Category Archives: Ford Hotel Toronto

Lost Toronto — by Doug Taylor


Lost Toronto by Doug Taylor, Pavilion Press, published January 2018. Photo King and Yonge Streets, Toronto Archives.

When Old City Hall was slated for demolition in the 1960s, protestors united to save this key piece of Toronto’s architectural heritage. Their efforts paid off and eventually led to the passing of the Ontario Heritage Act, which has been preserving buildings of cultural value since the mid-1970s. But what happened to some of the cultural gems that graced the City of Toronto before the heritage movement? Lost Toronto brings together some of the most spectacular buildings that were lost to the wrecking ball or redeveloped beyond recognition.

Using detailed archival photographs, Lost Toronto recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. Along the way, the reader will visit stately residences (Moss Park, the Gordon Mansion, Benvenuto) movie palaces (Shea’s Hippodrome, Shea’s Victoria, Tivoli Theatre, Odeon Carlton), grand hotels (Hotel Hanlan, Walker House, Queen’s Hotel), department stores ( Eaton’s Queen Street, Eaton’s College Street, Robert Simpson Company, Stollery’s), landmark shops (Sam the Record Man, A & A Book Store, World’s Biggest Book Store, Honest Ed’s), arenas and amusement parks (Sunnyside, Maple Leaf Stadium, CNE Stadium), and restaurants and bars (Captain John’s on the M. V. Normac, Colonial Tavern, Ed’s Warehouse).

This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.


              Back cover of Lost Toronto, available in book stores or online, $26.95

To view the Home Page for this blog:

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  


   To place an order for this book, published by History Press: .

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)


Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine:…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book:

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in A&A Record Store, Arcadian Court in Simpson's, Bank of Toronto King and Bay Streets, baseball history Toronto, Bay and Gable houses Toronto, Benvenuto, Bluebell ferry- Toronto, books about Toronto, Brunswick House Toronto, Captain John's Toronto, Centre Island Toronto, Chorley Park, CNE Stadium Toronto, Colonial Tavern Toronto, Crystal Palace Toronto, Doug Taylor, Toronto history, Dufferin Gates CNE Toronto, Eaton's Queen Street store, Eaton's Santa Claus Parade Toronto, Ford Hotel Toronto, Frank Stollery Toronto, High Park Mineral Baths Toronto, historic Toronto, historic toronto buildings, history of Toronto streetcars, HMV toronto (history), Honest Ed's, local history Toronto, Lost Toronto, Memories of Toronto Islands, Metropolitan United Church Toronto, MV Normac, old Custom House Toronto, Ontario Place, Quetton St. George House Toronto, Riverdale Zoo Toronto, Salvation Army at Albert and James Street, Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters, Sam the Record Man Toronto, Santa Claus Parade Toronto, St. George the Martyr Toronto, Sunnyside Toronto,, Temple Building Toronto, toronto architecture, Toronto baseballl prior to the Blue Jays, Toronto history, Toronto Island ferries, Toronto's Board of Trade Building (demolished), Toronto's disappearing heritage, Toronto's lost atchitectural gems, Toronto's restaurant of the past, Walker House Hotel (demolished), World's Biggest Book Store-Toronto, Yonge Street Arcade Toronto



Toronto’s heritage buildings and sites on


Below are links to posts about Toronto’s heritage sites that have appeared on the blog,, since it commenced in 2011.

Toronto’s Maple Leaf Baseball Stadium

Brunswick House on Bloor Street West, now closed

Centre Island’s lost village

Demolition of the Westinghouse building on King Street West

Walker House Hotel at Front and York Streets, demolished 1976

Cyclorama on Front Street, demolished 1976

The Toronto Star Building on King Street West

Fond Memories of A&A Records on Yonge Street

Memories of Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street

Toronto’s old Land Registry Building (demolished)

The Gordon House on Clarence Square, one of Toronto’s lost mansions

Old Toronto Star Building on King Street West.

