RSS

Monthly Archives: January 2017

Toronto’s mysterious Queen Alexandra Gates

1932-  s0372_ss0001_it1087[1]

The Queen Alexandra Gates appear in the above photo, taken in 1931. They are the stone pillars that appear at the north end of Queen’s Park, where it intersects with Bloor Street West. On the left, a small portion of the Park Plaza (Hyatt) Hotel is visible, and on the right is the Anglican Church of the Redeemer. The gates are somewhat of a mystery, as they no longer exist at Queen’s Park and Bloor Street, but are on another location. Photo from the Toronto Archives, S 0372, SS 0001, Item 1087.

In 1901, funds to build the Queen Alexandra Gates were donated by the Daughters of the Empire (Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire—IODE) to commemorate the royal visit to Toronto on October 10th and 11th of Prince George, the Duke of Cornwall, and Mary, Duchess of Cornwall. The gates were named after Prince George’s mother, Queen Alexandra, the consort of King-Emperor Edward VII. In 1910, Prince George was to ascend the throne as King George V, his consort being Queen Mary.

Queen Alexandra was born in 1844 in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 1863, she married Britain’s Prince of Wales, Edward, the eldest son of Queen Victoria. In 1901, following the death of Victoria, Edward ascended the throne as King Edward VII. His consort, Queen Alexandra was a beautiful and intelligent woman, who quickly became highly popular throughout the British Empire. Toronto was a British colonial city at the turn of the 20th century and treasured its links to the crown. Public buildings, streets, parks and gateways were often named after members of the royal family.

In 1901, where the Queen Alexandra Gates were erected at Queen’s Park and Bloor Street, there remained many undeveloped parcels of land. The small village of Yorkville was a short distance to the northeast of the intersection. Yorkville was amalgamated with the city in 1883, but in 1901, Torontonians still considered it a considerable distance from the downtown as public transportation was slow. Thus, the Alexandra Gates were also viewed as being located in a slightly remote area, to the northwest of the city.

The gates consisted of stone pillars on either side of the roadway, with wrought iron lamps on top of each pillar. The lamps resembled the heads of serpents, typical of Edwardian fanciful designs that were in vogue in London, the capital of the Empire. Designed by Chadwick and Buckett, for their official opening by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall on October 10, 1901, the gates were decorated with flowers and multiple ribbons of red, white and blue. The inauguration of the gates was exceptionally well attended as people were aware that the future king and queen were present.

During the years ahead, several times, the gates were moved further apart to facilitate the widening of Queen’s Park, as well as Avenue Road. In 1962, because of another widening, it was decided to remove the gates entirely. Fortunately, unlike most historic Toronto structures, rather than demolish them, they were relocated to the north end of Philosopher’s Walk. In their new location, they were on the south side of Bloor Street, on the west side of the original building of the Royal Ontario Museum.

In 1990, the lamps were restored by the faculty of the University’s Facilities and Services. In 1995, the gates and the entire length of the Philosopher’s Walk were fully restored by the University of Toronto. In 2006, at the south end of the walk, another gateway was constructed to commemorate the contributions to the university of Avie Bennett, owner of McClelland and Stewart.

Thus, the Alexandra Gates remain today as a reminder of Toronto’s past and its connections to the royal crown, even though they are now located in a modern multi-cultural city.

QueenAlexandra3[1]  1415733627[1]

Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward VII, for whom the gates were named.

1901-  f1231_it0180[1]

The Queen Alexandra Gates in 1901, when they were decorated for their inauguration by Prince George and Princess Mary. The view looks south on Queen’s Park. Through the archway can be seen the fence that is on the east side of the property where the new wing of the Royal Ontario Museum was built in 1933. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 0180.

Fonds 1244, Item 1382

Fire wagon racing westward on Bloor Street in 1912, the Lillian Massey Building and the east pillar of the Queen Alexandra Gates in the background. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1382.

