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Category Archives: tayloronhistory.com

Scadding Cabin—Toronto’s oldest surviving structure

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Scadding Cabin, built in 1794, now located on the CNE grounds. Photo taken in May 2017.

My first memories of Scadding Cabin date from the 1950s, when I was a teenager visiting the CNE. I had always been fascinated by history and was amazed to discover that the white-washed log structure dated from 1794. At that time, Toronto was a frontier settlement of about a dozen log cabins, clustered around the eastern end of the harbour. The small garrison to the west of the town generated some economic activity, but most of it was created by fur traders that employed the Humber River as a trade route to travel to the Upper Great Lakes.

When Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor arrived in York’s harbour on the morning of July 29, 1793 aboard the HMS Mississauga, the sleepy settlement was thrust into sudden importance. Simcoe declared henceforth it was to be the capital of the colony. He changed its name from Toronto to York on August 26, 1793 as he preferred English names to those of the First Nations. John Scadding’s Cabin is the only surviving structure from this period in Toronto’s history, when log cabins were the only dwellings that existed.

John Scadding (1754-1824) had been the manager of Simcoe’s estate in Devon, England. In 1792, when Simcoe was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (Ontario), Scadding joined him. Simcoe employed him as an assistant and granted him 250 acres of crown land, located on the east side of the Don River. The property extended from the shoreline of the Lake as far north as the first concession line (Danforth Road). Its east-west boundaries were the Don River and the Mill Road (Broadview Avenue).

In 1792, in fulfilment of his “Settlement Duties, Scadding built a modest cabin and barn, employing square-timbered logs of white pine, fitted with dove-tailed corners. The trees were hewn from his own property. The cabin consisted of a single low-ceilinged room, with space above it for sleeping quarters. This “loft” configuration was typical of many dwellings built in York in the last decade of the 19th century. Near the south side of the cabin was the road that led to Kingston. On its west side was a bridge that crossed the Don River. It gave access to the town of York and was known locally as, “Scadding Bridge.”

However, some historical records state that Simcoe ordered the Queen’s Rangers to construct the cabin, explaining why it was later referred to as “Simcoe Cabin.” Today, its location is where Queen Street East crosses over the Don Valley Parkway. The cabin was close to the river, which in the early years was teeming with fish, particularly salmon. The river was also a popular route for travelling to the town to purchase supplies and sell farm produce. Scadding’s first cabin was destroyed by fire in 1793. Fires were a common occurrence in these days because of open fireplaces with chimneys that lacked chimney-pots atop them. John Scadding erected another cabin the following year.

Scadding returned with Simcoe to England in 1796, leaving the cabin under the care of a neighbour, George Playter, who lived in it along with his son. When Scadding returned to Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1818, he was married and had three sons. Requiring a larger residence, he sold the cabin to William Smith who employed it as a shed and small barn. Scadding erected a new home, barn and stables to the north, near what is today Gerrard Street. The abode was surrounded by orchards and cultivated fields of hay, rye, barley, and oats. In 1824, Scadding was injured by a falling tree and died shortly after, his sons continuing to operate the farm.

As the 19th century progressed, the land to the east of the Don River was opened to further development. The land surrounding the cabin was to be subdivided and the cabin was in the way. In 1879, rather than demolish the cabin, Smith offered it to the York Pioneers free of charge, with the understanding that it would be relocated.

The York Pioneers had been formed in 1869, by a small group of men intent on preserving York County’s early-day history. Its members were all pioneers who had been living in York County prior to March 1834, when Toronto was incorporated as a city. The men clearly remembered the town of York when it was a mere village, important only as a seat of government. By the 1870s, Toronto was a bustling industrial and commercial centre.

The relocation project was an ambitious endeavour that entailed considerable labour. The cabin was painstakingly dismantled, and on August 22, 1879, members of the York Pioneers met at Rennie’s Seed Store on Adelaide Street and journeyed westward in a cart along King Street. In the cart, pulled by a team of oxen, were the disassembled pieces of the cabin. They were on their way to today’s Exhibition Park, where they would re-erect it, using the tools and techniques of the past. It was the city’s first act of architectural conservation. The year 1879 was the inauguration of the Industrial Exhibition (later renamed the Canadian National Exhibition), and the cabin was to be a part it. The site where the cabin was to be reconstructed was to the west of where in the years ahead, the CNE Band Shell would be built.

In 1901, the name of the cabin was changed from Simcoe Cabin to Scadding Cabin, to honour Henry Scadding, the youngest son of John Scadding. Henry was the author of the book, “Toronto of Old,” published in 1873. He is recognized as the city’s first historian. He was the president and a founding member of the York Pioneer Society. As late as the 1950s, the cabin was white-washed, but today it possesses the natural colour of the white-pine logs. It is furnished as a typical settler’s first house, with artefacts dating from the 1790s to the 1850s.

