Monthly Archives: March 2011

Kensington Market – Part 3 – Row Houses on Wales Avenue

Discovering the Kensington Market, a Village Within the city! 

In this post, I will examine the row houses on the south side of Bellevue Square.




DSCN1324Painting of the row houses on the south side of Bellevue Square, in winter.

(Acrylic on stretched canvas) 


One of the row house that I found interesting was 21 Wales Avenue.

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The facade of 21 Wales Avenue (left), and a view of its exterior and inner doors (right)


21 Wales Avenue

The dwelling at 21 Wales Avenue was constructed in 1890, and is an excellent example of row houses built during the latter decade of the 19th century. The first person to live here was Henry (Harry) Hutchinson, who rented the premises from the builder. Hutchinson worked at W. J. Summerville and Company, located at 575 Queen Street West, near Portland Avenue. The shop was within easy walking distance of his home, a true asset in inclement weather. In this decade, many people lived within walking distance of their place of employment. On his journeys to and from work, Mr. Hutchinson undoubtedly greeted his neighbours, sometimes encouraging them to purchase their dry goods, carpets, oilcloth, and rugs from the Queen Street store where he was employed.

One summer day, I passed by this home and its present-day owner, who had recently purchased the property, was busy renovating and restoring the property. He invited me to tour the house.

As I entered, I examined the outer and inner doors. Because it was summer, one of the outer doors was folded back against the walls of the small interior porch. During winter, both doors would be closed to protect the interior of the home against the cold north winds that blow across Bellevue Square. The present-day owner was proud to point out that all the doors were original.

Stepping inside the narrow dwelling, in the front hallway was the staircase, with a handsome post at its base. The owner permitted me to ascend to the second floor. I gently gripped the hand-carved railing as I climbed upward, and thought of the many parents and children that through the decades had similarly held onto this same railing. On the second floor there were three bedrooms, and on the third floor two cozy rooms.  I was amazed that such a small house contained five bedrooms.

Returning to the ground floor, I gazed into the parlour, at the front of the house. At the top of the parlour window, the stained glass contained attractive designs. Entering the kitchen, at the rear of the home, I noticed that it possessed a rolled-tin ceiling. The kitchen and parlour were separated by a set of sliding doors, allowing them to be converted into a single space when circumstances demanded.

Throughout the years, many families have lived in this house. For more information on the various residents of 21 Wales Avenue, as well as further details about the interior of this house, see “The Villages Within,” available on and at Chapters/Indigo book stores. 


19 Wales Avenue

The other row house that attracted my attention was next door, at 19 Wales Avenue. Though its red-brick facade has been painted gray, it remains an attractive dwelling. 


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Facade of 19 Wales Avenue, its doorway,


A view of the snow and the slate tiles of the roof at 19 Wales Avenue.


 19 Wales Avenue


Constructed in 1890, the same year as 21 Wales Avenue, the house is another fine example of a late-Victorian row house. Its interior would likely be similar to its neighbour, although in reverse. It retains its original slate-rock shingles on the roof, the only house on the street that has this feature. All the other homes have modern shingles.

As I photographed this house in winter, the outer door was shut against the cold. It is unlikely that the outer door is the original.

Paintings of Kensington
Winter scenes of the Kensington Market

“After the Storm,” St. Andrew’s Street and Kensington Avenue (8” by 10”),

looking north to Baldwin Street, the European Meat Market in the distance.



“Houses on the west side of Bellevue Avenue,”

Toronto Western Hospital in background

Acrylic on stretched canvas, (8” by 10”)



My next post will examine the Victorian “Bay and Gable” house at 9 Wales Avenue.

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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Toronto


Kensington Market – Part 2- The Peterkin Home

Discovering the Kensington Market, a Village Within the city!

In my first post about discovering the Kensington Market, I explained the reasons for my interest in the market.

