Leuty Lifeguard Station – Watching Over Beach-Goers for a Century

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2020 - Looking south towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station
2020 – Looking south towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station

The Leuty Lifeguard Station is located at the foot of Leuty Ave on Kew Beach, in The Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Architecture of the Historic Station

The clapboard structure was designed by Chapman, Oxley & Bishop, the architecture firm that also designed Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion and the CNE’s Princes’ Gates. Originally called Scarboro Beach Station, the landmark building was raised above the water on piers. The sides facing east and west have large, irregularly spaced windows that give lifeguards unobstructed beachfront views. The south-facing side has two paired single doors that flank one pair of double doors, which open onto a projecting deck. This design makes it quick to launch lifeboats. To help lifeguards observe the waterfront, a wooden lookout tower is on top of the bell-cast gable roof.

Circa 1915 - An afternoon at Kew Beach
Circa 1915 – An afternoon at Kew Beach (Toronto Public Library PC3028)

Keeping an Eye Over Kew Beach

For over 100 years, lifeguards have been watching over swimmers and boaters at Kew Beach. At one time, the beachfront was crowded with buildings, vendors and boats for hire. Due to erosion and to stabilize the beach, most of the structures were taken down over time. In the 1990s, the Leuty Lifeguard Station began to deteriorate. To save it from demolition, the local community raised funds. The building received heritage status in 1993.

Leuty Lifeguard Station Celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2020

Today, the station is still in active use. Lifeguards at the Leuty Lifeguard Station are credited with saving over 6,000 lives. It’s one of two remaining life-saving stations on Toronto’s lakefront, with the other one on Cherry Beach.

Leuty Lifeguard Station Photos

1958 - Beach-goers with Leuty Lifeguard Station in the background
1958 – Beach-goers with Leuty Lifeguard Station in the background (Toronto Public Library 963-2-91)
2020 - Looking south towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station located at the foot of Leuty Ave on Kew Beach, in The Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Looking south towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station located at the foot of Leuty Ave on Kew Beach, in The Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto
2022 – Looking southeast towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station. The building received heritage status in 1993 from the City of Toronto
2022 – Looking southeast towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station. The building received heritage status in 1993 from the City of Toronto
May 18, 1927 - Leuty Lifeguard Station and the businesses on the beachfront
May 18, 1927 – Leuty Lifeguard Station and the businesses on the beachfront (Library and Archives Canada PA-097339)
2020 – Looking north towards Leuty Lifeguard Station. The clapboard structure was designed by Chapman, Oxley & Bishop, the architecture firm that also designed Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion and the CNE’s Princes’ Gates
2020 – Looking north towards Leuty Lifeguard Station. The clapboard structure was designed by Chapman, Oxley & Bishop, the architecture firm that also designed Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion and the CNE’s Princes’ Gates
2021 – Looking southwest towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station located at the foot of Leuty with the CN Tower in the background
2021 – Looking southwest towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station located at the foot of Leuty with the CN Tower in the background
Circa 1915 - An afternoon at Kew Beach
Circa 1915 – An afternoon at Kew Beach (Toronto Public Library PC3028)
2020 - Looking southwest towards Leuty Lifeguard Station, originally called Scarboro Beach Station
2020 – Looking southwest towards Leuty Lifeguard Station, originally called Scarboro Beach Station
June 18, 1918 - The Boardwalk on Kew Beach
June 18, 1918 – The Boardwalk on Kew Beach (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1548, Series 393, Item 15098)
2021 – Looking north towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station located at the foot of Leuty Ave. It’s one of two remaining life-saving stations on Toronto’s lakefront, with the other one on Cherry Beach
2021 – Looking north towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station located at the foot of Leuty Ave. It’s one of two remaining life-saving stations on Toronto’s lakefront, with the other one on Cherry Beach
2021 – Looking east towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station. For over 100 years, lifeguards have been watching over swimmers and boaters at Kew Beach
2021 – Looking east towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station. For over 100 years, lifeguards have been watching over swimmers and boaters at Kew Beach
1978 - The boardwalk with Leuty Lifeguard Station in the background
1978 – The boardwalk with Leuty Lifeguard Station in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 1465, File 319, Item 1)
2020 – Looking northeast towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station. In the 1990s, the Leuty Lifeguard Station began to deteriorate. To save it from demolition, the local community raised funds. The building received heritage status in 1993
2020 – Looking northeast towards the Leuty Lifeguard Station. In the 1990s, the Leuty Lifeguard Station began to deteriorate. To save it from demolition, the local community raised funds. The building received heritage status in 1993
2023 - The heritage plaque reads:  

“Lifeguards have been watching over Kew Beach swimmers and boaters from the Leuty Lifeguard Station for over 100 years. The simple clapboard structure with its rooftop lookout tower was designed by the architecture firm of Chapman, Oxley and Bishop, which also designed the Princes’ Gates and Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, among other famous Toronto structures.  The beach was once crowded with buildings, vendors, and boats for hire. The threat of erosion eventually forced the removal of most of the structures to stabilize the beachfront. The station is one of the few buildings from this era to remain.  Starting in the 1990s, it began to fall into disrepair and the local community fundraised to save it from demolition. The station is still in active use and it is one of only two left on Toronto’s waterfront. Lifeguards based here are credited with saving over 6,000 lives.” 

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 1993 
Heritage Toronto 2019
2023 – The heritage plaque reads:

“Lifeguards have been watching over Kew Beach swimmers and boaters from the Leuty Lifeguard Station for over 100 years. The simple clapboard structure with its rooftop lookout tower was designed by the architecture firm of Chapman, Oxley and Bishop, which also designed the Princes’ Gates and Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, among other famous Toronto structures. The beach was once crowded with buildings, vendors, and boats for hire. The threat of erosion eventually forced the removal of most of the structures to stabilize the beachfront. The station is one of the few buildings from this era to remain. Starting in the 1990s, it began to fall into disrepair and the local community fundraised to save it from demolition. The station is still in active use and it is one of only two left on Toronto’s waterfront. Lifeguards based here are credited with saving over 6,000 lives.”

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 1993
Heritage Toronto 2019
2022 – The heritage plaque with the Leuty Lifeguard Station in the background
2022 – The heritage plaque with the Leuty Lifeguard Station in the background
2020 - Cherry Lifeguard Station located at the foot of Cherry St just south of Unwin Ave in Cherry Beach Clarke Beach Park
2020 – Cherry Lifeguard Station located at the foot of Cherry St just south of Unwin Ave in Cherry Beach Clarke Beach Park
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