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Category Archives: architecture toronto

Grand Opera House on Adelaide Street, Toronto

                    1921-- f1231_it0843a[1]

The Grand Opera House on Adelaide Street in 1921, view looking west on Adelaide Street. Toronto Archives, F 1231, Item 0843.

Toronto’s first building purposefully constructed to house a theatre was the Royal Lyceum), opened by John Richie on September 25, 1849. It was located behind a row of buildings on the south side of Adelaide Street West, between Bay and York Streets. Patrons entered the theatre from King Street, through Theatre Lane, where there was an archway between 99 and 101 King Street. It was the city’s first opera house, though it offered more than opera, as it featured plays, groups of actors, strolling musicians, soloists, and elocutionists. Prior to the theatre being built, such entertainment was generally held in taverns, small converted temporary premises, or hotel dining rooms. The Royal Lyceum possessed a proper stage with stage lights, an orchestra pit, dressing rooms, and a balcony

Royal Lyceum. Ade,aide St. pictures-r-6837[1]

Watercolour of the south facade of the Royal Lyceum, from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-6837

Unfortunately, the Royal Lyceum burnt in 1874, but the year before, a new company had been created to construct another theatre—The Grand Opera House. It was to be erected at 9-15 Adelaide Street West, a short distance west of Yonge Street. The new venue was to be managed by Mrs. Charlotte Morrison, a retired actress. Its architect was Thomas R. Jackson of New York, who designed the Toronto theatre in the Second Empire style, with Mansard roofs atop its east and west wings, connecting sections, and the tower.

The four-story theatre was constructed of brick and stone, with wooden joists to support the interior walls and floors. Its interior was elaborately trimmed, its ornate gas lamps ignited by batteries. On the first floor, facing Adelaide Street, on either side of the theatre’s arched entranceway, were shops that were rented. The floors above the shops contained offices that were also rented. The funds derived from the shops and offices helped defray the expenses of operating the opera house. The theatre’s arched entranceway led patrons into to a plush reception foyer, 50 feet in depth. Beyond it was the main foyer, where the ticket booth and refreshment bars were located. Stairs on the east and west sides of the foyer allowed patrons to ascend to the dress circle and the two balconies, similar to the Royal Alexandra Theatre of today.  

The theatre’s domed auditorium accommodated 1323 patrons. On the main floor (orchestra section) and in the balconies, people sat on chairs that folded to allow access to the other seats in the row. This was a new feature not yet common in Toronto. The stage was of sufficient size to allow large-scale productions, as it was 53 feet wide and 65 feet deep. In front of the stage was a sunken orchestra pit. The building was steam heated.

The Grand Opera House opened on September 21, 1874 with a gala that attracted the elite of the city. The evening’s feature performance was Richard Sheridan’s 18th-century comedy, “School for Scandal,” with the theatre’s manager, Mrs. Charlotte Morrison in the role of Lady Teazle. When the opera house held grand balls, the seats in the orchestra section were covered with a wooden temporary floor to allow people to dance the night away within the magnificent theatre.

However, despite it being well attended, critically acclaimed, and highly popular, the theatre was not a financial success. In 1876, it was sold in an auction to Alexander Manning. Three years later, the building was badly damaged by fire. The exterior walls had not been damaged, but the interior was gutted. Manning hired the architectural firm of Lalor and Martin, and it was rebuilt in a mere 51 days. The new architects’ designs were faithful to the original plans, except that the seating was increased to 1750. The grand reopening occurred on February 9, 1880 with a production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”During the years, famous actors who were on its stage included Maurice Barrymore (father of Lionel and Ethel) and Sarah Bernhardt. For the next two decades, Toronto’s theatre scene focused on the Grand Opera House.

In 1919, Ambrose Small, the theatre’s manager, disappeared along with a considerable amount of cash. His body was never found and the case remained unsolved.

During the early years of the 20th century, its importance diminished due to competition from the Royal Alexandra and the Princess Theatres on King Street. Finally. the Grand Opera House was closed and it was demolished in 1927. 

Sources: urbantoronto.ca—torontohistory.net—”Lost Toronto” by William Dendy. 

Map of 15 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H 1L6 

Site of the Grand Opera House on Adelaide Street, between Yonge and Bay Streets.

Canadian Illustrated News  62576-v6[1] - Copy

Interior of the Grand Opera House, Canadian Illustrated News, Canada Archives, 62576-v6 

                    ONt. Archives, 1920  I0021963[1]

The Grand Opera House in 1920, view gazing east on Adelaide Street. Ontario Archives, 10021963

 

                              Fonds 1244, Item 7069

Looking east toward Yonge Street in 1924, Toronto Archives, F 1244, Item 7069

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/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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:

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

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and 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, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

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

 

 

 

 

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Toronto’s historic old Customs Houses

                    1870-1876  pictures-r-2272[1]

Toronto’s Customs House (1870-1876) at Front Street East and Scott Street. Three Customs Houses preceded this one in the town of York (Toronto). Watercolour from the collection of the Toronto Public Library r-2272.

York’s well-protected harbour, a safe distance from the guns of the American border, was the main reason it was chosen as the provincial capital in the 1790s. Thus, the harbour was militarily important, but it was also the economic lifeline of the town. This was true for the government as well, since the taxes collected on the goods shipped into York were its main source of revenue. A Customs House was one of the first structures built in the town, as it was where goods were stored, inspected, and the duties assessed. The importance of the port continued until roads were built that facilitated convenient travel by land.

In anticipation of York’s need for a larger Customs House in the future, in 1818, George Phillpott of the Royal Engineers drew a map of the town that reserved land for this purpose on the southwest corner of Yonge and Front Streets. He considered the site ideal, as it was close to the shipping wharfs along the shoreline. However, since the town of York still centred around the eastern end of the harbour, Phillpott’s site remained too far to the west to be practical.

During the next two decades, the town of York increased in size and extended further west. In 1834, York was incorporated as a city and renamed Toronto. In 1840, because the land on Front Street west of Yonge was steadily being developed, the city subdivided it into lots. The property that George Phillpott had set aside became lot #38 and was officially designated as the site for the new Custom’s House. However, it was not until 1845 that it was built. Its architect was Kivas Tully, who eventually became the architect for the provincial government.

In the 1850s, the era of railway building commenced in Toronto and the railway companies began dumping landfill into the lake, south of the Esplanade. The Customs House lost its position beside the water, as the newly created land to the south of it was swallowed up by railway tracks. In 1873, due to the city’s growth, the Customs House of 1845 was demolished and a new one constructed, on the same site.

The four-storey structure was designed by R. C. Windeyer in the Second Empire style, with a Mansard roof. This style was in its heyday during the 1870s, especially for public buildings, theatres, and banks.  R. C. Windeyer also designed St. Stephen-In-The-Fields Anglican Church at College and Bellevue, which still stands today. The Customs House possessed a classical facade with pillars, pilasters, and ornate cement and stone work. Above the impressive entrance there was a balcony, with an excellent view gazing north up Yonge Street. To the south of the Customs House, the Customs Examining Warehouse was built to store imported goods while they were being inspected and the duties on them assessed. 

The Customs House on Front Street was one of the most impressive public buildings ever erected in Toronto. It is a pity that is was demolished in 1919. Some of the architectural detailing from its facade was attached to the second storey of the Colonial Theatre at Yonge and Bay Streets. However, it too is now long gone, and the Simpson’s Tower is on the site.

