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Category Archives: historic toronto buildings

The last surviving Tollkeeper’s Cottage in Canada

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      Tollkeeper’s Cottage at 750 Davenport Road, in early-June 2014.

The small, unpretentious cottage in Tollkeeper’s Park, on the northwest corner of Bathurst Street and Davenport Road, is not well known by most Torontonians. This might appear strange considering it overlooks one of the busiest intersections in the city. Hundreds of cars pass it daily, but few drivers ever give it a glance. Unfortunately, I must include myself among those who, until recently, took little notice of it.

Perhaps the reason for its relative obscurity is that except for Scadding Cabin on the CNE grounds, it is the most modest in size of all Toronto’s heritage properties. Casa Loma, St. Lawrence Hall, Spadina House, Campbell House, George Brown House, and Colborne Lodge reflect the lives of those who possessed considerably more wealth. Even Mackenzie House, which is quite modest, is rather grand compared to the tollkeeper’s cottager.

Yet the latter is important in our history as it is one of the oldest structures in the city and showcases the lifestyle of the poorest citizens of its era. Even today, such people are often overlooked. Proof of this is the fact that except for the dedicated efforts of a group of local historians, the Community History Project (CHP), the cottage would have been demolished. The CHP was founded in 1983 and four years later was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation.

The tollkeeper’s cottage hearkens back to a time when Toronto was a small colonial town named York, nestled beside the eastern end of the harbour. At that time, the land around Bathurst Street (then known as Cruikshank’s Lane) and Davenport Road remained open fields and farmland, remote from the town to the southeast. However, even in that era, Davenport Road was an important thoroughfare, one of the oldest in the province of Upper Canada (Ontario). It was located at the base of an escarpment, created when the great sheets of glacial ice retreated. For centuries, it had been a path traversed by Native Peoples. In the final years of the 18th century, it became a narrow dirt road employed by early-day settlers. Interestingly, it appears on a map drawn in 1796 by Elizabeth Simcoe.

In the early-1800’s, constructing roads to facilitate travel was beyond the financial capabilities of the government of Upper Canada (Ontario). The hinterland of the town of York was heavily forested, requiring considerable labour and expense to clear if roads were to be built. As a result, in 1835, the government auctioned off the rights to construct and maintain sections of road. In return, the investors were allowed to collect tolls from those who travelled them.

Davenport Road was viewed as one of the better investments, resulting in five tollgates being built on the plank roadway. Tollgates required a tollkeeper, and as travellers used the roads constantly throughout the day and during the hours of darkness, it was essential that tollkeepers reside beside the tollgates. As a result, small cottages were built for the tollkeepers and their families. They were often constructed to allow the occupants to lean out a small window to collect the tolls. Women were never officially hired for the position, although they were often the ones who actually collected the tolls. This was because tollkeeper’s wages were a pittance, which resulted in their husbands being absent from the tollgates as they laboured at a second job or worked a small farm.

The cottage for Tollgate #3 was situated on the southeast corner of Bathurst and Davenport, where Starkmans Health Care Depot is today. This was confirmed by an 1875 painting by Arthur Cox. It appears that the cottage dates from c. 1835, as it has building features from between the years 1820s and 1840s. It is also believed that because it contains re-used materials from other locations, it may have been constructed on another site and moved to Bathurst and Davenport Road.

The Tollkeeper’s Cottage has three-rooms and an attic with a low ceiling and no windows. It was primarily employed for storage. The cottage is constructed of vertical planks of white pine, 2 inches thick and 30 inches wide. Very few structures of this type have survived into the modern era. Clapboard siding was nailed horizontally over the vertical planks. The cottage was approximately 20’ by 30’, containing a front and a back entrance. The floors were of hand-planed pine and the interior walls of plaster. In the kitchen there was a fireplace, the cottage’s only source of heat. It was later replaced by an iron stove. 

During the 1860s, the tollkeeper’s at Tollgate #3 was John Bullmin. He and his wife Elizabeth slept in one bedroom, and their four daughters shared the second bedroom, sleeping two to a bed. Their three sons slept on the floor in the main room, which perhaps was not so bad as it was heated by the wood stove. In the warmer months, the boys likely slept in the shed, which was attached to the west side of the cottage.

In a decade lacking electricity and modern appliances, there were many more back-breaking household chores than today. Among them was to trudge to Taddle Creek, in Wychwood Park, to retrieve water for the family’s needs. Other tasks would include untying the ropes that held the straw mattresses in place, carrying the mattresses outside and beating them to eliminate bedbugs. Food preparation and preserving fruits for the long winters were labour-intensive chores, as was gathering wood for the fireplace and later, the iron stove. 

As mentioned, tollkeepers usually had a second source of income. John Bullmin farmed 6.5 hectares of land, and the 1861 census reveals that his wife churned 50 pounds of butter that year with the milk from the family cow. It was a harsh life. Adding to the difficulties was the fact that, as one might suspect, tollkeepers were not popular and were often abused by the general public.  

Either John or Elizabeth had to be available seven days a week, year round, in all types of weather, to collect fees from those using Cruikshank’s Lane (Bathurst Street). Each time a traveller appeared, it was necessary to open the tollgate manually. Records from 1851 show that the fee for a wagon drawn by two horses was six pence, a one-horse wagon three pence, and a single horse two pence. Those travelling on foot accompanied by up to 20 cattle or sheep, paid a penny. The clergy and the military were not charged and there were no fees on Sundays to encourage people to attend church. It is not known how many years John Bullmin remained as the tollkeeper. His tombstone in the Toronto Necropolis cemetery, near Riverdale Farm, states that he died in 1867, although his wife lived until 1912.

In 1895, the toll system was abolished by the government and Davenport Road became toll free. As the small cottage for Tollgate #3 was no longer required, it was sold. The buyer relocated it to a lot on Howland Street, two blocks east of Bathurst Street, where it became a family residence. Eventually, a larger structure was erected in front of the cottage to enlarge the living space. Thus, the cottage was no longer visible from the street.

It was basically forgotten until 1996, when a developer was planning to demolish the cottage and the home in front of it to clear the site for a condominium. A neighbour, who was aware of the history of the cottage, alerted the group known as the Community History Project (CHP). The CHP authenticated the information, proving that hidden under the layers of siding on the walls and the asphalt on the roof was indeed the historic tollkeeper’s cottage. It is thought to be the only dwelling that remains in Canada today that was lived in by those who collected tolls from early-day roads.

An agreement was negotiated by CHP whereby the condo developer would sell the cottage to them for $1, with the stipulation that it be relocated as soon as possible. The group raised funds and succeeded in arranging an agreement with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) that until a permanent site was found, it could be relocated to the Wychwood Streetcar Barns. In June 1996, the move occurred. It remained at the Wychwood yards for the next six years. During this period, the restoration of the cottage began.

It was a monumental task, as there were several layers of material covering the original exterior clapboard siding, as well as on the interior walls of the rooms. On the roof, there were seven layers of asphalt shingles. All the extraneous materials were carefully removed, and despite the structure’s poor condition, it was revealed that 80% of the original building was intact. The task now was to restore it to its original state.

To finance the ongoing work, over 500 donors provided funding and finally, a grant was given by the Ontario Trillium Fund. However, a permanent site for the cottage was still required. In 2002, Toronto City Council voted to give it a permanent home in Davenport Square Park, which was to be renamed Tollkeeper’s Park. This action formally recognized the importance of the cottage in the history of the city.

After it was relocated to its present-day site, further restoration commenced. The horizontal beams at the base of the structure that supported the vertical planks had deteriorated to the extent that they needed to be replaced. Since most of the original clapboard had survived, it was possible to replace the missing parts with accuracy. In late-November, as the year 2002 drew to a close, volunteers laboured in freezing weather to protect the historic building during its first winter in its new location.

After the work was completed, the CHP decided to furnish it to reflect the 1860s, when John Bullmin and his family resided in the cottage. In 2003, the City of Toronto officially declared the Tollkeeper’s Cottage a heritage site. It was opened to the public on July 1, 2003. To enhance the experience for modern-day visitors, an addition was erected at the rear (west side) of the cottage, providing space for a museum and interpretive centre.

Though the cottage is not situated on its original location, it is very close. The original site is now under the asphalt at the intersection of Davenport Road and Bathurst Street. This occurred when the roadways were widened to meet the needs of the modern era.

Sources:

https://www.thestar.com › Your Toronto › Once Upon a City

streeter.ca/midtown/news/no-toll-charge-at-midtown-museum/

www.tollkeeperscottage.ca/html/Background.htm

https://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=af553a91-c921-411c

http://torontosavvy.me/tag/tollkeepers-cottage-toronto/

1875, Art Cox  reproduction -0.0.1200.806-0.0[1]

The painting is by Arthur Cox and was completed in 1875. The couple in the foreground is seated on the top of the Davenport Road hill, the man pointing southeast. Below them is the intersection of Bathurst Street and Davenport Road, where the tollkeeper’s cottage is on the southeast corner. The City of Toronto had not yet expanded this far north and the land below the hill was mostly farmland. On the left can be seen a steep pathway that ascends the hill. The copyright of the painting belongs to the Community History Project.

