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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Toronto’s architectural gems–Bank of British North America–Wellington and Yonge Streets.

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On the northeast corner of Wellington and Yonge is an impressive structure that was once the site of a neo-classical bank building. The impressive structure was designed by John G. Howard for the Bank of British North America. It was said that the directors of the bank in London preferred Howard’s designs for the bank to all the others that were submitted. John G. Howard was the man who donated to the city the land that today is High Park, and his home, Colbourne Lodge remains within the park, visited each year by tourists and Torontonians alike. The bank building he designed was greatly admired during the four decades that it served the citizens of Toronto.

Above the doorway of the building was “The Royal Arms.” Built on an impressive scale, they were copied from those on the Bank of England. They can be seen in the photograph on the left. On the parapet on the top of the building, high above the door was a scallop-shell introduced by Sir John Sloane, the architect of the Bank in London. It was the emblem of the “gold-digger’s” occupation. I have been unable to find exactly what the “gold-digger’s occupation means, as any references to it that I can find appear not to apply to the ornament on this building.

In Henry Scadding’s book, “Toronto of Old,” he stated that the building was: “ . . . a handsome edifice of cut-tone, which might have endured for centuries.” This may have been true, but John G. Howard lamented that : “ The Bank of British North America was deliberately torn down block by block in 1871 and made to give place to a structure which should be on par in magnificence and attitude with the buildings put up in Toronto by other banks.”

The structure that replaced the 1845 bank building opened in 1875. The “Royal Arms” from above the doorway of the previous building were relocated to the new structure. However, they have since been removed, likely due to the danger of them falling to the street below. I have been unable to determine their present location. Designed by Henry Langley, the building was described as a structure that reflected the opulence and resources that were appropriate for a successful bank.  Others felt that the bank brought to Toronto a sophistication that was reminiscent of those structures found on a Parisian boulevard. Interestingly, it was Henry Langley who popularized in Toronto the Second Empire style with its Mansard roofs. The new bank building was constructed of Ohio sandstone and richly decorated with classical designs. Even today, its Mansard roof appears impressive. Originally, the main entrance to the building was on Wellington Street, but as Yonge Street emerged as the city’s main thoroughfare, the doorway was relocated without any loss of splendour.

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     The 1875 Bank of British North America at 49 Yonge Street (at Wellington Street)

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The Wellington Street facade of the bank and the brass plate on the building

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                                Details on the Wellington Street facade

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          The doorway on Yonge Street                         The Wellington Street doorway

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

To view previous posts about movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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

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                To place an order for this book:

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

      Theatres Included in the Book

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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Celebrating Canada Day

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Our Maple Leaf flag in Toronto’s Eaton’s Centre on the week of Canada Day 

Until 1982, the celebration of Canada’s birth was referred to as Dominion Day and was held each year on 1 July. The nation was created in 1867 by an act of the British Parliament. Sir Leonard Tilly, a Father of Confederation, chose the name “Dominion of Canada” for the new country, the words of Psalm 72 having inspired him: “He shall have dominion from sea to sea.” Four British colonies united to create a fledgling nation. It was a small entrance onto the world stage, but the Confederation had dreams of stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This vision was eventually fulfilled. However, the word “Dominion” was replaced in the name of the holiday in 1982, as there was no comparable word in French. It is now named Canada Day.

When the nation was created, except for our Native Peoples, all Canadians possessed immigrant roots.  Throughout the many decades since the country was created, most new arrivals to the country have felt that having an attachment to two countries does not diminish one’s passion for either. Intense loyalty to a flag does not necessarily represent the ultimate depths of patriotism—it is simply a symbol. Flags are hangovers from the days of nationalistic rivalries—under these divisive banners, wars ravaged the European continent for centuries.

In Canada, a rather unique attitude developed. Despite our strong sentiments toward our flag, many do not view the flag as the most important symbol of nationalism. Secure in our identity, we had no need to wave flags at every available opportunity, as we know that the truest feelings of loyalty to a nation are held within our hearts. Even after the new Canadian flag was introduced in 1965, citizens raised it with quiet pride. Canada has developed a sense of nationhood that is not dependent upon mere symbolism. This is now lessening, as Canadians lean more toward the American idea of demonstrating patriotism by displaying flags. Whether or not this is a positive development is a matter of opinion.

It could be said modern Europe has adopted the Canadian model by creating a confederation with a common market and discarding some of the symbols that in the past spawned disastrous rivalries. The euro is the currency of many countries, even though it is now threatened. Perhaps Canada was ahead of its time—a nation in which people of different nationalities united as they shared common goals and values. These ideas were more important than flags, anthems, and symbols.

Despite these feeling, I will proudly display the Maple Leaf flag from the balcony of my downtown apartment as I have done for the past eleven years.

