The magnificent three-story house at 186 Beverley Street, a short distance north of Dundas Street, was the home of the George Brown, a father of Confederation. Born in Scotland in 1818, George Brown immigrated with his father, Peter Brown, to New York in 1837, the year of the rebellion in Upper Canada that was led by William Lyon Mackenzie.
In 1843, he and his father relocated to Toronto, where George became a liberal Reformer. In 1844 he founded the newspaper, “The Globe,” which gave him a powerful platform to promote his political views. The newspaper eventually amalgamated with “The Mail” to become “The Globe and Mail.” However, Brown’s personal influence exceeded that of his newspaper. He strongly advocated the dissolution of the the Act of Union that had become law three years before he arrived in Toronto. It joined Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec) into a single province called The Canadas (Canada West and Canada East). He favoured a broader union that would encompass all the British American colonies. In 1851 he was elected to the Legislature and in the years ahead played a major role in Confederation, thus becoming one of our nation’s founding fathers. In 1880, a radical employee of “The Globe” shot George Brown in the leg. The wound became gangrenous and six weeks later he died in his home on Beverley Street.
His formal, red-brick home can be seen on Beverley Street today. Designed by William Irving and Edward F. Hutchins, it was constructed between the years 1874 and 1876. It has a Mansard roof and is a fine example of domestic Second-Empire style architecture. It contains 9000 square feet and has 15 fireplaces. The imposing solid stone entranceway seems more appropriate for a commercial building than that of a private residence. The stonework around the windows is equally impressive. Duncan Coulson and his family occupied the residence between the years 1889 and 1916. Then, its 3-storey space was a school for the blind. The home was used as a soldiers’ rehabilitation centre for the blind between the years 1919 to 1956. In the 1980s, a disastrous fire caused extensive damage to the house, its restoration carried out between 1987 and 1988. The house is now owned by the Ontario Heritage Foundation for office space and conferences. It contains 2000 of George Brown’s personal books.
The George Brown House with its wrought-iron fence.
The Mansard roof North facade of the home
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Books by the Blog’s Author
“Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.
To place an order for this book, published by History Press:
Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)
Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.
For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-doug–taylor–toronto-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
Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:
For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com here or contact the publisher directly by the link below: