College has long been on my list of streets to give the historical treatment to. Although perhaps not as important a thoroughfare as University Avenue or as beautiful a street as Jarvis during its heyday, College isn't exactly a slouch when it comes to either designation. Named after King's College (now the University of Toronto), the street shouldn't be confused with College Avenue, the initial name given to what we now call University (presumably someone realized just how confusing that could become).
As is the case with Dundas below it, College doesn't exactly follow a straight line as it passes between Yonge Street and Lansdowne Avenue. Not only did a few landowners force rerouting around their properties, but as the street pushes west of Grace it crosses the area formerly occupied by the Garrison Ravine, which leads to some sweeping turns and dips in the road that are still obvious today.
Also noteworthy is the intersection of Yonge and College, which prior to the 1930s served as the street's eastern terminus. It still does by name, of course, but around the same time that Maple Leaf Gardens was being built, engineers realigned Carlton Street so that traffic could pass easily from one side of Yonge Street to the other. This, no doubt, pleased Timothy Eaton, whose flagship retail store (now College Park) occupied a prominent place on the southwest corner.
It was once expected that College would extend further west than Lansdowne, with a connection to High Park proposed by the influential Denison family. If you look at a map today, you can see how the street might have connected to Grenadier Road in Roncesvalles Village, but the railway corridor that sweeps between Lansdowne and Sorauren posed too great a barrier to such a plan. One suspects that this is ultimately a good thing, as a major east/west thoroughfare cutting through the heart of Roncesvalles would disrupt the vaguely insulated feeling the neighbourhood has.
College Avenue (not street!), 1876
University College, 1880s
College Street, 1890s (any guesses as to specific location?)
Drinking fountain at College & Spadina (for horses, too), 1899
Looking east along College from Bathurst, 1902
Toronto Public Library at College and St. George, 1900s
College and Spadina looking east, 1909
The foot of St. George at College, 1913
College and Ossington, 1915
College and Montrose, 1915
College and Clinton, 1915
Bathurst and College, 1919
Billboards at College and Robert, 1922
College and Spadina looking east, 1927
College and McCaul looking east, 1930
College street east of Yonge, 1930
Aerial view of College and Yonge (Eaton's store), 1930
College/Carlton and Yonge before realignment, 1930
Newsstand at College and Beverley, 1937
College and Lansdowne, 1939
College and Grace, 1939
1269 College, 1940
College and Bay looking west, 1948
370 College, 1958
Photos from the Toronto Archives