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Category Archives: historic Toronto

The historic Noble Block—Queen Street West

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The Noble Block is a commercial row of red-brick buildings, visible from the busy intersection of Queen and Spadina. Located on the north side of Queen Street, they appear in the distance, in the centre of the photo. The camera faces east from the southwest corner of Spadina and Queen Streets.

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The Noble Block consists of a row of seven red-brick buildings that extend from 342 to 354 Queen Street West. The two buildings to the west of them (left-hand side in photo), numbers #356 and #358, are not part of the Noble Block, but architecturally complement it.

Today, walking along some sections of Queen Street West, a person is able visualize Toronto as it appeared in the 19th-century. Unfortunately, most visitors do not see the historical aspects of the buildings as they rarely gaze above the first-floor level, where the shops windows are located. However, the upper floors contain some of the best preserved Victorian commercial architecture in the city.      

The row of buildings, known as the Noble Block, are located on land that in the 1790s was part of the 100-acre Park Lot #15, granted to William Wilcox by Lieutenant Governor Simcoe. The Park Lot extended from Spadina to Huron Street. To the east of it was Park Lot 14, owned by Peter Russell.

After John Graves Simcoe departed from Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1795, Peter Russell was the highest ranking official of both the Executive and Legislative Councils. He was appointed Administrator of Upper Canada in 1796 and remained in this position until 1799 when Peter Hunter arrived as the new Lieutenant Governor. Peter Street is named after Peter Russell, as is Russell Hill Road, Russell Street and Russell Hill Avenue.

In 1802, Peter Russell purchased Park Lot 15 where the Noble Block is located, and soon thereafter, began sub-dividing the land on its south side, along Queen Street. The small parcels of land were suitable in size for family homes, which began to appear c. 1805. The row houses became known as the Petersfield Row, the name derived from the country farmhouse of Peter Russell, which had been erected c.1799. It was located a short distance east of Spadina, set back from the north side of Queen Street. Today, the site is where Soho Street intersects with Phoebe Street.

During most of the 19th century, the Petersfield Row continued to occupy this section of the street. They extended from Spadina Avenue, east to Soho Street. However, the row houses were eventually doomed due to the city’s constant growth, as it was the government and financial centre of the province.

By the latter decades of the 19th century, land prices along Queen Street were increasing rapidly, and the building lots to the north and south of Queen Street were becoming fully occupied. This created a demand for more shops and residential properties along busy Queen Street, as it was the commercial centre of the community.

As there were no empty lots, the alternative was to raze the low-rise structures and replace them with higher buildings that extended further back from the street. This is why there are numerous tall, narrow buildings along this section of Queen Street. In the late-1880s, the working-class houses of Petersfield Row were demolished to allow the taller structures to be erected.

In 1888, seven three-storey buildings were constructed, numbers 342 to 354 Queen Street West. Three-storeys were deemed a practical height in a decade without elevators. Each building was a separate entity, but they were architecturally similar in style, complementing each other. They were named the Noble Block after Mrs. Emma Noble, a widow, who owned the land on which seven of the buildings were located. The funds for their construction were from money she had inherited from her father, William Noble, a retired farmer.

The new buildings were a commercial block, with shops on the first-floor level and residential apartments or offices above them. James Smith and William Gimmell were the architects. They designed many churches and wealthy homes throughout Toronto and the province, most of which have since been demolished. Thankfully, the Noble Block has survived.

Another widow, Mrs. Mary Ann Harvard, owned the two properties to the immediate west of the Noble Block (#356-358 Queen Street). She intended to invest with Mrs. Noble and add two more buildings to the block. However, for some unknown reason she decided to opt out of the plan. She sold the land and the new owner declined to participate in the scheme. Thus, the two buildings to the west of the Noble Block were not constructed until several years later and are not part of it.

When the two latter buildings (#356-358 Queen Street) were finally erected, though the colour of the bricks was not the same as the Noble Block, their ornate brickwork complemented the earlier structures. Today, these two shops are combined into a single store, with the postal address #356. Despite the passage of the years, the row of three-storey buildings remain an important part of Queen Street West. 

In the Noble Block, five of the red-brick buildings, numbered 346 to 354, have an overall unified symmetrical facade. Above them is a parapet that includes a raised section that denotes the year they were built—AD 1888. The two most easterly of the block, numbers #342 and #344, are not a part of the overall symmetrical design of numbers #346-#354. However, the facades of #342 and #344 are also individually symmetrical. They differ from the other structures in the block as they contain larger arched windows on the second floor.

In truth, all the windows in the buildings are wide and spacious, well suited to an era without electric lighting. Some windows contain coloured glass in the top sections, many with blue glass and a few with green. Their designs and patterns add greatly to the overall attractiveness of the buildings. The windows are surrounded by hand-tooled wood trim for ornamentation. As mentioned previously, unless a person is walking on the south side of the street, the fine detailing of these historic buildings is not easily seen. Most of those who pass by only view the ground-floor, where the shop windows are located.

Over the many decades since they were built, most of the store fronts, on the ground floor level, have been severely altered and modernized. Number #350 (the shop containing Fraiche) is perhaps the least changed. High in the cornices at the top of the building are dentils, and on the facades there are oriel windows, corbelled brickwork, and other interesting designs. There are so many shapes and patterns in this row of buildings that each time a person examines the structures, often, further details are noted.

Listed below are the merchants who were the first occupants of ground-floor shops of the 1888 Noble Block, and the two buildings to the west of the block. The shops reflect the needs of a local community that preferred to shop by walking to the nearest store, rather than hop on a streetcar or drive. From west to east the shops are:

Building to the west of the Noble Block

#358, Albert Harvard, drugs  –  #356, Mr. N. Olives, fruits – (Source, Toronto Directories)

Noble Block

#354, Fawcett and Peterman, tailors  –  #352, Pearson and Company, hats  – #350, John W. Clark, barber  – #348, Archibald Loughrey, cigars  – #346, Toronto Musical Instrument Company –  #344-342, Fleming and Company, furniture  (Source, Toronto Directory of 1888.)

