Historical photos of Toronto’s pride parades over the years

Historical photos of Toronto’s pride parades over the years

The exuberant and corporate sponsor-filled Pride events Torontonians are so familiar with today are a far cry from their humble beginnings. They began in the early 1970s as a picnic and a form of protest on the Toronto islands with only a few hundred attendees. Here’s a look at the history of the pride parade over the decades.


The first official pride picnic took place at Hanlan’s Point Beach in August 1971.

The ArQuives

This is a clipping, from the alternative newspaper Guerilla, documenting the picnic. It had about 200 to 300 attendees from all over Southern Ontario.

The annual picnics on the island continued on through to the mid-1970s.

Photo courtesy of Onthebookshelves.com

A poster of the 1973 Gay Pride Week in Toronto.

Photo courtesy of Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Activism played a large role in pride events of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Here’s the itinerary of the 1974 Gay Pride Week.

Courtesy of Onthebookshelves.com

This is a programme describing the agenda for the 1978 Pride events.

Marchers passing by the Maple Leaf Gardens in 1991 during the parade.

Photo courtesy of the Toronto Star

Mayor Mel Lastman attended the parade in 1998. Although mayor Barbara Hall marched in 1995 prior to Lastman, for decades politicians avoided pride events.

Photo courtesy of the Toronto Star

Here are photos of the 1981 parade on Queen and Yonge streets.

Photos courtesy of Onthebookshelves.com

Members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence marched throughout downtown Toronto in 1983.

Photo courtesy of the Toronto Star

By 1987, the pride parade’s attendance was growing exponentially. Here’s a view of Church Street.

Photo courtesy of the Toronto Star

And here’s the crowd gathered on Yonge street in the 1990s.

Photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives

The Toronto City Council did not officially recognize Pride Day until 1991. Here’s the raising of the rainbow flag at city hall in 2003.

Photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives

Kathleen Wynne became the first sitting premier to march at Pride Toronto in 2013 alongside Liberal Party leader, Justin Trudeau.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/JustinTrudeau

Toronto hosted World Pride, the largest global queer celebration, in 2014.

Photo by Alain Sojourner

In 2016, Trudeau became the first sitting prime minister to attend Pride Toronto.

Photo courtesy of Twitter/Justin Trudeau

About 1.7 million people attended the most recent in-person pride weekend in 2019.

Photos courtesy of the CBC