Happy Canada Day

I have spent much of my adult life researching the history of Canada and my native city of Toronto. I love the city and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was nominated for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

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The Canadian flag at Toronto’s Old City Hall, with the east facade of the Old City Hall reflected in the mirrored wall of the Eaton’s Centre.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s Sunnyside on a sweltering day in 1922

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Crowds at Sunnyside in the 1920s (City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail Fonds). Even on the hottest summer days, men wore suits, ties, and jackets when visiting the Toronto Islands, Sunnyside or even for a family picnic in a public park. Women wore hats and high-neck blouses or dresses.

In 1922, when Sunnyside was officially opened, it was the city’s latest amusement area, constructed on landfill that had been dredged from beneath the surface of Humber Bay. For many years, people said that if you hadn’t seen Sunnyside Beach, you hadn’t seen Toronto.

Some people referred to Hanlan’s Point (on the Toronto Islands) as “Canada’s Coney Island,” as it was where the city’s amusement park was located. Torontonians felt that this was ridiculous—Coney Island was, in fact, America’s Hanlan’s Point. Sunnyside also had a nickname—“The Poor Man’s Riviera”—but it was not truly representative. Although most visitors to Sunnyside were indeed of modest means, even the wealthy, including those who had cottages in Muskoka, flocked to Sunnyside whenever possible. Rich and poor alike thrilled to the resort’s alluring charms. The Scarborough Amusement Park, in comparison, had not received any special title, children referring to it simply as “the park with the diving horse.”

Though Sunnyside’s construction was not yet complete in July of 1922, the fun-seekers of the city eagerly sought the facilities that had already been built: the Parkdale Canoe Club, the Pavilion Restaurant, amusement rides, games of chance, and the numerous ice-cream and hot-dog stands. Concerts at the bandstand, lunch at the terraced tea garden, and ballroom dancing were also favourites. The bathing pavilion was nearing completion, and was scheduled to open the following month. On the far side of the pavilion, beside the lake, the wide, sandy beach was open to everyone.

Two years earlier, Boulevard Driveway—today called Lake Shore Boulevard West—had been completed, and every weekend was crammed with boxy black autos. Visitors observed the cars keenly, some silently vowing to own a vehicle as soon as possible. The traffic was directed by Sunnyside’s policemen, who wore large white helmets similar to those of London’s “Bobbies.” Toronto’s officers were almost as well-known as England’s famous brigade. They directed traffic with exaggerated hand signals, their white-gloved gestures appearing as choreographed as if it were in a theatrical production. Under construction at Sunnyside was a twenty-foot-wide wooden boardwalk that would replace an older and narrower structure. The section already completed formed a glorious promenade for strolling and showing off new attire.

During the years ahead, in early spring, visitors to the lakeside amusement park ignored the chilly temperatures as they attempted to coax the arrival of summer, Canada’s frigid winters inviting such acts of desperation. Thousands arrived to strut their stuff and display their latest outfits. Ladies sported stylish hats and gaily coloured spring coats. The men donned snappy straw boater hats. Despite the cool lake breezes, women wore their coats unbuttoned, clearly displaying their trim figures and stylish dresses. Young men’s hearts beat faster as they admired the girls, especially those who daringly wore their hems above the knee. Life was revealing more than they had ever expected.

The above quote is from “There Never was a Better Time,” a novel about two young brothers arriving as immigrants in Toronto in 1921.

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Sunnyside Pool in the 1920s       The beach in front of the Sunnyside Pavilion

pool, Aug. 1922

The Sunnyside Pool when it opened in August of 1922 (all photos are from the City of Toronto Archives)

I have spent much of my adult life researching and photographing Toronto. I love the city and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was nominated for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Toronto

 

A tongue-in-cheek account of Newfoundland’s Confederation with Canada – Happy Canada Day

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Stamp issued by Canada Post in 1949 on the occasion of Newfoundland’s Confederation with Canada. We can all lament that in the year the stamp was issued, it cost 4 cents to mail a letter.

This is the story of Newfoundland’s Confederation with Canada as told by an old Newfoundlander:

“In 1949, we Newfoundlanders officially took over the other nine provinces of Canada. It was a bold move on our part. Though we possessed no political experience, you understand, we accepted the task of governing a nation that stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic. It was a monumental task. However, we didn’t complain. Although we had no money, we understood one of the most important things about governing. Screwing around and wasting money doesn’t really matter. Taxpayers expect it. Today, politicians have invented deficit financing, and government debt is even more trivial.

“When Newfoundland signed the Confederation documents, at the stroke of a pen, good old Joey Smallwood, the leader of our government, became the only living Father of Confederation and thus possessed bragging rights. He informed people of his great negotiating skills, as he had convinced the nine Canadian provinces to relinquish their independence and join in confederation with the sovereign nation of Newfoundland. No Father of Confederation rose from the grave and contradicted his interpretation of events. Thus encouraged, he continued to employ his advantage to the fullest. Walking on water was simply a matter of time and opportunity.

