There was a time when Toronto didn’t have its waterfront islands.

Instead, sandbars — the result of the Scarborough Bluffs eroding and currents carrying fragments of stone to the west — formed a peninsula jutting out into Lake Ontario.

The peninsula was regularly repaired as gaps formed, but in 1858 a storm cut it off from the rest of Toronto, and the gap wasn’t filled. Thus, the first island was born. Today, a network of islands are home to an airport, beaches, parks, homes, and more.

As part of our then-and-now series, which also covers CityPlace and Mimico, we’ve compared James Bombales’ contemporary shots of the area with historic photos.

Toronto Island Airport, 1970

Toronto Island Airport hangers, 1970

Western Gap, looking south to Toronto Island airport

Olympic Island and Lagoon, 1925

Olympic Bridge, Centre Island, 1914

Gibralter Point Lighthouse, 1900

Avenue of the Island, 1980s

Toronto skyline from Toronto Island looking north, late 1980s*

*Present day photo taken June 2014

Queen City Yacht Club, Algonquin Island, 1958

Toronto skyline, 1980s

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