Sources: www1.toronto.ca—forum.skyscraperpage.com

                   Canada, May 5, 1875  a046269-v8[1]

North facade on Front Street of the Customs House on May 5, 1875, when it was under construction. Canada Archives, a 046269-v8

                    1875- Canada a046566-v8[1]

The north and west facades of the Customs House in 1875, while it remained under construction. Canada Archives, a 046566-v 8. 

1876-1919  pictures-r-3949[1]

The Customs House in 1876, in the background, to the south of it, is the Custom’s Examining Warehouse, Toronto Public Library, r-3949.

1884, TRL.  pictures-r-4369[1]

The Customs House in 1884, view showing the north facade on Front Street (on the right) and the east facade on Yonge Street (on the left). A portion of the Customs Examining Warehouse is visible in the background. Toronto Public Library, r- 4369.

1890  pictures-r-4363[1]

View looks south on Yonge Street toward the harbour, from Front Street in 1890. To the west (right-hand side) of the Customs House is one of the buildings that was destroyed by fire in 1904. Toronto Public Library. r-4363.

Fonds 1244, Item 1173D

The Customs House in 1908, after the great fire of 1904 destroyed the buildings to the west of it. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 1173.

Canada, 1916  a046570-v8[1]

Looking south on Yonge Street from Front Street in 1916, the ships at the Yonge Street Pier vaguely visible at the foot of Yonge. Canada Archives, 046570-v8.

Ont. Archives, 1918  I0021844[1]

Looking west along Front Street from Yonge Street in 1918. Ontario Archives, 10021844.

Fonds 1244, Item 1173G

Decorative stonework on the Customs Building, Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 1173.

                            Colonial_Theatre,_south_side_of_Queen_Street,_east_from_Bay_Street,_constructed_from_fragments_of_old_Customs_House[1]

When another storey was added in 1919 to the Colonial Theatre (later renamed the Bay), decorative stonework and columns from the old Custom’s House were attached to its facade. The theatre was located on the south side of Queen Street, a short distance east of Bay Street. The Simpson’s Tower is located on the site today. Photo was taken in 1922, City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 85. 

The New Customs House

In 1904, the fire that swept along Front Street destroyed many buildings, but the Customs House (built in 1873) escaped destruction. However, the properties to the west of it were damaged beyond repair, creating available space if the city wished to build a larger Customs House. However, it was not until 1911 that the Toronto Civic Improvement Committee proposed such a plan. By this time, the increasing volume of goods arriving through the port of Toronto justified a larger facility to collect the duties owed to the federal government. It would be the third Customs House on the site at Front and Yonge.

In 1913 it was finally announced that the new Customs House would be erected, its total cost being $2 million. However, it was not until 1919 that the old Customs House of 1873 was finally demolished. Again, there was a long delay, and it was not until 1929 that tenders were requested for the construction of the new building. In style, it was intended to complement the magnificent design of Union Station.

The Great Depression caused the plans to be modified; it was decided that only the west and central portions would be erected. Construction began in late-1929 and it was completed in 1931. Despite the harsh economic times of the 1930s, work on the eastern section begun in 1934 and it was completed in 1935. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, it was the first architectural plan created by T. W. Fuller, although the building was completed by J. H. Craig. It created a classical streetscape on the south side of Front Street, extending from Yonge to Bay Streets. Named the Dominion Building, it was built of reinforced concrete, with stone cladding and impressive Ionic columns on the north facade of the centre section. There were three arches over the main entrance, which were decorated with lions’ heads. It was Toronto’s greatest Custom House and one of the most important Beaux-Arts buildings ever erected in the city.

In 1973, the Dominion Building was listed as a Heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act, and in 1993, a “Classified Federal Heritage Building.” In 2006, it was declared part of the Union Station Heritage Preservation District. However, in 2015, Dominion Building was declared “surplus to the federal inventory.”

 

Canada- 1935  a068224-v8[1]

The Dominion Building in 1935, shortly after it was completed. View gazes west along Front Street from Yonge. Canada Archives, a068224-v8.

1955-  pictures-r-3688[1]

View of the Dominion Building in 1955, gazing east on Front Street from Bay Street. Toronto Public Library, r-3688.

DSCN8021 

Same view as previous picture, but in 2015, after many condo towers had been erected to the east of the Dominion Building.

DSCN8204

View gazing west on Front Street from Yonge Street in 2015, the Dominion Building on the left-hand side of the photo.

DSCN8207

View in 2015 of the north facade of the Dominion Building, with its Ionic columns in the centre section.

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

A link about the purpose of this blog and detailing its content on Toronto and its history

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

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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 

To place an order for this book: tps://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 . Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                     image    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

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

 

 

 

 

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tayloronhistory.com—check it out!

DSCN0299

The blog tayloronhistory.com first appeared on the internet in 2011. Since its inception, over 800 posts have been published that explore the Toronto’s history and its heritage structures, including those that have been demolished and lost forever. The blog’s purpose is to generate an interest in our city’s past and its historic buildings, to prevent remaining heritage sites from being destroyed by developers or indifference on the part of the civic government. During the past few years, Torontonians have become more aware of the importance of preserving the past, but the laws remain weak and ineffective, so our architectural heritage continues to disappear.

As a result of the blog, three books have been published about the topics that have appeared on it: Toronto Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen (published by History Press), Toronto’s Local Movie Theatres of Yesteryear (Dundurn Press), and Toronto Then and Now (Pavilion Press). The latter two books will be available in the spring of 2016. 

Toronto’s Old Movie Theatres

Over 130 posts posts relate stories about the city’s old movie theatres. They include archival and modern photos that depict the theatres’ grand facades, marquees, auditoriums, and  lobbies. There are also present-day images of the locations where the theatres once existed. The great movie palaces of the early decades of the 20th century (e.g. Shea’s Hippodrome, Pantages, Victoria, Tivoli etc.) are explored, as well as the more modern film palaces such as the University and the Odeon Carlton. The following is a link to the posts about the old movie theatres of Toronto.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/torontos-old-movie-theatres-on-tayloronhistory-com/

Heritage Buildings and Sites

Famous heritage building such as Toronto’s First City Hall, the Old City Hall, St. Lawrence Hall, Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, Mackenzie House, St. James Cathedral, Union Station, St. Michael’s Cathedral, and the St. Lawrence Market have been researched and documented. Other sites, some of them less known, are also explored: Farr House, Oddfellow’s Temple, Grossman’s Tavern, Waverly Hotel, Gooderham Building, and the Bellevue Fire Station. Structures that no longer exist are included — a part of lost Toronto. The following is a link to a list of the sites included on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/torontos-heritage-buildings-and-sites-on-tayloronhistory-com/

Toronto’s 19th-Century Streetscapes

Several streets that possess timeless qualities have been researched. They harken back to the more tranquil days of the 19th century. Below are the links to access the posts about these unique avenues of downtown Toronto.

Draper Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/torontos-draper-street-is-akin-to-a-time-tunnel-into-the-past/

Wilcocks Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/visiting-torontos-best-preserved-nineteenth-century-street-willcocks-street/

Bulwer Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/a-toronto-street-that-disappeared-but-yet-remains-in-view-bulwer-street/

Glasgow Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/torontos-architectural-gemsrow-houses-on-glasgow-st/ 

Huron Street: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/a-toronto-street-that-disappeared-but-yet-remains-in-view-bulwer-street/

Toronto Disasters

Three of the greatest disasters that Toronto suffered are chronicled on the blog. In 1914, the “RMS Empress of Ireland” sank in fourteen minutes in the icy waters of the St. Lawrence River. More passengers lost their lives than on the Titanic, yet few Canadian know about this maritime tragedy. Many of those who perished were from Toronto.

In 1949, a lake steamer named the “S S Noronic” caught fire in Toronto Harbour and 122 people lost their lives.

