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Category Archives: toronto architecture

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

               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

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

“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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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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

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

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

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

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                     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.

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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

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

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fire guts historic houses on Peter Street

          Semi-detached houses at 122-124 Peter Street in 2013.

These houses, located near the intersection of Richmond and Peter Street, drew my attention the first time I saw them. It was early on a summer morning, when the soft glow of the early-day sun was reflecting pleasantly from their grey stucco facades, which overlook Peter Street. I published a post on my blog about these homes on June 13, 2013. At the time, I feared that despite their obvious charm, they were doomed to demolition as they were in very poor condition and their context within a residential street had been lost.

Preventing heritage buildings from being demolished is very difficult in Toronto. It is common knowledge that a few owners of historic properties allow them to deteriorate to the level that they are beyond repair. They then apply for a demolition permit. We have lost many heritage structures this way. Adding to the problem, Ontario’s heritage preservation laws are weak.

However, I was pleased when I hear the news that there is a good chance that the houses on Peter Street might escape this fate. A developer has purchased them and expressed a desire to include them within the high-rise condo project to be constructed on the property. The developer’s plan is to dismantle the houses and reconstruct them on the same site. However, the city is not in favour of the proposal so their future has not yet been confirmed.

Fate intervened, causing the future of the homes to be in doubt again. During the early hours of Saturday July 7, 2018 a fire broke out, the cause not yet determined. An excellent article by Samantha Beattie in the Sunday (July 8th) edition of the Toronto Star reported the fire.

A link to learn more about the history of the homes at 122-124 Peter Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/torontos-architectural-gems1870s-houses-on-peter-street/

after fire on July 7, 2018

The houses on Sunday morning, July 8, 2108. The roof of the house on the south side of the semi-detached homes has collapsed.

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              View of the house on the south side, its roof now missing.

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View of the damage to the gable that the houses share. The bargeboard Victorian trim survives, though it is in poor condition. 

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View looking at the rear of the houses. The severity of the damage is more evident from this side.

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     View of the second-floor level of the homes, following the fire.

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          Rear view of the houses, Sunday morning, July 8, 2018.

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                   Despite the damage, I hope these homes survive.

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

 

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Artist Paul Kane House, 56 Wellesley St. East Toronto

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Paul Kane’s house at 56 Wellesley Street East, Toronto. Photo taken June 29, 2018.

I first learned about the Irish/Canadian artist Paul Kane in the 1950s, in the Native People’s Gallery in the basement of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). Compared to the galleries in the ROM today, it was a modest display, but as a young man it created a lasting impression on me. Today, I can still picture the large canoe that occupied a prominent part of the exhibit, as well as the detailed dioramas and numerous paintings of Paul Kane. Because of this experience, I was keenly interested when I read years later that the home of Paul Kane had been identified on Wellesley Street East, a short distance east of the Wellesley Subway Station, on the Yonge Line. 

Kane was born in Mallow County, Cork, in Ireland in 1810, and arrived in Canada with his family in 1820 at age nine. The Kane family settled in the small colonial capital of York in Upper Canada (Ontario). As a young man, he was employed in Toronto at the Wilson S. Congers factory, painting decorative detailing on furniture. In 1834 he relocated to Cobourg and worked in the same trade at  the F. S. Clench’s furniture factory. While in Cobourg, he began painting portraits and after he departed the town in 1836, he earned a modest living as a travelling portrait painter.

In 1841, the same year that Upper Canada became Canada West (now Ontario), his ambitions pushed him toward a life-altering decision—to depart for Europe to study art. He remained overseas for almost four years, where he meticulously copied the old masters in Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice and London. His goal was to acquire the skills to allow him to become a professional painter. While in London, he saw the “Wild West Show, ” which included paintings, lectures, and theatrical performances, all staged by the 32-year old artist George Catlin. The show was based on Catlin’s journey in the American west in the 1830s, where he had captured images of 48 different tribes of the American Great Plains.

On Kane’s return to Canada in 1844, influenced by George Catlin, he decided to similarly capture through sketching and painting the lifestyle of the native peoples of British North American, and also portray the landscapes of the places where they lived. He believed that the way of life of these peoples was disappearing and wanted to capture it on canvas before it was lost. In the summer of 1845, Kane travelled west as far as Sault Ste. Marie, sketching the Indians he encountered on the way. His  aim was to record accurately the life of the Ojibwa tribe, employing the painting style he had learned in Europe.