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Removing the cottage from its site on the corner of Howland Avenue and Davenport Road in June 1996. Photo from “Toronto Savvy.” 

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Transporting the cottage westbound along Davenport Road in June 1996. Photo from “Toronto Savvy.” 

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Volunteers remove extraneous layers of materials from the roof and walls of the Tollkeeper’s Cottage in May 2001. This was performed while the cottage was temporarily located at the Wychwood Streetcar Barns. Portions of the original clapboard have been exposed. Photo from a display at the Tollkeeper’s Cottage.

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The cottage on its site in Tollkeeper’s Park. In this photo, the vertical pine planks that support the roof are visible, as well as the clapboard siding that covers them. Photo from “Toronto Savvy.”

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The cottage after it was moved in 2002 from the Wychwood Streetcar Barns and placed on its permanent home at Tollkeeper’s Park. The foundations that will support the cottage are visible. Photo from “Toronto Savvy.”

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The official opening of the cottage to the general public on July 1, 2003. Photo from “Toronto Savvy.”

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                   The cottage after it was restored. Photo taken in 2014. 

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The main room of the cottage, where cooking and meals occurred, was the only room that was heated. View faces the front (east) door. The stove is placed where the fireplace had once been. Photo taken 2018.

kitchen, living space

Table in the main room where the family gathered for meals. I have no idea why a rooster is on the table.

                                washstand in adults' room

Bedroom furnished as it might have appeared when Mr. and Mrs. Bulmin slept in it.

four girls' bedroom

               The room where the four Bulmin daughters slept.

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The bedroom of the girls, looking toward the main room on the south side of the cottage. In the ceiling the trap door is visible that gave access to the attic.

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The cottage with its front porch facing east and at the rear, the museum and interpretive centre.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

              Books by the Blog’s Author

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“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. 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.

 

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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:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

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“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear 

 

 Toronto: Then and Now®

“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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

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Exploring Historic Spadina House and Museum, Toronto

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Spadina House at 285 Spadina Road in August 2014. The view gazes northeast toward the west (left-hand) and the south facades. On the south (right-hand) side is a large second-storey veranda that has a commanding view of the city below the hill. On the first floor, below the veranda, is the glassed-in “palm room,” containing a winter garden.

Spadina House (and museum), on the brow of the hill that overlooks Davenport Road, is one of the most historic properties in Toronto. Exploring the house on a guided tour provides an intimate look into the life of the Austin family. The Austins moved into the home in 1866 and a member of the family remained in residence until 1982. Today, it mainly features the life of the Austins during the 1920s. In the warm months, visiting it also provides an opportunity to explore one of Toronto’s finest, restored Victorian gardens.

The story of the property where Spadina House is situated begins in the final years of the 18th century, when Toronto was the small colonial town of York. In 1798, the land where the house is now located was part of a 200-acre lot acquired by William Willcocks. In 1803, Willcock’s daughter, Phoebe, married William W. Baldwin, an Irish immigrant. Phoebe inherited the Baldwin property from her father’s first cousin, Elizabeth Russell, the sister of Peter Russell. Elizabeth suffered from mental illness during her later years, but did not pass away until 1822. Thus, William and Phoebe Baldwin must have gained control of the property prior to her death.

Because William Baldwin intended to erect a grand home on the land, in 1813, he commenced building an impressive roadway, 132 feet wide and a mile and a half in length, as a grand carriageway to the dwelling. The roadway led from the bottom of the hill (Davenport Road), south to Queen Street. South of Queen was Brock Street, which was connected directly to the lake.

ist Balwin by Owen Staples, done 1912.

In 1818, Baldwin finally constructed his dream home. He named it Spadina, an Anglicised version of the Ojibwa word “ishpadinaa,” meaning a “hill or a sudden rise of land.” Henry Scadding wrote rather condescendingly in “Toronto of Old,” published in 1873, that the word “ishpadinaa” had been “tastefully modified.”  On the left is a watercolour of it, painted in 1912 by Owen Staples, based on a sketch of 1888. The watercolour is in the collection of the Toronto Public Library. A description of the house is contained in a letter written by William Baldwin in 1819. “I have a very commodious house in the Country . . . The house consists of two large parlours, hall and staircase on the first floor—four bedrooms and a small library on the 2nd — three Excellent bed rooms in the attic storey or garret — with several closets on every storey, a kitchen, dairy and root cellar, wine cellar, and man’s bedroom underground.” It was indeed a luxurious residence for a “country home,” as  Baldwin owned another house in the town.

To improve the view from his residence,” Baldwin cleared 300 feet of wild growth to the south of it, between the house and the edge of the escarpment. When completed, it provided a panoramic view of the land below the heights, which included the wide carriageway that became Spadina Avenue. In the distance, the town was visible, nestled beside the waters of Lake Ontario.

2nd Baldwin House, by F W Poole, done 1912   TPL

Unfortunately, Spadina House burnt in 1835. Baldwin was now 60 years old, and rather than live on the remote property atop the hill, he moved into his mansion on the northeast corner of Bay and Front Streets. However, he erected another country home above the hill in 1836, but the one-story dwelling was more modest in size compared to the original Spadina House. The watercolour on the left depicts the second Spadina House, painted by F. W. Poole in 1912, from a sketch drawn in 1888.

William Baldwin died in 1844 and the property passed to his son Robert Baldwin. He began sub-dividing the estate, selling parcels of land to prospective buyers. By 1866, only 80 acres remained and at an auction, they were purchased by the founder of The Dominion Bank and president of the Consumers’ Gas Company—James Austin. 

James Austin was born March 6, 1813. His family immigrated to Upper Canada (Ontario), arriving in York (Toronto) in October 1829. For two months, the Austins sought to establish themselves on a farm close to York (Toronto). Unsuccessful, they settled in Trafalgar Township in the Oakville area. When James was sixteen, he was apprenticed to William Lyon Mackenzie in his printing shop. Austin spent four and a half years with Mackenzie before establishing his own printing business. After the rebellion of 1837, he relocated to the United States, since it was too risky to remain in Toronto for anyone with connections to Mackenzie, “the rebel.” In 1843, Austin determined that it was safe to return to Canada West (Ontario).

Austin had earned sufficient funds while in the United States to open in Toronto a wholesale and retail grocery business in partnership with another Irishman, Patrick Foy. Austin eventually amassed further funds by investing in banking and natural gas. In 1866, in an auction, with a successful bid of £3,550, he purchased Spadina House, built by William Warren Baldwin. He demolished the house and erected a grand residence on the site, which he named Spadina. No architect was listed. It was the third house constructed on the site that possessed the name “Spadina.”

Austin’s home had two-storeys, although a third floor was added sometime between 1905 and 1915. In 1866, the entrance hall, with its intricately carved woodwork and elaborate crown mouldings, was built to impress visitors. Austin was an avid hunter and placed two stuffed wolves on either side of the interior of the doorway. Stuffed animals of various species were very popular among the wealthy at this time. Upon entering the entrance hall, guests had an unobstructed view of the magnificent grand staircase. This added to the sense of awe that Austin was desirous of creating.

The drawing room (parlour), the most impressive room in the house, was on the right-hand (south) side of the entrance hall. For the comfort of guests, due the room’s size, it possessed two white marble fireplaces, one at each end of the room. On the south side of the drawing room was the palm room, a sunny greenhouse-like area containing many potted flowering plants, as well as palms. Large doors on the south side of the palm room opened onto the outdoor terrace that overlooked the lawns and the city in the distance, to the south.

The dining room was also on the first floor, the room’s windows facing east to catch the morning light. It was relocated in the years ahead, and the former dining room became the library. The spacious kitchen was close to the dining room. It was bright and cheerful, unlike most kitchens in wealthy homes of the period, which were in the basement. To supplement the kitchen there was a pantry, scullery, storage space, and a large built-in icebox.   

The grand curved staircase in the entrance hall led to the second floor. There was an intimate sitting room at the top of the stairs (the Blue Room). The bedrooms on the second storey were spacious and well furnished.

The home greatly impressed the citizens of Toronto. Henry Scadding in his book “Toronto of Old,” published in 1873, wrote: “. . . before us to the north, on the ridge which bounds the view in the distance, we discern a large white object. This is Spadina House, from which the avenue into which Brocks Street passes takes its name.” 

In the years after Spadina was built, other wealthy families purchased property from James Austin to erect their own mansions. By 1889, only 40 acres remained of the land that had comprised the original Austin estate. In 1892, James Austin passed the title of Spadina and the land surrounding it to his son, Albert William Austin. James Austin passed away in 1897.