“Joey had developed the skill of storytelling to an art form. We Newfoundlanders refer to this as yarnin’, and Joey’s prodigious talent placed him in the company of some great politicians, who had never allowed truth to ruin a good story or debate. Where would we be today without the outrageous promises and excuses of politicians? If taxpayers were deprived of their God-given right to complain, they would lose one of the great pleasures of life and be forced into silence. Besides, in the case of ‘St. Joey of Smallwood,’ who could seriously argue with a man who had visited the queen in Buckingham Palace with a slit in the arse of his pants?”

“Following the Canadian tradition, Joey raised financial mismanagement in Newfoundland to new heights. He was a very creative man. It caused concern in Ottawa, as they did not like competition in such matters. Next, Joey signed a hydro deal with Quebec that in hindsight was a disaster for Newfoundland. However, Joey understood another of the guiding principles of the Canadian government: as long as you are colourful and beloved by the newspaper reporters, you will be successful. If you show hindsight in the rear of your pants, then it is necessary to put on a good front, as well. Place a red rose in your lapel. We now refer to this as the ‘Pierre principle.’”

The above quote is from “Arse Over Teakettle,” a novel about young Tom Hudson and his friends during the 1940s in Toronto. In the story, since Tom’s parents were Newfoundlanders, the details of the “rocky isle” joining with Canada became part of his heritage. The novels is a humorous and heart-warming tale about Tom and his friends coming-of-age, and their desire to know the secrets of “the big boys.” The background of the story informs readers about life in Toronto during the war years.

I have spent much of my adult life researching Canada’s history and learning about my native city of Toronto. I love the city, and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was nominated for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Toronto

 

Reflections upon Canada on Canada Day

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As a boy in elementary school, history appealed to my imagination, as it allowed me to visualize the adventures and mysteries of the past. In my mind, I pictured treachery, murder, battles, blind ambition, cruelty, bravery, cowardice, hatred, and romance.

Reflecting upon the history of Canada, I realize that my country has not aggrandized its yesteryears to create an inflated sense of national pride and has not rewritten the stories of the lives of its historical personages, elevating them to the status of mythical heroes. Contrast, contradiction, and compromise are ingrained in our heritage, as well as our weather. Our first prime minister was a drunk and involved in a political scandal that swept him from office. However, his charm, wit, and intelligence forged a nation that eventually stretched from sea to sea. John Graves Simcoe, an imperious British aristocrat, introduced a law to abolish slavery, the first such decree within the British Empire. However, the law did not set free existing slaves in the province of Upper Canada (Ontario).

Canadians are perhaps the only people in the world who believe they won the War of 1812, but in truth, we are likely the only ones who have ever heard of the war until this year, when its bicentennial was celebrated. In 1837, British troops cruelly crushed the rebellion in Lower Canada (Quebec) and then burnt and sacked farms in Upper Canada to punish those suspected of participating in the uprising. However, Ontario remained staunchly British. Contradictions, warts, wrinkles, and blemishes—are all included in our nation’s history.

Through my history teachers at the elementary school level, I became immersed in the life and times of New France. When General James Wolfe scaled the heights at Quebec, I felt proud of my British heritage. However, I sympathized with the French, who had lost a homeland. In achieving victory, Wolfe lost his life, and I felt that Montcalm’s death was a tragedy, too.

In the War of 1812, I learned about the demise of General Brock. His body was dug up and moved several times before it finally came to rest in the great monument on the heights at Queenston. In this conflict, the contributions of Tecumseh, the Indian leader, were enormous. When the native warrior died on the field of battle, his tribesmen secretly buried him. Today, the site of his grave remains unknown.

I read about Lord Durham and his famous report to the British parliament concerning the Canadian colonies. This report reverberates in our political scene today. The Act of Union united Upper and Lower Canada to form The Canadas, the first step toward the conception of the nation. The road to confederation was a winding path, but John A. Macdonald and George-Etienne Cartier finally triumphed. The British North American Act created a new nation on the world stage.

Because of the grade-seven history course, I developed a lifetime love of Canadian history, which continued throughout my high school and university days. Today I realize that the fascination, which began when I was eleven years old, stimulated my interest in my heritage. This was something that otherwise might have never occurred. The impact of a good teacher never ends.

I have arrived at a few conclusions about the land of my birth. Canada has a triple heritage—Native Peoples, French, and English, even though the latter two groups tended to ignore the former. From the country’s inception, its survival depended on compromise. This became an asset in future years, as it became easier to accept nationalities and ethnic groups from around the world. The transition did not occur smoothly or without resistance, but the precedence had been established.