In 1954, Hurricane Hazel flooded the Humber and Don Valley, and over 100 drowned in the flood waters.

Below are the links to read about these events.

Empress of Ireland: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/the-empress-of-ireland-tragedymay-29-1914/

Noronic: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/the-noronic-disaster-in-1949-122-people-burn-to-death-on-torontos-waterfront/

Hurricane Hazel: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/torontos-1950s-newspapers-hurricane-hazelpart-3/ 

History of Toronto Streetcars and Toronto Island Ferries

Posts on Streetcars:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/travel-on-torontos-great-streetcars/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/memories-of-torontos-streetcars-of-yesteryear/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/amazing-streetcar-trips-on-torontos-red-rockets-during-yesteryears/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/toronto-streetcarsfrom-omnibus-to-red-rocket/

A post about the Toronto Island Ferries

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/remember-the-toronto-island-ferries-the-bluebell-primroseand-trillium/

Posts on the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/the-old-dufferin-gates-at-torontos-cne/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/muzik-nightclubsite-of-cnes-crystal-palace/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/thoughts-about-torontos-2014-cne/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/ten-suggestion-to-make-the-cne-great/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/the-magnificent-grandstand-shows-of-the-1950s/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/the-magificent-1921-grandstand-show-at-the-cne/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/postcard-views-of-the-1947-cne-part-one/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/postcard-views-of-the-1947-cne-part-two/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/golden-memories-of-the-cne-from-yesteryear/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/whats-it-like-to-attend-the-cne-in-2011-in-comparison-with-yesteryear/https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/memories-of-the-cnetoday-and-yesterday/

Memories of War-Time Toronto During the 1940s

Sunnyside Beach and Amusement Park

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/a-pictorial-journey-to-torontos-old-sunnyside-beach-part-two/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/in-mid-winter-recalling-the-sunshine-of-torontos-sunnyside-beach/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/a-private-memory-of-a-95-year-old-about-the-sunnyside-of-her-youth/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/walking-along-lakeshore-boulevard-near-sunnyside-in-1922/

Snow storm of December 1944, the largest amount of snow to ever descend on Toronto.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/the-worst-snowstorm-to-ever-hit-toronto-post-1/ 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/downtown-torontos-five-best-xmas-displays2015/

Toyland at Eaton’s (Queen and and Yonge Street Store) and Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/memories-of-eatons-toyland-in-the-1940s/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/are-you-ever-too-old-to-enjoy-torontos-santa-claus-parade/

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/torontos-santa-claus-parade-through-the-decades/

The village on Manitou Road on Centre Island

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/centre-islands-lost-villagetoronto/

The Author of this Blog

Doug Taylor was a member of the faculty of the Lakeshore Teachers’ College (York University) and the Ontario Teacher Education College, where he shared his love of history with promising young teachers-to-be. During the 1970s, he conducted walking tours of Toronto’s historic districts for university students, during the days when such tours were rare. He also led tours of Chinatown, the Kensington Market, and the Necropolis Cemetery.

Now retired, he lives in downtown Toronto, within walking distance of Toronto’s historic neighbourhoods. Since retiring, he has written ten books, all of them employing the history of his native city as either the subject or the background for the story.  He continues to promote the history of the city he loves through his books and his blog. He can be contacted at tayloronhistory@gmail.com.

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

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” is one of the books that was written incorporating the research material from this blog. It 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:

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

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                     image_thumb6    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating history.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

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

 

 

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Toronto’s old Palace Pier Ballroom

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The Palace Pier Ballroom and Amusement Centre, depicted on a 1930s postcard.

My memories of the Palace Pier, an immense structure that extended 300 feet into Lake Ontario, date from the days of World War 11. On hot summer days in the 1940s, when my parent took my brother and me to Sunnyside beach to paddle in the cold waters of the lake, I gazed at its enormous size, as it dominated the scene to the west of Sunnyside Beach. I asked my mother about it, and she dismissed it as a place where people of “dubious” character attended, as it was a “dance hall.” My father gave an amused smile as if he seemed to disagree with her assessment, but said nothing. He had played a trumpet in McCormick’s Dance Band during the 1930s, before he met my mother, and had a more liberal view of dance halls.

A year or two later, I learned what the word “dubious” implied and discovered that my father thought that to dismiss Palace Pier as a mere dance hall was do it a great injustice. Located on the west bank of the Humber River, there were no other buildings in the area that competed with it in size. In its heyday, it was one of the most spectacular dance spots in Toronto. However, when I was a boy, I was too young to know about the famous entertainers who were featured there or to appreciate its importance in the night life of the city. Also, it was another few years before I became unaware of the inherent attraction of “dubious” places.

The Palace Pier was conceived in 1927 by the Provincial Improvement Corporation. It was inspired by the wonderful seaside piers in Great Britain, such as those in Brighton, one of which survives today. Toronto’s pier was to be a “year-round amusement enterprise.” Sunnyside Beach, which opened in 1921, had been a great success and the Palace Pier was an attempt to improve Toronto’s lakeside area by extending development further west along the shoreline. In some respects, it was a project similar to Ontario Place, which was constructed to celebrate Canada’s Centennial in 1967. It too was built out over the water, although it was created by dumping landfill into Lake Ontario. Similar to Palace Pier, it was an amusement centre and contained a theatre—Cinesphere.

Palace Pier was to have four buildings, each 260 feet in length, one of them containing a ballroom and another, a Palace of Fun. The latter was to have shops, an arcade, games, restaurants, and food kiosks. There was to be a 1500-seat theatre and a 170-foot bandstand. When the covered walkways and promenades were added to the sides of it, the structure would extend over a third of a mile into the lake. At its southern end there was to be a steamboat landing, as the 1920s was an era when leisure travel on Lake Ontario was highly popular. It was envisioned that over 3000 couples would dance the night away its ballroom, in a multifunctional facility that could also be used for roller skating and bowling.

1297791972217_ORIGINAL[1]

Artist’s sketch of the proposed Palace Pier employed to promote its construction and attract investors. Sketch from Toronto Sun, Jan. 10, 2016, contained in an article by Mike Filey. 

Palace Pier was designed in the Moroccan style by Craig and Madill, a Toronto company that was later to design the CNE Bandshell. However, by the time the pier transitioned from the architects’ drawing boards to the construction site, the Great Depression had descended, necessitating that the plans be greatly reduced. Only the first phase of the structure was to proceed, and due to delays, its corner stone was not laid by former Prime Minister Arthur Meighen until 1931. It extended out into the lake 300 feet and contained the main ballroom. Unfortunately, it was the only part of the original grand plans that ever materialized, and even after it was completed, it stood empty for a decade due to the financial restraints of the times. When it finally opened on June 18, 1941, it was a roller rink named Strathcona Palace Pier, another site of the Strathcona rink on Christie Street, south of St. Clair Avenue. I attended this rink when I was a teenager.

The pier’s 19-foot wide boardwalks, located on the east and west sides of it, provided commanding views of the lake. On the east side, the city’s skyline was visible. Its inaugural event was a fundraiser for the British victims of the bombing by the Nazi’s, the headliner for the event the Hollywood star, Bob Hope. He was in Toronto to promote his latest film, “Caught in the Draft.”

In 1943, the pier reverted to its original purpose and became the Queensway Ballroom, and later the Humber Pier Ballroom. During the years of World War 11, some of the famous “big bands” performed at the it—Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Less Brown, Duke Ellington, the Dorsey Brothers, Louis Armstrong, Harry James and Stan Kenton. 