Albert and Mary continued to expand Spadina. An extension was added on the north side that contained a new dining room, its windows facing west. As mentioned, the former dining room became a library, but in reality it was employed as an extension of the drawing room. During this period, Albert and Mary added two more bedrooms, improved servants’ quarters, and constructed a circular driveway and new kitchen. One of the most impressive additions was a magnificent billiard room, designed by the popular 19th-century architect W.C. Vaux Chadwick. The room also possessed colourful murals by interior decorator Gustav Hahn, who pioneered Art Nouveau in Canada.

A beautiful and visually prominent canopy of handcrafted wrought iron and glass was erected over the main door. Referred to as a “porte-cochère,” it was designed by Carrere and Hastings. It protected guests and family members that arrived by vehicle from the weather. It is likely that at the same time the enclosed porch was added, and the main doorway relocated so that it faced west, rather than south.

Albert constructed a two-storey stucco garage in 1909, which contained a chauffeur’s residence on the second floor. In 1913 a greenhouse was added to the property, its entrance possessing a Gothic-style doorway. There were now 13 bedrooms, most of them for guests. The servants at Spadina were housed on the third floor, each having their own room, though they shared a toilet, bath and sitting room. By 1913, the house was complete and appeared much the same as it appears today.

Because the family was among the most prominent in the city, an invitation to dine at Spadina was highly coveted. During formal dinners in the 1920s, Mrs. Mary Austin (wife of Albert) always sat at the head of the table, nearest to the kitchen, permitting her to inspect the food when it appeared. A small foot-pedal under the table allowed her to summons the staff surreptitiously to remove empty dishes and to signal when the next course was to be served. Thus, she controlled the pacing of the meal.

After the dining ended, guests retired to the drawing room (parlour) on the opposite side of the entrance hall. The drawing room was where they discussed the news of the day, gossiped, or were entertained. When the family was alone, in the evenings, the smaller parlour (sitting room) on the second floor was likely employed for intimate family moments.

Eventually, Albert sold all of the land of the estate except for about 10 acres. A large portion was purchased by the City of Toronto for the construction of the St. Clair Reservoir. However, Spadina House remained in the possession of the Austin family until 1982. In this year, the house, most of its contents, and the remaining land were acquired through donation and purchase by the Ontario Heritage Foundation and the City of Toronto. This was arranged by Spadina’s last resident, Anna Kathleen Thompson, the daughter of Albert and Mary Austin. At the time, she was over 90 years of age. 

The home and grounds were restored by the City of Toronto and were opened to the public as a museum in 1984.

Sources for this article :http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/austin_james_12E.html, 

https://theculturetrip.com › North America › Canada,

https://www.thestar.com › Life › Fashion & Style

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Sketch of Baldwin’s Spadina House, built in 1818. The drawing first appeared in the Evening Telegram series, “Landmarks of Toronto” in December 1888.

2nd Spadina

Sketch of the second Spadina House built in 1836. The drawing first appeared in the Evening Telegram series, “Landmarks of Toronto” in December 1888. 

1885, Spadina Collection

Spadina House in 1885, a view of the north and west facades. The porch on the west facade no longer exists and the third storey had not yet been built. Photo from the Spadina Collection.

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North and west facades of Spadina House in 1898. Photo from the Spadina Collection.

1905, Spadina Collection

View of the south facade in 1905, before the third storey was added. Photo from the Spadina Collection.

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View of Spadina House in 1915 from a tower of Casa Loma. By this year, the third storey of the house has been added. The camera is pointed to the northeast. Toronto Archives, F 1244, item 4135.

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View gazing to the northeast at the three-storey Spadina House in 1985. The palm room and veranda above it on the second storey face south. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0113049f

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The drawing room (living room or parlour) of Spadina House in 1988, one of the white marble fireplaces visible at the far end of the room. The chandeliers of cut-glass, referred to as gasoliers (gas-run chandeliers), are still in working order. They hang from the 14-foot ceiling. The doorway on the far-left leads to the library, which was originally (in 1866) the dining room. Public Library tspa 0113051f. 

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View of the drawing room in 2018, the large window facing south. The doorway on the extreme right-hand side leads to the palm room.

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(Left photo) Ornate crown moulding above the green wallpaper in the drawing room, and in the right-hand photo, one of the gasoliers (chandeliers) with a fancy plaster medallion above it.

palm room 2    palm room 3

The palm room on the south side of the house. It is accessed from the drawing room and on its south side are doors leading to the outdoor terrace.

grand staircase

Grand staircase in the entrance hall that gives access to the second floor. The doorway at the foot of the stairs leads to an enclosed sunlit porch that was added to the house c. 1905.

stuufed wolf, outside porch

One of the stuffed wolves in the enclosed porch. Behind it is where the south-facing doorway was located in 1866, prior to the porch being built.

 

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                   View of the grand staircase from the entrance hall.

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The dining room in Spadina House, in an addition built by Albert and Mary. A large gas fireplace is at the far (north) end of the room. A thick red curtain covers the doorway where the servants entered to serve meals.

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                View of the grand staircase from the second floor.

upstairs blie room

   Second-storey sitting room (blue room) at the top of the grand staircase.

Mrs. Austin's bedroom  2

The bedroom of Mrs. Austin on the second floor level. Originally, Albert and Mary shared the same bedroom, but later, Albert slept in a separate bedroom.

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The kitchen on the ground floor, located beside the family’s formal dining room.

cupboard in kitchen

The kitchen cupboard containing products employed in preparing the meals for the family. 

wood stove kitchen   stoves, kitchen

(left) The wood stove in the kitchen that has gas burners atop it, and (right) a gas stove.

servant bedroom , 3rd floor

A servants bedroom on the third floor of Spadina House. The Austins had a household staff of five: a gardener, a chauffeur, two maids and a cook.

                     telephone cupboard

The small telephone room was in a former cupboard in the first-floor hallway. It was insulated with felt to muffle the voices of people who felt that they must shout into the device to make themselves heard. Many people today do the same thing when talking in public on their IPhones. On the table is a Toronto phone book from the 1920s.

Mrs. Austin's bathroom   

The Austin’s bathroom, which has a small gas burner to warm the shaving cream of the Austin men.

shaving cream warmer

     Small gas burner in the bathroom to warm men’s shaving cream.

bill. room 4

The billiard room on the ground floor, with a cork floor surrounding it to give the players better traction when playing.

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The billiard room in 1988, the cork floor around the table evident. Photo Toronto Public Library, tspa 0113050.

billard room 3

The billiard room, designed by the popular 19th-century architect W.C. Vaux Chadwick, the influence of the Art Nouveau movement evident. The murals on the upper portion of the walls depict birds, trees and a colourful sky. They were painted by interior decorator Gustav Hahn, who pioneered Art Nouveau in Canada. 

billard room

             The murals and stuffed animals in the billiard room.

built 1913

   Greenhouse with its Gothic-style entranceway, built in 1913.

garage     barn, then coach house, gardiner's cottage 1909

(Left photo) The garage with chauffer’s quarters on the second floor, built in 1909.  (right-hand photo) An outbuilding that was first a barn, then a coach house and finally, in 1909, renovated to create a cottage for the gardener.

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View looking west from under the wrought iron and glass “porte-cochère” (canopy) designed by Carrere and Hastings. It protected guests and family members that arrived by vehicles from the weather.

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               The east facade (rear) of Spadina House in 2014.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

              Books by the Blog’s Author

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb_[2]  

“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. 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.

 

                         cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

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:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

                  image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear 

 

 Toronto: Then and Now®

“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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

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Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto (history)

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The Church of the Holy Trinity, located in Trinity Square in downtown Toronto, is located on the west side of today’s busy Eaton Centre.  When the church was built in 1847, Henry Scadding, author of “Toronto of Old” (published in 1873), stated that just ten years prior to its consecration, the land to the south of the church was “fields,” and to the north of the church were swamps and dense forest. The area where the church was eventually erected was referred to as Macaulay’s Fields, as it is where the Macaulay family had built their home.

The history of the Church of the Holy Trinity commenced when Bishop Strachan, who is today buried in St. James Cathedral on King Street East, received a donation of 5000 pounds sterling to build and maintain a church in Toronto. Conditions were attached to the funds—it was to be named the Church of the Holy Trinity, the seats were to be forever free and not designated for the use of a specific person. The terms also stipulated that 3000 pounds were to be spent on the building and 2000 pounds on an investment for the incumbent clergyman that would be appointed. The land for the church was donated by James Simcoe Macaulay. His house was relocated a short distance to the north to accommodate the site for the church.

Henry Scadding wrote in 1873 in “Toronto of Old” page 290: “The church with its twin towers, now seen in the middle space of Trinity Square, was a gift of benevolence to Canada West in 1846 from two ladies, sisters. The personal character of Bishop Strachan was the attraction that drew the boon to Toronto.” Note: Scadding did not identify the names of the sisters.