                   Queen, east of Spadina, "Noble Block" – May 17, 1971

The Noble Block in 1971, appearing much the same as it is today, only the cars betraying that the photo is almost half-a-century old. However, on close inspection, there is one difference. There is a piece of masonry that juts from the top of the structures, above the parapet, containing the words “Noble Block,” and a pediment above it. It has since disappeared. Likely it was removed as it was in danger of falling to the street below. Toronto Archives, Font 1526, f 10070, item 0052. 

View of Queen Street West, looking east at Spadina Avenue – September 27, 1981

View looking east from Queen and Spadina in September 1981. The Noble Block is on the north (left-hand) side of the street. The tower of the Old City Hall is visible in the distance. Mature shade trees flank both sides of the street. Most of these trees no longer exist. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, F 0076, item 0024.

View of Queen Street West at Soho Street – June 7, 1981

Gazing west on Queen Street West in 1981, the Noble Block mostly hidden by trees. Sadly, most of the greenery has not survived into the present. Photos like this truly remind us of the damage to the environment by pollution. As the trees died, the City replaced them, but the new trees are small and are not doing well. In 1981, the masonry above the parapet at the top of the building still has the part where the words “Noble Block” was located. Toronto Archives, Fond 1526, F 10076, Item 0022.

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View looks west along Queen Street at the buildings in July 2018. There are no longer many trees to shelter those who stroll along the street from the heat of the summer sun. The top part that denoted the name of the block is no longer on the structure.

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These five buildings in the centre of the block (#346-#354) have an overall symmetrical design. Though only three storeys in height, they appear taller as the ceilings on each floor are high and there is a parapet (false wall) at the top. 

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The parapet (false wall) at the top of the centre buildings of the Noble Block, denoting the year they were built. It was above this, that the section once stood that contained the words “Noble Block.”

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The two buildings, #356 and 358 Queen St. now have a single postal address, number #356.  This is because they are combined into a single shop on the ground-floor level. These are the two structures that were erected after Emma Noble had completed the Noble Block in 1888.

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The brickwork on #356 on the top two floors is quite intricate, and the cornice at the top is massive in appearance. There is a flag pole that has not been used in many years. When these buildings were erected, flying the Union Jack was a regular occurrence.

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The two buildings on the east side of the block do not match the symmetry of the five structures to the west of them, but their designs are also symmetrical.

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A bay window in the Noble Block, generously framed with wood. At the top of the window, there is blue coloured–glass.

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The shop at #350 Queen Street, Fraiche, has the only first-floor facade that has survived into the 21st-century. It still has the stained-glass panes above the window and door. The blue door (behind the opened white door) gives access to the apartments on the second and third floors. Photo July 2018.

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The reflection of the Noble Block appears in the glass facades of the buildings on the south side of Queen Street. The building in the background is the District Lofts on Richmond Street West.

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The commercial row, which for over a century, has overlooked Queen Street West.

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 Author

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“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

 

                         cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

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. 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. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

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“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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®

“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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Ward’s Island Toronto in 2018

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Sailing to Ward’s Island on the William Inglis Ferry in July 2018. Ahead is the Sam McBride ferry sailing to Centre Island.

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    A view of the Toronto Skyline from Ward’s Island on July 13, 2018.

Ward’s Island is truly one of the city’s greatest places to visit. Few cities offers such a unique attraction—a community without cars and trucks. Its quietness belies the fact that it is only a ten-minute ferry ride from the business district of Canada’s largest city. The narrow streets between the houses are mere sidewalks, clearly demonstrating that they are for pedestrians only. The abundance of greenery, the quaint gardens and an open space that resembles a village green of centuries past, all offer an experience that is unrivalled.

A previous post explored the history of Ward’s Island beginning when it was a peninsula, attached to the shoreline. A storm in 1858 severed it from the mainland and it became an island. For a link to this post: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/wards-islands-yesteryear-toronto/

This post is an attempt to reveal the charms of Ward’s amid the bustling, internet-connected world of the 21st century. Ward’s is a place to turn off all electronic devices and enjoy the scene that becomes more captivating as you proceed. Stroll the verdant laneways, narrow sidewalks and earthen paths to examine a place where history  and the modern scene peacefully merge. It is hoped that the photos that follow will create a desire to visit Ward’s Island before the summer is spent and the dreary days of a Toronto November descend. 

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Approaching the Ward’s Island ferry dock after a ten-minute voyage across Toronto Harbour on the William Inglis ferry. The brilliant greens of mid-summer dominate the scene.

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The Queen City Yacht Club (QCYC) on Hiawatha Island, on the west side of the small cove where the ferry docks are located. Beyond the clubhouse is a sheltered lagoon where many more boats are moored. I watched children diving from the boats into the lagoon on the day I visited, as temperatures were in the mid-30s. Photo taken from the deck of the William Inglis ferry.

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The yacht club looking north toward the city from the sleepy lagoon behind the club house.

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The lagoon occupied by the QCYC extends a considerable distance into the island. Photo was taken from the bridge that crosses from Ward’s Island to Hiawatha Island.

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Children, likely from a summer camp on Ward’s, learn to paddle a canoe. They were headed northbound from the tranquility of the lagoon out into the harbour. The children were not all equally engaged in the paddling.

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The William Inglis ferry, which I had arrived on, returning to the city to pick up another group of passengers.

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A private spot where a resident can sit to enjoy a view of the city. At night, the lights of the skyline would be dazzling.

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The Ward’s Island Association Club House built 1937-1938, located a short distance south of the ferry docks.

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The shaded veranda on the north side of the clubhouse, facing the ferry dock, where patrons can enjoy snacks, sandwiches or ice cream. 

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Patio on the north side of the Ward’s Island Association Club House.

Kale project

On the north side of the clubhouse patio is a patch of ground where Kale is growing. It is part of a contest to harvest the largest amount of Kale from plots of a similar size. When the contest ends, residents of the association will pick the results of their labours.

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View of the clubhouse from south of the lawn-bowling facility. In the foreground is the Ward’s Island Little Clubhouse, the front portion of which was the original clubhouse built in 1918. It also serves as an administration facility.