Fonds 1244, Item 7279

View gazing south on Queen’s Park, which is unpaved, to where it terminates at Queen’s Park Circle that surrounds the Ontario Legislative Building. On the left (east side of the road) is the Lillian Massey Department of Household Science Building, erected 1912. The photo was likely taken the same year. On the right-hand side of the photo, a narrow slice of the Queen Alexandra Gates can be seen. As well, on the right are visible the fence and pathway that are located where the ROM is today. Photo from the Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 7279. 

Fonds 1244, Item 1140

View from the north side of Bloor Street in 1933. The camera faces the southwest corner of Queen’s Park and Bloor Street, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in the background. The Queen Alexandra Gates are visible on either side of the narrow roadway, which accommodates only two lanes of traffic. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1140.

Avenue Rd. 1934.  s0372_ss0052_it1713[1]

View looking north on Queen’s Park, from south of Bloor Street, in 1934. The trees are being removed to facilitate the widening of Avenue Road. In the distance are the Park Plaza Hotel (Park Hyatt). Construction began on the hotel in 1928, but its opening was delayed because of the Great Depression. The Royal Ontario Museum and Lillian Massey Building are also visible. The widening of the roadway necessitated that the stone pillars of the Queen Alexandra Gates be moved further apart. Toronto Archives, S 0372, SS 0052, Item 1713.

DSCN7729

The Queen Alexandra Gates at the north end of Philosopher’s Walk in 2016. In the background are the shops and high-rises on the north side of Bloor Street West.

DSCN1147

   Gazing north on Philosopher’s Walk at the Queen Alexandra Gates in 2016.

DSCN7730

The north side of the gates, looking south into Philosopher’s Walk. The original building of the Royal Ontario Museum (now the west wing) is visible in the background.

DSCN7732

The crown and ornate letter “A” for Alexandra on the north side of the east pillar. 

DSCN7734

              The north side of the gate, viewed from the east side. 

      DSCN7728 - Copy

The top of the gates with the ornate heads of serpents, their mouths holding the lamps.

                DSCN7735

The Queen Alexandra Gates, in the background Varsity Arena (University of Toronto).

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

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.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

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

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)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]    

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-dougtaylortoronto-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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

Tags: , , , ,

Salvation Square at the Toronto Eaton Centre

1890s- pictures-r-658[1]

Salvation Square was once the site of The Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters. The above photo, taken c. 1890, is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-658.

The small square on the west side of the Eaton Centre is named “Salvation Square” in recognition of an important Salvation Army building that at one time dominated the northeast corner of the intersection of Albert and James Streets. The building has been demolished, and the section of Albert Street east of James St., is now absorbed into the Eaton Centre.

The British evangelical church that is today affectionately referred to as the “Sally Ann,” arrived in Toronto is 1882. Because it was a church organized along military lines (a Christian army), it employed military terminology for many of its activities. When it held its first services, referred to as “meetings,” they were considered rowdy and theatrical by the traditional churches. They worshipped in whatever public spaces were available; on a few occasions they held meetings above a blacksmith shop. To attract people to their indoor meetings, they conducted “open air services,” which were held on street corners.

Desiring a more permanent place to worship, in April of 1882 they purchased land and erected a “barracks” (small building) at 54 Richmond Street West. In that decade, the street was known as Little Richmond Street. The modest building was covered with roughcast (lime, cement and gravel) and likely accommodated about 150 people. It was built to the west of the town, which in those years centred around King and Yonge Streets. Thus, the barracks was in an area that was not yet fully urbanized. To the west of the barracks was a lumber yard, and to the east of the barracks, as far as McDougall Lane, there were open fields. However, to the east of McDougall Lane, as far east as Spadina Avenue, there were prosperous brick houses. Today, the site of the Army building is where the condo 500 Richmond Street is located.

Requiring larger premises, the Army relocated to Terauley Street. Today, the street has been renamed Bay Street. Terauley was the section of Bay north of Queen Street. The new hall was named the Coliseum, and it seated about 300 persons. From this location, the Army soon expanded. It opened “outposts” (beginning churches) across the city. They included congregations on Lisgar and Lipincott Streets, and in Yorkville, Parkdale, Dovercourt, West Toronto, Riverdale, Wychwood, and Earlscourt.