Eric Arthur states in, “Toronto—No Mean City,” (page 84): “It was not until 1898 that the donor was known to be Mrs. Mary Lambert Swale of Settle, near Ripon, in Yorkshire.” It was said that she attended a talk given by Bishop Strachan, when he visited England. Strachan spoke about his work in the frontier province, and that he had written letters that were being circulated. Apparently Mary Swale was dismayed at the exclusive pew-holding system at St. James Cathedral. Eric Arthur states that she arranged for the money to be sent to the city to build the Church of the Holy Trinity.

However, there appears to be some doubt about Arthur’s assertion. A reader of this  blog, who has a personal connection to the church, emailed me to provide a different version of events. He states that his research indicated that Mrs. Swale died in childbirth in 1845, and that it was her husband who informed Bishop Strachan that he had funds, “from a friend who wished to remain anonymous.” However, Mary had a sister, Ellen Elizabeth. Henry Scadding stated that it was two sisters who donated the money. Thus, part of the credit for funding Holy Trinity belongs to Mrs. Swale’s sister, Ellen Elizabeth. 

 During the years ahead, money from the Swale family continued to support the church. The following is another quote from Eric Arthur’s book, “Toronto—No Mean City.”  “Money provided silver sacramental plate for public use and smaller service for private ministrations, a large supply of fair linen, a covering of Genoa velvet for the altar, and surplice for the clergy.” (page 84)

Bishop Strachan hired Henry Bower Lane as the architect for Holy Trinity. He had designed a section of Osgoode Hall, as well as Little Trinity Church on King Street East. Henry Bower Lane had been a pupil of Sir Charles Barry, the designer of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster in London.

The Church of the Holy Trinity was constructed in the Gothic style, its interior in the form of a cruciform, the altar visible regardless of where parishioners were seated. The structure’s facades were of yellow bricks from the Don Valley brickyards, and timbers that were cut from the nearby forests. Its main entrance faced west, with an impressive Gothic doorway with a large window above it. Two towers were built on the northwest and southwest corners of the west facade. The slate tiles for the roof arrived in Canada as ballast in sailing ships.

Because the seating in Holy Trinity was free, the church received no funds pew rentals and was reliant on the endowment provided by the Swale family. Bishop Strachan appointed his young chaplain, Henry Scadding, who was employed as a classics master at Upper Canada College, to be the church’s incumbent clergyman. Scadding remained its rector until 1875. He died in 1901.

When Holy Trinity was consecrated on October 27, 1847, Bishop Strachan invited poor families of the Church of England faith to make the new church their spiritual home. This was not an attempt to restrict the parishioners to those of humble means, but rather to fulfill the terms attached to the donation. It was the first Anglican church in Toronto to have free pews. At the time, most churches charged pew rental fees. The cost of a pew at St. James Cathedral was prohibitive for those lacking a decent income.

In 1849, a fire swept along King Street that severely damaged the church of St. James. While it was being rebuilt, many of the parishioners from St. James worshipped at Holy Trinity, including Lord Elgin, Governor General of the Province of Canada. This ended in 1850, when the new St. James was consecrated.

From the mid 1800s, Holy Trinity was known as a church associated with the “Catholic Revival” in the Church of England, which sought inspiration from the Medieval days. It was viewed by some as a purer faith, as it applied more formality to the services than other churches. However, this was coupled with a  keen sense of social responsibility, a commitment that was intensified when the Rev. John Frank became rector in the 1930s.  It was he who introduced the pageant of the “Christmas Story,” a tradition that continues to this day.

When the $200 million Eaton Centre was originally planned, it encompassed 15 acres, which included the land where the church was located. The developers wished to demolish the church and include the land within the Centre. The congregation refused to sell, and the Eaton Centre was forced to build around the structure, thus preserving this historic church and two other building (Scadding House and the church rectory).

The Church of the Holy Trinity is today well recognized for its outreach program, which ministers to the needs of people in the inner city. It is a unique congregation with roots in Toronto’s past, but well aware of the people’s needs today.

 

Macaulay-estate-1845--pictures-r-564[2]

Map of 1845 depicts what is today Trinity Square. In that era, it was a section of the estate of The Hon. John Simcoe Macaulay, part of Park Lot #9, granted to him by Lieu. Governor Simcoe in 1797. The property was referred to as Macaulay’s Fields. The map shows the large house that he named Teraulay, a grand residence, even though he referred to it as his “country cottage.” The map shows the  gardens (that included an orchard), a poultry house, stables and wood shed. The map also reveals that a carriageway connected the house with Yonge Street, to the east. Jeremy Street was later renamed Louisa Street, which has disappeared from the city scene. The eastern part of it was absorbed into the Eaton Centre. Teraulay Street became Bay Street. Macaulay Fields became Trinity Square after the Church of the Holy Trinity was erected.

Teraulay Town, on the southwest corner of the map, eventually became essentially slums. They were demolished to allow the construction of the City Hall (today referred to as the Old City Hall) that opened in 1899. The map is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-5646.

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Sketch of the interior of Holy Trinity in 1850. Toronto Public Library, r-538.

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Nave and sanctuary of the Church of the Holy Trinity in 1868. Toronto Public Library, r- 505.

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The camera is pointed west toward Trinity Square from near Yonge Street, in 1875. The street was formerly the carriageway that connected Macaulay’s house (Teraulay) with Yonge Street. Church of the Holy Trinity is in Trinity Square, and on the right-hand side of the photo is the parsonage, residence of the minister of the church. Toronto Public Library, r- 469.

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The Church of the Holy Trinity in 1884. Toronto Public Library, r- 504.

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View of the south facade of Holy Trinity in 1908. In the foreground workers are beginning construction of an Eaton’s warehouse. Toronto Public Library r 1461. 

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            Holy Trinity in 1913. Toronto Public Library r 536.

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View looking east in 1936 at the carriageway that connects Trinity Square with Yonge Street. The building in the foreground is the rectory. To the east of it is Scadding House, the home of Dr. Henry Scadding, when it was on its original location. To build the Eaton Centre, Scadding House was moved 150 feet to the west. Toronto Archives r 5724.

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View of Trinity Square in 1972, before construction of the Eaton Centre. The view looks east towards Yonge Street, where the marquee of the Imperial Theatre (now the Ed Mirvish Theatre) is visible. Behind the church is the Parochial Building (now demolished) and the Rectory. The large Eaton warehouse is to the south (right-hand) side of the image. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0110944. 

                               tspa_0109997 relocating Scadding House, 1974  [1]

Relocating Scadding House in 1974. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0109997.

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This dramatic watercolour was painted in 1975, the view looking northwest from Queen Street West, near Louisa Street. It depicts the construction site for the Eaton Centre. Scadding House is on its present-day site, having been relocated 150 feet west from its original location. To the right of the church is the rectory. Eaton’s warehouses are in the background. Toronto Public Library, 977-51-1.

1987.--tspa_0110945f1_thumb2

Trinity Square in 1987, the Eaton Centre having been completed in 1979. Behind the church the roof of Scadding House is visible. To the left of the church is the rectory. On the far left (west) of the church is the immense parking garage of the Eaton Centre. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0110945.

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(left)The restored Scadding House in 1987, the rectory visible in the background. The Eaton Centre is to the immediate east of the house. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0110949. (right) Scadding House in 2013.

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Facade of the Church, with its Gothic facade and twin towers in 2013.

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The Gothic doorway on the west side (left), and the stained-glass window above it (right).

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            Gothic windows, view from the interior of the church.

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                                  Ceiling of the church in 2013.

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              Interior view of the Church of the Holy Trinity in 2013.

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The church today remains a quiet sanctuary in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Sources of In formation: Pamphlet provided to visitors to the Church of the Holy Trinity — Eric Arthur’s book, “Toronto—No Mean City,” University of Toronto Press, published 1964 — Henry Scadding, “Toronto of Old.” Oxford University Press, published 1873 — Frederick H. Armstrong, “Toronto,” produced in cooperation with the Toronto Historical Society, 1983.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

              Books by the Blog’s Author

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb  

“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. 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.

 

                         cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

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:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

                  image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear 

 

 Toronto: Then and Now®

“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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

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Gibraltar Point Lighthouse — Hanlan’s Point

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                  Gibraltar Point lighthouse at Hanlan’s Point, Toronto Islands

Recently I dined at a restaurant located atop one of the city’s towering skyscrapers that overlooks Toronto Harbour. The ever-changing panorama was mesmerizing. The dazzling pinpoints of light from the downtown buildings illuminated the darkness, their brilliance augmented by the many streams of red and white from the myriad of cars snaking along the Gardiner Expressway, Front Street, and the Lakeshore Road.

I tried to imagine the same harbour scene during the last decade of the 18th century, when it would have been enveloped in almost total darkness. The few flickering candles in the windows of the small cabins clustered around the eastern side of the harbour would not have been visible from my modern-day perch. Thankfully, we have a first-hand account of how the islands and the harbour area appeared in those long-ago decades.