The Grand Opera House on Adelaide St. West

The High Park Mineral Baths

The old Dufferin Gates at the CNE

Toronto’s first brick house, built by Quetton St. George

Toronto’s Old Registry Office Building

Centre Island’s Lost Village

Arcadian Court Restaurant in Simpsons

Toronto’s Old Customs Houses

Grand Opera House on Adelaide St. West

Palace Pier Ballroom and Amusement Centre on Lakeshore, on West bank of the Humber River

Cawthra House—Toronto’s most historic mansion at Bay and King Streets (demolished)

Ford Hotel at Bay and Dundas (demolished)

Dufferin Gates of the CNE (demolished)

Quetton St. George’s mansion on King Street, now demolished

Mineral Baths (swimming pools) on Bloor Street opposite High Park

Upper Canada College’s first campus on Russell Square on King Street West

Upper Canada College’s former boarding house at Duncan and Adelaide Street

St. Patrick’s Market on Queen West – the first market buildings

Armouries on University Avenue (demolished)

Trinity College that once existed in Trinity Bellwoods Park

Hanlan’s Hotel on the Toronto Islands (Hanlan’s Point) now demolished

The Palace, the mansion of John Strachan (demolished)

Holland House—one of Toronto’s lost mansions (demolished)

Crystal Palace of the CNE (demolished) —now the site of the Muzik nightclub

Queen’s Hotel (demolished) —historic hotel on Front Street

CNE Grandstand (demolished) —History of

Maple Leaf Stadium (demolished) at Bathurst and Front Streets

Eaton’s old Queen Street Store at Queen and Yonge Streets (demolished)

Bank –Toronto’s First—Bank of Upper Canada (demolished)

Post Office—Toronto’s First

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on Dundas Street.

Ontario’s Fourth Legislative Assembly

Ontario’s First and Second Legislative Buildings

Old Mill Restaurant in the Humber Valley

Montgomery’s Inn at Dundas West and Islington Avenue

Cecil Street Community Centre near Spadina Avenue and Cecil Street

Former Ryerson Press Building (now Bell Media) at 299 Queen Street, at Queen and John Streets

Former Bank of Toronto Building at 205 Yonge Street, opposite the Eaton Centre

Buildings at 441-443 Queen Street, west of Spadina Avenue

History of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

Boer War monument at Queen West and University Avenue

History of Toronto’s CN Tower

Gurney Stove Foundry at King West and Brant Streets

Historic Royal Alexandra Theatre on King Street

Former Bank of Montreal at Queen and Yonge Streets, now a subway entrance and coffee shop

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Toronto’s Union Station of today that opened in 1927

Old Fort York

19th-century Bay and Gable house at 64 Spadina Avenue

Old houses hidden behind 58-60 Spadina Avenue 

Historic Gale Building at 24-30 Spadina Avenue

Commercial block at 654-672 Queen West containing shops

Warehouse loft at 80 Spadina Avenue

The Systems Building at 40-46 Spadina Avenue

The Steele Briggs Warehouse at 49 Spadina Avenue

The building at Queen and Portland Streets, which once was a bank of Montreal

The 1850s buildings at 150-154 King Street East and Jarvis Streets

The Manufacturers Building at 312 Adelaide St. West

The old Eaton’s College Street (College Park and the Carlu)

The John Kay (Wood Gundy) Building at 11 Adelaide St. West

The Grange (AGO)

The Eclipse Building at 322 King Street West

The Toronto Normal School on Gould Street

The Capitol Building at 366 Adelaide Street West, near Spadina

The Reid Building at 266-270 King Street West

Mackenzie House on Bond Street

Colborne Lodge in High Park

The Church of the Redeemer at Bloor West and Avenue Road

The Anderson Building at 284 King Street West

The Lumsden Building at Yonge and Adelaide Street East

The Gooderham (Flatiron) Building at Wellington and Front Streets East

The Sick Children’s Hospital on University Avenue

St. James Cathedral at King St. East and Church St.