Sources:

torontoist.com/2010/08/historicist_building_a_history/

www.yorkpineers.org/cabin.html

www. torontoplaques.com/pages/scadding_cabin.hmtl

1793, Eliz. Simcoe, Ont. Archives  6959-1020[1]

Sketch drawn by Elizabeth Simcoe in 1793, depicting Scadding’s first cabin and a small barn. Scadding Bridge is on the west (left-hand) side of the two log structures. Toronto Public Library, r-1516.

Scadding's 2nd cabin, north of Gerrard. Rob's Book, DSCN2009 - Copy

John Scadding’s second home on the east bank of the Don River, built around the year 1819. The lean-to on the right-hand side was constructed of planks from Castle Frank. They had been floated on rafts down the Don River. Sketch is from John Ross Robertson’s book, “Landmarks of Toronto,” Volume I, page 195. 

c. 1880s, CNE Scadding-Cabin 001[1]

The Cabin (on the left) in the 1880s, prior to its name being changed from Simcoe Cabin to Scadding Cabin in 1901.

Scadding Cabin in 1890, when it was on the CNE grounds. Ontario Archives, 10001932.

Fonds 1244, Item 272A

A gathering at Scadding Cabin on the occasion of the opening of the CNE in 1907. Toronto Public Library, Fl 1244, item 0272.

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Scadding Cabin in 1928. Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 6099.

Side view of Scadding Cabin – August 20, 1972

Scadding Cabin in August 1972. Toronto Archives, F 1526, Fl 0094, item 0075.

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The north (right-hand) and east (left-hand) sides of the Cabin in May 2017.

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                Views of the cabin’s interior with its stone fireplace.

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The northwest corner of the all-purpose room on the first-floor level of Scadding Cabin. An engraving of Simcoe is on the west wall.

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The narrow stairs that led to the sleeping quarters in the cabin’s loft. The ceiling is very low compared to those of today.

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The doorway of Scadding Cabin decorated to welcome visitors during “Doors Open Toronto” in May 2017. 

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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

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

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626194502

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flooding on Toronto Islands in 2017

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Flooding surrounding a home on Ward’s Island during the spring of 2017. Photo from the Toronto Star, June 3, 2017, accompanying an article by Peter Goffin.

The disastrous flooding of the Toronto Islands during the spring of 2017 has allowed people to realize the importance of the Islands to summer life in the city. Very few urban areas throughout the world possess an idyllic retreat so close to their downtown core. New York has Central Park and Vancouver has Stanley Park, but neither of these resemble the Toronto Islands. Rio de Janeiro has its world-famous beaches, far superior to those on the Islands, but Toronto’s stretches of golden sand appear to satisfy most sun-bathers.

I believe that Toronto’s parkland in the Lake is unique because of its lagoons. They remain virtually unchanged since York’s early-day setters first discovered them in the 1790s. Perhaps this is why a person is able to sense the quieter days of yesteryear when strolling beside their tree-lined banks. It is easy to conjure up images of the picnickers who arrived in the 19th century by flat-bottomed boats powered by horses on treadmills, or envision the ghosts of those who arrived on small vessels propelled by coal-fired steam engines.

The ancient willow trees, stretching their leafy branches to touch the ground, and the wide verdant spaces with the coveted picnic tables remind me of the days of my childhood in the 1940s. My family often arrived on Centre Island on the side-paddled ferry, the Trillium. Because of these memories, today, each summer I journey on at least one pilgrimage to the Islands to reflect upon the days of my youth and enjoy the features added during the previous few decades, especially the gardens.

On these occasions, I purchase a bag of popcorn in Centreville from a small red cart, and suddenly I am an eight-year-old experiencing the wonders of the Islands for the first time. Strolling the down the Avenue of the Islands, across Long Pond on the Venetian-style bridge and wandering south toward the Lake, popcorn in hand, is as close as I am able to get to repeating a childhood ritual. It appears likely that this simple pleasure will be denied me this year, although there remains hope that the Islands will reopen in August.

It seems that I am not alone in lamenting the loss of the Islands this summer (2017). I thoroughly enjoyed Edward Keenan’s article in the Toronto Star on June 3, 2017. For anyone who missed this exceptional piece of writing, it is worth reading it online. Mr. Keenan wrote about the importance of the Islands to the summer season in the city, and shared his present-day thoughts and memories of visiting them. On Tuesday June 6, 2017 he wrote another article in which he asked the unthinkable question—What if the flooding on the Islands is not simply a rare occurrence? but a harbinger of the future, due to climate warming. Mr. Keenan also posed the discomforting question, are we willing to pay to maintain these unique parklands? 

The following information is an edited version of a post that I wrote on March 1, 2016, about my childhood memories of the Islands.

Memories of Centre Island during the 1940s

When I was a young boy in the 1940s, visiting Centre Island was high adventure. It was during the war years, and holidaying within the city was the only possibility open to most people. Gasoline and car tires were rationed, and automobiles were unaffordable. Besides, cars were not being manufactured due to the war effort. The most popular summer destinations were Centre Island, Sunnyside, and in mid-August, the CNE. The CNE is now greatly reduced in size and Sunnyside Amusement Park was demolished to construct the Gardiner Expressway. Sadly, the village on Centre Island, which I knew as a boy, has also disappeared.