It was renovated in the 1950s and reverted to its original name, the “Palace Pier.” It was one of the few surviving large-scale dance floors in the city. In the mid-1950s, it included country acts such as Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. As attendance slowly dwindled, on weeknights, the pier held bingo events and rented its space for private functions such as political rallies, boxing matches, high school dances, and year-end proms.

However, its life came to an end on January 7, 1963 when it was torched, the arsonist never caught. The structure was destroyed to the extent that it required complete rebuilding, which was not financially practical. It was demolished and the great pier disappeared forever.

On the site of the pier, two luxury condominium towers and public park were constructed, which were named after the famous amusement facility. The north tower was built in 1978 and the south tower in 1991. A monument, donated by the residents of the condominium, was erected to commemorate the original Palace Pier. It was placed on the west side of the footbridge across the Humber River. The monument had originally been one of the cement footings that had been used in the pier’s construction.

Sources: www.torontovintagesociety.ca—vintagesocity.ca—ww.blogto.com—tornontohistory.net—citiesintime.ca/toronto—urbantoronto.ca/news—https://booksgoogle.ca/books—www.torontosun.com

data=RfCSdfNZ0LFPrHSm0ublXdzhdrDFhtmHhN1u-gM,Bcp1Jl2WTHd5fqTIEjV_zN1J8UEcfCtEi_ZvqTNN6q2fWfUOXVRASZFmb_v-HdAaljOkWtU4RufMioB_IcOyE-lt5-ZtuDAvHUQte2m[1].png

Location of the Palace Pier Dancehall, beside lake Ontario, on the west side of the Humber River.

Series 372, Subseries 34 - Humber bridge photographs

Entrance to the Palace Pier on July 29, 1931, when it was under construction. Toronto Archives, S 0372, SS 0034, Item 0070.

Series 372, Subseries 34 - Humber bridge photographs

Looking west on the Lakeshore Road, the facade of the Palace Pier visible in the background, to the left of the tall hydro tower. Pictures was taken on August 4, 1931, while the building was under construction. Toronto Archives, S. 032, SS 5500, Item 0078.

Palace_Pier_Plaque_2[1]

Undated photo of the Palace Pier, the view showing the north and east facades. The covered walkway and terrace on the east side can be seen.

Palace Pier c. 1940s (public Domain). 

         Palace Pier in the 1940s, the north and west facades visible. 

1954, bridge over Humber  pictures-r-3136[1]

View looking south toward Lake Ontario in 1954, when the bridge over the Humber River was being constructed. The Palace Pier is in the background. Toronto Public Library, r- 3136. 

Series 65 -Metropolitan Toronto Planning Department Library collection of Alexandra Studio photographs

Aerial view of the area surrounding the Palace Pier in 1958. The pier is in the bottom left-hand corner of the photo, on the west bank of the Humber River. The widened Lakeshore Road is to the north of the pier, the Gardiner Expressway to the north of it. Toronto Archives, S 0065, File 0047, Id. 0011.

              TRL,  1963  tspa_0000344f[1]

The Palace Pier after being ravaged by fire in January 1963. Photo from the Toronto Star, Baldwin Collection, Toronto Public Library tspt 000344f. 

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

A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/

A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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:

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

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.

 

 

 

Tags: , ,

Toronto’s greatest lost mansion—Cawthra House

1897,  pictures-r-2138[1]

The Cawthra House in 1897, on the northeast corner of King and Bay Streets. The view depicts the west facade on Bay Street. Photo from Toronto Public Library, r-2138

The Cawthra Family immigrated from from Geysley, Yorkshire, England and arrived in Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1803. They lived in a brick house on the northwest corner of King and Caroline (Sherbourne) Streets. The following year Joseph Cawthra, head of the family, was granted land in Port Credit, but remained there only until 1806, when he relocated to York (Toronto) the provincial capital. He had once aspired to be a doctor, and because of his interest in medicines, he established an apothecary shop that he expanded into a general store. It is reputed to be the first store of its type established in York (Toronto).

When the War of 1812 was declared, he sold medical supplies to the British army and amassed a considerable fortune, which he invested in acquiring properties in York. Joseph’s son, William, inherited the business when his father died in 1842. He closed the shop and concentrated on developing the plots of land in downtown Toronto that had been part of his inheritance. He lived in a brick cottage near Bloor and Jarvis Streets, which at the time was outside the city, in the village of Yorkville.

In 1849, William married  Sarah Crowther, seventeen years younger than he was. She considered Yorkville too far north of the city, and urged William to build a home near the commercial heart of downtown Toronto. She wanted a grand mansion that would be their home, and contain an office where her husband could conduct his business transactions.

In 1851, William purchased a lot on the northeast corner of King Street and Bay Streets. It possessed 56’ on King Street and extended 146’ north on Bay Street. William was aware that the area west of Yonge Street was developing commercially and that his new house would increase greatly in value. Construction began in 1851, but was not completed until 1853.

Though Cawthra was thrifty by nature, he acceded to his wife’s wishes and built a residence that reflected his wealth and prominence within the city. Twice he had been elected an alderman on City Council and had also served on the Board of Trustees for the Common Schools. To design his home, he selected an aspiring architect, Joseph Sheard, who at the time was earning his living mostly as a carpenter. However, the structure was completed by a younger partner in the firm, William Irving.

The home was in the Greek Revival style, the walls constructed of large blocks of light-coloured Ohio sandstone, fitted together to form smooth facades. The frame and roof of the house were of hand-hewn-timbers, held together with wooden pegs. The windows and main doorway on Bay Street were surrounded by carved detailing that was richly ornate. The heavy cornice above the second storey protruded over the street, created a solid and impressive appearance. The triangular pediment above the cornice added to its resemblance to a Greek temple, with both the cornice and pediment displaying large dentils. These were designs from ancient Greece that were highly popular throughout most of the 19th century. The facades on King and also on Bay were divided into three sections by pilasters (three-sided columns), topped with Corinthian capitals. 

The house was essentially rectangular, with a service wing extending on the north side where the brick stable was  located. The mansion was surrounded by a high brick wall. William Cawthra lived in his sumptuous residence until he passed away in 1880. Despite it being one of Toronto’s grandest mansions, no photographs survive of its interior. There is an unconfirmed story that the front door of the house possessed a gold doorknob, that the butler removed each night before dark to prevent it being stolen.

His widow remain in the house until about the year 1885 and then, moved to a more luxurious home on Jarvis Street, opposite a small park that was named after the family. She rented her former residence. By this year, the land on King Street, where the house stood was among the most desirable commercial locations in the city, too valuable to remain as a residential property. From 1885 until 1907 it was a branch of the Molson’s Bank and from 1908 to 1925, the head offices of the Stirling Bank. The rich detailing on the exterior and the marble-trimmed interior reflected the image that the banks wished to portray. However, the Canada Life Assurance Company, whose head office was next door on King Street, eventually purchased the property and then, rented it to the banks.

In 1929, the insurance company relocated to a new art deco building on University Avenue, north of Queen Street. The sites of the old Cawthra House and the Canada Life building were purchased by the Bank of Nova Scotia, which wanted to build a 27-storey office tower at King and Bay Streets. Unfortunately, the plans for the bank were shelved because of the Depression. In the late-1940s, the plans for the building were revived.

Every effort was explored to preserve the Cawthra House because of its architectural merits and historical importance. A member of the Cawthra family offered to pay the cost of dismantling the building and re-erecting on the property of the Royal Ontario Museum. However, the museum refused the offer. The house was demolished, though the mantel from the drawing room and the stone columns on ether side of the doorway were eventually saved and placed in the garden of Joseph Cawthra’s estate in Port Credit. Other architectural parts of the house was rescued by a descendant of William Cawthra, and placed in the backyard of his home in Rosedale. 

After the demolition of Cawthra House, the cornerstone for the 24-storey Bank of Nova Scotia was laid in 1949, and the building was completed in 1951.

Sources; William Dendy, “Lost Toronto”—cawthra-bush.org—www.blogto.com—www.biographi.ca

1910-  pictures-r-6527[1]

The Front door of the Cawthra House in 1910, when the building was a branch of the Stirling Bank, Toronto Public Library, r- 6227.

The Molson Bank, Cawthra House, King Street and Bay Street – [1913]

The Cawthra House in 1913 when it was the Molson’s Bank. The view is of the building’s south facade on King Street, with Bay Street on the left-hand side of the photo. The building to the east of the bank (right-hand side) is the Canada Life Assurance Company. Toronto Archives, S 0409, Item 0060. 

                    1922--pictures-r-2132[1]

A sentimental Christmas card of the Cawthra House, printed  in 1922, depicting the house when it was occupied by the Cawthra family. Toronto Public Library, r- 2132.

1926 as Stirling Bank  I0001651[1]

The Cawthra House in 1926, after it had been purchased by the Canada Life Assurance Company. Ontario Archives, 10001651.

Fonds 1244, Item 7098

The northeast corner of Bay and King Streets c. 1926. The Cawthra House and the Canada Life Assurance Company dominate the scene. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item. 7098.

1931 - f1548_s0393_it23370[1]

The Cawthra House in 1931 when used for offices. Toronto Archives, F1548, Item 23370.

DSCN9340

The Bank of Nova Scotia on the northeast corner of King and Bay Streets, which occupies the site where the Cawthra mansion once stood.

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

A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/

A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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:

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

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

The lost buildings of Upper Canada College, Toronto

1890 , I0002101[1]

Upper Canada College in 1890, photo from the Ontario Archives, 10002101

Archdeacon John Strachan, who became the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto, petitioned the British Crown in 1827 for a charter to create a university in the town of York (Toronto). However, some resident objected to the new university, since its affiliation with the Church of England would allow the church to essentially control its curriculum.

When Lieutenant Governor Sir John Colborne, who later became Lord Seaton, arrived in York in 1828, he agreed with those who opposed the new university. Instead, he proposed founding a preparatory  school for boys, modelled on the public schools in England. At the time, parents in Upper Canada (Ontario) who wished to educate their sons within a proper school system sent their sons to England or the United States. The latter country was frowned upon, as the parents feared that their sons might return home with anti-British or republican sentiments. The result was that Upper Canada College, a school for boys’, was established in York in 1829 by a royal charter granted by King George IV.

The school opened in temporary quarters on January 4, 1830, with 140 students, taught by 8 master. Henry Scadding, Toronto’s first recognized historian, was among the students enrolled in the school when its first building opened in 1831. Located on King Street, it was on Russell Square, named after Peter Russell, the Auditor General and Receiver General of the province under Governor Simcoe. The square, donated to the school by Sir John Colborne, was bounded by King Street West on the south, Adelaide Street on the north, Simcoe Street on the east, and John Street on the west. The campus buildings were to be recessed over a hundred feet from King Street, their facades facing it. Thus, the square that had appeared on the plan for the town of York in 1799, and reserved as a public square, was now the campus of the boys’ school. When the college opened, it was in a rural setting, to the west of the town.

Upper Canada College was a boarding school, divided into “houses” that provided rooms and meals for the students. Each house was headed by a classroom teacher, referred to as a master, all of whom had been hired in England.  To finance the school, a thousand pounds each year was to be provided by the Canada Company, a semi-government agency that sold crown land on behalf of the government. These funds were supplemented by student fees.

The plans for the campus included a large block of red-brick buildings, the largest of them located in a central position. It was constructed by Mathew Priestman, its size and commanding position denoting that it was the heart of the school. The administrative offices, including the principal’s, and the student classrooms were located within it. On either side of the centre structure were two buildings, referred to as “houses,” which provided room and board for the students. Built by John Ewart, the houses were connected to each other and to the centre building by covered passageways. These allowed students and staff to access the various buildings without stepping outside. This arrangement was considered necessary because of the severity of the Canadian winters. 

1835,  pictures-r-2275[1]

The main (centre) building and those on either side of it contained two storeys, with a centre hall on both levels. All the buildings were Georgian in style, symmetrical and unadorned. There was a gravelled east-west roadway in front of them, and a walkway that extended south to King Street. In the northwest corner of the centre building there was a prayer room, with a raised platform for the masters to lead the prayers, and box pews in which the students listened. Henry Scadding, Toronto’s early-day historian, became a teaching master at the college in 1838, and taught classes in drawing.

During the 1830s, Upper Canada College expanded its enrolment and more boarding houses were constructed. In 1855, the architectural firm of Cumberland and Storm was contracted to refurbish and update the buildings. A large stone portico (porch) was added to the centre structure, and its windows were trimmed with stone. Further repairs were required following a fire in 1869, and W. J. Stibbs was hired for the project. It is thought that this was when the Mansard roofs, in the Second-Empire style, were added to the buildings. More expansion occurred in 1876-1877, and perhaps this is when the tower was installed on the main building.

In 1890, the Ontario Government ceased funding the school and it became completely independent. In 1891, the school relocated  to a new campus that was larger, situated on Lonsdale Road, north of Avenue Road and St. Clair Avenue. At the time, the area was remote from the city as Toronto did not extend much beyond Davenport Road. The buildings on King Street were eventually demolished, except for one of the student residences. It still exists today on the southwest corner of Duncan and Adelaide Streets. In the years ahead, it was converted into a warehouse.

Russell Square, the home of Upper Canada College for six decades, was sold for commercial development. It is unfortunate that except for one boarding house, the historic buildings of Upper Canada College did not survive. Perhaps the most well-known buildings erected on Russell Square after the UCC relocated were the Royal Alexandra Theatre, erected in 1907, and the Princess of Wales Theatre, constructed in 1993. More recently, a 47-storey condo named “Theatre Park” was built. The Ed Mirvish project, which consists of two condominium towers, are to be added in the near future to the area that was once Russell Square. 

Upper Canada College today maintains a link to the British Crown, as HRH Prince Philip acts as a “special visitor.” UCC is the oldest private school in Ontario and the third oldest in Canada.

Sources: torontoplqques.com — bluenet.ucc.on.ca — “Lost Toronto” by William Dendy.”

1890

Map from the Goad’s Atlas, dated 1890. King Street is at the bottom (south) of the map, and at the top (north) is Adelaide Street West. Today, Duncan Street has been extended southward from Adelaide Street to King Street, through the former campus.

1865, -I0021817[1]

The buildings of Upper Canada College in 1865.  View is of the south facades facing King Street West, from the west side, looking east. The main building, in the centre position, has a Greek-style porch that had been added on the front. Photos from the Ontario Archives-10021817. 

1867  I0005306[1]

A similar view of the buildings, but from the east side looking west, in 1867. Photo from the Ontario Archives-10005306.

1871  I0021818[1]

View of the south facades of the buildings, looking west from east of the structures in 1871, after the Mansard roofs and towers were added. Photo from the Ontario Archives, 10021818.

1884 - pictures-r-2305[1]

View looking from the northwest toward the campus in 1884. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, r-2305

1884  pictures-r-2344[1]

View gazing north at the campus in 1884, from near King Street. The connecting passageways between the structures are clearly evident. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, r-2344.

boarding house on Adelaide  1890  pictures-r-2330[1]

Upper Canada College boys’ boarding house on Adelaide Street in 1890. View is from the northwest. Duncan Street was eventually extended south to King Street, on the east side of the structure. The other buildings in the photo were demolished.  Photo from the Toronto Public Library, 1890  r-2330.

DSCN1441_thumb1_thumb[1] 

Photo taken in 2013 of the the boarding House of 1833. The view gazes at the northeast corner of the building. A third storey has been added to the old boarding house.

To explore more about this building:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/upper-canada-colleges-former-boarding-housetoronto/

main dining room c. 1890  pictures-r-2325[1] - Copy 

The eastern portion of the main dining room of the college, c. 1890, Toronto Public Library, r-2325.

principal's room, 1890.  pictures-r-6629[1]

     Principal’s room c. 1890, Photo from Toronto Public Library r-6629.

classrom of Mr. Wedd, 1890  pictures-r-6638[1]

Classroom of Mr. Wedd, c. 1890. Photos from the collection of the Toronto Public Library r-6638.

gymnasium, 1890  pictures-r-2326[1]

The gymnasium of Upper Canada College, c. 1890. Photo from the Toronto Public Library r- 2326.

prayer room, 1890, TPR.  pictures-r-6630[1]

Prayer room of Upper Canada College, c. 1890, the raised dais for the “master” on the left-hand side. By this year, the box pews had been removed. Toronto Public Library r-6630.

Library and Archives Canada, RD353, 1890 thumbnail_600_600[1]

Upper Canada College campus after it was relocated to Lonsdale Road, north of  Avenue Road and St. Clair Avenue. Photo from Library and Archives Canada, RD 353.

Buildings on King Street today that were constructed on the former Russell Square

276 King  DSCN4220

(Left) Gillett Building, 276 King St. (1901) and (right) Eclipse Building, 322 King St. (1903)

DSCN4237

Reid Building, 266-270 King St. West (1904). The Royal Alexandra Theatre is to the right (east) of it.

DSCN9060  DSCN8988  

(Left) Royal Alexandra Theatre (1907) and (right) Anderson Building, 284 King St. (1915)

DSCN7029       Sept. 2015

(Left) Princess of Wales Theatre (1993), and (right), Theatre Park Condominium, on the east side of the Royal Alexandra Theatre, in September 2015 (its construction incomplete).

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

A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/

A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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

   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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Upper Canada College’s former boarding house—Toronto

boarding house on Adelaide  1890  pictures-r-2330[1]

A student boarding house that was part of Upper Canada College, when  it was locate on the north side of King Street, is the only building that has survived from the 19th-century campus. Today, its address is 22 Duncan Street, and it is on the southwest corner of Duncan and Adelaide Streets. It was part  of a large complex of structures built for the college. It was erected in 1833, the year prior to York being incorporated as a city and changing its name to Toronto. The above photo depicts the building c. 1890 and is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-2330.

DSCN1441_thumb1 

The above photo is of the boys’ boarding house at Duncan and Adelaide Streets in 2013. Though the building is in good shape, it has been altered greatly over the years and today there are no chimneys. It was part of the campus of Upper Canada College, founded in 1829 by Sir John Colborne, and located on a large tract of land known as Russell Square. The square was bounded on the north by Adelaide Street, on the south by King Street West, on the east by Simcoe, and the west by John Street. The school remained on this site between the years 1831 and 1891. It was eventually relocated to a site at 200 Lonsdale Road, at the top of Avenue Road, which at that time was in the Toronto suburb of Deer Park.

The old student residence from 1833 was designed in the Georgian style, with a symmetrical east facade and plain lines. The only ornamentation was the brick patterns on the corners of the building. The cornice of today is completely unadorned, though it has likely been changed several times since the building was originally constructed.  The student residence was altered in 1856 by the prestigious architectural firm of  Cumberland and Stone, and was altered several more times in the years ahead while it was owned by U.C.C.

After the college relocated to Lonsdale Road, the other college buildings on Russell Square were demolished. The student residence is the sole survivor. It became a factory until being renovated in 1953 to be used for commercial purposes. For the past few years, the building has been vacant. An historical plaque was placed on the structure in 1986, and was the main source of information for this post.       

DSCN1440_thumb5 

The symmetrical east facade of the boys’ residence at 22 Duncan Street. The ornamental brickwork on the corners of the building and the simple cornice are visible. 

DSCN1439_thumb2   DSCN1445_thumb

View of the cornice and the brickwork patterns on the northeast corner of the building.

DSCN1443_thumb2   DSCN1444_thumb2

Entrance on the east facade at 22 Duncan Street (left), and one of the large rectangular windows on the east facade (right) , with the large stone sill beneath it. When the building was a student residence, there was a large porch structure over the entranceway. It is visible on the 1890 map.

DSCN1446_thumb3

First floor on the east side of the old student residence on the southwest corner of Duncan and Adelaide Streets.

1884--_thumb2

Map from the Goad’s Atlas of 1890 in the City of Toronto Archives. It depicts Russell Square, where the buildings of Upper Canada College were located. The boys’ boarding house is in the upper left-hand corner of the map. On the map, Simcoe is on the right-hand side and John Street is on the left. On the south side is King Street West. In 1890, Duncan Street had not yet been extended south from Adelaide Street. The dotted-line extending north-south from the top of the map, to the left of the centre of the square, is where Duncan Street would eventually be extended.

DSCN1451_thumb2

The place of the map where the word “house” appears is the building that is today 22 Duncan Street. Notice that there is an extended porch on the east side of the building, in the top right-hand corner of the map. The porch has been removed, perhaps when Duncan Street was extended south from Adelaide Street.

Map of 22 Duncan St, Toronto, ON M5H 3G8

        The site of the boarding house at 22 Duncan Street.

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

A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/

A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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

   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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.

 

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The lost buildings of St. Patrick’s Market, Toronto

pictures-r-5352[1]

Toronto’s second town market, the St. Patrick’s Market, was preceded by the St. Lawrence Market, founded in 1803, on orders from Governor Peter Hunt. The second market was required as the city was expanding westward and the St. Lawrence Market was too distant for those living to the west of Yonge Street. In response to this need, in 1836, Mr. D’Arcy Boulton donated land from his estate, known as the Grange, to the city on the condition that it be used for a market square in perpetuity. If the land ceased to be used for a market, ownership of the property was to revert to the heirs of D’Arcy Boulton. The property he donated had a ninety-foot frontage on Queen Street, and it extended 123 feet northward. The new market was named St. Patrick’s Market, as it was in the St. Patrick’s Ward, one of the city’s original five wards.

The market opened in 1837, in a small  temporary structure that had sufficient space for only a couple of stalls. Its only merit was that it protected a few shoppers from the worst of the inclement weather. However, because the market building was viewed as temporary, it was not maintained and fell into disrepair. A more suitable building was badly needed. I was unable to discover the year that the first permanent building was erected, but it was likely about 1840, as records state that in 1842, a fire station was located in the St. Patrick’s Market building. It was manned by trained volunteers. Later, the market was renovated to include a police station.

The new building was a frame structure, erected on the northern portion of the donated land. The structure contained a large interior space with stalls, where farmers displayed and sold their produce. It was a two-storey structure, with a centre block that had a triangular pediment above the south facade and a small cupola on the roof. There were one-storey wings on the east and west sides of the centre block. The building was set back from Queen Street, on the north side of the square, to allow space for open-air stalls to be erected in front of it on market days, when farmers from the surrounding areas brought their produce to the city. 