The E.W. Gillett Building at 276 Queen King St. West

The Oddfellows Temple at the corner of Yonge and College Streets

The Birkbeck Building at 8-18 Adelaide Street East

The Toronto Seventh Post Office at 10 Toronto St.

Former hotel at Bay and Elm streets

The 1881 block of shops on Queen near Spadina

The stone archway on Yonge Street, south of Carlton Street

The former St. Patrick’s Market on Queen West, now the City Market

The Brooke Building (three shops) at King East and Jarvis streets.

The old Work House at 87 Elm Street, an historic structure from the 19th century.

The building on the northwest corner of Yonge and Queen Street.

The former student residence of Upper Canada College, built in 1833, at 22 Duncan Street, at the corner of Adelaide streets.

Church of the Holy Trinity beside the Eaton Centre

The former site of the “Silver Snail” comic store at 367 Queen Street West.

The Toronto Club at 107 Wellington, built 1888,  at the corner of York Street. 

The YMCA at 18 Elm Street, built in 1890, now the Elmwood Club.

The old St. George’s Hall at 14 Elm Street, now the Arts and Letters Club.

The 1860s houses on Elm St. (now Barbarian’s Steak House)

The old “Silver Snail” shop on Queen St. West

The north building at the St. Lawrence Market, which is slated to be demolished

The Ellis Building on Adelaide Street near Spadina Ave.

The Heintzman Building on Yonge Street, next to the Elgin Theatre

The tall narrow building at 242 Yonge Street, south of Dundas

Toronto’s first Reference Library at College and St. George Streets.

The Commodore Building at 315-317 Adelaide St. West

The Graphic Arts Building (condo) on Richmond Street

The Art Deco Victory Building on Richmond Street

The Concourse Building on Adelaide Street

The old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

The Traders Bank on Yonge Street—the city’s second skyscraper

Toronto’s old Union Station on Front Street, built in 1884

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at King and Simcoe Streets.

The row houses on Glasgow Street, near Spadina and College Streets

The bank at Queen and Simcoe that resembles a Greek temple

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

St. Stanislaus Koska RC Church on Denison Avenue, north of Queen West

The historical St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst Streets

The Bishop’s (St, Michael’s) Palace on Church Street, Toronto

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

The Ed Mirvish (Pantages, Imperial, Canon) Theatre, a true architectural gem on Toronto’s Yonge Street

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

The Art Deco Bank of Commerce building on King Street West.

The Postal Delivery Building, now the Air Canada Centre (ACC)

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

Spadina Avenue – sinful, spicy and diverse

The Reading Building, a warehouse loft building on Spadina Avenue

The Darling Building on Spadina Avenue

The amazing Fashion Building on Spadina Avenue

Toronto’s architectural gems – the Tower Building at Spadina and Adelaide Street

The Balfour Building at 119 Spadina Avenue

The Robertson Building at 215 Spadina that houses the Dark Horse Espresso Bar

An architectural gem – Grossman’s Tavern at Spadina and Cecil Streets

History of the house that contains the Paul Magder Fur Shop at 202 Spadina

An important historic building that disappeared from the northeast corner of Spadina and College

Historic bank building on northeast corner of Spadina and Queen West

History of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King and Spadina

Hamburger corner – Spadina and Queen Streets

Lord Lansdowne Public School on Spadina Crescent

The Dragon City Mall on the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina

Buildings on the west side of Spadina a short distance north of Queen Street.

History of the site of the Mcdonalds on northwest corner of Queen and Spadina

A former mansion at 235 Spadina that is now almost hidden from view.


Military hero of the War of 1812 lived near corner of Spadina Avenue and Queen Street West.

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

Campbell House at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue

A study of Osgoode Hall

Toronto’s first City Hall, now a part of the St. Lawrence Market

Toronto’s Draper Street, a time-tunnel into the 19th century

The Black Bull Tavern at Queen and Soho Streets, established in 1822

History of the 1867 fence around Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West, near York Street

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

The opening of the University Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bay St.