For my family, a day-trip to Centre Island always began when my family boarded a Bay Streetcar. In those years, the Bay cars journeyed from their western terminus at St. Clair and Lansdowne, east on St. Clair, south on Avenue Road, east on Davenport and then, southward on Bay Street to the ferry docks at Bay and Queen’s Quay.

The excitement of anticipation caused the journey on the streetcar to be akin to a trans-continental trip. However, after travelling southward through the Bay Street canyon, we finally arrived at the ferry terminal, on the south side of Queen’s Quay, at the foot of Bay Street. My dad referred to as “the new terminal,” as it had been built between the years 1926 and 1927. This was only a few years after he had arrived in the city as a young immigrant in 1921.

As a boy, this was the only terminal that I knew; it remained in service until 1972, when it was demolished. The present-day facility, the Toronto Island Ferry Docks, was built in 1973, and was renamed the Jack Layton Terminal in 2013. In 2015, it was announced that a more modern terminal is to replace it.

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This photograph of the terminal was taken in 1927, shortly after it opened at the foot of Bay Street. This is the terminal I knew as a boy.

In the 1940s, the ferries that carried passengers across the harbour were the Bluebell (launched in 1906), Trillium (1910), the William Inglis (1935) and the Sam McBride (1939). They were all double-decked, double-ended boats. My favourite was the Trillium, as my father always took my brother and me below deck, where it was possible to view the enormous pistons that powered the side-paddles that propelled the boat across the waters of the bay. The sheer size and hissing noise of the pistons were amazing and fascinating. Thankfully, the Trillium still exists today and is available for special harbour excursions.

The only terrifying incident I experienced on a ferry was aboard the Bluebell. My uncle George was the captain in the 1940s, and on one occasion, he invited us to climb up to the wheel-house on the top deck. The only problem was that to reach it, I needed to ascend an iron ladder attached to the side of the boat. While on the ladder, I was virtually hanging in space, the waters of the harbour threateningly swirling below me. Reaching the top, I enjoyed the view from the windows of the wheel-house, but descending the ladder was even more frightening than the witch in the glass booth in the ferry terminal.

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The Bluebell in the 1940s, when my Uncle George Brown, was the captain of the ferry. Toronto Public Library, 9646-40.

After crossing the harbour and arriving on Centre Island, we walked along a cement pathway that remains in existence today. On either side of it were expansive picnic grounds and a large pavilion with many tables. Under it, picnickers could find shelter from the sun on scorching hot days or from thunderstorms on rainy afternoons. Eventually, we reached the Venetian-style bridge that crossed over Long Pond, one of the many lagoons on the islands. On the south side of the bridge was Manitou Road, the main drag of the village on Centre Island. It was a relatively short in length, about equal in distance to King Street, between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street. However, its size did not detract from its importance.

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The Venetian-style bridge over Long Pond in 1900. View gazes south. Toronto Archives,  Fonds 1568, Item 0433. 

After crossing the bridge, at the north end of Manitou Road, beside the lagoon, there was a boathouse that rented canoes by the hour or day. Paddling the quiet waters of the islands had been popular since the 19th century. However, my eyes were not drawn to the canoe-rental shop, but to the food stands on Manitou Road. I longed to feast on the popcorn, candy apples, hot buttered corn (in August), candy floss, and hot dogs. A boy my age was in reality a bag of skin stretched over an appetite.

The food kiosks were not the only places to satisfy one’s hunger. Lining the street were restaurants, where the sounds of the music from the juke boxes drifted on the summer air, their appeal more enjoyable due to the cooling breezes from the lake. “A nickel in the slot” gave a person access to the swinging dance tunes of the decade, such as those of Glenn Miller’s band, which was highly popular during the war years. The candy shop, ice cream parlour, and bakery were mouth-watering, but I ignored the bank, book store, dance halls, open-air dance floor, tea rooms, and drug store. Manitou Road was a complete village contained within a single roadway, since it also possessed a Dominion Bank, laundry, dairy, and butcher shop.

Lining the street were hotels and Victorian or Edwardian wood-frame houses that rented rooms. I heard my my dad tell my mother that the rooms were expensive, so it was not uncommon for two to four young people to share a room. He said that teenagers and young adults ignored the inconveniences of crowded rooms to be close to the action on Manitou Road, where they could “whoop-it-up” and misbehave, as they were beyond the prying eyes of their parents and neighbours across the harbour in the city.

My mother’s eye-brows rose slightly when my dad informed her that the partying on Manitou Road continued until the midnight hour. He told her that it was a regular occurrence, especially on Friday and Saturdays, or if there were a hot spell that drove Torontonians to escape the heat and humidity on the mainland. As my dad informed my mother about the behaviour of the summer visitors on Manitou Road, I wondered how he knew about such things. Today, I wonder if my mother was thinking the same thing. I won’t relate my mother’s reaction when my dad confessed that when he was younger, he had been in Price’s Casino on Manitou Road.