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A boy relaxes in the shade of a tree beside the soccer field that resembles a village green. The clubhouse, lawn bowling club, Little Clubhouse and many homes face onto this green space. 

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              One of the ancient trees that borders the soccer field.

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I began exploring the quiet, narrow streets between the houses. The pathways are where the wooden sidewalks were built in Tent City. Some of the homes are hidden behind the greenery. The orange tiger lilies on left-hand side of the path were in many other gardens as well. They are perennials and ideal for open natural spaces as their fluted flowers invariably extend above the grasses to create a colourful display.

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A house with a small balcony overlooking a garden that includes tiger lilies.

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      A home that appears to be on the edge of dense forest.

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This attractive cottage-like home on Bayview Avenue is likely one of those built in the 1930s.

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A house with tiger lilies in the garden, surrounded by greenery and towering trees.

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A more modern-looking home, its backyard facing the Eastern Gap where ships enter and exit the waters of the outer lake.

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Continuing along the pathway/streets, I proceed toward the beach on the south side of Ward’s Island.

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Arriving near the water, the beach is ahead, the hot sand my only obstacle.

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The Ward’s Island Beach on a hot July afternoon. People enjoy the sunshine as a sailing ship glides past in the outer lake.

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         The beach appears more expansive than I remember it.

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Returning from the beach by another route, I see several more homes that catch my eye.

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This enchanting cottage appears at peace among its verdant environment. 

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Arriving back near the yacht club beside the ferry dock, I enjoy my final view of the city from Ward’s Island.

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The ferry ride to the mainland is my final memory of my summer day on Ward’s Island.

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 Author

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb_[1]  

“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

 

                         cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

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. 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. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

                  image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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®

“Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: ,

Ward’s Island’s Yesteryear—Toronto

on Wm. Ingliss

Visiting Ward’s Island by crossing Toronto harbour on the William Inglis ferry. In view ahead is the Sam McBride ferry sailing toward Centre Island. The Toronto Islands are visible on the horizon.

Ward’s Island is usually overshadowed by the better-known Centre Island. Torontonians, tourists, and day-picnickers tend to flock to it as it has Centreville (a children’s amusement park with a merry-go-round), formal gardens, and a wide sandy beach on its south side. Hanlan’s Point and Centre Island also have more spacious picnic areas and BBQ sites. However, Ward’s Island has its own charms, as it is truly different to its counterparts, although it too has an excellent beach on its south side.

The Toronto Islands began life as a sandbar, formed over millennia by deposits of silt and sand eroded from the Scarborough Bluffs. The silt eventually formed a narrow low-lying peninsula, which for many centuries was employed by the Native Peoples as a place of rest and healing. When Europeans arrived, the colonial residents of York (Toronto) viewed it as an ideal spot for picnicking, lake fishing, and horseback riding.

In the early-19th century, a carriage trail led from the town of York (Toronto) to where the sandbar connected to the mainland. The trail extended as far west as Gibraltar Point (south of Hanlan’s Point). In the 1790s, Elizabeth Simcoe, the wife of Lieutenant Governor Simcoe, wrote in her diary that she regularly rode along the pathway on the peninsula, which ran parallel to its south shore.

In 1858, during a violent storm, the narrow neck of land at the eastern end of the peninsula was washed away and the peninsula became an island. Rather than repair the damage, officials decided to allow nature to take its course. The Toronto Islands were born. Interestingly, the narrow trail that Elizabeth Simcoe rode along, located beside the lake, morphed into the Lakeshore Avenue of today.

Ward’s Island is not really a separate island, but is the eastern end of one large island that includes Centre Island in the centre position and Hanlan’s Point on its western end. The three entities, along with about 15 smaller islands, compose the Toronto Islands that today confine Toronto Harbour. Ward’s, which can be visited by boarding an Island ferry, is a residential community with approximately 262 homes where over 600 residents live, most of them, year round. Similar to the other places on the Islands, no cars or trucks are allowed (other than City of Toronto maintenance vehicles). 

Ward’s Island was named after the Ward Family that first settled about the year 1830 on the eastern end of the former peninsula. David Ward earned his living as a fisherman, and raised seven children at Ward’s. His son, William, was involved in a tragic accident on the harbour waters in May 1862. He and his five younger sisters were in a sailboat when a sudden storm erupted. The ropes jammed and young David Ward was unable to lower the sail. The boat tipped. He was able to upright the boat and pull his sisters back on board. Then, another squall tipped them again. Unable to swim, the sisters clung to the side of the upturned boat. Pulled downward by their heavy dresses, they weakened and eventually slipped beneath the waves and drowned. Only William Ward was rescued (source: The Star Weekly, 1912).

When he was older, David’s son William built a hotel on Ward’s. Erected in 1882, Ward’s Hotel was located a short distance south of the ferry docks. It contained three storeys, with a Mansard roof above the third floor. On its north side, in the central position, there was a three-storey tower, the roof of which rose above the roof-line of the hotel. During the latter decades of the 19th century, the hotel was a popular place for Torontonians to stay. The large, deep verandas that wrapped around the structure on its north and west sides, captured the cooling waters of the lake. The breezes brought pleasant relief from the heat on the mainland. Though Ward’s was close to the city, in many ways it was a world away, especially on hot, humid summer days,

Around the turn of the 20th century, a tent community began to develop to the east of the hotel. In 1904 there were 10 tents and in 1906 there were 28 tents. As it continued to grow exponentially, it became a chaotic site as people pitched tents wherever they chose, frequently causing disagreements and fights. In 1913, the City imposed regulations on Tent City. Narrow wooden sidewalks were constructed in a grid pattern and 24-foot-square lots were designated on the various sidewalks. To pitch a tent on one of the lots, a license was required. Each lot was officially registered with the city. Thus, the sidewalks functioned as narrow streets, and the tent lots as residential sites.