122 persons perish in the Noronic Disaster on Toronto’s waterfront in 1949

Historic Victoria Memorial Square where Toronto’s first cemetery was located, now hidden amid the Entertainment District

Visiting one of Toronto’s best preserved 19th-century streets-Willcocks Avenue

The 1930s Water Maintenance Building on Brant Street, north of St. Andrew’s Park

Toronto’s architectural gems-photos of the Old City from a book published by the city in 1912

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

Toronto’s architectural gems – the bank on the northeast corner of Queen West and Spadina

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

A history of Toronto’s famous ferry boats to the Toronto Islands

To view the Home Page for this blog:

To view the post that contains a list of Toronto’s old movie houses and information about them:


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The old Ford Hotel—Toronto

       postcard, 1930s  s-l500[1]

Toronto’s Ford Hotel in the 1930s (postcard S-1500)

I vividly remember the old Ford Hotel, but unfortunately, until I began researching its history, never realized that it had once been one of the city’s finest hotels. Located on the northeast corner of Bay and Dundas Streets, my memories of it are from the days when it had become extremely tacky. One reason for its decline is the dubious reputation it received from being directly across from the bus station at Bay and Edward Streets. People who arrived in the city by bus, without a place to stay, often found budget-priced rooms at the Ford. I remember that in the 1960s, it was considered a “flop-house,” even its coffee shop a place that was best avoided.

In  fairness, the Ford did not entirely deserve its unsavoury reputation. It was a victim of the economic downturn caused by the Great Depression, which descended shortly after the hotel opened. Another factor was the many tragic occurrences, beyond its control, that happened within it. Despite its reputation, there are some who remember the hotel fondly. There were immigrants that arrived in Toronto to begin a new life, which started at the Ford Hotel. As well, there were budget-minded tourists that stayed in it during the five decades that it registered guests. There are similar places in Toronto today that fulfill these needs, and there is a place for them. However, when the Ford opened, there were no reasons to believe that it would have anything other than a bright future.

Its story began during the final years of the 1920s, a decade that became famous for its exuberance—the “Roaring Twenties.” Toronto’s nightlife was booming, the city attracting over three million tourists a year, making it one of North America’s top tourist destinations. More hotel space was needed and Richard T. Ford responded to this need. Headquartered in Rochester N.Y., he owned a chain of luxury hotel and decided to build one in Toronto. At a cost of $2 million, he constructed an hotel with three 12-storey towers that were connected, in total containing 750 rooms. The one-storey base was where the lobby, guest facilities, coffee shop, and restaurant were located. Its architecture was a duplicate of the Ford Hotel built in Buffalo in 1923, designed by J. Foster Walker.

The Ford Hotel opened on the on May 21, 1928, billed as Toronto’s most luxurious hotel, though its room rates were at budget prices ($1.50-$2.50). The city’s mayor and many other dignitaries attended its inauguration, and it appeared as if it was destined for prosperous times. It was furnished by the T. Eaton Company, each room boasting a reading lamp, private bathroom, ice-water tap, and telephone. The hotel included valet and laundry services, a barber shop, newsstand and a cigar shop. The restaurant on the ground-floor level was operated by G. Brown, who had been employed for 35 years at the prestigious and historic Queen’s Hotel on Front Street. It had recently been demolished to build the Royal York Hotel. The Queen’s Hotel’s loss was the Ford’s gain. However, when the Royal York opened, it ended the Ford’s boast of being the latest luxury hotel in the city.

The hotel managed to survive the Depression years and was successful throughout the 1940s. In 1949, it was taken over by the Sheraton chain and renovated. In 1954 the Ford was purchased by a New York syndicate that considered it a profitable investment. It continued to be successful, offering nightly entertainment in its Tropical Room and good food in its restaurant, which was leased to Murray’s Restaurant chain. During the 1950s, the Casino Theatre on Queen Street near Bay, which featured burlesque and strip shows, also booked many well-known stars. The theatre’s performers were housed mainly at the Ford Hotel—Lillian Rush, Jimmy Boyd, Gordon McRae, Burl Ives, Dizzy Gillespie, and Jimmy Dorsey.