In May 1793, Mrs. Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of Lieutenant Governor Simcoe, arrived in Toronto. After the tents, which were to be her home for the forthcoming months, were set-up beside the lake, she commenced exploring, recording and sketching the environs of the settlement. Elizabeth wrote: “We rode on the peninsula opposite Toronto, so I called the spit of land, for it is united to the mainland by a very narrow neck of ground.”

The peninsula is today known as the Toronto Islands, as in later years it was separated from the mainland by a fierce storm that washed away the sandbar at the eastern end of the harbour. How did the peninsula appear in the 1790s?

Elizabeth described it as having “. . . natural meadows and ponds, its poplar trees covered with wild vines, the ground where everlasting peas of purple colour were creeping in abundance, and where wild lilies-of-the-valley grew.” She discovered the sands bordering the open lake, and referred to these as, “my favourite sands.” She visited them time and time again “. . . praising the sweep of the wild fresh air, riding on the hard white surface, watching the antics of unnumbered wild fowl, and listening to the cry of the loons.” The peninsula [today’s Toronto Islands] was reached by boat, a mile across the bay when parties would land on Hanlan’s Point [its modern name]. Elizabeth added, “The Governor thinks the manner in which the sand banks are formed that they are capable of being fortified, he therefore calls it ‘Gibraltar Point’.”

Governor Simcoe thought that the land at the mouth of the harbour was as strategically important to Toronto as the rock that stands guard at Gibraltar, at the entrance to the Mediterranean. Thus, a carriage route was cut along the peninsula to connect the mainland to Gibraltar Point. It later evolved into Lake Shore Avenue, the main east-west axis along today’s Centre Island.

The small colonial town continue to develop. “The bay front and harbour, where it all began, and which for any years the main depot of transportation, was growing in wharves and landing stages. The first to be built was the landing of military stores at the garrison, [and soon] were added added Peter, John and Church Streets.” (Katherine Hale, “Toronto, Romance of a Great City,” Cassell and Company Limited, 1956),

It quickly became evident that it was important to assist ships to enter the harbour safely, to unload their goods at the newly-built wharves. “In 1799, Peter Hunter arrived as the new Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. . . he instructed that a lighthouse be constructed on Gibraltar Point, built of limestone quarried in Queenston.” (Frederick H. Armstrong, “Toronto, The Place of Meeting,” Ontario Historical Society Windsor Publication, published 1983.)

In 1803 an act was passed by the Provincial Legislature for the establishment of lighthouses. One of them was on Gibraltar Point. According to the act “. . . a fund for the erection and maintenance of such lighthouses was to be formed by levying three-pence per ton on every vessel, boat, raft, or other craft of the burthen of ten tons and upward shall be liable to pay any lighthouse duty . . .”

“. . . a lighthouse was begun at the point of York . . . the Mohawk was employed in bringing over stone for the purpose from Queenston; and that Mr. John Thompson, still living in 1873, was engaged in the actual erection of the building . . . (“Toronto of Old,” Henry Scadding).

In the decade when the lighthouse was being built, “The peninsula in front of York was plentifully stocked with goats, the offspring of a small colony established by order of Peter Hunter at Gibraltar Point for the sake, for one thing, of the supposed salutary nature of the whey of goat’s milk. These animals were dispersed during the War of 1812-1815.” (“Toronto of Old,” Henry Scadding).

The lighthouse was completed in 1808, the walls six-feet thick at its base. It was “a hexagon tapered tower, 52 feet high, on a six-sided oaken crib, with a wooden lantern cage 18 feet high above the stonework. In 1832, a perpendicular addition of stone atop the tapered tower increased the height of the lighthouse by 12 feet, making it 82 feet to the vane. The lantern cage was later replaced by an iron one, when a change was made from a fixed light, burning 200 gallons of whale oil a year, to a revolving occulting light of greater power, operated by a clockwork mechanism.” (Source: “Historic Toronto, Toronto Civic Historical Committee, February 1953.”).

The first lighthouse keeper, J. P. Rademuller, a German who had immigrated to Upper Canada. He kept watch at Gibraltar Point for enemy ships and friendly vessels returning to a safe harbour at York. He was in residence at the lighthouse during the Battle of York in 1813, when American ships invaded the town of York.

The lighthouse was in a secluded location, and its glowing beacon was easy to spot. As a result, it became a focal point for smugglers that wished to avoid taxes on imported goods, particularly alcohol. Some sources state that it was common knowledge that Rademuller kept a supply of home-brewed ale in his home beside the lighthouse. John Paul Rademuller disappeared under mysterious circumstances on January 2, 1815. It was alleged that he had been murdered by two soldiers who had been enjoying his home-brewed beer. They were arrested but eventually set free as there was insufficient evidence—Rademuller’s body was never found.

One version of the story states that Rademuller was killed after the soldiers bought the beer, but complained that its alcoholic content was low as it had become frozen during the cold winter weather. They felt that the lighthouse keeper was trying to rip them off. Whether or not this was true, most sources agree that Rademuller was killed that night and dismembered by his killers, who buried his body parts in various graves near the lighthouse. His ghost is said to still haunt the site.

The story of the murder was recorded by John Ross Robertson in his book, “Landmarks of Toronto”, written in 1908, and it has become a source for ghost stories ever since. But Robertson raises scepticism that the event ever occurred. He admitted that he had learned the details from the current lighthouse keeper in the 1870s, George Durnan, who had apparently gone looking for a body and had dug up a coffin containing a jawbone. Despite this, the historic plaque on the lighthouse mentions the ghost story and the jawbone, although many historians thought that this was not appropriate as it was not a proven fact. (For a link to discover more information about the murder,   https://torontoist.com/2017/08/spooky-story-behind-gibraltar-point-lighthouse, and spacing.ca/toronto/2015/04/30/true-story-torontos-island-ghost/ )

Image cropped and thumbnail updated April 2011

The painting on the left entitled, “View of York,” c. 1815,” is by Robert Irvine, and is today in the collection of the AGO. The painting depicts the lighthouse on Gibraltar Point in 1815. Irving was captured in September of 1813, during the War of 1812, and released from an American prison in September 1814. After the war, he was employed by the military and lived in York until 1817. In April 1830, records reveal that he was residing in Scotland. (Source: “Government of Fire,” Frank A. Dieterman and Ronald F. Williamson, Archaeological Services, 2001).

When completed, the lighthouse was the tallest structure in the city and remained so for nearly 50 years. Its power source was switched to coal-oil in 1863 and, then, to electric in 1916. The lighthouse still stands, but it no longer guides ships as it did for over a hundred years. It is still on Gibraltar Point, although because of the silt that has built-up over the years, the tower is now about 100 meters from the water’s edge. It was decommissioned in 1958, and is Toronto’s oldest building situated on its original foundation.

 

1894  sketch pictures-r-450[1]

Sketch of the lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper’s cottage in 1894. Toronto Public Library, r-450.

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Undated sketch of the lighthouse from the book “Historic Toronto,” by the Toronto Historical Society, published in 1953. Today, the structure is no longer at the edge of the water. Because of the silt that has been deposited on the shoreline, it is 100 metres from the water.

off Gibral. Point 1884  Tor. Pub. 987-10-2[1]

Watercolour depicting ships off Gibraltar Point in 1894. Toronto Public Library 987-10-2 

                 Ont. Archives 1915

        Gibraltar Point Lighthouse in 1915. Ontario Archives F-4336.

f1231_it1015b[1] 1909

View gazing west at the lighthouse on Gibraltar Point in 1919, with private summer cottages lining the shoreline. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, item 10156.

1940, Toro Pub. I0013724[2]

               Lighthouse in 1940, Toronto Public Library, 10013724.

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View from the base, where the stones are six-feet thick. Photo taken in 2010.

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Door that opens to the steps to ascend to the top of the lighthouse. The door faces east.

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                                      Historic plaque on the lighthouse

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Top of the structure where the lamp was located. The stones for the top of the towering lighthouse were quarried in Kingston.

                       DSCN0622

  Limestone base of the tower, the stones brought across the lake from Queenston.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

              Books by the Blog’s Author

 DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2  

“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. 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.

 

                         cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

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:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

 

 

 Toronto: Then and Now®

“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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , ,

Lost Toronto — by Doug Taylor

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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.

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

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

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.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

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

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–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, tayloronhistory.com, 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

 

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History of Toronto’s Black Bull Tavern

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The Black Bull, 298 Queen St. West, northeast corner of Soho and Queen Streets. This photo was taken prior to the renovations in 2012.

The sign attached to the south side of the Black Bull Tavern states that it was established in 1833. Sources differ on the year the tavern opened, some stating the year 1833 and others 1838. Whichever date is accurate, it is undoubtedly one of the oldest watering holes in the city. However, it cannot claim to be the oldest continually serving tavern in Toronto as for several decades the building was not employed as ale house. The Wheat Sheaf at King and Bathurst outranks the Black Bull in this regard.