In Tent City, people constructed wooden platforms on their lots to which they pegged the tents. In winter, tents and furniture etc. were stored in sheds, located at the rear of their site. The irascible Sam McBride, a lumber merchant who was the mayor of Toronto in 1928 and 1929, and whose name graces one of the island ferries, lived on Ward’s in Tent City. After he retired, he continued to spend his summers on Ward’s.

In 1913, the Ward’s Island Association was established (WIA), a not-for-profit organization to represent the residents of Tent City. In 1918, a small clubhouse was erected, a short distance south of the Ward’s Island ferry docks. In 1922 the tower and upper floor of Ward’s Hotel were removed as it had deteriorated and it was deemed too expensive to renovate and restore. This type of deterioration was common is many large all-wooden structures in this century. Finally, the hotel closed its doors, ceasing to host summer guests. It then became a grocery store and ice-cream parlour.

In 1931, it became permissible to erect permanent structures on Ward’s, with verandas out-buildings and sheds. This caused the needs of the community to increase as more and more people began living at Ward’s all year round. Today’s houses still exist on the former tent sites, explaining why the houses are so close together. Most of the homes on Ward’s today date from the 1930s. In November 1936, the ever-colourful Sam McBride passed away and Ward’s lost one of its most well-known residents.

A larger WIA clubhouse was built between the years 1937 and 1938. Today, on the east side of the building is the Toronto Island Cafe. The front of the WIA’s original clubhouse remains intact and is the front section of the “Little WIA Clubhouse” or “Administration Building.”

Visiting Ward’s Island today, the WIA Clubhouse is visible from the ferry dock, as is the Queen City Yacht Club (QCYC) on Algonquin Island. Algonquin Island was formerly named Sunfish Island. It was first inhabited in the late-1930s, when 30 houses were floated over from Hanlan’s to allow the Island (Billy Bishop) Airport to be constructed.

In the 1960s, Metro decided it would be a better use of public space if the residents of Ward’s Island were removed to create parkland. Thus began a long legal battle. The last remnant of the old days on Ward’s Island disappeared when Ward’s Hotel was demolition in 1966.

In 1973 it was decided that the Ward’s community would be preserved, but the legal battle was not over. It was not until 1993 (with Bill 61), under an NDP government, that the legal status of the homes on Ward’s was finally settled.

Today, from the ferry dock it is a short walk south on Withrow Street to reach the best beach on Ward’s. On the way to the beach, the street passes the soccer field, a large open space that resembles a “village Green” from old England. Along the way visitors pass a lawn-bowling green, another reminder of the days of yore in old Toronto or a quiet British town of the past. Although the homes flanking the pathways and narrow sidewalks are from the 1930s, the community has the ambiance of the early decades of the 20th century. Ward’s Island is truly unique.

Although many will find the beach the main attraction on Ward’s, it is a shame if visitors do not wander the verdant streets to view the quaint homes, as well as a few that are more modern. Set amidst the lush greenery of the island, many of the gardens clustered beside the houses contain some of the more popular flowers of Victorian days—delphiniums, hollyhocks, and orange tiger lilies. The quietness of the scene makes it difficult to believe that you are only a ten-minute ferry ride from the financial district of Canada’s largest city. 

David Ward Sr. built 1856. pictures-r-395[1]

Watercolour of David Ward’s home, built in 1856. Collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-395.

Ward's Hotel, c. 1900  Ont. Arch.  I0013925[1]

Ward’s Hotel, photo taken c. 1900. Built in 1882, the three-storey structure has a Mansard roof in the Second-Empire style. The view shows the north and west facades of the building, with the wide, deep verandas that overlook the harbour waters. The tower in the centre of the north facade is mostly hidden by the trees. Ontario Archives, 10013925.

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A family in Tent City in 1908. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 603.

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Children on the beach on the harbour-side of Ward’s Island in 1908. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 0672.

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Tent City in 1911. The camera faces northwest toward the Toronto Harbour and the city. The Ward’s Island ferry dock is visible in the distance. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 166. 

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View of Tent City on July 9, 1923. A lake steamer is outbound from the Eastern Gap as it begins it trip, likely to Niagara Region, although some ships carried passengers to the eastern end of Lake Ontario, docking at Prescott. Toronto Archives Fonds 1266, item 1064.

Chippawa, eastern gap. ship 1893- 1939. ohq-pictures-s-r-584[1]

Children wave to the lake steamer Chippawa as it enters the Eastern Gap. The steamer was in service on the lakes from 1893 until 1939. Toronto Public Library, r- 584.  

Lenore Avenue — Wards Island 

Houses on Lenore Avenue in November 1933. Toronto Archives, S 0372, SAS 0052, item 1596.

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Ward’s Island ferry dock in 1935, the view facing south. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, item 1155.

skyline from Wards. 1936.  f1231_it0995[1]

View from Ward’s Island of the Toronto skyline in 1936. The two most prominent buildings on the skyline are the Royal York (Fairmont) Hotel and the Bank of Commerce (CIBC). Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, item 0995.

1976.  tspa_0113946f[1]

Houses on Ward’s Island in 1976, the narrow sidewalk separating the homes. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0113946.

Series 1465, File 455, Item 24

Relaxing at the Clubhouse in the 1980s. Toronto Archives, S 1465, fl 0455, item 0024.

Series 1465, File 396, Item 23

The ferry dock at Ward’s Island in the 1980s. Toronto Archives, S 1465, fl 0396. item 0023.

A link to View a post about Ward’s Island in July 2018:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/wards-island-toronto-in-2018/

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 Author

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb_[1]  

“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

 

                         cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

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. 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. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

                  image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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®

“Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

Tags: , , ,

Toronto’s King Street Pilot Project—Part Two

The King Street Pilot Project is a fascinating experiment. Allowing public transit to have the priority on streets is common in many cities throughout the world, but Toronto has been slow in adapting this concept. Harbourfront was resigned to emphasize pedestrians, streetcars and cyclists. After many initial problems, it now appears to be a great success. The King Street project too has had its difficulties, but with the return of good weather, it also seems to be doing well.