This is the market that is depicted in the watercolour shown above. It was painted in 1845 and is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-5352. The Anglican Church of St. George the Martyr, on John Street, is visible in the painting, behind the market. The church’s spire was destroyed by fire in 1955. In 1852, the fame building was demolished to erect a white-brick building. Three well-known citizens provided funds for the new market on condition that they were reimbursed from the profits of the enterprise.

Thomas Young, who was born in England and immigrated to Canada in 1832, was hired by the city as the architect. The brick market building was constructed between the years 1850 and 1854. To compare it to the frame structure that preceded is difficult as artists tend to romanticize their subjects. This must be taken into consideration when viewing the watercolour to compare the first permanent market structure with the one that followed it. “The History of Toronto and York County—Part IV” (Chapter 32) states that the new brick building had “no pretentions to architectural beauty.” Unfortunately, this was an apt description.

The brick market building was erected closer to Queen Street, to the south of the previous market building. Constructed in the Italianate style, it was a two-storey building, its brick walls covered with stucco. Its south facade faced Queen Street. Behind it there was a single-storey extension where the stalls were located. The south facade, where the main entrance was located, was symmetrical in design. The entranceway was surrounded by a Roman archway, the large windows on either side of the doorway topped with similar arches. A bell tower provided a look-out for the fire station within. The tower had an extended cornice at the top, with large modillions (brackets) below it.

1890--pictures-r-5354[1]

The St. Patrick’s Market in 1890, Photo from the Toronto Public Library r- 5354. 

The market building served as a focal point of the district, since the two-storey section contained a room for public meetings on the second floor. The nearby church of St. George the Martyr, to the north of the market, added to the importance of the area to the community. Though the market was never as prominent as the St. Lawrence or St. Andrew’s Markets, it was well attended by those who resided nearby as it had many stalls displaying vegetables, poultry and fish, as well as several butcher shops. Each Christmas, the market overflowed with seasonal treats for people’s festive tables.

However, because it never achieved the popularity of the other two markets of the city, it was not as well maintained. Even after the city purchased land to the north of the market to create St. Patrick’s Square, the market building continued to decline. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire about the year 1912, and replaced with another brick building that still exists on Queen Street West today.

Sources for this post:

urbantoronto.ca—www.landmarksoftoronto.com—“Lost Toronto” by William Dendy”— www.electric canadian.com— “Landmarks of Toronto” by John Ross Robertson.

Map of 238 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z7

   Location of the St. Patrick’s Market at 238 Queen Street West.

1909, drypoint sketch, J. W. Beatty  pictures-r-344[1]

Drypoint sketch created in 1909 of the market, the Church of St. George the Martyr in the background. Sketch by J. W. Beatty, now in the collection of the Toronto Public Library.

                   1910.  I0021910[1]

The St. Patrick’s Market on Queen Street in 1910. The one-story extension behind the taller building is evident. It was where the produce and food stalls were located. The second floor of the two-storey structure, facing Queen Street, contained the large room for public meetings. Photo from the Ontario Archives, 10021910.

                     1913, pictures-r-6840[1]

The market in 1913, photo from the collection of the Toronto Public Library r-6840.

St. Patrick's Market (14)

The market building that replaced the structure destroyed by fire in 1912. This building remains on Queen Street West today, and was designated a Heritage Site in 1975.

St. Patrick's Market (11)

Rear view (north side) of the St. Patrick’s Market in 2014, looking south from the tranquil St. Patrick’s Square. 

St. Patrick's Market (3)

Interior of the market in 2014, the original pine support-beams in evidence. A skylight provides plenteous light for the interior. Since this photo was taken, many of the stalls have been rented, mostly for fast food outlets.

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

A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/

A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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

   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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.

 

 

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Toronto’s lost armouries on University Avenue

f0124_fl0001_id0064[1]

During the final decades of the 19th century, the Federal Government in Ottawa ordered a number of armouries built across Canada to train and maintain local volunteers and professional militia regiments. At the time, troops in Toronto were being trained in various venues throughout the city, rather than at a centralized facility. When the government ordered an armoury for Toronto, it was to be the largest such facility in Canada. Thomas Fuller, the Minister of Public Works and chief architect for the Government of Canada, was in charge of selecting the site and approving the design.

Toronto’s armoury was to be located on the east side of University Avenue, a short distance north of Queen Street West, and south of today’s Armoury Street. Thomas Fuller chose the solid Romanesque Revival style of architecture as it was suitably militaristic in appearance, similar to the great fortresses of ancient times. The above photo of the armouries is from the Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, Fl0001, Id 0064. The view is of its west facade, on University Avenue.

Built in 1891, the Toronto Armouries officially opened on May 17, 1894. Its inauguration was celebrated by a military tournament featuring different regiments—the Queen’s Own Rifles, 48th Highlanders, Royal Regiment, Royal Dragoons Toronto, and the Governor General’s Body Guard. The building had massively thick walls that were faced with red bricks and bonded with red mortar to create a continuously smooth appearance. Built on a solid foundation of Kingston limestone, the same type of stone was used as trim around the smaller windows and the huge arched windows on the west facade. The trim on the top of the towers, which were mediaeval in appearance, were also detailed with limestone.

In the interior of the armouries was a great  drill hall measuring 280’ by 125’, with a ceiling that soared 72’ above the floor. The drill hall was sometimes used to host banquets and automobile, trade, and fashion shows. Included were offices for military staff, mess halls (dining areas), classrooms, and kit rooms (storage). In the basement there was a rifle range and a  bowling alley to provide recreation for the men.    

The Toronto armouries served as a training facility for troops that fought in the Boer War (1899-1902), the First World War (1914-1918), the Second World War (1939-1945), and the Korean Conflict. The Boer War was when Canadian troops first fought on foreign soil. During World War 11, because of the proximity of the armouries to Osgoode Hall, judges in the courtrooms complained that the gun salutes rattled the windows of their courtrooms causing them to fear for their safety.

However, by the 1950s, high-rise buildings increasingly dominated University Avenue. Despite efforts to preserve the armouries, the need for space to expand the law courts at Osgoode Hall was given priority. On the site today there are provincial courthouses and a historic plaque stating, “On this site stood the University Avenue Armouries, the home of famous Toronto Regiments of the Canadian Army and centre of Militia activities in Toronto from 1891 until it was demolished in 1963.”

The military activities functioned at the armouries on Fleet Street, which had opened in 1933. It was located a short distance to the southwest of Fort York. They remained there until the Moss Park Armouries at 130 Queen Street East were completed in the mid-1960s.

                    Map

              Site of the demolished Toronto Armouries.

Ont. Ar. c. 1890  I0001795[1]

Toronto Armouries c. 1890, University Avenue in the foreground. Photo from the Ontario Archives, 10001795.

TRL.  1893  pictures-r-5511[1]

Sketch of the Toronto Armouries dated 1893, from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-5511.

postcard 1909, Gov. of Canada   v3_c1_s05_ss05_01[1]

   Postcard dated 1909, from the collection of the Government of Canada.

after 1900,  f1568_it0220[1]

The Toronto Armouries after 1900, City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568, Item 0220.

Fonds 1244, Item 52

Auto show in the drill hall of the armouries in 1912, Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 0052.

Fonds 1244, Item 50A

The north facade of the armouries in 1913, City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 0050a. 

DSCN8594

Crowds at the armouries in 1914, as troops depart for overseas. The view looks south on University Avenue. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 7666b.

dinner for returned troops, 1914-18 pictures-r-5769[1]

A banquet held in the drill hall in 1918, for the veterans of World War 1, photo from the Toronto Public Library r-5769.

TRL  1931  pictures-r-5518[1]

View of the west and south facades of the armouries in 1931, Toronto Public Library collections r-5518.

