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Category Archives: toronto’s heritage buildings

Toronto’s historic Massey Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1894 Ont. Archives  I0001871[1]

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

1894, Ont. Archives  I0001870[1]

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

1910, SW from Shuter and Bond   f1244_it2202[1]

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

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

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

 

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

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

Series 1569, File 3, Item 1

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

Fonds 1266, Item 18495

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

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

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

Series 1465, File 305, Item 6

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

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

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

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

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                   Signage for Massey Hall, photos taken in May 2017.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

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

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

   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[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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

Toronto’s historic Guild Inn Estate

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                    The Guild Inn Estate (photo June 14, 2017)

In past decades, those of us who were born and raised west of Yonge Street were usually unfamiliar with the city to the east of it. Likewise, those born east of the city’s main street often were unfamiliar the area west of Yonge. This was because the intersection of Queen and Yonge was the retail heart of the city, as the two largest department stores were located there—Eaton’s and Simpsons. As well, most of the other important shops were either on Yonge Street or located close to it. To travel to the opposite side of Yonge was rarely necessary.

Until I was an adult in the early 1960s, I never knew anyone who had visited Scarborough’s Guild Inn. I never visited the historic property until June 14, 2017, on the occasion of its grand reopening, following a complete restoration and the addition of a new building with expanded facilities.

Located at 201 Guildwood Parkway, the original house on the property was built in 1914 in the Period Revival style, with Arts and Crafts Detailing. This style was popular during and after the First World War. It reflected elements of medieval architecture and possessed Tudor detailing. However, because of its straight lines and unadorned stucco cladding with wood trim, the house was sometimes referred to as being faux-Georgian. Constructed by Colonel Harold Bickford to serve as his family summer residence, it possessed stables and a large garage for his automobiles.

Colonel Bickford was born in “Gore Vale,” located in what is now Trinity Bellwoods Park. He was a decorated veteran who served in the Boer and First World Wars. Having acquired considerable financial success as a real estate broker, he purchased property on the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs. On the land, he built a 33-bedroom residence and named it Bickford House. In that decade, the estate was densely forested and remote from the city. On the south side of the home was a terrace with steps that led down to an extensive garden. At southern end of the property was the Scarborough Bluffs, and below the steep cliffs was Lake Ontario.

However, due to financial constraints, in 1921 Bickford sold his home and property to the Foreign Missionary Society of the Roman Catholic Church. It served as a boarding school for students of the China Mission College, which sent missionaries to China. In 1923, the house again changed hands when it was bought by an American businessman, Richard V. Look. He renamed it Cliff Acres because of its proximity to the Scarborough Bluffs. However, he vacated the house and relocated to Montreal after living in it for only a year.

The house remained vacant for five years, after which it was purchased by Rosa H. Hewstson. She was a wealthy widow whose husband had owned a shoe company. In August 1932, she married Spencer Clark, the ceremony held on the property. Soon after the honeymoon, the couple converted their multi-bedroom home into an hotel. Next, they built the Estate Building from two former structures on the property and established the Guild of All Arts to create an artists’ colony. The Clarks were inspired by Roycroft in East Aurora, New York, a center for the Arts and Crafts movement. The Estate Building and former stables provided accommodations for the artists as well as workshops. The estate offered training for aspiring artists and a wide variety of crafts—weaving, wood working, wrought iron, ceramics, leather tooling and batik. The proceeds from their work as well as the funds from the hotel business helped defray the expenses of operating the program.

In 1932, the Clarks transferred the title to the Scarborough Guild Ltd., and the following year the Kitchen Wing was constructed. In 1933, they offered a paid membership program that included entry to the scenic grounds as well as a series of lectures and concerts.

1944, when nerve shattered veterns tspa_0108031f[1] During World War II, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs requisitioned the Guild Inn and renamed it HMSC Bytown II. It became a centre where WRENS received specialized training in operating a wireless. Between 1944 and 1947, it was renamed Scarborough Hall and became a veterans’ hospital. In 1947, the estate was returned to the Clarks. They now enlarged the buildings and purchased a further 500 acres to increase the size of the estate. Their property eventually extended from Lake Ontario to Kingston Road and from Livingston Road to Galloway Road.

Near the end of the 1950s, the Clark family and Lakeview Estates Limited transferred part of the land to Higgins Company Limited, and registered the plan to create the Guildwood Village. It consisted of about 400 acres and today, the community is still referred to as “Guildwood Village.” It was a small version of the Don Mills subdivision, reflecting the best ideas of urban planning of its day.

It was during the 1950s that Spencer Clark commenced salvaging architectural remnants from important 19th and early 20th century buildings that Toronto was demolishing. They were placed in their garden, and today these relicts from the past are a much-loved part of the Guild Inn Estate. As well, Rosa and Spencer Clark commissioned artworks from notable Canadian sculptors and installed them on the Inn’s grounds. It became Canada’s first sculpture garden.