I visited King Street during twilight hours on the evening of June 28th to observe the changes that the project have created. To view this post: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/impressions-of-the-king-st-pilot-project/

I decided to view the street again, this time on the hot humid afternoon of July 4th. During my visit, with the humidex, the temperature was over 40 degrees. Because of the heat, the street was relatively deserted as most people were dining or drinking inside the restaurants rather than the patios. Despite the lack of activity, I enjoyed observing how much the street has changed because of the Pilot Project.

I commenced my exploration at Bathurst Street and walked eastward toward Jarvis. It was an interesting stroll, as it became obvious that some areas of King Street had been embraced by the restaurateurs more than others. The section between Bathurst and Spadina seems to have taken advantage of the Pilot Project the most. This is perhaps logical as this part of King Street as the most patios that are located close to the sidewalk. 

In the business district, between Yonge and Jarvis, there were almost no patios. However, the Pilot Project had greatly influenced the traffic patterns as the vehicle traffic was light and the streetcars were moving quickly along the street as they were unobstructed.

image

View looks west, a short distance east of Bathurst Street at the patio of Oretta restaurant. 

Wilbur patio, not yet open

The patio beside Wilbur Mexicana Restaurant, at 552 King Street. The patio has not yet opened to the public so remains bare.

image

King Street gazing east from Brant Street on Wednesday July 4, 2018. The brick building behind the row of white umbrellas is the old Gurney Stove, built in the 1870s. 

April 13, 1927 - s0071_it4812[1]

Photo of the Gurney Iron Foundry on King Street West on April 13, 1927. The view gazes west on King Street from near Spadina. The streetcar in the distance is where the umbrellas are positioned in the previous photo. Photo from the Toronto Archives, S0071, It.4812 (1).

How things have changed since this photo of the Gurney Stove Factory was taken in 2015.

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View of the same section of King Street after the Pilot Project commenced. This photo was taken from near Brant Street, the view showing the patios of Cibo Restaurant on the north (far) side and the patio of the Spice Route on the south side (in foreground). 

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Patio in a laneway on the south side of King Street, the Gurney Stove Foundry in the background. In the early decades of the 20th century, the lane was where trucks and carts delivered or picked-up goods from the factories on King Street.

Patria, closed for lunch     DSCN2640

(left) The patio of Patria in the afternoon, when it was not open for lunch. (right) The patio ready for the evening diners.

                             image

Patios of Wesloge and Patria at at 480 King Street. Both of these are closed at lunch time. 

                             image

Sculptures east of Spadina Avenue. The view gazes west on King Street. 

                            image

Patio of the Red Tomato at 321 King Street West, the Bell Lightbox in the background.

image

                     Princess of Wales Theatre at 300 King Street West.

                             north side of David Pecaut Square

Chairs on the north side of David Pecaut Square, opposite the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

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The Royal Alexandra Theatre at 260 Queen Street West, a sculpture of yellow milk cartons in the foreground.

                             image

Sculpture on King Street on the north side of David Pecaut Square, the Royal Alexandra Theatre in the background.

               Crossing Over to the east side of Yonge Street

image

Sitting area on the north side of King East, opposite the King Edward Hotel. View looks west toward Yonge Street.

DSCN2933

Another view of the sitting area opposite the King Edward Hotel. The camera is pointed east toward Jarvis Street.

                             garden by King Edward

A container garden on the north side of King, a short distance east of the King Edward Hotel at 37 King Street East.

garden on north side, east of King Edward

   Another view of the container garden east of the King Edward Hotel.

image

Looking east on King Street toward Jarvis Street. The installations for the Pilot Project are beside St. James Park. 

A link to the first post about the King Street Pilot Project.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/impressions-of-the-king-st-pilot-project/

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 Author

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb_  

“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

 

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

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. 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. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

                  image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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®

“Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: ,

Impressions of the King St. Pilot Project

image

King Street, gazing west from near John Street toward Peter Street, at 9:15 pm on Thursday, June 28, 2018. The shadows of evening are enveloping the fading twilight in the western sky.

Taking advantage of the lengthened daylight hours of the first week of summer, I set out to photograph King Street. I chose the section between Bathurst and Simcoe Streets, as this is the area where many restaurateurs have taken advantage of the extra space in the roadway created by the Pilot Project. There has been much controversy over the Project, which favours pedestrian and streetcar traffic over automobiles. My goal was to see for myself the impact of the Project on the street. The photographs that follow were all taken after 9 pm, when the sun was fading in the west and the lights of evening were increasingly emerging. The long twilight offered unique lighting conditions that exist at our latitude for only about two weeks each year.

As I strolled along, I noticed that ambiance of the street had changed greatly. Because it was relatively free of cars, it was quiet. Not dead, but quiet. People were embracing the street and the safety it provided, as the automobile traffic was greatly diminished. There were more cyclists than before the Project, due to the abundance of open space. The air was cleaner as exhaust fumes were reduced. Gone were the noise and chaos of traffic, and instead, people were relaxing and enjoying themselves. It was as if the hustle and bustle of city life no longer existed.

Dominating the evening air were laughter, lively conversations, the tinkle of wine glasses, and the clink of cutlery and dishes. Amidst the happy sound of human activity, the graceful new Toronto streetcars quietly glided past, their presence animating the scene. Similar to cities in Europe that I have visited—Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Athens, Lisbon—the traffic seemed to be only inches away from the tables, with their white tablecloths. No one seemed to be bothered by this phenomenon. However, in reality, there are almost five feet between the streetcars and the patios, providing sufficient space for cyclists to pass. It was a scene I had never before witnessed in Toronto. Was this really my city?  

                                 DSCN2635

The patio of Cibo restaurant on the northeast corner of Brant and King Streets.

image

The north side of King Street from a short distance east of Brant Street, the patio operated by Cibo restaurant.

image

I believe that this patio is owned by Patria. It is a short distance west of Spadina. I noticed that taxis have adjusted to the conditions imposed by the Project and are becoming more common on the street.

image

                  The patio of Patria, viewed from its east side.