Next he traveled to Fort William (Thunder Bay). The following year, he joined a number of men employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company and travelled further west. He eventually accompanied various groups of voyageurs, journeying as far west as Fort Vancouver on the Pacific coast. During his lengthy journeys, he created sketches in graphite, watercolour and oil on paper. He eventually amassing over 700 sketches, accompanied by detailed hand-written descriptions.

When he returned to Toronto two and a half years later, he possessed a considerable collection of sketches that portrayed Indian clothing, artefacts, and customs. From these, he created one hundred large-scale oils on canvas that gave detailed insight into the lives of the native peoples in North America. He also published the daily journal he had written during his trips. It gave the public unique insight into the life of Indians and traders in western Canada.

An arranged meeting in Montreal with Sir George Simpson of the Hudson’s Bay Company allowed Kane to receive funding for another expedition. It was to pay for his lodging, meals and other daily expanses while travelling anywhere in the Company lands. Simpson also commissioned a number of sketches of Native American life for his personal collection. Kane set out on his journey in 1846.

In 1853, at 44 years of age, Kane married Harriet Clench of Cobourg, the daughter of his former employer. She was an accomplished artist and painting instructor. His travels now over, the same year he and Harriet married, they purchased land that is today 56 Wellesley Street East. They built a cottage, its walls covered with stucco, which was very popular in this decade.

Several of his paintings were exhibited to great acclaim at the World Fair of 1855 in Paris. In 1859, he published the highly successful book, “Wanderings of an Artist Among the Indians of North America.” His sketches and journals provided the basis for the book. His financial situation now improved, he enlarged his house during the late-1850s, and in 1879 the facades of the dwelling were covered with pale-yellow bricks. This was likely when the porch was added, containing four slender support-columns. On the porch roof there was a small door that lead to a sitting area on the roof. The Kanes raised four children in the home.

To enable his work as an artist, he rented a studio on King Street, but by 1858 his eyesight was failing and he retired. By this time, his style of painting had ceased to be appreciated by the general public and it became difficult for the family to survive financially. In 1871, he died in his home at the age of 61 and was buried in Toronto’s St. James Cemetery on Parliament Street.

The house remained in the Kane family until 1903. From 1925 to1973 it became the church hall for The Evangelical Church of the Deaf. The church built a large structure in front of the house that hid it from view from Wellesley Street. In the 1970s, a developer purchased the property and demolished the building that the church had constructed. The Kane House was once more exposed to view. However, it was in such poor condition that many neighbours wanted it demolished. Fortunately, various groups petitioned to have the historic home preserved.

In 1978, the City of Toronto purchased the property, valued at $670,000, assisted by the Province of Ontario through funds provided by Wintario. In 1979 it was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and a parkette was established on the south side of the home, where the building had been that the church had erected. The small park was where the front lawn of the Kane family house had been. The house remains today is officially an historic site.

In 1985 the architect Paul Reuber incorporated the house into a new co-op housing development. Only the structurally sound portion of the house were included, as the rear of the original house was in very bad shape, having been damaged by fire. Today, strolling along Wellesley Street East, the Paul Kane house provides a pleasant contrast to the many modern structures that surround it. I cannot but wonder how Kane would have felt if he knew that his home is now located in the heart of the Gay Village. A man named Howard, who watched me photograph the dwelling, informed me that during Pride 2018, the park contained many tents for various activities and enterprises. Howard said that no one was aware who Paul Kane was or that his home was on the north side of the park.

                     image

Paul Kane in attire inspired by his travels. Ontario Archives, 10010404

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The home of Paul Kane at 56 Wellesley Street, the photo taken pre-1879 as its walls remain covered with stucco (hardened plaster used for coating outdoor walls). When the photo was taken, Wellesley Street had not been widened and there was a grass boulevard between the sidewalk and the street. When the house was built in 1853, the street was north of the city in a semi-rural setting. However, it was an ideal place to live as four years earlier a horse-drawn Omnibus Line (streetcar) had opened on Yonge Street that connected the St. Lawrence Market to the town of Yorkville, north of Bloor Street. The Kane home was only a few steps east of the line. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, 0058865f.

                          1975.  tspa_0058867f[1]

Photo of the home in 1975, after the building that had hidden it from being viewed from Wellesley Street had been demolished. The high-rise apartment behind the house is 41 Dundonald Street, which is one block north of Wellesley. Toronto Public Library, 0058865f.

 

Series 1465, File 616, Item 7

Photo taken looking north from Wellesley Street in 1976. Toronto Archives, S 1465, S 10616, it 0007.

