Gazing north on University Avenue from south off Queen Street West on June 23, 1939. The Boer War monument is visible. The monument in the foreground is to Sir Adam Beck. Toronto Archives Fonds 1231, Fl1231, It1983.

The Boer War in South Africa commenced in 1899 and ended in 1902. It was the last of the great imperial wars fought by the British Empire. Between 6000 and 8000 Canadians volunteered to fight for Great Britain against the Afrikaners, who were settlers of Dutch heritage. The war was mainly fought against two Boer republics—the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic. About 90 Canadians were killed in combat and approximately 180 died of disease.

To honour those who had perished, Toronto officials chose Walter Allward to design a memorial. He was one of Canada’s most prominent sculptors. Born in Toronto on November 18, 1876, as a boy of 14, he worked with his father, who was a carpenter. Walter Allward attended Central Technical School and in Toronto studied under well-known Canadian sculptors William Cruikshank and Emmanuel Hahn. He later studied in London and Paris. Returning home, he apprenticed with the architectural firm of Gibson and Simpson. While in their employment,  he worked at the Don Valley Brick Works, where he modelled architectural ornaments. His first important commission was in 1895, to design a figure of “Victory” on a memorial to commemorate the Northwest Rebellion. The monument was located on the southeast corner of the grounds at Queen’s Park and can still be seen today.

In the first decade of the 20th century, mature chestnut trees flanked University Avenue, the broad roadway that led to Queen’s Park. Walter Allward’s South African monument was located at the south end of avenue, which terminated at Queen Street. It was not extended further south until the 1930s. When the monument was dedicated in 1910, Sir John French officiated. He unveiled a monument that possessed a granite column, at its base three figures cast in bronze. Two them were Canadian soldiers and the third was a symbolic representation of Mother Britain. At the top of the monument was a winged figure holding a golden crown. Crowds lined University Avenue for the occasion. On the east side of the avenue, a short distance north, was the Toronto Armouries, imposing a military presence at the scene. The armouries have since been demolished.

Allward was later to design the great memorial at Vimy Ridge to commemorate the First World War battle of April 1917, in northern France. The monument was dedicated in July 1936 by King Edward VIII.

unveiling by Sir. John French f1568_it0526[1]

Unveiling of the Boer War Monument by Sir John French in 1910, Osgoode Hall in the background, Fl 1568, It.0526


The monument c. 1930, the Canada Life Building on the left and the Toronto Armouries in the distance of the right. Toronto Archives, Fl 1257, S.105, It 0191


Walter Allwards’s South African (Boer War) Memorial in 2012, at University and Queen Streets.


Allward’s three bronze figures at the base of the granite monument. The names of the battles in the Boer War are carved into the granite column.

DSCN7190   DSCN7189

     The earnest faces of the soldiers at the base of the monument.


                 The bronze figure representing Mother Britain.


Winged figure holding a golden crown, at the top of the granite column.


   The Boer War monument on University Avenue on May 18, 2015.

gazing south in 1931, Market Gallery

Gazing south from the Boer War monument on University Avenue in 1931. In that year, University Avenue terminated at Queen Street. The houses in the sketch, on the south side of Queen Street, were expropriated to extend the avenue further south. The Royal York Hotel is visible in the background. Sketch from the Market Gallery, Toronto.

To view the Home Page for this blog:

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

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.  


   To place an order for this book: .

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


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