Category Archives: The Palace of Bishop Strachan

Toronto’s heritage buildings and sites on


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

Toronto’s Maple Leaf Baseball Stadium

Brunswick House on Bloor Street West, now closed

Centre Island’s lost village

Demolition of the Westinghouse building on King Street West

Walker House Hotel at Front and York Streets, demolished 1976

Cyclorama on Front Street, demolished 1976

The Toronto Star Building on King Street West

Fond Memories of A&A Records on Yonge Street

Memories of Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street

Toronto’s old Land Registry Building (demolished)

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

Old Toronto Star Building on King Street West.

The Grand Opera House on Adelaide St. West

The High Park Mineral Baths

The old Dufferin Gates at the CNE

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

Toronto’s Old Registry Office Building

Centre Island’s Lost Village

Arcadian Court Restaurant in Simpsons

Toronto’s Old Customs Houses

Grand Opera House on Adelaide St. West

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

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

Ford Hotel at Bay and Dundas (demolished)

Dufferin Gates of the CNE (demolished)

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

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

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

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

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

Armouries on University Avenue (demolished)

Trinity College that once existed in Trinity Bellwoods Park

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

The Palace, the mansion of John Strachan (demolished)

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

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

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

CNE Grandstand (demolished) —History of

Maple Leaf Stadium (demolished) at Bathurst and Front Streets

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

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

Post Office—Toronto’s First

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on Dundas Street.

Ontario’s Fourth Legislative Assembly

Ontario’s First and Second Legislative Buildings

Old Mill Restaurant in the Humber Valley

Montgomery’s Inn at Dundas West and Islington Avenue

Cecil Street Community Centre near Spadina Avenue and Cecil Street

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

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

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

History of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

Boer War monument at Queen West and University Avenue

History of Toronto’s CN Tower

Gurney Stove Foundry at King West and Brant Streets

Historic Royal Alexandra Theatre on King Street

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

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Toronto’s Union Station of today that opened in 1927

Old Fort York

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

Old houses hidden behind 58-60 Spadina Avenue 

Historic Gale Building at 24-30 Spadina Avenue

Commercial block at 654-672 Queen West containing shops

Warehouse loft at 80 Spadina Avenue

The Systems Building at 40-46 Spadina Avenue

The Steele Briggs Warehouse at 49 Spadina Avenue

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

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

The Manufacturers Building at 312 Adelaide St. West

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

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

The Grange (AGO)

The Eclipse Building at 322 King Street West

The Toronto Normal School on Gould Street

The Capitol Building at 366 Adelaide Street West, near Spadina

The Reid Building at 266-270 King Street West

Mackenzie House on Bond Street

Colborne Lodge in High Park

The Church of the Redeemer at Bloor West and Avenue Road

The Anderson Building at 284 King Street West

The Lumsden Building at Yonge and Adelaide Street East

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

The Sick Children’s Hospital on University Avenue

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

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

The Oddfellows Temple at the corner of Yonge and College Streets

The Birkbeck Building at 8-18 Adelaide Street East

The Toronto Seventh Post Office at 10 Toronto St.

Former hotel at Bay and Elm streets

The 1881 block of shops on Queen near Spadina

The stone archway on Yonge Street, south of Carlton Street

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

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

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

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

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

Church of the Holy Trinity beside the Eaton Centre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ellis Building on Adelaide Street near Spadina Ave.

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

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

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

The Commodore Building at 315-317 Adelaide St. West

The Graphic Arts Building (condo) on Richmond Street

The Art Deco Victory Building on Richmond Street

The Concourse Building on Adelaide Street

The old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

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

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

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

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

The bank at Queen and Simcoe that resembles a Greek temple

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

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

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

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

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

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

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

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

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

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

Spadina Avenue – sinful, spicy and diverse

The Reading Building, a warehouse loft building on Spadina Avenue

The Darling Building on Spadina Avenue

The amazing Fashion Building on Spadina Avenue

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

The Balfour Building at 119 Spadina Avenue

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

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

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

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

Historic bank building on northeast corner of Spadina and Queen West

History of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King and Spadina

Hamburger corner – Spadina and Queen Streets

Lord Lansdowne Public School on Spadina Crescent

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

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

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

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


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

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

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

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

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

A study of Osgoode Hall

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

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

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

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

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

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

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

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

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

To view the Home Page for this blog:

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


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Toronto’s lost “Palace”

Btw. York and Simcoe, TRL. c. 1885  pictures-r-4382[1]

“The Palace,” built in 1818, was the home of the Reverend John Strachan in the town of York (Toronto). In 1839, he became the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto. The above photo is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library (r-4382).

John Strachan was born in 1778 in Aberdeen, Scotland, and educated at St. Andrew’s University, a Presbyterian institution. He immigrated to Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1799, settling in Kingston. In 1803, he converted to Anglicanism and became a priest. Appointed as the rector of the Anglican Church in Cornwall, he established a private school that eventually became the most important school in the town, educating the sons of some of the elite families in the province.

In 1812, he was invited to relocate to the town of York, as rector of St. James on King Street East. He was not impressed with the offer, but finally accepted after Sir Isaac Brock included the position of chaplaincy of the garrison and also of the Legislative Council. He moved to York in June 1812, about the same time as the United States Congress was preparing to declare war on Great Britain. Strachan was to play a leading role in events when the American troops invaded York in April 1813.

When John Strachan arrived in York, he rented housing accommodations. Unfortunately,  in February 1817, it was almost entirely destroyed by fire. Shortly after, he purchased an estate-lot the west of the town. The property was bounded by today’s York, Wellington and Front Streets, as well as University Avenue. Desirous of constructing a residence that was more resistant to fire, he contracted to have a brick house built. Today, the site of the house is on the northwest corner of University Avenue and Front Street.

Built between the years 1817 and 1818, Strachan’s home was among the first brick houses constructed in the town of York (Toronto). The house was in Georgian Style, similar to the Grange, which today is part of The Art Gallery of Toronto. The Georgian style originated in Great Britain and was highly popular between the years 1750-1850. It was brought to Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists following the American Revolution. These immigrants had remained loyal to the Crown, and wished to reflect British traditions in their architecture, even if it were a log cabin. In the United States, the style evolved into the Adam (Federal) style, as the new nation shunned English terminology.

Construction on Strachan’s house commenced in 1817 and was completed by the end of the following year. Its south facade possessed 12 large rectangular windows, plus an added semi-circular fanlight (transom) window above the set of double doors. This window allowed daylight into the centre hallway that contained the grand staircase to the second floor level. The drawing room (parlour) and dining room were on opposite sides of the centre hall. There was another semi-circular window in the triangular pediment above the second storey. The porch was in the Greek Doric style. The symmetrical south facade was impressive, with a commanding view of the harbour. Its design was orderly, traditionally British, and dignified, reflecting the ideals that Strachan strived to emulate.

The cost of the house was enormous for its day—4000 pounds. However, despite Strachan importance within the community, the remuneration he received as a clergyman was not generous. In 1818, when Strachan’s home was completed, Lieutenant Governor Gore departed York. Strachan purchased his furnishings, resulting in substantial savings.

John Strachan was appointed the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto in 1839, and the house became the Bishop’s Palace. Although it was not an exaggeration to refer to it as a palace, if compared to other homes in York, the term actually denoted that it was the official residence of a bishop. To refer to a bishop’s residence in this manner was customary in both the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Churches. Some people in York expressed the opinion that when Strachan built his house in 1817, he purposefully constructed an impressive structure in anticipation of eventually being appointed a bishop.

In 1832, Strachan gave property on the east side of his estate to his son-in-law, Thomas Jones, who built a house for him and his wife. The house was later occupied by Strachan’s eldest son James, who in the 1840s, sub-divided a portion of the northern part of the estate to create building lots to generate funds.

John Strachan died on November 1, 1867, his funeral procession one of the largest that the residents of Toronto ever witnessed. Strachan was buried beneath the high altar in St. James Cathedral, on King Street East. A brass plaque was placed over the internment site, and today, sunlight from the stained-glass windows in the sanctuary continue to  reflect from its shiny surface.  

Sir John Carling purchased the residence, but the area had by now deteriorated as landfill had pushed the lake further south to accommodate the construction of the rail lines. Carling rented the house to various tenants and it became known as the Bishop’s Boarding House. Though the property on Front Street was no longer desirable for residential purposes, property prices continued to increase as it was ideal for commercial buildings. The house was sold and demolished in 1890, a seven-storey building erected on the site.

TRL.   c. 1900  pictures-r-4378[1] 

Watercolour of the Bishop’s Palace, dated 1900, from the Toronto Public Library (r-4378)

                    NW corenr, Front and York, James Stachan, son, 1910   I0021809[1]

Residence of James Strachan, eldest son of Bishop Strachan, built on the southeast corner of his father’s estate. Taken in 1910, the photo is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library (10021809)

TRL  1867, King Street, pictures-r-1855[1]

Funeral cortege of Bishop John Strachan in 1867, proceeding eastward on King Street East toward St. James Cathedral. Toronto Public Library, r-1855. 


Map of the town of York in 1823, drawn by Lieut. Phillpotts of the Royal Engineers. The map shows three of Toronto’s lost creeks, which were eventually filled in or contained within the sewer system. The creeks are depicted on the map as swaths of greenery that flow from north of the town, southward into Lake Ontario. On the right side of the maps is Taddle Creek, in the centre is Russell,Creek, and on the left is Garrsion Creek. The large lot that John Strachan purchased was on Front Street, on the west side of Russell Creek, where it flowed into the lake near today’s University Avenue (map from the collection of the Toronto Archives). 


This 1858 map of Toronto depicts the Bishop’s Palace on Front Street, set back from the roadway to allow space for gardens and a carriageway. The map also depicts a house on the east side of the Palace. It was the home of Strachan’s son-in-law, which was later occupied by his son, James M. Strachan Esq. The lots that were divided and sold in the 1840s by James are shown on the map on the northeast corner of the estate. In this decade, neither Simcoe Street nor University Avenue extended south to the harbour, but Bay and York did reach as far as Front Street. The street in the centre of the map, to the east of the home of James Strachan Esq., is Bay Street. Map from the Toronto Public Library (Boulton Atlas of 1858, surveyed and mapped by W.S. and H. C. Boulton).

Map of 150 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5J

The site of Strachan’s home, now 150 Front Street West, a short distance west of University Avenue. The land to the south of Front Street is land reclaimed from the lake by dumping landfill into the harbour.


Building that today occupies the site of the Bishop’s Palace, on the northeast corner of Front and University Avenue (photo December 16, 2015).


                    Historic plaque on the east wall of the building.

To view the Home Page for this blog:

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

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

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these the movie houses of the past. The book is a trip down memory lane for those who remember these grand old theatres and a voyage of discovery for those who never experienced them.  


   To place an order for this book: .

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

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 more of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 130 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 70 of the city’s heritage sites with images of how the city once looked and how it appears today. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.






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