                        image

Patio of Weslodge, near the corner of Spadina and King Street.

image

Chairs provided by the City of Toronto. View gazes east on King Street toward Peter Street. These chairs are usually fully occupied by office workers during the lunch hour on weekdays.

image

The south side of King St. opposite the Bell Lightbox, looking east toward John Street. Several restaurant have taken advantage of the space created by the Pilot Project to extend their patios into the roadway beyond the sidewalk.

image

                  View of the same patios looking west toward Peter Street.

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Another patio on King Street to the west of John Street, the Bell Lightbox in the background.

image

The Princess of Wales Theatre, view gazing east on King Street toward Duncan Street. 

DSCN2658

The Royal Alexandra Theatre, in the foreground some of the chairs placed in the street by the City to reclaim a part of the roadway for pedestrians.

image

A sculpture created by plastic cartons on which people can sit and watch the passing scene.

                              image

This photo was taken at 9:35 pm, and though the chairs are enveloped in the shadows of evening, light remains in the eastern sky. The chairs face David Pecaut Park, on the east side of Metro Hall. These chairs are mainly occupied by office workers during lunch hours, Monday to Friday, rather than in the evenings or on weekends.

image

People enjoying interactive art work on the south side of King Street, west of Simcoe Street. The pegs on the boards are used to create shapes.

                             DSCN2937

Someone has created the shape of a human body by employing the pegs.

image

The Roy Thomson Hall at King and Simcoe Streets, at 9:40 pm on June 28, 2018.

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 Author

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb_  

“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

 

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

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. 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. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

                  image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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®

“Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

Tags: , ,

The Great Hall at Dovercourt and Queen—Toronto

DSCN2624

Majestic amidst the modern urban clutter, The Great Hall at 1087 Queen Street West is on the southeast corner of Queen and Dovercourt Road.

My earliest memories of the Great Hall are from the year 2000. In that year I moved into a condo in the downtown area and passed by the building occasionally on the Queen streetcar. On these occasions, I admired its impressively intricate architecture, even though it was in poor condition. I remember thinking how the dilapidated structure reflected our city’s attitude toward our architectural heritage.

It did not seem to matter that The Great Hall had been listed as a Toronto Heritage site in 1973 and received official designation under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1985. Because of its apparent neglect, I feared that it might be demolished to construct another towering structure of steel and glass. This happens all too often in Toronto, as heritage preservation laws in Ontario are weak. This would be a great pity as buildings such as The Great Hall give texture to our urban streetscape, providing contrast to the smooth, faceless facades of modernity. Fortunately, the story of this building has a happy ending. 

In the 1880s the tale commenced of this fable-like building that resembles a fortified structure of medieval times, with its turrets and towers. In that decade, the YMCA operated from small premises on Queen Street, a short distance east of Dovercourt Road. Having outgrown the site, a wealthy Toronto businessman, Samuel J. Moore, organized a project to raise money from the public to construct a larger building.

Moore was the founder of the Moore Corporation, a company, which among other items, designed and marketed carbon-copy receipt forms. They revolutionized the sales books employed at retail shops for customers’ receipts. Throughout much of the company’s history, it was the world’s largest printer of business forms, and though no longer as influential, it still exists today.

After the land for the structure was purchased for $10,000, the architectural firm of Gordon & Helliwell was hired to construct a four-storey building. Its design was to reflect High Victorian architecture in the  Queen Anne Revival style, which was popular in the last quarter of the 19th century. It was meant to impress those who looked upon it. When completed, The Great Hall certainly achieved this effect.

Located on the southeast corner of Queen and Dovercourt, the cornerstone was laid on November 13, 1889. As construction proceeded, its facades of red bricks soon dominated the street. To add to its impressive appearance, it was trimmed with white Port Credit sandstone. Further embellishments included a rounded ornamented flagstaff tower on its northwest corner and on its northeast corner, a tall pointed tower resembling those found on great cathedrals.

The building was officially opened on October 9, 1890, its completion achieved in a mere eleven months, a testament to the plenteous supply of cheap labour in that decade. The following evening, in the Main Hall the building’s first concert was held, featuring various local groups and individuals. The affair was reviewed favourably by the press.

This new branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was to serve the needs of the West End of the city. It contained a gymnasium that was also employed as an auditorium and was known as The Main Hall. There was a library, basement swimming pool, bowling alley, and a raised wooden running track in the balcony to accommodate aspiring young athletes. Long-distance runner Tom Longboat, a member of the Onondaga Tribe of the Six Nations Indian Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, trained on the building’s track. For many years, he was the world’s most famous long-distance runner. In 1907, he won the Boston Marathon.

The Main Hall in the building had plaster scrollwork surrounding the stage, and the chandeliers of Waterford Crystal were positioned thirty feet above the highly polished oak floor. The cast iron pillars supporting the balcony had ornamented gilded capitals. The west wall contained four arched-windows that were twenty feet in height, allowing copious light to illuminate the interior space.

In 1912, the building was purchased and renovated by the Royal Templars of Temperance, a fraternal organization that promoted the prohibition of alcohol. They also offered life and disability insurance at a reasonable cost to its members. The Templars renamed the former YMCA building the Royal Templar Hall. In the early decade of the 20th century, it was a popular venue for lectures, lantern shows, and popular entertainers of the day. It also organized a baby clinic after the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919, which killed more people than the Great War. During the mayoral elections of 1929, candidates Sam McBride and Bert Wemp debated in its auditorium. Sam McBride eventually won the election and today, one of the famous Toronto Island ferries is named after him.   

A dance hall was added in 1933, when the Independent Order of Foresters rented the premises. This organization was similar to the Templars and eventually the two organizations amalgamated. From 1939 until 1987, the building housed the offices of the Polish National Union, as well as the printing presses of the local Polish newspaper. During the Second World War, the building provided temporary accommodations for Polish immigrants arriving from Europe.

In the 1980s, the building became a centre for musicians and artists working in the visual and experimental arts. However, by the turn of the 21st century, the building had greatly deteriorated. Steve Metlitski, a Belarusian immigrant, bought it and provided more than $4 million to restore it to its former glory. During the restoration, it was necessary to install an elevator to comply with accessibility regulations. When layers of plywood and tiles were removed in The Main Hall and balcony the original wood floors were revealed.