When the Black Bull opened in the 1830s, the structures surrounding it on Queen Street were of modest height (one or two storeys), constructed  of wood, many of them covered with stucco. Further west along the street, buildings diminished in number until there were only open fields and stands of timber. No one could ever have imagined the eclectic, colourful Queen West that exists today.

In the 1830, the Black Bull was typical of the structures of the period — a wood-frame, two-storey building, with a steep-pitched roof. The main doorway was located at the southwest corner of the premises, allowing patrons to enter from either Queen or Soho Streets, as the tavern was on the northeast corner of the intersection of these two avenues. The large door on the west side accommodated overnight guests staying in the rooms on the second floor.

Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto, published in 1894 (Volume 1, page 457) states: “York was a hospitable place in the old days, for the places of entertainment in every section of town were very much more numerous, when compared to the population, than they are now.” The Black Bull was, “a favourite stopping place for farmers on their way to town from the west and north-west.”

For many, the tavern was central to the life of the community, which was continually increasing in size, as dwellings were being constructed to the north and south of busy, commercial Queen Street. Food and necessities for the homes were purchased on Queen Street, supplemented by two markets within easy walking distance — St. Patrick’s and St. Andrew’s Markets. It was common for shoppers to visit the Black Bull on market days.

c. 1835  Toro. Pub. Lib. b1-70b[1]

Illustration is from Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto (Volume 1, Toronto: J. Ross Robertson’s Toronto Landmarks, 1894). A swinging sign, a wooden water trough, and pump are beside the establishment, on Soho Street.

1912  pictures-r-238[1]

Sketch of the Black Bull c. 1912. It would appear it was inspired by the previous sketch. Toronto Public Library, r-238.

In 1861, the owner of the Black Bull added a third storey with a Mansard roof. During this year, patrons in the pub hotly debated the merits of confederation with the other North American British colonies. In 1885, an extension was constructed on the tavern’s north side, on Soho Street. This was the year of the Northwest Rebellion, when John A. Macdonald sent troops to western Canada to quell the Northwest Rebellion. In 1895, the establishment possessed 50 guest rooms. In 1910, the Black Bull was again extensively renovated, a red-brick cladding employed to encase the entire building. In this year, King Edward VII died, said to be the most popular British monarch since the mid-seventeenth century.

Sometime after the turn of the 20th century, the Black Bull’s name was changed to the Clifton House and it continued to serve the public for several decades under this name. However, it reverted back to its historic name, the Black Bull, in 1977. It appears that in this decade, it had a dubious reputation, the police sometimes summonsed to restore order. In April 2011, Toronto firefighters battled a three-alarm blaze that started in one of the upper rooms. Fortunately, it was contained.

The latest and most popular addition to the Black Bull is the patio, on its west side on Soho Street. It opened c. 1981, and is one of the most popular outdoor drinking venues in the city.

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  Google map, 2017 depicting the location of the Black Bull on Queen Street West.

Today, the pub is an attractive Second Empire style red-brick building, with yellow-brick pilasters (three-sided columns) on the west side of the 1885-addition. The main door, which at one time was at the corner, has been relocated to the Queen Street side. The slate-rock tiles on the roof survived until 2011, but were painted yellow.

During the restoration in 2012, the Mansard roof and third-floor windows were renovated, and the slate tiles were replaced with asphalt tiles. The pattern of the tiles was the same as the earlier ones of slate. Though not authentic, they are more in keeping with the original appearance of the building as they are slate coloured.

ca1895-black-bull-vs[1]

A postcard sent c. 1895 from the Black Bull. It was likely obtained from the check-in desk of the tavern. The message was on the reverse side of the card, which is addressed to S. David of 45 Sullivan Street, one block north of Queen. The card gives the room rates and states that the hotel possessed 50 rooms.  The telephone number has only 4 digits. Because there is no postage stamp on the card, it is possible that it was delivered by a member of the staff of the hotel, as the address was only a five-minute walk away. Card is from the Baldwin Collection of the Toronto Public Library.

Corner of Soho St. and Queen St., looking north-east

The Black Bull in 1972, when it was named the Clifton House. Toronto Archives, S 0841, Fl 0048, Item 0026.

Queen St W., northeast corner at Soho St – September 27, 1981

The tavern in 1981, when the roof tiles were painted yellow. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, fl 0048, item 0026.

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  Yellow-brick pilasters (three-sided pillars) on the west wall of the Black Bull

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        # 3 Soho, attached to the north side of the Black Bull pub

Attached to the north end of the Black Bull is #3 Soho Street, a building that matches the brickwork of the pub. However, it is in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, with heavy stone blocks at its base and Roman arches above the windows and door. The most famous civic building constructed in this style is Toronto’s Old City Hall. 

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           A PCC streetcar passing the Black Bull in April of 2012.

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Mansard roof on the south side of the Black Bull (prior to renovations)

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The old angled doorway is now a window (left side of photo) and the modern doorway faces Queen Street 

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West side of the Black Bull, with the popular sidewalk patio. This photo was taken prior to the restoration, the original slate tiles on the roof painted yellow.

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                The patio of the Black Bull on a hot summer night.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

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.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

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

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

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history of the National Club, Bay Street

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The National Club on the east side of Bay Street, during Doors Open Toronto (2015) 

Toronto is today one of the world’s most multi-cultural cities. However, before the waves of immigrants arrived following the Second World War, most Torontonians considered their city to be a loyal outpost of the British Empire. In that era, cultures that were different from those of Great Britain were viewed with suspicion. The majority of Canadians believed that their national identity was best expressed in terms of loyalty to the Mother Country. This idea was also prevalent in the latter decades of the 19th century, although there were some who preferred the ways of the republic to the south.

In 1868, the Canada First Movement was a formed to generate continued support for the sentiment that Canadian identity was best promoted through British Protestant ideas. Prominent Toronto citizens who supported the ideas of the Canada First Movement were H. J. Morgan, Charles Mair, R. J. Haliburton, G. T. Denison, and W. A. Foster. Edward Blake, Ontario’s second premier, was also a prominent member. 

The National Club was created in 1874, intended as a place for members of the Canada First Movement to meet. It was located at 98 Bay Street, near the site of Toronto’s original Stock Exchange, near King and Bay. It included a library, receptions rooms, smoking rooms, and several dining rooms. However in 1875, Edward Blake joined the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie, Canada’s second prime minister and leader of the nation’s first Liberal government. After Blake went to Ottawa, support for the Canada First Movement dissipated. Adding to its demise was the movement’s inability to make its platform acceptable to French Canadians.

Adjusting to the new circumstances, the National Club became a non-political organization, though many of its members were supporters of the Liberal Party. During the years ahead, it enlarged its membership and prospered as a private social club for business professionals. By the first decade of the 20th century, more spacious premises were required. It was proposed that the club relocate to a site further north, at 303 Bay Street, near the corner of Richmond and Bay Streets.

The new building opened in 1907, its architect S. George Curry of the firm, Curry, Sproatt and Rolph. The structure’s four-storey, red-brick facade contained generous stone trim, especially on the ground-floor level. Built in the Neo-Georgian style, its appearance was formal, somewhat resembling a grand home such as might be found in Rosedale. Its large portico was supported by impressive Doric-style columns. The large bay windows on the lower three floors allowed plenteous light to enter the rooms within. When it was built, its domestic-like appearance was viewed as appropriate as the club possessed over-night accommodations; it was a “home away from home” for some of its members.

When it was opened, it complemented the surrounding structures, as in that decade the northern part of Bay Street contained mostly commercial blocks of two or three storeys, interspersed with churches and modest residential properties. Today, the street has changed greatly, and the club is nestled among high-rise structures of glass and steel.

Women were first admitted to the club in 1992, and currently make up approximately 15 per cent of the membership. A few years ago, on the roof of the club, a 3000 square-foot patio was added, one of the largest of those belonging to the private clubs in downtown Toronto. The National Club has an extensive wine cellar, which is said to contain about 40,000 bottles. The club often features theme nights, such as oyster or martini parties. The premises is exclusively for members from Monday to Friday, but guests are able to rent various spaces on weekends. On these occasions, its dining rooms host private events for families and businessmen. It is also a popular venue for wedding receptions. Revenues from the rentals help defray the annual costs of maintaining the historic building, which can be as much as $200,000 a year.

The National Club remains one of the most prestigious clubs in Toronto, its rivals being the Toronto Club, Albany Club and University Club. I was fortunate in being able to view the interior of the club during “Doors Open Toronto.”

The author is grateful for the informatio0n provided by: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on…national-club/article25484992 and www.blogto.com/…/six_private_member_clubs_in_toronto_you_probably_dont_wan..

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  Painting of the club (c. 1907) designed by S. George Curry. The buildings on either side of it are of less height.

             c. 1909  urbantoronto-3665-10636[1]

The National Club at 303 Bay Street in 1909. Photo, urbantoronto 36-65-10636

            1969, Tor. Star. tspa_0111539f[1]

The National Club in 1969, the view from the west side of Bay Street. Photo, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0111539.

