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Monthly Archives: October 2017

history of the National Club, Bay Street

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The National Club on the east side of Bay Street, during Doors Open Toronto (2015) 

Toronto is today one of the world’s most multi-cultural cities. However, before the waves of immigrants arrived following the Second World War, most Torontonians considered their city to be a loyal outpost of the British Empire. In that era, cultures that were different from those of Great Britain were viewed with suspicion. The majority of Canadians believed that their national identity was best expressed in terms of loyalty to the Mother Country. This idea was also prevalent in the latter decades of the 19th century, although there were some who preferred the ways of the republic to the south.

In 1868, the Canada First Movement was a formed to generate continued support for the sentiment that Canadian identity was best promoted through British Protestant ideas. Prominent Toronto citizens who supported the ideas of the Canada First Movement were H. J. Morgan, Charles Mair, R. J. Haliburton, G. T. Denison, and W. A. Foster. Edward Blake, Ontario’s second premier, was also a prominent member. 

The National Club was created in 1874, intended as a place for members of the Canada First Movement to meet. It was located at 98 Bay Street, near the site of Toronto’s original Stock Exchange, near King and Bay. It included a library, receptions rooms, smoking rooms, and several dining rooms. However in 1875, Edward Blake joined the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie, Canada’s second prime minister and leader of the nation’s first Liberal government. After Blake went to Ottawa, support for the Canada First Movement dissipated. Adding to its demise was the movement’s inability to make its platform acceptable to French Canadians.

Adjusting to the new circumstances, the National Club became a non-political organization, though many of its members were supporters of the Liberal Party. During the years ahead, it enlarged its membership and prospered as a private social club for business professionals. By the first decade of the 20th century, more spacious premises were required. It was proposed that the club relocate to a site further north, at 303 Bay Street, near the corner of Richmond and Bay Streets.

The new building opened in 1907, its architect S. George Curry of the firm, Curry, Sproatt and Rolph. The structure’s four-storey, red-brick facade contained generous stone trim, especially on the ground-floor level. Built in the Neo-Georgian style, its appearance was formal, somewhat resembling a grand home such as might be found in Rosedale. Its large portico was supported by impressive Doric-style columns. The large bay windows on the lower three floors allowed plenteous light to enter the rooms within. When it was built, its domestic-like appearance was viewed as appropriate as the club possessed over-night accommodations; it was a “home away from home” for some of its members.

When it was opened, it complemented the surrounding structures, as in that decade the northern part of Bay Street contained mostly commercial blocks of two or three storeys, interspersed with churches and modest residential properties. Today, the street has changed greatly, and the club is nestled among high-rise structures of glass and steel.

Women were first admitted to the club in 1992, and currently make up approximately 15 per cent of the membership. A few years ago, on the roof of the club, a 3000 square-foot patio was added, one of the largest of those belonging to the private clubs in downtown Toronto. The National Club has an extensive wine cellar, which is said to contain about 40,000 bottles. The club often features theme nights, such as oyster or martini parties. The premises is exclusively for members from Monday to Friday, but guests are able to rent various spaces on weekends. On these occasions, its dining rooms host private events for families and businessmen. It is also a popular venue for wedding receptions. Revenues from the rentals help defray the annual costs of maintaining the historic building, which can be as much as $200,000 a year.

The National Club remains one of the most prestigious clubs in Toronto, its rivals being the Toronto Club, Albany Club and University Club. I was fortunate in being able to view the interior of the club during “Doors Open Toronto.”

The author is grateful for the informatio0n provided by: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on…national-club/article25484992 and www.blogto.com/…/six_private_member_clubs_in_toronto_you_probably_dont_wan..

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  Painting of the club (c. 1907) designed by S. George Curry. The buildings on either side of it are of less height.

             c. 1909  urbantoronto-3665-10636[1]

The National Club at 303 Bay Street in 1909. Photo, urbantoronto 36-65-10636

            1969, Tor. Star. tspa_0111539f[1]

The National Club in 1969, the view from the west side of Bay Street. Photo, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0111539.

               1978, Toronto Star, tspa_0110248f[1]

The National Club in 1978, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0110248

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The impressive portico and main entrance to the club on Bay Street.

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The entrance hall of the National Club, view from the doorway.

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  The mosaic tile on the floor of the entrance hall of the club.

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       Staircase from the entrance hall to the second floor.

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                       Meeting room on the second floor.