1978  tspa_0103822f[1]

The house in 1978, Anne Englebright sketching the historic property. Toronto Public Library, 0103822.

1984.  tspa_0113030f[1]

        View of the Paul Kane home in 1984. Toronto Public Library, 011303.

                                 1984.   tspa_0113029f[1]

               Children in the park in 1984. Toronto Public Library, 0113029. 

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Paul Kane house is today surrounded by residential towers and ongoing construction in ever-expanding Toronto.

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South and east facades of the Kane home. On the east facade there are bay windows on the first and second-floor levels. It is likely that behind the bay windows were the dining room on the first floor, and the main bedroom on the second floor level. They were situated so that the rooms were exposed to the morning light. 

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                   The porch over the doorway on the south facade.

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The porch of the home has four slender support columns, facing south toward Wellesley Street. The door has sidelight windows on either side and a transom window on top. The windows allow daylight to enter the central hallway.

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                           View of the doorway of the home of Paul Kane.

The scenes below were painted in 1846 on Paul Kane’s trip from Fort William to the Pacific coast. All the paintings are in the Canadiana Gallery of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).

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  Callum Indian Travelling lodges, oil on paper, mounted on canvas.

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Drying Salmon at the Dullas River, Columbia, oil on paper, mounted on canvas.

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Below the Cascades, Columbia River with Indians Fishing, oil on paperboard.

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           Indians Salmon Fishing, Kettle Falls, oil on paperboard.

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                   Scene in Northwest—Portrait, oil on canvas.

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Landscape in the Foothills with Buffalo Resting, oil on paperboard. 

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                       At Buffalo Pound, oil on paperboard.

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                 Metis Running Buffalo, oil on paperboard.

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                Metis Encampment, oil on paper mounted on canvas.

  Sources 

http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/kane_paul_10E.html

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

www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/paul-kane-artist-and-adventurer-feature

www.pc.gc.ca/apps/dfhd/page_nhs_eng.aspx?id=1476

https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artist/paul-kane

https://www.aci-iac.ca/paul-kane/biography

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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. 

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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.

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

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        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

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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.

pictures-r-5475[1]

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.

image  DSCN2400

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.

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

 

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The last surviving Tollkeeper’s Cottage in Canada

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      Tollkeeper’s Cottage at 750 Davenport Road, in early-June 2014.

The small, unpretentious cottage in Tollkeeper’s Park, on the northwest corner of Bathurst Street and Davenport Road, is not well known by most Torontonians. This might appear strange considering it overlooks one of the busiest intersections in the city. Hundreds of cars pass it daily, but few drivers ever give it a glance. Unfortunately, I must include myself among those who, until recently, took little notice of it.

Perhaps the reason for its relative obscurity is that except for Scadding Cabin on the CNE grounds, it is very modest in size. Casa Loma, St. Lawrence Hall, Spadina House, Campbell House, George Brown House, and Colborne Lodge reflect the lives of those who possessed considerably more wealth. Even Mackenzie House, which is quite modest, is rather grand compared to the tollkeeper’s cottager.

Yet the latter is important in our history as it is one of the oldest structures in the city and showcases the lifestyle of the poorest citizens of its era. Even today, such people are often overlooked. Proof of this is the fact that except for the dedicated efforts of a group of local historians, the Community History Project (CHP), the cottage would have been demolished. Founded in 1983, four years later CPH was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation.

The tollkeeper’s cottage hearkens back to a time when Toronto was a small colonial town named York, nestled beside the eastern end of the harbour. At that time, the land around Bathurst Street (then known as Cruikshank’s Lane) and Davenport Road remained open fields and farmland, remote from the town to the southeast. However, even in that era, Davenport Road was an important thoroughfare, one of the oldest in the province of Upper Canada (Ontario). It was located at the base of an escarpment, created when the great sheets of glacial ice retreated. For centuries, it had been a path traversed by Native Peoples. In the final years of the 18th century, it became a narrow dirt road employed by early-day settlers. Interestingly, it appears on a map drawn in 1796 by Elizabeth Simcoe.

In the early-1800’s, constructing roads to facilitate travel was beyond the financial capabilities of the government of Upper Canada (Ontario). The hinterland of the town of York was heavily forested, requiring considerable labour and expense to clear if roads were to be built. As a result, in 1835, the government auctioned off the rights to construct and maintain sections of road. In return, the investors were allowed to collect tolls from those who travelled them.

