Regent Gas Station and Sleek Modern Design

Regent Gas Station (Left View), Toronto (1949),
Designed by John Parkin, Photo by Hugh Robertson

Although these vintage images only showcase a humble gas station they’re amazingly good! That’s because they combine the modernist industrial design of distinguished Toronto architect John Parkin and the often-dramatic photography of Hugh Robertson and his team at Toronto’s former Panda Associates firm, both of whom helped popularize modern design in Canada during the 1950s and 60s.

Regent Gas Station (Right View), Toronto (1949),
Designed by John Parkin, Photo by Hugh Robertson

A trove of other vintage architectural photos can be seen at the Panda Associates Digital Image Collection, Canadian Architectural Archives, which is maintained by the University of Calgary, and in the book John C. Parkin, Archives and Photography: Reflections on the Practice and Presentation of Modern Architecture (University of Calgary Press 2013).

(Image Credits:  Hugh Robertson/Panda Associates, Canadian Architectural Archives, University of Calgary)

34 responses

  1. A wonderfully striking piece of design. And in England, our town planners are happy to see such buildings demolished and lost for ever. And 1950s cinemas would fall into the same category too.

  2. (Thought I’d sent a comment… but poof, it has vanished… So, 2nd try. Apologies if both bounce into view.) Thanks for the Parkins gas station, it is stunning & I never knew about it. Can’t find any reference suggesting it still exists, too bad. A mild add-on to your exchange with “Words from Anneli”, to note that while some parts of “town” (= Toronto?) are indeed pretty plain, others are far from plain. So, take heart. In a city of +3 million, you’re bound to find a few bits to enjoy.

    • Hi, Penny, thanks! My guess is that most gas stations from that period are likely long gone. (Your first comment came through, by the way. I’ve also noticed that the WordPress comments feature seems to be acting weird lately — like the comment disappears so I’ve also reposted.)

  3. What a striking and futuristic design! This would have been very progressive for conservative Toronto of the 1940s!

    Knowing this city, it was probably demolished years ago. Toronto has an unenviable reputation for destroying its past and replacing it with something ugly – I know, I live here :(

    Many thanks for posting this fascinating glimpse of modern architecture in Canada, Brett.

    • Richard, you’re probably right about this having been replaced. That’s typical in many cities, especially with a structure that’s not a more customary urban focal point, such as an office building or a museum. They were pushing the envelope with this design back in the day.

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