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    Group of chairs on the left-hand side of the fireplace.

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                 Space for receptions and special events.

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Area on the 4th floor that provides access to the outdoor patio.

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            An area for club members to relax, read or chat.

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                               Hallway in the National Club.

National Club, May 23, 2015

The National Club on May 23, 2016. View gazes northeast on Bay Street.

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[1]

   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    

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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Enoch Turner School (Ward School)

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The historic Enoch Turner schoolhouse in December, 2016. The view gazes southwest on Trinity Street, a short distance south of King Street East.

Today, the historic building, which once housed the first free school in Toronto, appears lonely and rather out of place as the excited voices and boisterous activities of children have long since vacated the scene. Located at 106 Trinity Avenue, the restored building is a short distance south of Queen Street East. When it opened in 1849, it was a breakthrough in the educational life of the city.

In the 1840s, Toronto was young, having been incorporated a mere 15 years before the school opened. In that decade, immigrants continued to arrive daily, many of them from Ireland, where the potato crop had failed, creating economic hardship and severe famine. When they reached Toronto, most families were too poor to afford an education for their children. This meant that for their entire lives they would likely be confined to low-paying jobs involving manual labour. One of Toronto’s prominent citizens, Enoch Turner, stepped in alleviate the situation by providing funds to open and operate a school that was free to attend.  

Enoch Turner was a successful businessman who earned his living as a brewer. Born in 1792 in Staffordshire, England, he arrived to the city about the year 1831. He established a brewery on Taddle Creek, where today the intersection of Front and Parliament Streets is located. Turner had earned a reputation as man with a strong social conscience. It was said that at his brewery he employed ex-slaves that had fled north from the United States. In 1832, a disastrous fire destroyed much of his brewery, but his reputation was such that his fellow citizens stepped in to assist him to rebuild. This was accomplished by having the York Circus give a benefit performance.

By the mid-1840s, he was once more prospering, and in 1845, he provided funds for the free school on Trinity Street. The property was owned by Little Trinity Anglican Church, located on the southwest corner of Trinity and King Street East. Turner was a benefactor of the church and well known by the church’s elders. The site for the school, which they named the Ward School, was immediately south of the church.

It is not known definitively who Turner hired to design the schoolhouse, but it is generally thought to be Henry Bower Lane, as two years previously, he had been the architect of Little Trinity Church. The school was a one-storey, red-brick building in the simple Gothic revival-style. The narrow peaked windows were trimmed with stone. Yellow bricks were inserted at the corners of the structure, around the doorway on Trinity Street, and in a solid multi-brick row near the roofline.

There’s some debate about when the Toronto Board of Education was founded, but it is thought to be in 1850 as this is the year that legislation was adopted in Canada West (Ontario) to create municipally funded education. The following year, the Toronto Board of Education assumed responsibility for educating the children of Toronto. The Ward School was taken over by the board and renamed Trinity School. However, it closed in 1859 when the public school relocated to a more spacious location. The ownership of the old school and the property on Trinity Street now reverted to Little Trinity Church.

In 1869, Little Trinity Church added an extension on the building’s west side (the West Hall), designed by the noted Toronto architectural firm of Gundry and Langley. It was one of the earliest commissions of Henry Langley, when he was in partnership with Thomas Gundry. Langley eventually became one of the most influential 19th-century architects in Ontario, designing the Metropolitan Methodist (United) Church at 56 Queen Street East, McMaster Hall at 273 Bloor Street West, and the Bank of British North America at Yonge and Wellington.   

Until the 1960s, the former school building was employed as the Sunday school and Parish Hall for Little Trinity Church. Near the turn of the century, in 1899, it was a recruitment centre for enlisting troops for the Boer War. During World Wars I and II, it was a recreation centre for serviceman training in Toronto that were distant from their homes. In the Great Depression it was employed as a soup kitchen, serving 1500 people a week. After the war, in the 1950s, it was the church’s neighbourhood youth clubhouse. In 1961, temporary services were held in it after a disastrous fire in the church. When Little Trinity was restored, the former school became a cultural centre for the community, featuring  concerts, youth programs, and the visual arts.

By the 1970s the structure was badly in need of repairs and it was feared that it might be demolished. Thanks to architect Eric Arthur, who wrote “No Mean City,” a group was formed to raise funds for its restoration. It was successful. Governor General Roland Michener officially opened it as an historic site and museum in 1972. It is today one of the oldest, continuously operated buildings in Toronto. Now owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust, it is employed as a museum, conference space, and special events venue.

 

The author is indebted to the following sources for much of the information. 

http://www.lostrivers.ca/content/points/enochturner.html

https://enochturnerschoolhouse.ca

www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/enoch-turner-schoolhouse

www.theworldofgord.com/2011/10/enoch-turner-schoolhouse.html

1953, pictures-r-2817[1]

View of the east facade at 106 Trinity Street in 1953. The West Hall is visible at the rear of the building. Photo was taken prior to its restoration. Toronto Public Library, r- 2817.

1956,  pictures-r-2820[1]

View of the school looking northwest on Trinity Street in 1956. On the north side of the school is the south (rear) portion of Little Trinity Church. Toronto Public Library, r- 2820.

Series 1465, File 676, Item 38

View looking west on Trinity Street in 1990. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, fl0676, item 0038.

Series 1465, File 676, Item 36

Gazing south on Trinity Street toward the lake in 1991. Lake Ontario and the Gardiner Expressway are behind the buildings at the end of the street. The schoolhouse is on the west side of the street, in the foreground. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, Fl 0676, item 0036.

Series 1465, File 651, Item 33

Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in 1991. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, Fl 0651, item 0033.

www.theworldofgord.com   007[1]

Undated photo of the interior of the school. Photo from www.worldofgord .

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Gazing north on Trinity Street toward King Street East in December 2016. The shops on the north side of King Street are visible.

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View of the east facade, revealing the yellow bricks on the corners of the structure and around the doorway. The windows are trimmed with stone.

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The north facade of the original building in 2016, the east side of Trinity Street visible in the background.

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[1]

   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    

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

 

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Edward Leadlay’s home (St. Felix Centre)

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Edward Leadlay’s home at 25 Augusta Avenue, Toronto on October 9, 2017.

In the 1870s, along with the rest of the world, Canada suffered an economic slump. In that decade Toronto had only 80,000 inhabitants, but among them were those who, despite the harsh economic times, managed to prosper quite well. One of them was Edward Leadlay, an English immigrant who was instrumental in establishing Standard Woollen Mills at 227 Front Street. He also owned a business that processed the by-products of sheep (tallow, lanolin, hides and wool). He had retail outlets on Queen, Crawford and Front Streets.

In 1876, he built a residence for his family at 25 Esther Street, which is now named Augusta Avenue. The home was a short distance north of Queen Street West, three streets west of Spadina Avenue. When the house was completed, it was the finest and largest residence in the entire area. The 1890 Goad’s Atlas (insurance maps) reveals that it occupied several lots, and had considerable space surrounding it. A carriage house and shed were at the rear of the property, on the east side. The home remains impressive today, but people passing it on the street might wonder why such a mansion was erected in a community where incomes were more modest than Leadlay’s. However, the site was convenient for him, since his business enterprises were within walking distance or a short carriage ride from his home.

The three-storey Leadlay house is a flamboyant example of high-Victorian architecture, possessing an eclectic mixture of Gothic, Romanesque and Italianate styles. The tower that rises above the third storey faces west and remains as grand today as when it was built. The roof of the house boasts slate tiles, and the windows facing west on the second storey have large canopies above them. The wood trim on the structure (especially on the veranda) involves intricate carpentry work accomplished with a coping saw. The rounded arches on the veranda are supported by narrow columns, the pillars of the portico having capitals that somewhat resemble those of the Corinthian-style.

Facing Augusta Avenue, on the south side of the first-floor, there is a large bay window, where either the parlour or dining room was located. The bay window allowed extra light to enter the interior space, essential in an era without electricity. The large overhanging eaves are supported by fancy modillions (brackets). Though constructed mainly of red bricks, yellow bricks are employed in the quoins at the corners of the house and in the patterns in the brickwork at the top of the tower. Today, it would be almost impossible to construct a house with such intricate detailing due to the high cost of labour.  

Leadlay died in his mansion on September 17, 1899. The house was sold to the Salvation Army in 1906, the church organization employing it as a men’s home. The residence was purchased from the Salvation Army in 1937 by the Felician Sisters, a Polish order. The house became a convent for about 25 nuns that were engaged in charity work in the community. The nuns departed, and in 1993, it became the St. Felix Centre, which continued serving the community. It became a registered charity in 2003. Since 2011, it has been a transitional home for women.