Davenport Road was viewed as one of the better investments, resulting in five tollgates being built on the plank roadway. Tollgates required a tollkeeper, and as travellers used the roads constantly throughout the day and during the hours of darkness, it was essential that tollkeepers reside beside these tollgates. As a result, small cottages were built for the tollkeepers and their families. They were often constructed to allow the occupants to lean out a small window to collect the tolls. Women were never officially hired for the position, although they were often the ones who actually collected the tolls. This was because tollkeeper’s wages were a pittance, which resulted in their husbands being absent from the tollgates as they laboured at a second job or worked a small farm.

The cottage for Tollgate #3 was situated on the southeast corner of Bathurst and Davenport, where Starkmans Health Care Depot is today. This was confirmed by an 1875 painting by Arthur Cox. It appears that the cottage dates from c. 1835, as it has building features from between the years 1820s and 1840s. It is also believed that because it contains re-used materials from other locations, it may have been constructed on another site and moved to Bathurst and Davenport Road.

The Tollkeeper’s Cottage has three-rooms and an attic with a low ceiling and no windows. It was primarily employed for storage. The cottage is constructed of vertical planks of white pine, 2 inches thick and 30 inches wide. Very few structures of this type have survived into the modern era. Clapboard siding was nailed horizontally over the vertical planks. The cottage was approximately 20’ by 30’, containing a front and a back entrance. The floors were of hand-planed pine and the interior walls of plaster. In the kitchen there was a fireplace, the cottage’s only source of heat. It was later replaced by an iron stove. 

During the 1860s, the tollkeeper’s at Tollgate #3 was John Bullmin. He and his wife Elizabeth slept in one bedroom, and their four daughters shared the second bedroom, sleeping two to a bed. Their three sons slept on the floor in the main room, which perhaps was not so bad as it was heated by the wood stove. In the warmer months, the boys likely slept in the shed, which was attached to the west side of the cottage.

In a decade lacking electricity and modern appliances, there were many more back-breaking household chores than today. Among them was to trudge to Taddle Creek, in Wychwood Park, to retrieve water for the family’s needs. Other tasks would include untying the ropes that held the straw mattresses in place, carrying the mattresses outside and beating them to eliminate bedbugs. Food preparation and preserving fruits for the long winters were labour-intensive chores, as was gathering wood for the fireplace and later, the iron stove. 

As mentioned, tollkeepers usually had a second source of income. John Bullmin farmed 6.5 hectares of land, and the 1861 census reveals that his wife churned 50 pounds of butter that year with the milk from the family cow. It was a harsh life. Adding to the difficulties was the fact that, as one might suspect, tollkeepers were not popular and were often abused by the general public.  

Either John or Elizabeth had to be available seven days a week, year round, in all types of weather, to collect fees from those using Cruikshank’s Lane (Bathurst Street). Each time a traveller appeared, it was necessary to open the tollgate manually. Records from 1851 show that the fee for a wagon drawn by two horses was six pence, a one-horse wagon three pence, and a single horse two pence. Those travelling on foot accompanied by up to 20 cattle or sheep, paid a penny. The clergy and the military were not charged and there were no fees on Sundays to encourage people to attend church. It is not known how many years John Bullmin remained as the tollkeeper. His tombstone in the Toronto Necropolis cemetery, near Riverdale Farm, states that he died in 1867, although his wife lived until 1912.

In 1895, the toll system was abolished by the government and Davenport Road became toll free. As the small cottage for Tollgate #3 was no longer required, it was sold. The buyer relocated it to a lot on Howland Street, two blocks east of Bathurst Street, where it became an ordinary residence. Eventually, a larger structure was erected in front of the cottage to enlarge the living space. Thus, the cottage was no longer visible from the street.

It was basically forgotten until 1996, when a developer was planning to demolish the cottage and the home in front of it to clear the site for a condominium. A neighbour, who was aware of the history of the cottage, alerted the group known as the Community History Project (CHP). The CHP authenticated the information, proving that hidden under the layers of siding on the walls and the asphalt on the roof was indeed the historic tollkeeper’s cottage. It is thought to be the only dwelling lived in by those who collected tolls that remains in Canada today.

An agreement was negotiated by CHP whereby the condo developer would sell the cottage to them for $1, with the stipulation that it be removed as soon as possible. The group raised funds and succeeded in arranging an agreement with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) that until a permanent site was found, it could be relocated to the Wychwood Streetcar Barns. In June 1996, the move occurred. It remained at the Wychwood yards for the next six years. During this period, the restoration of the cottage began.

