You know when you’re driving or biking along Lakeshore Blvd East and you pass those massive pillars on the side of the road? Maybe you’ve wondered what the deal is with them. Maybe you’ve assumed they were a strange art piece or a bit of forgotten city planning. Well, we’ve got the real story behind the Gardiner Pillars and it’s one you may find interesting.

So, back in the day, these massive structures were actually built to be part of the Gardiner Expressway. Well, kind of. In the 1960s, city planners had hoped to expand the Gardiner to reach the suburbs. They had hoped this would cut down on traffic congestion at the time. The highway would have been called the Scarborough Expressway and it was supposed to reach all the way out to, well, Scarborough.

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Via Peter MacCallum/
Via Peter MacCallum/

Of course, today we know that plan never followed through. After a 1.3km section of the new highway was built, the project was scrapped in the 1990s. The section that was built became known as the Gardiner Expressway East. It spanned from the DVP all the way to Leslie Street.

Well, as you may have expected, this little highway stretch eventually became too expensive to maintain. So in 1999, the Toronto City Council voted to demolish it. They removed most of the highway section, however, the massive pillars that once supported the road still stand.

Via Sean Marshall/

This brings us to the Gardiner Pillars. Today, you can explore these massive structures to be reminded of Toronto’s past. Now that bike lanes and landscaping weaves through them, they’ve definitely become a cool spot to hit.

So next time you find yourself roaming along Lakeshore Blvd East, be sure to take a moment to appreciate this little slice of Toronto’s History. The spot makes for a great summer outing and a great way to get a little fresh air.

You can read more about this spot’s history at