Fonds 1244, Item 3071

The Leadlay home in 1909, when it was a men’s home operated by the Salvation Army. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 3071.

                 1973.  f0124_fl0003_id0012[1]

The residence at 25 Augusta Avenue in 1973, when it was the convent of the Felician Sisters. 

1976 when photo taken. tspa_0112992f[1]

           The home in 1973, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0112992f

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The large veranda on the northwest side of the house. Visible are the intricate woodwork above the arches that support the veranda roof, and the yellow-brick quoins on the corner of the house. Photo taken in 2016.

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               The bay window and ornate portico on the west facade.

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The top of the tower, designs created by employing yellow bricks. Large brackets (modillions) are under the overly large eaves.

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                     View of the house from the southwest in October 2017.

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        View in 2017 of the residence from the west side of Augusta Avenue.

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The view looks northeast on Augusta Avenue in 2016. The Leadlay house is on the far left, the 19th century homes to the south of it more modest in style.

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.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/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    

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

 

 

 

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Toronto’s historic Massey Hall

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Massey Hall, view from the northeast corner of Victoria and Shuter Streets in May 2017.

In the early-19th century, after an electrified streetcar line was built on Yonge Street, and later on Queen Street, it became apparent that the intersection of the two avenues would become very important in the commercial life of the city, since people had access to it from all points of the compass. The T. Eaton and Robert Simpson Companies realized the value of the intersection and occupied two of the busy corners.

When the St. Lawrence Hall at King Street East and Jarvis Street opened in 1850, it became the centre of the cultural and arts events of Toronto. However, by the final decades of the 19th century, Toronto’s population had increased considerably, and since the St. Lawrence Market area was increasingly viewed as less fashionable, it was evident that a new and larger concert hall was required. It was logical that the new hall be located within close proximity to Yonge and Queen Streets. As a result, Hart Massey, a wealthy industrialist, purchased property on Shuter Street in 1892 and provided funds to erect a grand concert hall. Its location was one block north of Queen Street and one block east of Yonge Street. 

Hart Massey had built his family’s company, which manufactured farm machinery and implements, into one of the largest industrial empires in the world. His eldest son, Charles Albert Massey, had died of typhoid fever in 1884. His father decided that donating a concert hall to the city was a fitting tribute to his son, who had loved playing the piano. It was to be the first concert hall in Canada to be built specifically for the performance of music.

Massey hired the Cleveland architect Sidney R. Bagley to design the hall, which cost $150,000. A local architect, George M. Miller, was engaged to supervise the construction. Miller was the architect of the Gladstone Hotel on Queen West and also the Massey Harris factory on King Street. The cornerstone for the Massey Hall was laid in 1893 and its officially opening was in June 1894. On opening night, a grand performance of Handel’s Messiah was featured.

The building’s facade was in the simple neoclassical style, its interior more ornate as it displayed Moorish influences. The highly detailed ceiling and the pillars supporting the two balconies particularly reflected the Moorish traditions. The seating capacity was originally 3500, but today, it is 2753. In 1895, the inaugural concert of the Mendelssohn was held in Massey Hall. The New Symphony Orchestra performed in the hall in April 1923, and the orchestra’s name was changed to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in 1927. The hall was the home of the now famous orchestra from 1923 until 1982, when the Roy Thomson Hall opened.

In the 1920s and 1930s, when there was an event at Massey Hall, streetcars lined Victoria Street, south of Shuter Street, awaiting the departing crowds. This was in the days when few people owned automobiles and streetcars provided the main method of travelling around the city. In 1947, when the Silver Rail at Yonge and Shuter obtained a license to serve alcohol (the first license granted in Toronto after prohibition), it became a favourite place to dine or have a drink before or after a concert in the hall.  

Throughout the many decades, Massey Hall has been host to some of the world’s most famous performers and speakers—Enrico Caruso, Winston Churchill, Booker T. Washington, Nellie McClung, Rudyard Kipling, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Two famous Canadian pianists—Oscar Peterson and Glenn Gould—both had their first performances in Massey Hall in 1946. In 1953 there was a famous jazz concert with Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Bud Powell, and Dizzy Gillespie. The 1960s Massey Hall hosted Bob Dylan, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Neil Yonge, Johnny Cash and Gordon Lightfoot.

My earliest recollections of Massey Hall are from the 1950s. When I was able to afford it, I particularly enjoyed sitting in one of the front rows of the first balcony. However, no matter where I sat, the stage seemed close at hand. I have similarly enjoyed visiting the Roy Thomson Hall, but I do not receive the same intimate feeling unless I am actually in a seat close to the stage. In Massey Hall, I always marvel at how cozy a venue it is, especially considering that it seats almost 3000 people. I believe that my affection for Massey Hall is shared by many Torontonians, as evidenced by immense line-ups to view its interior during “Doors Open Toronto,” in 2017.

I have visited Massey Hall many times, but a few events particularly stand out in my mind. In the 1950s, I participated in a brass band festival and had the opportunity to view the hall from the stage. It was an awesome sight, one I will never forget as the auditorium was filled to capacity. The hall is impressive, whether viewed from the stage or from the plush seats. In the 1970s, I saw Roger Wittaker and in 2001 and 2002, I attended the annual Christmas concert of the St. Michael’s Choir School. On one occasion I enjoyed a jazz concert that featured Winton Marsalis.

In recent years, Massey Hall has been somewhat overshadowed by the more modern Roy Thomson, now considered the city’s premier concert hall. It is interesting that when Roy Thomson Hall was being erected, it was referred to as the New Massey Hall. Later, its name officially became the Roy Thomson Hall, after a considerable donation was made by Roy Thomson, First Baron Thomson of Fleet.

Massey Hall possesses acoustics that are said to be rivalled only by Carnegie Hall in New York City. Therefore, it is good news that it is to undergo a $135 million renovation to restore it to its former glory. It will require several years to complete, so will be closed from late-summer of 2018 until the autumn of 2020. For more details, see the article by Robert Benzie in the Toronto Star on August 9, 2017. Because of its historic past and the long list of celebrities who have performed within it, many Torontonians are looking forward to its grand reopening in 2020. I wonder who will perform at the reopening concert?

Note: I am grateful for the information contained in the booklet “Massey Hall—Shine a Light,” distributed by the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall, as well as as article by Robert Benzie in the Toronto Star on August 9, 2017.

1894 Ont. Archives  I0001871[1]

The interior of Massey Hall in 1894, the view from the first balcony. Ontario Archives, 10001871.

1894, Ont. Archives  I0001870[1]

View of the hall from the stage in 1894. Visible are the Moorish influences on the auditorium’s ceiling and in the narrow pillars supporting the balconies. Ontario Archives, 10001870.

1910, SW from Shuter and Bond   f1244_it2202[1]

Gazing westward on Shutter Street from the northeast corner of Bond and Shuter in 1910. The east facade of Massey Hall on Victoria Street is visible. Toronto Archives, fl 1244, item 2202.

1910, Tor. Pub. pcr-2207[2]

Postcard printed in 1910 depicting Massey Hall, the view from the northeast corner of Shuter and Victoria Streets. The hall appears very different without the iron fire escape that today sprawls over its north facade. Toronto Public Library, pcr 2207. 

 

1912.  DSCN6122

Massey Hall in 1912, after a portico and fire escape had been added to its north facade on Shuter Street. Photo from a book published by the City of Toronto in 1912.

Fonds 1266, Item 6468

Political rally in Massey Hall for William Lyon Mackenzie King on April 23, 1925. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, item 6468.

Series 1569, File 3, Item 1

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra on stage at the Massey Hall in 1927. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1569, fl.0003, item 0001.

Fonds 1266, Item 18495

Ferguson meeting in the hall in October 1929. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, item 18495.

                              Massey Hall - view from Shuter and Victoria – April 21, 1975   

Looking east on Shuter Street from near Yonge Street in April 1975. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, fl.0042, item 0001.

Series 1465, File 305, Item 6

Gazing east on Shuter Street from the west side of Yonge Street in 1980. Massey Hall is in the background on the north side of Shuter. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, fl.0305, item 0006.

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Pediment above the north facade in 2017, the classical statues within the triangle having been removed as they were in danger of falling into the street.

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The camera is pointed east on Shuter Street in 2017, Massey Hall on the north side of the street.

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Artist’s rendering of Massey Hall when its restoration has been completed in 2020. Sketch from the booklet, “Massey Hall—Shine a Light,” distributed by the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall.

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                   Signage for Massey Hall, photos taken in May 2017.

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.  

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

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/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)

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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

 

 

 

 

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