It was a monumental task, as there were several layers of material covering the original exterior clapboard siding, as well as on the interior walls of the rooms. On the roof, there were seven layers of asphalt shingles. All the extraneous materials were carefully removed, and despite the structure’s poor condition, it was revealed that 80% of the original building was intact. The task now was to restore it to its original state.

To finance the ongoing work, over 500 donors provided funding and finally, a grant was given by the Ontario Trillium Fund. However, a permanent site for the cottage was still required. In 2002, Toronto City Council voted to give it a permanent home in Davenport Square Park, which was to be renamed Tollkeeper’s Park. This action formally recognized the importance of the cottage in the history of the city.

After it was relocated to its present-day site, further restoration commenced. The horizontal beams at the base of the structure that supported the vertical planks had deteriorated to the extent that they needed to be replaced. Since most of the original clapboard had survived, it was possible to replace the missing parts with accuracy. In late-November, as the year 2002 drew to a close, volunteers laboured in freezing weather to protect the historic building during its first winter in its new location.

After the work was completed, the CHP decided to furnish it to reflect the 1860s, when John Bullmin and his family resided in the cottage. In 2003, the City of Toronto officially declared the Tollkeeper’s Cottage a heritage site. It was opened to the public on July 1, 2003. To enhance the experience for modern-day visitors, an addition was erected at the rear (west side) of the cottage, providing space for a museum and interpretive centre.

Though the cottage is not situated on its original location, it is very close. The original site is now under the asphalt at the intersection of Davenport Road and Bathurst Street. This occurred when the roadways were widened to meet the needs of the modern era.

Sources:

https://www.thestar.com › Your Toronto › Once Upon a City

streeter.ca/midtown/news/no-toll-charge-at-midtown-museum/

www.tollkeeperscottage.ca/html/Background.htm

https://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=af553a91-c921-411c

http://torontosavvy.me/tag/tollkeepers-cottage-toronto/

1875, Art Cox  reproduction -0.0.1200.806-0.0[1]

The painting is by Arthur Cox and was completed in 1875. The couple in the foreground is seated on the top of the Davenport Road hill, the man pointing southeast. Below them is the intersection of Bathurst Street and Davenport Road, where the tollkeeper’s cottage is on the southeast corner. The City of Toronto had not yet expanded this far north and the land below the hill was mostly farmland. On the left can be seen a steep pathway that ascends the hill. The copyright of the painting belongs to the Community History Project.

albert-fulton-tollkeeper-cottage-in-Tor. Archives  transit-fonds-128-4-july-9-pm1[1]

Removing the cottage from its site on the corner of Howland Avenue and Davenport Road in June 1996. Photo from “Toronto Savvy.” 

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Transporting the cottage westbound along Davenport Road in June 1996. Photo from “Toronto Savvy.” 

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Volunteers remove extraneous layers of materials from the roof and walls of the Tollkeeper’s Cottage in May 2001. This was performed while the cottage was temporarily located at the Wychwood Streetcar Barns. Portions of the original clapboard have been exposed. Photo from a display at the Tollkeeper’s Cottage.

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The cottage on its site in Tollkeeper’s Park. In this photo, the vertical pine planks that support the roof are visible, as well as the clapboard siding that covers them. Photo from “Toronto Savvy.”

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The cottage after it was moved in 2002 from the Wychwood Streetcar Barns and placed on its permanent home at Tollkeeper’s Park. The foundations that will support the cottage are visible. Photo from “Toronto Savvy.”

opening day July 1, 2003 Tor. Savy    tollkeeper8[1]

The official opening of the cottage to the general public on July 1, 2003. Photo from “Toronto Savvy.”

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                   The cottage after it was restored. Photo taken in 2014. 

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The main room of the cottage where cooking and meals occurred, in the only room that was heated. View faces the front (east) door. The stove is placed where the fireplace had once been. Photo taken 2018.

kitchen, living space

Table in the main room where the family gathered for meals. I have no idea why a rooster is on the table.

                                washstand in adults' room

Bedroom furnished as it might have appeared when Mr. and Mrs. Bulmin slept in it.

four girls' bedroom

               The room where the four Bulmin daughters slept.

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The bedroom of the girls, looking toward the main room on the south side of the cottage. In the ceiling the trap door is visible that gave access to the attic.

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The cottage with its front porch facing east and at the rear, the museum and interpretive centre.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

              Books by the Blog’s Author

               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

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

 

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