In this post, I would like to examine the Peterkin house, at 29 Wales Avenue. During my daily walks, the Victorian mansion on the southwest corner of Wales and Bellevue avenues, was one of the first home on Bellevue Square that attracted my attention. With its ornate porch and first-floor bay window, I considered it the most imposing house overlooking the square.  I had often strolled past this dwelling, and became increasingly curious about its history. I photographed the dwelling on a sunny winter day, as during the summer months, the foliage hid much of the house from view.  



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29 Wales Avenue, the home of James R. Peterkin

 29 Wales Avenue

When James R. Peterkin was twenty-one years of age, he purchased property at 145 Bay Street and opened a lumber yard and mill. Employing several labourers, along with  a few carpenters and cabinet makers, he created a prosperous business. Achieving a degree of success, he purchased property on Wales Avenue and constructed his first home, a one-story house in the Ontario cottage style. It possessed extensive verandas, which were wrapped around the north and east sides of the dwelling. As the years passed, Peterkin’s wealth increased, and as his family had grown in size, he decided to demolish the house at 29 Wales Avenue and construct a larger home.

The house on the site today was completed in 1884. In 1889, the house possessed a value of $3500 and the property was worth $3325. This was highly-priced real estate for Toronto in that year. The three-story house is of red brick, likely from the kilns of the Don Valley brickyard. Yellow bricks were employed for decorations above the windows, as well as the trim on the facade. The ornate porch with its fancy supports, and the pediment (triangle) above the porch were created by the craftsmen in Peterkin’s lumber yard. 

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Inner and outer doors of the house at 29 Wales Avenue, Intricate designs in the triangle (pediment), cut with a scroll saw.     


For detailed information on the Peterkin house, life within the home when Peterkin’s family lived there, and other residents of the house, see “The Villages Within”.  


 Painting of Kensington


Coffee shop and store at the corner of Baldwin and Augusta avenues

Acrylic on stretches canvas, 16” by 20”

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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Kensington Market


Discovering the Kensington Market


Houses on the south side of Bellevue Square


Living within ten-minutes walking distance of the Kensington market, almost every day I stroll its interesting streets to purchase my daily needs, enjoy a coffee, and observe the ever-changing scene. I never tire of its street buskers, musicians, friendly merchants, and eccentric characters. Where else can I see an elderly woman drop a small package of marijuana into the coin-basket of a street singer, or overhear a man inform me of the proper procedures and dress-code for sipping rum from a bottle in a paper bag? To paraphrase “Honest Ed’s slogan,” the Kensington Market may be imitated, but never duplicated.

DSCN1370 The hustle and bustle of a summer afternoon at Baldwin and Kensington avenues.

Painting is acrylic on stretched canvas, 18” by 24”


During the summer of 2005, I attempted to capture the vitality of the market on canvas. Many mornings I carried my paints and easel to the market and spent the day sketching and painting. I talked to shoppers, merchants, and residents as they looked over my shoulder to view my progress. I heard stories and gained new insights into the daily life of the area. Some of the shops and views that I transferred onto canvas no longer exist. They have either been demolished, gone out of business, or the shops’ facades and signage have been greatly altered.

Eventually, my interest in the market caused me to research the fascinating buildings that inhabit the market’s narrow streets. In 2010, I published the material, along with studies of the Kings West District (the area around King Street and Spadina Avenue), and Queen Street West. I included a history of the old St. Andrew’s Market. The book was entitled “The Villages Within,” an apt description of the Kensington Market.

My study commenced with the houses surrounding Bellevue Square, as it is at the heart of the market. Bellevue Square is bounded by Augusta Avenue on the east, Wales Avenue on the south, Bellevue Avenue on the west, and on the north by Denison Square (which is actually a street). During the great Toronto blackout in 2003, a spontaneous “pot party” developed in Bellevue Square, attracting residents and visitors alike to the music and fun of an off-beat street party.

Through this series of posts, I would like to share a few of these “memory” paintings, as well as further information that I have gathered. On my next post, I will examine in detail the Peterkin home, at 29 Wales Avenue. 

Paintings of Kensington


The “Moonbean Coffee Shop” on St. Andrew’s Avenue


“Summer afternoon at Augusta and Nassau Avenues”

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Posted by on March 26, 2011 in Kensington Market