Toronto Normal School, c. 1950s. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, Fl’.0001 Id.0072

In 1847, the Toronto Normal School was established by Egerton Ryerson, Chief Superintendent of Schools for Canada West. This was in pre-confederation Canada, when Ontario was politically united with Quebec, the combined assemblies named The Canadas. Ontario was Canada West and Quebec was Canada East. The Toronto Normal School was created to train elementary-school teachers, deriving its name “Normal School” from the idea that aspiring student teachers were instructed in methods that conformed to the “norms” expected of their profession. It was the first teacher-training institute in Ontario. Even in that day, many pupils in schools joked that their teachers went to Normal School, but never learned to be normal. 

The building to house the Normal and Model School was built between the year 1851-1852, on Gould Street, a short distance to the east of Yonge Street. It was in the centre of a landscaped square. Its architects were F. W. Cumberland and Thomas Ridout. They designed the building in the Classical Revival style, in which they borrowed freely from the architectural forms of ancient Greece and Rome. The Normal School was two storeys in height, with an ornamented symmetrical facade containing a heavy cornice. It was topped by a plain pediment and a tall cupola with classical details. When it was remodelled in 1896, the pediment was raised to facilitate a rather ponderous third storey addition. The new cupola was narrower, but more detailed, with classical and Gothic ornamentations. This is the cupola seen in the above photo. In the buildings interior, the auditorium for student-teacher assemblies was also Gothic.  

In 1941 the Normal School was relocated to Pape Avenue, a short distance south of Carlaw Avenue. After World War II, the old building on Gould Street served as as a veterans’ training school to assist soldiers who were returning to civilian life. In 1953 the Normal School on Pape Avenue was renamed the Toronto Teachers’ College. The old Normal School on Gould Street was demolished in 1963, only the south facade of the centre section of the building retained. Today, it creates a grand entrance to Ryerson University, which was established in 1948, and originally named the Ryerson Institute of Technology.

c. 1910 --f1244_it1702[1]

The Toronto Normal School, c. 1910. City of Tor4onto Archives, Fl. 1244, It. 1702 (1)

c. 1910--f1244_it1703[1]

Toronto Normal School, c. 1910. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1244 It. 1703 (1)


Normal School c. 1920. City of Toronto Archives, Fl 1548, S. 0393 It. 196 86a


The facade of the old Normal School on Gould Avenue as seen in 2014. It is the centre section of the building, the structures on either side of it having been demolished and the cupola and pediment removed. Today, this small section of the original building serves as a gateway to the campus of Ryerson University.


The impressive doorway that served as the entrance to the Normal School for over a century.


                Steps leading to the entrance to the Normal School (photo taken in 2014).

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                    Classical detailing near the entranceway.

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           Classical details under the cornice on the south facade.


The Normal School in the 1950s, before the building was demolished, preserving only a portion of the central facade. In front of the building is the statue of Egerton Ryerson, who founded the Normal School. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, Fl. 0001, id.0073.


            The statue and surviving portion of the facade in 2014.

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

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


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


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.  


   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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