The entire interior required repainting and the 20-foot windows on the west side, some of which had survived since 1889, were refurbished. It was also necessary to install a modern cooling system without having the air ducts exposed to view. The restoration was basically completed in 2016, and an opening event was held on September 21st of that year. It was also decided that The Main Hall was to be renamed Longboat Hall after the famous athlete of yesteryears.

As many features as possible of the original hall were now preserved. However, the swimming pool in the basement was not restored, so is not accessible to the public. Presently, the building is named The Great Hall, and features community arts and cultural activities. It is also an excellent events venue. 

Sources:

https://www.thegreathall.ca/

ps://torontoguardian.com › History

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/great-hall…/article31470429 (Marcus Gee)

https://torontoist.com/2014/07/the-great-hall-warns-its-in-danger-of-shutting-down

1908, 1912.  Fonds 70, Series 330, File 345

The Great Hall between the years 1908 and 1912. In those years, few hydro wires cluttered the scene. Toronto Archives, Fonds 70, Series 330, File 345.

1914, Chuckman's Postcard Coll.   ostcard[1]

Postcard printed in 1914 depicting the building. Postcard from the Chuckman’s Postcard Collection.

                                     1907-Tom-Longboat-Library-and-Archives-Canada-Mikan-4169967-211x300[1]

Tom Longboat in 1907, a member of the Onondaga Tribe of the Six Nations Indian Reserve near Brantford, Ontario. He trained on the building’s wood running track. Photo from the Canada Archives, Ottawa. 

blogto.com  2014720-great-hall[1]

       Undated photo of The Main Hall inside the building, image from blogTO.

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The Great Hall in May 2018, looking east along Queen Street West, from west of Dovercourt Road.

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The rounded flagstaff tower on the northwest corner of the building. Photos taken May 27, 2017.

                            DSCN1920

Outside view of a 20-foot window on the west facade, facing Dovercourt Road. 

DSCN1921

Ornate entrance doors on the north side of the building, facing Queen Street West.

                             DSCN2630

Gazing out through a glass window pane in one of the doors. The buildings framed by the window are on the north side of Queen Street West.

                             DSCN2629

View inside the doors, revealing the staircase that ascends to the second storey.

DSCN1935

View from the top of the grand staircase, which leads from the ground-floor doors to the second floor where the balcony is located.

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View of the balcony and The Main Hall from the second-floor balcony. Photo taken in May 2017. 

image

View from the rear of The Main Hall (Tom Longboat Hall). The ornate plaster surrounding the stage, the oak floors, and the second-storey balcony are visible.

DSCN1929   DSCN1930

The Waterford Crystal chandeliers, positioned thirty feet above the oak floor. 

                               DSCN2622

        Looking east on Queen Street West at the Great Hall, photo May 2018.

view od east side  DSCN1936

View of the east facade of the Great Hall and its pointed tower from the grounds of CAMH, on Queen Street West. 

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

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb_[2]  

“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

 

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

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. 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. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

                  image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]

“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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®

“Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , ,

Scadding House beside the Eaton Centre, Toronto

               DSCN2403

Scadding House in Trinity Square (Toronto), beside the Eaton Centre, photo March 2018.

Toronto has many interesting heritage buildings, some in prominent locations and others tucked away from the public eye. The dichotomy of Scadding House is that it is in one of the most high-profile sites in the city, yet remains hidden from view. Only a narrow space separates it from the west side of the Eaton Centre, which attracts thousands of shoppers and visitors annually. There is a small historic plaque on the house’s south facade that informs those who pass by that its original resident was Dr. Henry Scadding. However, it seems that few people notice the plaque. This is a pity, as the house is one of the most historic buildings in Toronto, and one of the few pre-Confederation dwellings that remains in the city today.

The story of the Scadding family is intertwined with the early-day history of York (Toronto). Henry Scadding’s father, John Scadding (1754-1824) was the manager of the 5000-acre estate of John Graves Simcoe when he lived in Devon, England. In 1792, Simcoe was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (Ontario), and John Scadding sailed across the ocean to join his employer. Simcoe hired Scadding as an assistant, and granted him 250 acres of crown land on the east side of the Don River. In fulfilment of his “Settlement Duties, Scadding built on the property a modest cabin and barn with square-timbered logs of white pine. Today, its location is where Queen Street East crosses over the Don Valley Parkway.

In 1796, John Scadding returned with Lieutenant Governor Simcoe to Devon, England, leaving the cabin beside the Don River under the care of a neighbour. After Simcoe died in 1806, Scadding became the estate manager for his widow. The same year, he married Milicent (Melly) Triggs, and in the years ahead they had three sons. Scadding returned to Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1818, and three years later, brought his wife and sons to York (Toronto). One of the boys was Henry, born in 1813.

In 1879, members of the York Pioneers dismantled Scadding’s cabin near the Don River and relocated it to a site in Exhibition Park. There, they re-erect it, using the tools and techniques of the past. The cabin remains on this location today, a testament to the city’s first act of architectural conservation.

The education of Henry Scadding, the son of the pioneer who erected Scadding cabin, began the first year he was in York. At  eight years of age, he studied under the tutelage of John Strachan at the Home District School. When Upper Canada College (UCC) opened on King Street in 1830, Henry was 17 years old, and was the first student to enrol in the college.

In 1833, Henry travelled to England to study at Cambridge. His education was partly financed by Elizabeth Simcoe, the widow of Lieutenant Governor Simcoe. She had been his father’s former employer. Henry Scadding departed England in 1837, returning to Upper Canada. In 1838, he was appointed Master of Classics at Upper Canada College, his alma mater. The same year, he was ordained an Anglican priest in Quebec, where he taught for several years. Returning to Toronto in 1840, he served at St. James Cathedral on King Street East as the assistant minister and Strachan’s domestic chaplain. In June 1847, Strachan appointed Scadding the incumbent of the newly-constructed Church of the Holy Trinity.