               1978, Toronto Star, tspa_0110248f[1]

The National Club in 1978, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0110248

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The impressive portico and main entrance to the club on Bay Street.

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The entrance hall of the National Club, view from the doorway.

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  The mosaic tile on the floor of the entrance hall of the club.

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       Staircase from the entrance hall to the second floor.

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                       Meeting room on the second floor.

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    Group of chairs on the left-hand side of the fireplace.

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                 Space for receptions and special events.

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Area on the 4th floor that provides access to the outdoor patio.

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            An area for club members to relax, read or chat.

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                               Hallway in the National Club.

National Club, May 23, 2015

The National Club on May 23, 2016. View gazes northeast on Bay Street.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

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.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

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

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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Enoch Turner School (Ward School)

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The historic Enoch Turner schoolhouse in December, 2016. The view gazes southwest on Trinity Street, a short distance south of King Street East.

Today, the historic building, which once housed the first free school in Toronto, appears lonely and rather out of place as the excited voices and boisterous activities of children have long since vacated the scene. Located at 106 Trinity Avenue, the restored building is a short distance south of Queen Street East. When it opened in 1849, it was a breakthrough in the educational life of the city.

In the 1840s, Toronto was young, having been incorporated a mere 15 years before the school opened. In that decade, immigrants continued to arrive daily, many of them from Ireland, where the potato crop had failed, creating economic hardship and severe famine. When they reached Toronto, most families were too poor to afford an education for their children. This meant that for their entire lives they would likely be confined to low-paying jobs involving manual labour. One of Toronto’s prominent citizens, Enoch Turner, stepped in alleviate the situation by providing funds to open and operate a school that was free to attend.  

Enoch Turner was a successful businessman who earned his living as a brewer. Born in 1792 in Staffordshire, England, he arrived to the city about the year 1831. He established a brewery on Taddle Creek, where today the intersection of Front and Parliament Streets is located. Turner had earned a reputation as man with a strong social conscience. It was said that at his brewery he employed ex-slaves that had fled north from the United States. In 1832, a disastrous fire destroyed much of his brewery, but his reputation was such that his fellow citizens stepped in to assist him to rebuild. This was accomplished by having the York Circus give a benefit performance.

By the mid-1840s, he was once more prospering, and in 1845, he provided funds for the free school on Trinity Street. The property was owned by Little Trinity Anglican Church, located on the southwest corner of Trinity and King Street East. Turner was a benefactor of the church and well known by the church’s elders. The site for the school, which they named the Ward School, was immediately south of the church.

It is not known definitively who Turner hired to design the schoolhouse, but it is generally thought to be Henry Bower Lane, as two years previously, he had been the architect of Little Trinity Church. The school was a one-storey, red-brick building in the simple Gothic revival-style. The narrow peaked windows were trimmed with stone. Yellow bricks were inserted at the corners of the structure, around the doorway on Trinity Street, and in a solid multi-brick row near the roofline.

There’s some debate about when the Toronto Board of Education was founded, but it is thought to be in 1850 as this is the year that legislation was adopted in Canada West (Ontario) to create municipally funded education. The following year, the Toronto Board of Education assumed responsibility for educating the children of Toronto. The Ward School was taken over by the board and renamed Trinity School. However, it closed in 1859 when the public school relocated to a more spacious location. The ownership of the old school and the property on Trinity Street now reverted to Little Trinity Church.

In 1869, Little Trinity Church added an extension on the building’s west side (the West Hall), designed by the noted Toronto architectural firm of Gundry and Langley. It was one of the earliest commissions of Henry Langley, when he was in partnership with Thomas Gundry. Langley eventually became one of the most influential 19th-century architects in Ontario, designing the Metropolitan Methodist (United) Church at 56 Queen Street East, McMaster Hall at 273 Bloor Street West, and the Bank of British North America at Yonge and Wellington.   

Until the 1960s, the former school building was employed as the Sunday school and Parish Hall for Little Trinity Church. Near the turn of the century, in 1899, it was a recruitment centre for enlisting troops for the Boer War. During World Wars I and II, it was a recreation centre for serviceman training in Toronto that were distant from their homes. In the Great Depression it was employed as a soup kitchen, serving 1500 people a week. After the war, in the 1950s, it was the church’s neighbourhood youth clubhouse. In 1961, temporary services were held in it after a disastrous fire in the church. When Little Trinity was restored, the former school became a cultural centre for the community, featuring  concerts, youth programs, and the visual arts.

By the 1970s the structure was badly in need of repairs and it was feared that it might be demolished. Thanks to architect Eric Arthur, who wrote “No Mean City,” a group was formed to raise funds for its restoration. It was successful. Governor General Roland Michener officially opened it as an historic site and museum in 1972. It is today one of the oldest, continuously operated buildings in Toronto. Now owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust, it is employed as a museum, conference space, and special events venue.

 

The author is indebted to the following sources for much of the information. 

http://www.lostrivers.ca/content/points/enochturner.html

https://enochturnerschoolhouse.ca

www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/enoch-turner-schoolhouse

www.theworldofgord.com/2011/10/enoch-turner-schoolhouse.html

1953, pictures-r-2817[1]

View of the east facade at 106 Trinity Street in 1953. The West Hall is visible at the rear of the building. Photo was taken prior to its restoration. Toronto Public Library, r- 2817.

1956,  pictures-r-2820[1]

View of the school looking northwest on Trinity Street in 1956. On the north side of the school is the south (rear) portion of Little Trinity Church. Toronto Public Library, r- 2820.

Series 1465, File 676, Item 38

View looking west on Trinity Street in 1990. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, fl0676, item 0038.

Series 1465, File 676, Item 36

Gazing south on Trinity Street toward the lake in 1991. Lake Ontario and the Gardiner Expressway are behind the buildings at the end of the street. The schoolhouse is on the west side of the street, in the foreground. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, Fl 0676, item 0036.

Series 1465, File 651, Item 33

Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in 1991. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, Fl 0651, item 0033.

www.theworldofgord.com   007[1]

Undated photo of the interior of the school. Photo from www.worldofgord .

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Gazing north on Trinity Street toward King Street East in December 2016. The shops on the north side of King Street are visible.

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View of the east facade, revealing the yellow bricks on the corners of the structure and around the doorway. The windows are trimmed with stone.

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The north facade of the original building in 2016, the east side of Trinity Street visible in the background.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

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.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

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

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

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Edward Leadlay’s home (St. Felix Centre)

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Edward Leadlay’s home at 25 Augusta Avenue, Toronto on October 9, 2017.

In the 1870s, along with the rest of the world, Canada suffered an economic slump. In that decade Toronto had only 80,000 inhabitants, but among them were those who, despite the harsh economic times, managed to prosper quite well. One of them was Edward Leadlay, an English immigrant who was instrumental in establishing Standard Woollen Mills at 227 Front Street. He also owned a business that processed the by-products of sheep (tallow, lanolin, hides and wool). He had retail outlets on Queen, Crawford and Front Streets.

In 1876, he built a residence for his family at 25 Esther Street, which is now named Augusta Avenue. The home was a short distance north of Queen Street West, three streets west of Spadina Avenue. When the house was completed, it was the finest and largest residence in the entire area. The 1890 Goad’s Atlas (insurance maps) reveals that it occupied several lots, and had considerable space surrounding it. A carriage house and shed were at the rear of the property, on the east side. The home remains impressive today, but people passing it on the street might wonder why such a mansion was erected in a community where incomes were more modest than Leadlay’s. However, the site was convenient for him, since his business enterprises were within walking distance or a short carriage ride from his home.

The three-storey Leadlay house is a flamboyant example of high-Victorian architecture, possessing an eclectic mixture of Gothic, Romanesque and Italianate styles. The tower that rises above the third storey faces west and remains as grand today as when it was built. The roof of the house boasts slate tiles, and the windows facing west on the second storey have large canopies above them. The wood trim on the structure (especially on the veranda) involves intricate carpentry work accomplished with a coping saw. The rounded arches on the veranda are supported by narrow columns, the pillars of the portico having capitals that somewhat resemble those of the Corinthian-style.

Facing Augusta Avenue, on the south side of the first-floor, there is a large bay window, where either the parlour or dining room was located. The bay window allowed extra light to enter the interior space, essential in an era without electricity. The large overhanging eaves are supported by fancy modillions (brackets). Though constructed mainly of red bricks, yellow bricks are employed in the quoins at the corners of the house and in the patterns in the brickwork at the top of the tower. Today, it would be almost impossible to construct a house with such intricate detailing due to the high cost of labour.  