However, a series of tragedies occurred at the Ford that created bad publicity. It began when a young Montreal woman committed suicide by leaping from a window. Next, on October 26, 1955, a 22-year old immigrant was ordered to return to his room as he was wandering around the lobby area attired only in a bed sheet. In his locked room, he repeatedly fired a 22-gauge shotgun into the walls. The police arrived, broke down the door, and shot tear gas into the room. When the smoke cleared, the man was found dead from a self-inflicted wound.

In the 1960s, the hotel fell further into decline. The fact that the Gideon Bible Society had placed copies of the Good Book in the rooms, did not prevent the hotel’s residents from straying from the straight and narrow. The hotel became a popular gathering spot for various miscreants and those upon whom society frowned. It also attracted year-around guests who took advantage of its reasonable rates. In 1969, one of them, a 77-year-old man, died in a fire that had ignited in a wastepaper basket on the 7th floor.

On November 14, 1970 a 34-year-old engineer fell to his death when the elevator doors opened on an empty shaft. In 1973, a 10-year old boy was murdered in one of the rooms. The publicity from this horrendous homicide caused more and more patrons to avoid it. It closed on October 19, 1973 and was demolished during the winter of 1974.


Map of 595 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5G 1M6

Approximate location of the Ford Hotel on the northeast corner of Bay and Dundas Streets.


The hotel shortly after it opened in 1928. The view is of the west facade on Bay Street. Toronto Archives, S272, SS0003, Item 0735.

                  Wikimedia commons Ford_Hotel_1929[1]

Postcard of the Ford Hotel printed in 1929. The three towers and the single-storey base are evident in this view of the building’s east side. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Fonds 1244, Item 7304

View looking west along Dundas Street from Yonge Street c. 1929. The United Cigar Store on the northwest corner remained on the site until it was demolished in 1950 to erect a branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia. The east facade of the Ford Hotel at Dundas and Bay Streets is evident in the background. Toronto Archives S 0071, Item 7663..

Motor coach #503, taken at a distance of 30 feet, (Motor Coach Department) – May 21, 1930

In the background of this photo is the west facade of the Ford on May 21, 1930. The bus is going to the open-air terminal located at Bay and Edward Streets. The outdoor terminal is shown in the next photo. Toronto Archives, S0071, Item 7663.

Motor coach terminal property - Edward and Elizabeth sts, looking east, (Buildings Department) – June 10, 1931

View looking east along Edward Street on June 10, 1931, the open-air bus terminal on the west side of Bay Street, and a parking lot to the west of it, in the foreground. The west and north facades of the hotel are visible in the background. Toronto Archives, S0071, Item 8616.

                    Getty 515075319[1]   

The west (left-hand) facade on Bay Street and and the south (right-hand) facade on Dundas Street of the Ford Hotel in the late-1950s. Photo from Getty Images (51507319).

                    May 11, 1969  see TRL site for details-- tspa_0000354f[1]

Fireman rescuing a man from the 7th floor of the hotel on May 11, 1969, when a 77-year old man perished in the blaze. Photo, Toronto Public Library.

Ford Hotel - under demolition - view west on Dundas at Yonge – January 27, 1974

View gazing west on Dundas Street toward Bay Street on January 7, 1974. The hotel is evident in the background, after demolition had commenced on the top floors. The PCC streetcar on the north side of Dundas Street, painted red, is being used as a diner. It creates an interesting foreground—“A Streetcar Named Desire.” Toronto Archives, F1526, Item 0046.

View of Ford Hotel from Bay – February 10, 1974

A westbound Dundas streetcar approaches the intersection of Bay and Dundas Streets, on February 10, 1974, the demolition of the Ford Hotel in the background. Toronto Archives, F 1526, Item 0050.


To view the Home Page for this blog:

A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  


   To place an order for this book: .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.


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