It is still frequented today – to a lesser extent than back when a chlorinated pool was a novel thing! – and remains a favourite way to beat the heat among Torontonians!

The pool is open to swimmers starting in June and closes for the season in September. So what are you waiting for? Grab your swimsuit, a towel, a mask and head on down!



With summer beginning to fade and fall on the horizon, now is the perfect time to make some memories at this historic pool!



We would LOVE to live closer to Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool – wouldn’t you? Proximity to a refreshing dip and sun-soaked lounging are luxuries not to be underestimated during the height of summer in Toronto!

Great news! Fresh to market on September 9th, A Townhouse With Roof Terrace On The Queensway is a four-level, 2-bedroom 2-bath, family-friendly residence NOW SOLD!




Thank you to the City Of Toronto Archives (Fonds 1244 – William James Family).

And thanks to you for reading!


~ The Urbaneer Team

Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-8000

– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –


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