The side-streets east and west of the main drag mostly had wooden plank sidewalks, shaded by mature trees, many of them ancient willows. These avenues were flanked by rows of wood-frame houses with small gardens. Most of them displayed perennials, as bringing annuals over from the city was inconvenient and laborious. Plants such as hollyhocks, which seeded themselves, as well as blue delphiniums were also popular.

Since no cars were allowed on the islands, residents walked or travelled by bicycle. Adding to the number of bicycles were the rental shops where day-trippers could lease them by the hour or day. Other activities included tennis, bowling, canoeing, and badminton. At the south end of Manitou Road were the cool waters of Lake Ontario. Beside it was the avenue simply named the Lakeshore, a long stretch of roadway that paralleled the Lake. Following it to the west led to Hanlan’s Point, and to the east, Ward’s Island. Some of the finest homes on the islands were on the Lakeshore, facing the water. Many prominent Toronto families maintained summer homes on Centre Island, including the Gooderham’s and the Massey’s. These two families were also instrumental in creating the Royal Canadian Yacht Club (YCYC) on Centre Island.

On the west side of the intersection of Manitou Road and the Lakeshore was one of the most popular beaches on the islands. The long stretch of golden sand was crowded, even when the water was cold, beginning in the morning hours and remaining until about 5:30 pm. After that hour, the crowds thinned out as young people departed for the restaurants, soda fountains, and tea shops on Manitou Road. When darkness descended, they would cruise the dance halls, the strings of coloured lights over Manitou Road adding to the party atmosphere. At the end of the evening, unless people were residents, they joined the stampede to catch the last ferry departing for the mainland.

During the 1940s, on most summer days the ferries were crowded to capacity. On August 11, 1944, during a heat wave, they transported 30,000 people across the harbour. In this decade, unless July and August were exceptionally cool or rainy, the ferries carried about a million passengers annually. Most of them were day-trippers. During the summer months, the number of residents living on the islands swelled to about 12,000, though some remained after the warm weather ended. Centre Island was a place that provided entertainment for all ages, with quiet spots for family picnics, lazy lagoons for canoeing, and dance halls and restaurants for younger adults.  

However, in 1956, the writing was on the wall. The Centre Island that I knew as a boy was to disappear. The city transferred the responsibility for the islands to the Municipality of Metro Toronto. The official plan was to demolish the permanent buildings and turn the islands into parkland to be shared by everyone, not the privileged few. However, it was mostly the less affluent residents who lost their homes on the islands. No attempt was made to open the grounds of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club to the public. It retains its exclusivity to this very day.

Removing the homes on the islands commenced one of the longest legal battles in the history of the city, as residents fought to maintain their homes. The city was not completely successful in their quest, but the demolition of the homes and the businesses on Manitou Road commenced in the 1960s. I was in my late-teens at this time and remember the reports in the newspapers about the destruction. It was not long before the main drag was razed and the places to “whoop-it-up” were gone forever.

Today, few traces remain of the Centre Island that once existed. However, if a person strolls along the boardwalk that parallels the lake, from Centre Island to Ward’s Island, among the bushes, wild undergrowth and trees, it is possible to view a few surviving cement and stone foundations of the old houses that faced the Lake. Remains of a garden wall or a few steps leading to a doorway can still be seen if one looks carefully. In a few places, there are clumps of perennials that have survived for over six decades, the remains of the quaint gardens that once grew beside the houses that were the summer homes of Toronto residents of yesteryear. These flowers, purchased on the mainland, are now the only living landmarks of a vibrant village life that has disappeared.

The 1960s was an decade when more than just Centre lsland was destroyed. A large number of homes along the Lakeshore Road on the mainland were seized, bulldozed, and paved over to build the Gardiner Expressway. The Sunnyside Amusement Park also disappeared to allow this project to proceed. Within the downtown core, dozens of heritage building, Georgian-style row houses, fine mansions, 1920s-Art Deco skyscrapers, theatres, and government buildings were razed. 

Saving the past has never been easy, but the 1960s actively encouraged it. Those who fought against it were labelled as “crackpots” and the enemies of progress.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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

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

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

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CIBC celebrates its 150th year

                 f1244_it3181[1]   1930

The Bank of Commerce in 1930, the tallest building in the British Empire when it was completed in 1929. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, S 1257, S 1007, item 0409.

The CIBC recently opened the observation deck on the 32th floor of the Bank of Commerce (now the CIBC) on King Street West for a one-time private viewing. Closed for the past fifty years, it was opened to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Bank of Commerce, one of the founding banks of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. It was was also to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. Due to safety concerns, it is not practical to permit the observation deck to be open to the general public. Besides, the view is not as spectacular as when it was in 1929, as the building is hemmed in by tall skyscrapers. However, the view is still magnificent. I found it amazing to view the sculptures on the 32th floor from a close-up perspective.

Completed in 1929, the former Bank of Commerce is one of Toronto’s finest Art Deco structures. Its banking hall remains impressive, despite the passing of the many decades since it opened.

To view a pictorial history of the bank: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/torontos-architectural-gemsthe-bank-of-commerce-cibc-on-king-street/

Photos taken on May 11, 2017 commemorating the 150th anniversary of the bank.

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The chandelier in the banking hall was lowered for the 150th anniversary of the founding of the bank, allowing a close-up view .

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The richly ornamented chandelier in the banking hall, its bottom tier containing the caduceus, the symbol of the Bank of Commerce.

                    220px-Johann_Froben's_printer's_symbol[1]   DSCN1829

The caduceus is the traditional symbol of Hermes and features two snakes winding around a staff, often mistakenly used as a symbol of medicine. In Greek mythology, it was a symbol of commerce and negotiation, a natural representation for The Bank of Commerce.

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(Left-hand photo) the northeast corner of the bank when it was under construction in 1927-1929, and (right), people on the observation deck c. 1930.

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Gazing south toward the Toronto Islands from the observation deck in May 2017.

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                                        Sculpted stone face that gazes east.

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   Gazing west along King Street. In North America, only New York City has more skyscrapers than Toronto.

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Looking east, Adelaide Street East on the left-hand side, and in the foreground the tower and spire of St. James Cathedral.

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The north facade of the 58-storey L-Tower at I Front Street East, architect  Daniel Libeskind.

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                              The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.                  

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       The building that houses Sleep Country, on the northeast corner of King and Yonge (8 King Street East)

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          The Art Deco designed foyer that leads to the observation deck.

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Glimpse of the northeast corner of Union Station between the towering skyscrapers. 

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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

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

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

 

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Southeast Corner of Bathurst and King—Toronto

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                The building at 665 King Street West in May 2017.

The southeast corner of Bathurst and King Streets is slated for redevelopment. The early-20th-century building on the site has survived for over a century, but is soon to meet the wrecker’s ball as it is in an area that is exploding demographically.

The four-storey red-brick structure was erected between the years 1901 and 1902. On its completion, the Canada Biscuit Company owned by Thomas McCormick occupied the site, but remained on the premises for only two years. It was vacant for the next two years. For the following two years (1907 and 1908) the Smith Baggs and Heaven Company rented the property. In 1909, the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company and Sanitol Chemical Laboratory Company shared the building. The latter company manufactured hygienic products, including tooth powder and toilet paper.

In 1913, the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company and the Reliance Knitting Company shared the structure. However, in 1923, the Bank of Montreal opened a branch on the ground-floor, facing King Street. The bank branch closed in 2000.

The Banknote Bar opened shortly after 2000, taking its name from the fact that legal tender, known as bank notes, was representative of the previous occupant of the space. The Bank Note Bar had no connection with the British American Bank Note Company, which distributed paper bills and coins from the Canadian mint to the various banks throughout the city. This arrangement commenced after 1935, when the Bank of Canada was created. Previously, each bank printed its own bank notes.

It is a pity that the building the Banknote Bar occupies will not survive, except for its north facade. The city and developers have not learned that destroying heritage structures is a losing proposition—both environmentally and financially. If a heritage building is recycled, labour costs are higher but the cost of materials is less. This is an environmental win and a job stimulus for the city. The developers’ total costs are only slightly higher, despite their argument to the contrary, although it requires more time to include a heritage property within a project. However, developers win big time when the spaces within the projects are either sold or rented. People and businesses pay increased prices as the sites are deemed more desirable.

King St, west to Bathurst, (Way Department) – April 13, 1927    

Gazing west on King Street toward Bathurst and King Streets on April 13, 1927. The building where the Bank of Montreal was located is visible in the distance, on the left-hand side of the photo. The turret on the Wheat Sheaf Tavern can also be seen at Bathurst, on the southwest corner. There are houses on the north side of King Street. Toronto Archives, S 0071, item 4810. 

View of King Street West, looking east from Bathurst Street – August 25, 1973

Looking east on King Street from the corner of King and Bathurst on August 25, 1972. The Bank of Montreal occupies the space where the Banknote Bar is located today (2017). Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl 0074, item 0037.

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The Banknote Bar in May 2017. The building at 665 King Street is an handsome structure and deserves to be protected from demolition.

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The north facade on King Street in 2017, the only part of the building that will survive. The large stones on the ground floor create the impression of pillars, this heavy, fortified appearance typical of banks in 1920s.

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                           Entrance to the building on King Street West

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An entranceway with ornate brickwork on the west facade facing Bathurst Street, likely used by other tenants that rent space within. 

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          Architectural detailing on the southwest corner of the structure.

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Interior of the Banknote Bar with its pine beams. This is the space where the Bank of Montreal was located from 1923 to 2000.

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        The door of the vault of the Bank of Montreal in the Banknote Bar

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Diagram of the redevelopment of the site at Bathurst and King Streets. The view gazes south on Bathurst Street, the spire of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the foreground. This diagram does not show the two other heritage buildings on the corners of Bathurst and King, so its appears as if the redevelopment of the site is a suitable match.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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

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

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

 

 

Tags: , ,

Westbury Hotel Toronto (history of)

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The Westbury Hotel in 2015, the view looking south on Yonge Street toward Carlton from Alexander Street. 

The Westbury Hotel is soon to be demolished, replaced by two high-rise towers, 65 and 45 storeys tall. The Westbury is located at 475 Yonge Street, on the east side of the street, one block north of Carlton Street. Being a resident of Toronto, I never stayed in the Westbury Hotel, but I retain fond memories of visiting its restaurant in the 1970s. I had read an article in the TV Guide, inserted into the Toronto Star each Saturday. The publication encouraged readers to request favourite recipes from restaurants throughout the city. One reader asked for the recipe of a dish served at Creighton’s, on the ground floor of the Westbury. This was the reason I first visited the hotel.

The dish being requested at Creighton’s was likely a response in the 1970s to Torontonians’ becoming increasingly aware of French cooking This was partly due to Julia Child’s TV show (“The French Chef”), which had commenced broadcasting in 1963. She promoted many dishes that were heavy with butter and cream. One of her favourite quotes was: “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” The Westbury Hotel already had a gastronomic reputation. Susur Lee, who later was to become a star in the gourmet world, for a time was a chef at the hotel. However, Chef Tony Roldan’s “Les Scampis Amoureux” (“Scampi in Love”), rich with cream, butter, white wine and a dash of Pernod, was the dish that the reader had requested from the Star newspaper. I ordered it when I visited the restaurant and enjoyed it immensely. 

The history of the Westbury spans almost seven decades. The first 16-storey tower of the hotel opened in 1957. Named after the Knott Westbury hotels in New York and London, it was originally to be called The Torontonian. However, this was changed after it was leased by the Knott Hotels Company of Canada. Located on the northeast corner of Yonge and Wood Streets, it was considered an excellent location for a luxury hotel. Its architect was Peter Dickinson when he was employed by Page and Steele. His design was a variation of the postwar International Style, its facades containing many large glass windows. Dickinson was also the architect of the O’Keefe Centre, which opened in 1960.

The hotel’s interior was designed and outfitted by the Robert Simpson Company, the lobby containing marble and walnut panelling. The Sky Lounge on the top (sixteenth) floor possessed an amazing view to the south, overlooking the city’s financial district and Lake Ontario. The Polo Room cocktail lounge, named after its namesake in London, became a favourite on the Yonge Street strip for those who enjoyed a late-night drink.

In the early 1960s, a matching nine-storey tower designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes was built on the north side of the original tower, the two towers connected by a large hallway. A few years later, Menkes was to design Hazelton Lanes. The north facade of the Westbury’s north tower was on Alexander Street, so the hotel then occupied the entire city block on Yonge Street between Alexander and Wood Streets. 

However, by the second decade of the 21st century, the pace of intensification of the city had increased astronomically. The Westbury Hotel occupied land on Yonge Street that contained towers of merely 16 and 9 storeys. A rezoning application to replace the Westbury was submitted to the city in 2015, proposing to construct of a pair of towers of 65 and 45 storeys. Thus, a familiar portion of the Yonge Street strip was to disappear forever. I will miss the Westbury, though I admit that other than when I photograph it, I had not been inside it for several decades. However, I still have the recipe for Chef Tony Roldan’s “Scampi in Love.”

Sources: I am grateful for the information provided by robertmoffatt115.wordpress.com 

dig foundations, 1955  pictures-r-5660[1]

The digging of the foundations for construction of the Westbury Hotel in 1955. The clock tower of the St. Charles Tavern is visible on the west side of Yonge Street, as well as the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre on Alexander Street (top right-hand corner). Toronto Reference library. r-5660.

Street view of Westbury Hotel and fire trucks – May 13, 1975 

The west facade of the Westbury on Yonge Street on May 13, 1975. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl1010, item 0045.

View of fire at Westbury Hotel and some store fronts on Yonge Street – May 13, 1975

Looking south on Yonge Street on May 13, 1975. Both towers of the Westbury are visible. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, Fl 10100, item 0044.

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View gazing south on Yonge Street in 2015, the nine-storey north tower on the left and the sixteen-storey original tower on the right.

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               Hotel’s main entrance that is accessed from Wood Street.

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               The coffee shop on the ground floor of the south tower.

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                               The lobby in the south tower.

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                               A conference room in the Westbury.

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Hallway connecting the north and south towers, the view looking toward the north tower. Colourful art work is on the east wall, beside the woman who is seated.

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                                Close up view of the art work.

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View in April 2016, looking northwest from Wood Street at the east sides of the towers.

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                            Sign on the hotel in December 2015.

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    Artist’s view of the towers that will be on the site of the Westbury Hotel.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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

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

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

 

 

Tags:

HMV Music—history

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     HMV Music’s Toronto flagship store at 333 Yonge Street in April 2017

The HMV on Yonge Street closed on Friday, April 14, 2017. It was crowded for the occasion as people sought bargains there for the last time. The loss of HMV was the end of another Toronto tradition, as more and more people prefer to shop on the internet rather than retail stores. I will miss the HMV store on Yonge Street, having spent much time there browsing the shelves in search of bargain-priced movies.

The HMV Music store at 333 Yonge Street was a short distance south of where the old Biltmore Theatre once stood. After the theatre and a few other buildings near it were demolished, a modern three-storey structure of glass and metal was erected. When the HMV Music store moved in, it was fitting location as it was located only a few doors south of where A&A Records and Sam the Record Man were once located. The interior of HMV resembled these former stores, but its long rows of merchandise did not contain any vinyl recordings and tapes.

HMV is a British company with a long history in the retail trade as a vender of books and music. The letters in its name stand for “His Master’s Voice,” which originated in the 1890s from a painting by that name. Artist Francis Barraud, from Liverpool, was the creator, his painting depicting a dog named Nipper listening to a recording of his “master’s voice” playing on a wind-up gramophone. In 1899, the Gramophone Company bought the copyright to the painting. The Talking Machine Company in America bought the U. S. rights to the trademark. This company was purchased by RCA, and it then became its symbol. I can remember the image of the dog and the gramophone on the 78 rpm and LP records that I purchased in the 1950s.

HMV’s first retail store was on Oxford Street in London, England. Sir Edward Elgar officiated at its opening in 1921. In 1931, the Gramophone Company merged with Columbia Graphophone Company to form Electric and Musical Industries Ltd (EMI), and employed the initials of “His Master’s Voice” (HMV) as its corporate name. In 1925, Sir Edward Elgar recorded his own music for the company. In 1953, HMV Oxford Street changed the store’s ground-floor level into a self-service showroom. This format was immediately popular as customers were able to select their own merchandise and then pay the cashier at the front of the store. This method was later employed by both A&A Records and Sam’s in Toronto.

Thorn Electrical Industries acquired EMI in 1979 and in 1980 the company became Thorn EMI. In 1980s this company opened the enormous HMV Oxford Circus store at 150 Oxford Street. In 1986, HMV became a separate and autonomous division under Thorn EMI. HMV opened its first store in Canada in 1986 and also commenced selling in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States. In 1995, HMV released it first CD. In 2002, HMV Media went public on the London Stock Exchange. In 1991, HMV opened a store at 333 Yonge Street in downtown Toronto and it became a very popular place to visit, especially in the evenings, similar to A&A and Sam’s in former decades.

However, sales began to decline after 2007, when Amazon launched the Kindle e-reader, threatening HMV’s share of the book market. In June 2011, HMV sold its 121-store Canadian chain to Hilco UK. Sales continued to dwindle and the company went into receivership, with 102 stores across Canada, employing 1240 people. When the HMV on Yonge Street closed on April 14, 2017, a vital part of the Yonge/Dundas area for twenty-six years was lost.

Sources: www.hmv.com/about   www..classicfm.com/music    www.retail-week.com 

hmv-history-pictures-16-1358943251-view-0[1]

“His Master’s Voice,” (HMV). Photo from HMV History Pictures.

                 1991, opening  Tor Ref. tspa_0015113f[1]

The HMV store on Yonge Street in 1991, the year it opened. Photo from the Toronto Star Collection in the Toronto Public Library.

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                                   The HMV store in April, 2017.

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Interior of the HMV store on Yonge, view looking toward the front of the store from the second-floor level.

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                       Customers browsing on the second-floor level.

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       View from the second-floor level, looking up to the third floor.

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                 Signs announcing the closing of the store in April 2017.

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                              HMV’s empty rows of shelves.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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

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

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

Tags:

History of the Park Plaza Hotel (Park Hyatt)

                        DSCN1162

The Park Hyatt Hotel, located at 4 Avenue Road, is on the northwest corner of Bloor Street West and Avenue Road. Constructed between the years 1926 and 1929, it was originally named the “Queen’s Park Plaza Hotel.” Its architect was Stratford-born Hugh G. Holman, who designed it in the Art Deco style. In the 1920s, the classical styles of the previous century were giving way to buildings with setbacks that narrowed them in width as they rose to their summits, similar to the ziggurats of ancient Babylonia.

The ground floor of the Queen’s Park Plaza Hotel and the second-floor above it formed a podium. The two floors of the podium were each the equal of two-storeys in height. Above the podium were ten more floors, which extended upward to the lower cornice. Above it were three more storeys, and perched at the top, on the eighteen floor, there was the rooftop garden and restaurant/bar. However, due to the Great Depression that descended in 1929, construction stopped before the hotel’s interior was finished.

In 1935, Morrow Oxley of the firm Chapman and Oxley was hired to complete the building. It finally opened on July 11, 1936, when its name was changed to the Park Plaza Hotel. In order for it to be financially viable, it offered hotel rooms, residential apartments, and 30,000 square feet of office space. It was among the city’s most luxurious hotels and its apartments among the most prestigious. The apartments had been decorated by W. and J. Sloane. The facilities included three restaurants and a rooftop garden. After the opening, problems soon appeared. The hotel had been constructed above a meandering branch of Taddle Creek, which crossed Bloor Street and flowed south through Philosopher’s Walk. As a result, the structure began to sag slightly, causing the elevators to sometimes malfunction. The solution was to stabilize the foundations by permafreezing the ground.