By 1880s, the organization extended from St. John’s Nfld. to Victoria B.C. Thus, a larger building was needed in downtown Toronto to accommodate its territorial headquarters for Canada and Bermuda. As a result, in 1886,  land was purchased on the northeast corner of James and Albert Streets. The four-storey structure contained the offices necessary for the needs of the territory, as well as an auditorium for large rallies, concerts, and services. It also was home to the Toronto Temple Corps, which was a functioning congregation. The architecture of the building reflected the military roots of the organization.

The building on Albert Street contained towers, battlements, Roman arches, a parapet, a central tower, and towers on the east and west corners of the south facade. The interior auditorium was considered enormous, its extra wide platform capable of containing at least four full-size Salvation Army bands (35-40 men in each). A series of pilasters (three-side columns) on the walls supported the large ceiling arches that sustained the roof. The pilasters were of wood, carved in simple designs, and stained a dark colour. The ceiling was covered with sheets of rolled tin, richly embossed to resemble decorative plastering, this style being popular in the 19th century. Doors on either side of the platform allowed bandsmen and songster brigades (choirs) to enter. If viewed from the rear of the auditorium, the piano was on the right-hand (east) side of the platform. In the body of the auditorium were rows of wooden chairs with hinged seats. The gallery at the rear (south) of the auditorium was reached from stairs in the lobby.

This building was demolished in 1954 and replaced with a modern structure that was much admired among architectural professionals. It was designed by John B. Parkins Associates, which in 1964 designed the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The new Army Headquarters also contained a large auditorium for rallies, concerts and services. As well, it was where the Temple Corps (congregation) held its services. The structure opened in 1956, but was demolished in 1995, and the site incorporated into the Eaton Centre. The headquarters for the Salvation Army relocated to 2 Overlea Boulevard in East York.

Fonds 1244, Item 1998

View of the northeast corner of James and Albert Streets in 1912, when the Salvation Army Headquarters was decorated to welcome General Booth, the founder of the organization. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1998. 

                    Fonds 1244, Item 2561

The north side of Albert Street in 1912,  showing the decorations on the headquarters building to welcome the general. It was to be his last visit, as he died later in the year. Photo from the Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 2561.

1953.  pictures-r-630[1]

The headquarters building in 1953, photos from the Toronto Public Library, r- 630

Corner of James St. and Albert St., looking north-east

The modern building that opened in 1956. The photo was taken in 1972, and shows the lower portion of the building on the northeast corner of Albert and James Streets. Toronto Archives, Series 0831, File 0067, Item 0002.

                  Series 1465, File 466, Item 4

South facade of the new headquarters on Albert Street in the 1970s, Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, File 10466, Item 0004.

                              View of Eaton's Bargain store and Salvation Army on Albert Street west of Yonge Street – April 11, 1977 

Gazing west on Albert Street toward Bay Street in 1977. The building to the west of The Salvation Army Headquarters is the old Eaton’s Annex, which was connected by a tunnel under Albert Street to the Queen Street store. It later became the Eaton’s Bargain Centre, and was destroyed by fire in 1977. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 0085, Item 0076.

                                  View of Salvation Army at James and Albert Streets – April 14, 1977

The camera is pointing south on James Street toward Queen Street. On the right-hand side is the east facade of the Old City Hall. Toronto Archives Fonds 1526, File 0086, Item 0034.

DSCN1208

When The Salvation Army Headquarters was demolished, the site was incorporated into the Eaton Centre, and today a portion of it contains the Chapters/Indigo store (on the 2nd and 3rd storeys). Photo taken October 24, 2016. 

DSCN1209

The square in front of the site where the headquarters building was located is now named “Salvation Square.” Photo taken in 2016. 

                   Salvation_Army_Territorial_Headquarters_Map[1]

Google map showing the location where the Salvation Army Headquarters was located. Albert Street no longer extends east to Yonge, as it is now part of the Eaton Centre.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

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.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

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

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)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[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 Toronto Life article: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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 by Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

 

Tags: , , , ,