Ont. Ar. 1938  I0004015[1]

Aerial view of the west and south facades of the armouries in 1938, Photo from the Ontario Archives, 10004015. 

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

View gazing north at the west side of University Avenue in 1913, across from the armouries. Toronto Archives S0372, Item 0248.

new armouries, 1934  f1231_it0593[1]

The armouries on Fleet Street in 1934. This building was employed until the Moss Park Armouries were completed in the mid-1960s. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 0593.

DSCN8149

                         The armouries on Fleet Street in May 2013.

Sources for this post:

torontoplaques.com — urbantoronto.ca – torontohistory.net –“A Toronto Album 2: Glimpses of the City That Was” by Mike Fily – “Lost Toronto” by William Dendy.”

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

A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/

A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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

   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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.

 

Tags: , , ,

Toronto’s lost “Palace”

Btw. York and Simcoe, TRL. c. 1885  pictures-r-4382[1]

“The Palace,” built in 1818, was the home of the Reverend John Strachan in the town of York (Toronto). In 1839, he became the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto. The above photo is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library (r-4382).

John Strachan was born in 1778 in Aberdeen, Scotland, and educated at St. Andrew’s University, a Presbyterian institution. He immigrated to Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1799, settling in Kingston. In 1803, he converted to Anglicanism and became a priest. Appointed as the rector of the Anglican Church in Cornwall, he established a private school that eventually became the most important school in the town, educating the sons of some of the elite families in the province.

In 1812, he was invited to relocate to the town of York, as rector of St. James on King Street East. He was not impressed with the offer, but finally accepted after Sir Isaac Brock included the position of chaplaincy of the garrison and also of the Legislative Council. He moved to York in June 1812, about the same time as the United States Congress was preparing to declare war on Great Britain. Strachan was to play a leading role in events when the American troops invaded York in April 1813.

When John Strachan arrived in York, he rented housing accommodations. Unfortunately,  in February 1817, it was almost entirely destroyed by fire. Shortly after, he purchased an estate-lot the west of the town. The property was bounded by today’s York, Wellington and Front Streets, as well as University Avenue. Desirous of constructing a residence that was more resistant to fire, he contracted to have a brick house built. Today, the site of the house is on the northwest corner of University Avenue and Front Street.

Built between the years 1817 and 1818, Strachan’s home was among the first brick houses constructed in the town of York (Toronto). The house was in Georgian Style, similar to the Grange, which today is part of The Art Gallery of Toronto. The Georgian style originated in Great Britain and was highly popular between the years 1750-1850. It was brought to Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists following the American Revolution. These immigrants had remained loyal to the Crown, and wished to reflect British traditions in their architecture, even if it were a log cabin. In the United States, the style evolved into the Adam (Federal) style, as the new nation shunned English terminology.

Construction on Strachan’s house commenced in 1817 and was completed by the end of the following year. Its south facade possessed 12 large rectangular windows, plus an added semi-circular fanlight (transom) window above the set of double doors. This window allowed daylight into the centre hallway that contained the grand staircase to the second floor level. The drawing room (parlour) and dining room were on opposite sides of the centre hall. There was another semi-circular window in the triangular pediment above the second storey. The porch was in the Greek Doric style. The symmetrical south facade was impressive, with a commanding view of the harbour. Its design was orderly, traditionally British, and dignified, reflecting the ideals that Strachan strived to emulate.

The cost of the house was enormous for its day—4000 pounds. However, despite Strachan importance within the community, the remuneration he received as a clergyman was not generous. In 1818, when Strachan’s home was completed, Lieutenant Governor Gore departed York. Strachan purchased his furnishings, resulting in substantial savings.

John Strachan was appointed the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto in 1839, and the house became the Bishop’s Palace. Although it was not an exaggeration to refer to it as a palace, if compared to other homes in York, the term actually denoted that it was the official residence of a bishop. To refer to a bishop’s residence in this manner was customary in both the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Churches. Some people in York expressed the opinion that when Strachan built his house in 1817, he purposefully constructed an impressive structure in anticipation of eventually being appointed a bishop.

In 1832, Strachan gave property on the east side of his estate to his son-in-law, Thomas Jones, who built a house for him and his wife. The house was later occupied by Strachan’s eldest son James, who in the 1840s, sub-divided a portion of the northern part of the estate to create building lots to generate funds.

John Strachan died on November 1, 1867, his funeral procession one of the largest that the residents of Toronto ever witnessed. Strachan was buried beneath the high altar in St. James Cathedral, on King Street East. A brass plaque was placed over the internment site, and today, sunlight from the stained-glass windows in the sanctuary continue to  reflect from its shiny surface.  

Sir John Carling purchased the residence, but the area had by now deteriorated as landfill had pushed the lake further south to accommodate the construction of the rail lines. Carling rented the house to various tenants and it became known as the Bishop’s Boarding House. Though the property on Front Street was no longer desirable for residential purposes, property prices continued to increase as it was ideal for commercial buildings. The house was sold and demolished in 1890, a seven-storey building erected on the site.

TRL.   c. 1900  pictures-r-4378[1] 

Watercolour of the Bishop’s Palace, dated 1900, from the Toronto Public Library (r-4378)

                    NW corenr, Front and York, James Stachan, son, 1910   I0021809[1]

Residence of James Strachan, eldest son of Bishop Strachan, built on the southeast corner of his father’s estate. Taken in 1910, the photo is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library (10021809)

TRL  1867, King Street, pictures-r-1855[1]

Funeral cortege of Bishop John Strachan in 1867, proceeding eastward on King Street East toward St. James Cathedral. Toronto Public Library, r-1855. 

2011216-Philpotts[1]

Map of the town of York in 1823, drawn by Lieut. Phillpotts of the Royal Engineers. The map shows three of Toronto’s lost creeks, which were eventually filled in or contained within the sewer system. The creeks are depicted on the map as swaths of greenery that flow from north of the town, southward into Lake Ontario. On the right side of the maps is Taddle Creek, in the centre is Russell,Creek, and on the left is Garrsion Creek. The large lot that John Strachan purchased was on Front Street, on the west side of Russell Creek, where it flowed into the lake near today’s University Avenue (map from the collection of the Toronto Archives). 

26[1]

This 1858 map of Toronto depicts the Bishop’s Palace on Front Street, set back from the roadway to allow space for gardens and a carriageway. The map also depicts a house on the east side of the Palace. It was the home of Strachan’s son-in-law, which was later occupied by his son, James M. Strachan Esq. The lots that were divided and sold in the 1840s by James are shown on the map on the northeast corner of the estate. In this decade, neither Simcoe Street nor University Avenue extended south to the harbour, but Bay and York did reach as far as Front Street. The street in the centre of the map, to the east of the home of James Strachan Esq., is Bay Street. Map from the Toronto Public Library (Boulton Atlas of 1858, surveyed and mapped by W.S. and H. C. Boulton).

Map of 150 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5J

The site of Strachan’s home, now 150 Front Street West, a short distance west of University Avenue. The land to the south of Front Street is land reclaimed from the lake by dumping landfill into the harbour.

                DSCN0134

Building that today occupies the site of the Bishop’s Palace, on the northeast corner of Front and University Avenue (photo December 16, 2015).

DSCN0131

                    Historic plaque on the east wall of the building.

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

A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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 the movie houses of the past. The book is a trip down memory lane for those who remember these grand old theatres and a voyage of discovery for those who never experienced them.  

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

   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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 more of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 130 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 70 of the city’s heritage sites with images of how the city once looked and how it appears today. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.

 

       

 

  

 

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