The church was located in Trinity Square, between Yonge and Bay Streets, north of Queen Street West. On the east side of the square there was a short street that connected the square to Yonge Street. It was also named Trinity Square. At #10 Trinity Square, in 1862, a church rectory was built for Henry. It possessed four floors and an attic, the first-floor partially below ground. It was in this rectory that he wrote, “Toronto of Old,” published in 1873. It was the first book of consequence about Toronto’s history. I personally employ this book frequently when researching sites for this `blog.

As mentioned, the rectory of the Reverend Henry Scadding still exists today. Located on the west side of the Eaton Centre, it is adjacent to the Church of the Holy Trinity. It was Scadding’s home between 1862 and 1901. Its architect was a Scotsman, William Hay, who designed it in a style that was similar to many townhouses erected in Toronto during this period. The yellow-brick house was plain, with few architectural adornments. However, on the top floor, on the east side, there was a small balcony, accessed from Dr. Scadding’s study. The balcony was trimmed with ornate woodwork created by hand with a coping saw. From the balcony, Scadding possessed an excellent view of Centre Island to the south, and to the east, the Scarborough Bluffs. Today, because of the tall structures surrounding the house, the view can be measured in feet rather than miles. 

Patricia McHugh in her book, “Toronto Architecture – a City Guide,” refers to the style of the house as “Georgian/Gothic,” although I fail to see any hint of Gothic in its design. The hip roof contains gabled windows, the chimney for the fireplaces inside the home positioned in the centre of the roof. This is unusual, as most houses build the chimneys on opposite sides of the roof.

Henry Scadding passed away in 1901 and was buried in St. James Cemetery. After his death, the house had various tenants and was empty at times. However, Mary Dixon lived on the top floor of the house from 1966 until 1974. She stated that when she lived there, the floor below her was sub-divided into apartments. The second floor contained church offices, and the ground floor was a meeting place for locals, as well as a restaurant that became a coffee house in the evenings.

In 1974, great changes occurred in the history of Scadding House. A developer wanted to purchase the house and demolish it to permit the building of the Eaton Centre. Following difficult negotiations, a deal was agreed upon in which the house was to be relocated 150 feet to the west. On its new site, it would be to the immediate east of the Church of the Holy Trinity, close to the west side of the Eaton Centre. After the relocation was completed, restoration of the premises commenced and fire-escapes were erected in the narrow space that separated it from the Centre.

At some unknown date during the previous decades, the balcony on the fourth floor of the house had disappeared. Likely it had been removed as it was in poor condition and in danger of falling to the street below. When the house was restored, the ornate balcony on the top floor was rebuilt.

Today, the house appears much the same as it did when Dr. Henry Scadding was in residence. It is rented to various not-for-profit agencies, so is not open to the general public. This is a pity, as it is such an important part of the city’s architectural heritage.

Sources:

https://torontoist.com/2016/07/meet-one-of-torontos-first-historians-henry-scadding

Toronto No Mean City, Eric Arthur, published by University of Toronto Press, 1964.

www.biographi.ca/en/bio/scadding_henry_13E.html

                    E4 D4 24D, Toro. Pub. Lib.

Dr. Henry Scadding in 1860 at age 47, photo from the collection of the Toronto Public Library.

       1885.  e9-172[1]

Dr. Henry Scadding in 1885 at age 72, photo from the collection of the Toronto Public Library.

                     1890  pictures-r-5723[1]

Sketch of 1890 depicting the view gazing west on the street named Trinity Square. Scadding House is visible, with its fourth floor balcony. The street appears charming,with its mature shade trees and gas lamp, a part of the “Toronto of Old” that no longer exists. Sketch from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-5723. 

1900  - pictures-r-5474[1]

The study and library of Henry Scadding in 1900, a year before his death. It was on the fourth floor of the home, where the balcony was located. The fireplace likely burned coal. Toronto Public Library, r-5474.

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Henry Scadding’s desk in 1900. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, r-5475.

        1936.  pictures-r-5724[1]

Scadding House on its original location. The view in the photo looks east toward Yonge Street on the street named Trinity Square. On the north side of the street, Scadding House is the four-storey building on the right. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, r- 5724.                   

                         1974-  tspa_0109997f[2]

House being lifted onto a frame of iron girders to relocate it in 1974. The shops on Yonge Street are visible in the background. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0109997.

View of Eaton's demolition in foreground, Scadding House and office buildings in background – September 7, 1974

Scadding House in 1974 after it was relocated to the east side of the Church of the Holy Trinity. The land in the foreground is where structures were demolished to construct the foundations for the Eaton Centre. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl0083, item 0061.

                            View of Scadding house, west of Yonge Street in Trinity Square – January 12, 1974

Scadding House in 1974 after it had been located 150 feet to the west of its original site. The hoarding to the right of the house is where the foundations of the Eaton Centre will be excavated. The balcony on the fourth floor remains missing. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl0083, item 0021.

                         View of Scadding house and dug foundation for the Eaton Centre – January 17, 1975

This dramatic photo taken in 1975 shows the house perched precariously beside the immense construction site for the foundations of the Eaton Centre. The view looks to the northeast, the signage for Dundas Square at Yonge near Dundas visible in the background. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl0083, item 0024.

                                  1977, after relocated  tspa_0112942f[1]

View of the north facade (rear) of Scadding House in 1977, prior to its restoration. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0112942.

                     View of Church of the Holy Trinity, Scadding House, and Eaton's Centre – April 27, 1978

View in 1978, after the fourth-floor balcony had been restored. The Church of the Holy Trinity is on the west (left) side of the house and the Eaton Centre is on the east (right) side of it. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, fl0024, item 0030.

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View of Scadding House in 2018 (left) and (right) the sign that appears on the west facade of the building.

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The balcony on the fourth floor after it was restored. A gabled window in the attic is visible on the roof.

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                     The north facade (rear) of Scadding House in 2018.

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The south (front) facade of the house in 2016. The space between the house and the Eaton Centre contains the fire-escapes. The church is to the west (left) of the house.

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              Books by the Blog’s Author

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“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

 

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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. 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. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

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“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It 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®

“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:

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