The rooftop restaurant and bar were originally for the exclusive use of the apartment owners, but in 1937, they were opened to the public. In that year, to the south, there was an unobstructed view of the lake and the Toronto Islands. Immediately below it was Varsity Stadium, where the Argonaut football games could be viewed. Also visible were the roof of the Royal Ontario Museum and green copper-topped roofs of the legislative buildings at Queen’s Park.

In 1956, a 14-storey north tower was added, its architect being Page and Steel. Built in a modernist style, it was of brick, concrete, glass, and metal. The design was the work of Page and Steeles’ talented Peter Dickenson, who was as influential in the 1950s, as the famous Art Deco architects had been in the 1920s. The two towers were linked by a two-storey podium.

DSCN1186Joe Gomes, a Portuguese immigrant, commenced working as a waiter in the hotel in 1959. Two years later, he was promoted to being a bartender at the rooftop bar. Since the Park Plaza was on the edge of the Yorkville District, for over five decades, he observed the ever-changing life of the area from behind the bar. Following the turmoil of the “hippy generation” in Yorkville in the 1960s, it slowly became one of the most prestigious districts in Toronto. The hotel’s bar and restaurants became a favourite of the city’s arts and literary community during the 1970s and 1980s. During these decades, the celebrities Joe Gomes chatted with while serving a drink included Duke Ellington, Pierre Trudeau, Lester B. Pearson (whose favourite was gin and tonic), Christopher Plummer, Burt Reynolds, Russell Crowe, Paul Anka, and John Wayne. The newspaper above has a photo of Joe Gomes on the front page of the Toronto Star.

In 1999, the Hyatt chain bought the Park Plaza and changed its name to the Park Hyatt. At the beginning of the 21st century, the rental prices on Bloor Street, west of Yonge, were among the most expensive in Canada, and the Park Hyatt was in the heart of it.

In 2014, the property was sold to Oxford Properties for $90 million. Extensive renovations were carried out to unify the architecture of the two properties, the designs the responsibility of KPMB architects, the restoration by ERA architects. The 2-storey podium was demolished. The structure that replaced it was larger, and was located further back from the street. In front of it was a crescent-shaped driveway to accommodate those who arrived by cars and limousines. The south tower then contained only apartments, and the north tower was a 220-room hotel. The north tower received a new external elevator core and a lobby on the second floor.     

Today, the hotel is one of the finest hotels in Toronto. Its rooftop bar is as well-loved today as it was during the years when it first opened. However, the view toward the south, in the distance, is now of the skyline of the financial district and the CN Tower. Immediately below the bar is the roof of the Crystal of the Royal Ontario Museum.

The author is grateful for information from http://losttoronto2, www.the star.com, www.ontario-travel-secrets.com, urbantoronto.ca, and torontoist.com.

Bloor St, looking west, to Avenue Road, 2:12 p.m., (Way Department) – April 27, 1929

The camera is pointed west on Bloor Street in April, 1929. The Park Plaza Hotel, not yet opened to the public, is on the northwest corner of the intersection of Bloor and Avenue Road. Toronto Archives, S 0071, item 6776. 

3. c. 1933  Fonds 1244_it7360[1]

Gazing north on Queen’s Park toward Bloor Street c. 1933. In the foreground is the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), the Park Plaza Hotel in the background. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244. item 7360.  

2.  Oct. 29, 1934, s0372_ss0052_it1713[1]  1934

Looking north on Queen’s Park toward Bloor Street on October 29, 1934. Trees are being removed to facilitate the widening of Queen’s Park. The Royal Ontario Museum is on the west side of the street, the Park Plaza Hotel in the background. Toronto Archives, S 0372, SS 0052, item 1713.

            1. 1954.  pictures-r-4855[1]

The camera is pointed north on Queen’s Park toward Bloor Street in 1954. The Park Plaza Hotel dominates the scene. Travelling west on Bloor Street is a PCC streetcar. Toronto Public Library, r- 4855.

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The Park Hyatt in 2017, a section of the Crystal of the Royal Ontario Museum in the foreground.

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View of the south (1936) tower on Bloor Street, and the north (1959) tower to the north (right-hand side of photo) on Avenue Road.

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Windows on the south facade facing Bloor Street. The rooftop bar is visible at the summit.

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The rooftop bar, the windows facing south that overlook Queen’s Park, and in the distance, the city skyline and the CN Tower. 

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                        The lobby for the apartments in the south tower.

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The luxurious Interior of the two-storey rebuilt podium that connects the two towers.

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Main entrance to the Park Hyatt from Avenue Road, the modern north tower in the background.

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The entrance on Bloor Street that at one time was the main entrance that gave access to the south tower (left-hand photo) and the Art Deco detailing directly above it (right).

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View looking north on Queen’s Park toward the magnificent Park Hyatt Hotel, the Royal Ontario Museum in the foreground on the left.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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

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

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

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

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

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

 

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