Have you recently walked past this hulking shell of a building on the northwest corner of Peter and Richmond Street? The interior of the building has been removed, only the walls still standing. They are now reinforced with steel girders to prevent them from falling into the street. Will it be a condo, an office development, or employed for other purposes?
View of the north side of the building. The open space suggests that an addition will be added to the structure, and the soaring crane means that it will likely be taller than the original building. The steel girders on the exterior of the west side of the structure are clearly evident.
Steel supports on the exterior walls of the structure.
The History of the site.
During the 1870s, the site at the corner of Peter and Richmond Streets was the private estate of a barrister, Mr. Charles McGrath DCL, the letters at the end of his name indicating that he specialized in real estate, wills, estates, and mortgages. Judging by the size of the home he built and the large property surrounding it, he was a highly successful barrister. The estate contained several out-buildings for stabling horses and carriages, and living space for servants.
His widow remained in the mansion until the year 1900, when the property was sold to Judge Walter. In 1903, Mr. Augustus Walker II moved in and remained on the state until 1911. In 1912, George Weston purchased the property and demolished the estate to construct his new bakery. It is the walls of this structure that remain on the site today.
George Weston was born in Oswego, New York in 1864. His family moved to Toronto when George was 12 years of age. He was apprenticed to a local baker. In 1882, he purchased a bread delivery route from his employer and two year later, bought a bakery. His slogan was “Real Home Made Bread,” and it proved to be extremely popular. He employed the latest bread-making technology of the day. In 1897, he built a bakery near Queen West and Soho Streets. In 1910 he entered politics and served four years as an alderman.
In 1911, he joined with other bakers in Toronto, as well as in Montreal and Winnipeg to form the Canada Bread Company. The following year, he purchased the property at Peter and Richmond. In 1923 he severed his ties with the company to focus on other Weston Family enterprises, with his son Garfield Weston as vice president. Patterson Ltd. Candy was also in the building at Peter and Richmond. George Weston died in 1924, having established one of the largest baking companies in Canada, while laying the foundations for a future global food business. Much of this information is contained on the historic plaque on Soho Street, one block north of Queen St. W.
In 1968, the property at Richmond and Peter Streets was owned by Kambly of Switzerland Canada Ltd., a company that specialized in confectionaries.
The Goad’s Atlas map depicts where the George Weston Bakery was in 1897, near Soho and Phoebe Streets. It was directly north of the Black Bull Tavern, at the corner of Queen and Soho Streets.
I have spent much of my adult life researching Toronto. Despite the traffic jams and daily congestion, I find Toronto an exciting and vibrant city in which to live. I enjoy exploring its past 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 than $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: [email protected]