Canada was not conceived in violence. William Lyon Mackenzie attempted this path in 1837, but despite the righteousness of his cause, he was not supported by the majority of the population. Nationhood was finally achieved through patient negotiations and compromise. The concept of violence to achieve one’s goals was not ingrained in our culture. This remains true today.

My parents taught me that the measure of a person’s character was how he/she treated those less fortunate than themselves. This also applies to nations. In this respect, Canada has done well since the Second World War. Social programs survive, and they help define us as a nation. However, I fear that this Canadian characteristic has been being eroded during the past few years. This is indeed a great tragedy.

The values inherited from our past do not make us a superior nation, but they have created a nation like none other. Over the many decades, Canadians have developed a “national personality.” It does not matter that other countries are unaware of it and that most of us are unable to define it. It is a reality.

Happy Canada Day.

The above quote is from my book “Arse over Teakettle,” a tale of a young boy coming-of-age in Toronto during the 1940s. It is a humorous story, as the boy and his friends confront the problems and prejudices of war-time Toronto.

I have spent much of my adult life researching and photographing Toronto. I love the city and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was nominated for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s architectural gems– the Confederation fence- happy Canada Day

When walking past the fence around Osgoode Hall, I sometimes reflect on the fact that it was erected the same year that Canada was born. It all began in May of 1865, when the firm of Cumberland and Storm received the contract for its construction. The casting of the fence began in 1866, in the St. Lawrence Foundry. Even in those years, Toronto was a thriving industrial centre where raw materials and skilled workmen were readily at hand. The foundry was on Front Street, its grounds extending as far north as King Street, between Berkley and Parliament Streets. The firm produced cast iron for industrial and architectural purposes, such as the staircases of the Old City Hall and Victoria College. The stone for the footings of the fence were quarried from near Georgetown by the firm of Ramsey and Farquar. The installation of the foundations, the cast iron fence, and the gates were completed in Confederation year –1867.

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                 The ornate fence around Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West

                                  Sept. 7, 1932

The Osgoode Hall fence during the 1930s. The only tall structure is the tower of the Old City Hall (Photo from City of Toronto Archives)

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The fence, seen from the interior of the Osgoode Hall grounds. The view is looking south on York Street.

I have spent much of my adult life researching and photographing Toronto. I love the city and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was nominated for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s architectural gems–The King Edward Hotel

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In 1798, the site of today’s King Edward hotel at 37 King Street East was where the town of York had constructed its first jail. It was known as “the old log gaol.” The first prisoner to be executed there was John Sullivan, who was hanged on 11 October 1798 for stealing a forged note with a value of one dollar. The jail remained in use until 1827, when a newer jailhouse was built on the northeast corner of King and Toronto Streets, not far from the present-day location of the King Edward Hotel. York’s first jail was demolished in 1960. The 1960s was a decade when many of Toronto’s historic buildings were destroyed, as the prosperity following the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s instigated a building boom across the city.

George Gooderham, a prominent businessman, industrialist, and real estate magnate built the hotel. His family owned the Gooderham and Worts Distillery, now restored and named “The Distillery District.” He also owned the Flat Iron Building at Front and Wellington Streets.  He named his fashionable eight-storey King Edward Hotel after King Edward VII, whose reign had commenced the year that construction began on the structure. Designed by one of America’s leading architects, Henry Ives Cobb, in corroboration with Toronto’s architect, E. J. Lennox, the designer of the Old City Hall, the hotel was opened in 1903. It was immediately embraced by the elite of the city and remained the city’s finest hostelry for over 60 years.

A year after the hotel opened, a disastrous fire swept through downtown Toronto, destroying many buildings. The fire raged for over eight hours, and firefighters from Buffalo and Hamilton rushed to Toronto to assist the local brigades. Those that arrived after 5 am were given a free breakfast at the King Edward Hotel.

Between the years 1920-21 an eighteen-story addition was added to the “King Eddy,” as it was affectionately known. One of the most popular features in the new addition was the Crystal Ballroom, located on the top floor. During the 1940s, couples danced in the fabulous ballroom for a cover-charge of $1.50.

In the decades after its expansion, the district where the hotel was located was no longer fashionable. In the 1970s, it appeared as if the hotel might be demolished. However, in 1980-1981 the hotel was renovated and restored to its former glory.

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                             The impressive lobby of the King Edward Hotel

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        Ornate classical ceiling of the lobby                    Breakfast area in the lobby

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                                      Painting of King Edward VII in the lobby of the hotel

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  The Sovereign Ballroom, once known as the Victoria Room. The ceiling plasterwork is among the finest ever created in Toronto.

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        The King Edward Hotel in 1919, Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, It. 1129

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

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication 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 of 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:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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