Leadlay died in his mansion on September 17, 1899. The house was sold to the Salvation Army in 1906, the church organization employing it as a men’s home. The residence was purchased from the Salvation Army in 1937 by the Felician Sisters, a Polish order. The house became a convent for about 25 nuns that were engaged in charity work in the community. The nuns departed, and in 1993, it became the St. Felix Centre, which continued serving the community. It became a registered charity in 2003. Since 2011, it has been a transitional home for women.

Fonds 1244, Item 3071

The Leadlay home in 1909, when it was a men’s home operated by the Salvation Army. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 3071.

                 1973.  f0124_fl0003_id0012[1]

The residence at 25 Augusta Avenue in 1973, when it was the convent of the Felician Sisters. 

1976 when photo taken. tspa_0112992f[1]

           The home in 1973, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0112992f

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The large veranda on the northwest side of the house. Visible are the intricate woodwork above the arches that support the veranda roof, and the yellow-brick quoins on the corner of the house. Photo taken in 2016.

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               The bay window and ornate portico on the west facade.

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The top of the tower, designs created by employing yellow bricks. Large brackets (modillions) are under the overly large eaves.

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                     View of the house from the southwest in October 2017.

                       image 

        View in 2017 of the residence from the west side of Augusta Avenue.

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The view looks northeast on Augusta Avenue in 2016. The Leadlay house is on the far left, the 19th century homes to the south of it more modest in style.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

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.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

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

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626194502

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)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

 

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Toronto’s historic Massey Hall

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Massey Hall, view from the northeast corner of Victoria and Shuter Streets in May 2017.

In the early-19th century, after an electrified streetcar line was built on Yonge Street, and later on Queen Street, it became apparent that the intersection of the two avenues would become very important in the commercial life of the city, since people had access to it from all points of the compass. The T. Eaton and Robert Simpson Companies realized the value of the intersection and occupied two of the busy corners.

When the St. Lawrence Hall at King Street East and Jarvis Street opened in 1850, it became the centre of the cultural and arts events of Toronto. However, by the final decades of the 19th century, Toronto’s population had increased considerably, and since the St. Lawrence Market area was increasingly viewed as less fashionable, it was evident that a new and larger concert hall was required. It was logical that the new hall be located within close proximity to Yonge and Queen Streets. As a result, Hart Massey, a wealthy industrialist, purchased property on Shuter Street in 1892 and provided funds to erect a grand concert hall. Its location was one block north of Queen Street and one block east of Yonge Street. 

Hart Massey had built his family’s company, which manufactured farm machinery and implements, into one of the largest industrial empires in the world. His eldest son, Charles Albert Massey, had died of typhoid fever in 1884. His father decided that donating a concert hall to the city was a fitting tribute to his son, who had loved playing the piano. It was to be the first concert hall in Canada to be built specifically for the performance of music.

Massey hired the Cleveland architect Sidney R. Bagley to design the hall, which cost $150,000. A local architect, George M. Miller, was engaged to supervise the construction. Miller was the architect of the Gladstone Hotel on Queen West and also the Massey Harris factory on King Street. The cornerstone for the Massey Hall was laid in 1893 and its officially opening was in June 1894. On opening night, a grand performance of Handel’s Messiah was featured.

The building’s facade was in the simple neoclassical style, its interior more ornate as it displayed Moorish influences. The highly detailed ceiling and the pillars supporting the two balconies particularly reflected the Moorish traditions. The seating capacity was originally 3500, but today, it is 2753. In 1895, the inaugural concert of the Mendelssohn was held in Massey Hall. The New Symphony Orchestra performed in the hall in April 1923, and the orchestra’s name was changed to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in 1927. The hall was the home of the now famous orchestra from 1923 until 1982, when the Roy Thomson Hall opened.

In the 1920s and 1930s, when there was an event at Massey Hall, streetcars lined Victoria Street, south of Shuter Street, awaiting the departing crowds. This was in the days when few people owned automobiles and streetcars provided the main method of travelling around the city. In 1947, when the Silver Rail at Yonge and Shuter obtained a license to serve alcohol (the first license granted in Toronto after prohibition), it became a favourite place to dine or have a drink before or after a concert in the hall.  

Throughout the many decades, Massey Hall has been host to some of the world’s most famous performers and speakers—Enrico Caruso, Winston Churchill, Booker T. Washington, Nellie McClung, Rudyard Kipling, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Two famous Canadian pianists—Oscar Peterson and Glenn Gould—both had their first performances in Massey Hall in 1946. In 1953 there was a famous jazz concert with Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Bud Powell, and Dizzy Gillespie. The 1960s Massey Hall hosted Bob Dylan, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Neil Yonge, Johnny Cash and Gordon Lightfoot.

My earliest recollections of Massey Hall are from the 1950s. When I was able to afford it, I particularly enjoyed sitting in one of the front rows of the first balcony. However, no matter where I sat, the stage seemed close at hand. I have similarly enjoyed visiting the Roy Thomson Hall, but I do not receive the same intimate feeling unless I am actually in a seat close to the stage. In Massey Hall, I always marvel at how cozy a venue it is, especially considering that it seats almost 3000 people. I believe that my affection for Massey Hall is shared by many Torontonians, as evidenced by immense line-ups to view its interior during “Doors Open Toronto,” in 2017.

I have visited Massey Hall many times, but a few events particularly stand out in my mind. In the 1950s, I participated in a brass band festival and had the opportunity to view the hall from the stage. It was an awesome sight, one I will never forget as the auditorium was filled to capacity. The hall is impressive, whether viewed from the stage or from the plush seats. In the 1970s, I saw Roger Wittaker and in 2001 and 2002, I attended the annual Christmas concert of the St. Michael’s Choir School. On one occasion I enjoyed a jazz concert that featured Winton Marsalis.

In recent years, Massey Hall has been somewhat overshadowed by the more modern Roy Thomson, now considered the city’s premier concert hall. It is interesting that when Roy Thomson Hall was being erected, it was referred to as the New Massey Hall. Later, its name officially became the Roy Thomson Hall, after a considerable donation was made by Roy Thomson, First Baron Thomson of Fleet.

Massey Hall possesses acoustics that are said to be rivalled only by Carnegie Hall in New York City. Therefore, it is good news that it is to undergo a $135 million renovation to restore it to its former glory. It will require several years to complete, so will be closed from late-summer of 2018 until the autumn of 2020. For more details, see the article by Robert Benzie in the Toronto Star on August 9, 2017. Because of its historic past and the long list of celebrities who have performed within it, many Torontonians are looking forward to its grand reopening in 2020. I wonder who will perform at the reopening concert?

Note: I am grateful for the information contained in the booklet “Massey Hall—Shine a Light,” distributed by the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall, as well as as article by Robert Benzie in the Toronto Star on August 9, 2017.

1894 Ont. Archives  I0001871[1]

The interior of Massey Hall in 1894, the view from the first balcony. Ontario Archives, 10001871.

1894, Ont. Archives  I0001870[1]

View of the hall from the stage in 1894. Visible are the Moorish influences on the auditorium’s ceiling and in the narrow pillars supporting the balconies. Ontario Archives, 10001870.

1910, SW from Shuter and Bond   f1244_it2202[1]

Gazing westward on Shutter Street from the northeast corner of Bond and Shuter in 1910. The east facade of Massey Hall on Victoria Street is visible. Toronto Archives, fl 1244, item 2202.

1910, Tor. Pub. pcr-2207[2]

Postcard printed in 1910 depicting Massey Hall, the view from the northeast corner of Shuter and Victoria Streets. The hall appears very different without the iron fire escape that today sprawls over its north facade. Toronto Public Library, pcr 2207. 

 

1912.  DSCN6122

Massey Hall in 1912, after a portico and fire escape had been added to its north facade on Shuter Street. Photo from a book published by the City of Toronto in 1912.

Fonds 1266, Item 6468

Political rally in Massey Hall for William Lyon Mackenzie King on April 23, 1925. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, item 6468.

Series 1569, File 3, Item 1

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra on stage at the Massey Hall in 1927. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1569, fl.0003, item 0001.

Fonds 1266, Item 18495

Ferguson meeting in the hall in October 1929. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, item 18495.

                              Massey Hall - view from Shuter and Victoria – April 21, 1975   

Looking east on Shuter Street from near Yonge Street in April 1975. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, fl.0042, item 0001.

Series 1465, File 305, Item 6

Gazing east on Shuter Street from the west side of Yonge Street in 1980. Massey Hall is in the background on the north side of Shuter. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, fl.0305, item 0006.

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Pediment above the north facade in 2017, the classical statues within the triangle having been removed as they were in danger of falling into the street.

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The camera is pointed east on Shuter Street in 2017, Massey Hall on the north side of the street.

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Artist’s rendering of Massey Hall when its restoration has been completed in 2020. Sketch from the booklet, “Massey Hall—Shine a Light,” distributed by the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall.

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                   Signage for Massey Hall, photos taken in May 2017.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

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.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

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

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626194502

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)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[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: torontolife.com/…/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: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

 

 

Tags: ,