Creativity Afoot!: Toronto’s Varied Manhole Covers



A while back I posted a collection of Quebec City manhole covers as an offbeat photo subject.   From a recent trip to the wonderful urban melting pot that is Toronto, here’s another assortment of these often overlooked cast iron street fixtures.  Having encountered at least 25 variations, I’m intrigued by the subtle expressiveness reflected in these compact circular spaces.

46 responses

  1. What an absolutely cool collection of “mundane” things we see every day and don’t really notice. You’ve opened my eyes to another opportunity! Thank you.


  2. Who would think to pay attention to manhole covers?! They are actually beautiful, symmetric and works of art. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • As I was taking pictures of these I enjoyed several quizzical stares from passersby wondering what or why the reason for my camera being focused toward the ground. Fun stuff!

  3. This is a very unique post, Brett! Who would think manhole covers could be so varied, and in the same city no less! It’s like an iron collage! It leads me to think perhaps the thought behind such creations was, “Well, if we have to use manhole covers, let’s at the very least make them look interesting!” Love it! Cher xo

  4. These are quite unique. Shame the people who walk and look down at their phones when they could be looking down and seeing these little works of art.

  5. Haha. I thought I have a peculiar sense of taste taking photos of manholes. You too, eh. These are lovely collections, Brett. Some of them look like flying saucers and with intricate hexagons. Perpetua.

  6. Yesterday, coincidentally, I heard Stuart Maclean’s ‘The Vinyl Cafe’ (on CBC) story about Dave, stuck in a storm sewer, who spends some time talking through the grate to a little boy who thinks he is a monster.

  7. My love and I happened to notice the names imprinted in sidewalk squares around town. There’s some definite eras in which a lot of sidewalks were paved/repaved at once, but there are a few antiquities, including one that was either done in 1928 or 1908, and by a company name that seems to be related to an old college drayman, except we can’t quite reconcile the sidewalk repair with the dray work in any reasonable timeline. And this has been driving us very slightly crazy since we found it.

    • Thanks for your comment. The sidewalk imprintings with dates and name of the lead contractor are noticeable all over the sidewalks of Toronto. It’s rare to finding any going back very far in light of repaving over the years.

  8. Who knew? My husband just suggested they should be called ‘person hole covers’. Haha! I live in Toronto and have never really thought about or noticed how different they are. You’ve inspired me to go out there and check out the different designs.

  9. Took a quick look on your site. Varied, perceptive and creative. I will follow your posts. Thanks for liking “Fire and Ice.” Last year in Spain on the Camino Santiago I noticed that several towns/cities on the route had sewer covers with cockleshell motifs – the cockleshell is the symbol of the Way. You inspired me to put up a new post – The Cockleshell and the Camino.

  10. Firstly, thanks for taking the time to visit and Like one of my works…I like this posting of yours as I can relate to having taken a pic of a manhole cover at the corner of Church and Adelaide that had a used condom neatly caressing the outer rim lol…

  11. Pingback: Halifax’s Manhole Covers « O' Canada

  12. Pingback: Manhole Covers Roundabout Saint John « O' Canada

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