In 1965, a 100-room hotel tower was built to the east of the house. In 1978, the Metro Toronto Regional Conservation Authority acquired the Guild Estate for $8 million. However, Spencer Clark continued to operate the Inn.

Rosa Clark passed away in 1981, but Spencer continued to manage the Inn. In 1982, on the 50th anniversary of the Guild Inn, the Greek Theatre was opened, its backdrop the columns salvaged from the Bank of Toronto (built in 1912).

In 1985, Delta Hotels assumed management of the Inn. Spencer Clark died the following year. In 1988, the Giant Step Reality Corporation was granted a 99-year lease for the Inn, but it was terminated in 1993 when the Metropolitan Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority took over the site. However, the Authority’s main interest was the bluffs and the shoreline. Unfortunately, Guild Inn Hotel was closed. In 1999, it became a Heritage Property under the Ontario Heritage Act.

In 2001, the Inn was boarded up. However the grounds and sculpture garden remained open and were maintained by City of Toronto. In 2008, the Studio Building, following a fire, was demolished and in 2009, the hotel tower to the east of the Inn was demolished. Meanwhile, the remainder of the buildings began to badly deteriorate. In 2011, the Heritage Canada Foundation stated that the place was “in imminent danger of demolition by neglect.” The floors inside the Bickford residence were rotting to the extent that it was unsafe to walk on them. In 2009, a proposal by Centennial College was approved by the city. Then, in 2011 the College submitted a proposal that included condominiums. This plan was rejected.

DSCN1963In 2014, Dynamic Hospitality and Entertainment Group, an 100% Canadian owned company, was chosen to restore the estate. During the restoration, asbestos-filled additions in the original 1914 Bickford House were removed and on its west side, a new banquet hall and gazebo were constructed. The Bickford House, which had endeared the Inn to past generations, was painstakingly refurbished—the staircases, wainscotting and fireplaces. However, the latter were no longer functional.

When restoration of the Inn and surrounding property had been completed, it included an 88-acre park. In the original Bickford residence there were private suites and a restaurant able to accommodate 800 guests. Appropriately named Bickford Bistro, guests can now enjoy a midday lunch or an intimate evening dinner. There are 292 free parking spots on-site. As well, the complex possesses an events space able to host 1000 guest. Both the Bickford Bistro and the events space have terraces that overlook the spacious gardens.

With the reopening of the Guild Estates, I now have another reason to travel east of Yonge Street and become more familiar with Scarborough. It is always a pleasure to dine and then stroll around the grounds of a place that includes so much of the history of our city. 

Sources of information:

https://www.thestar.com/…/scarboroughs-long-neglected-guild-inn-reopens-its-histori

heritagetoronto.org/the-guild-inn

www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2014/pb/bgrd/backgroundfile

Booklet prepared by the Siren Group for the official reopening of the Inn on June 14, 2017.

1944, when nerve shattered veterns tspa_0108031f[1] 

The Guild Inn in 1944, when it was a veterans’ hospital named Scarborough Hall. Photo from the Toronto Public Library (tspa 0108031).

 1956.  pictures-r-6431[2]

The Guild Inn Inn in 1956 when it was managed by Spencer Clark. Toronto Public Library, r- 6531.

1971,  tspa_0108025f[1] 

View of the south side of the Inn in 1971, gazing north from the garden. On the right is the hotel to the east of the Bickford home. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0108025.

1978, Bank of Montreal. demo 1973   tspa_0108026f[1]

An architectural remnant from the demolished Bank of Montreal being placed in the garden in 1978. Toronto Public Library –tspa 0108026 (Toronto Star Collection)

                             1985, Toronto Star biilding demo 1972 tspa_0108022f[2]

Architectural detailing from the Art Deco Toronto Star building, demolished in 1972. Photo taken in 1985, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0108022 (Toronto Star Collection). 

                           1986  tspa_0108030f Banks Bond Blg, demol. 1973 [1]

Columns from the Bankers Bond Building, erected at 60 King Street West in 1920. Demolished in 1973, it was inspired by the Erechtheum, part of the gateway to the Acropolis of ancient Athens. Photo taken in 1986, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0108030 (Toronto Star Collection).

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The entrance to the complex on its north side, on the occasion of the grand opening on June 14, 2017.

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The events space capable of hosting 1000 guests. For smaller events, it can be sub-divided into three separate rooms. (Photo taken June 14, 2017 during the grand reopening)

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         The original 1914-home that today contains the Bickford Bistro.

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One of the fireplaces in the Bickford home and a charming sculpture on its mantle.

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                Staircase in the Bickford home, leading to the second floor.

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View of the garden, gazing out through the windows of the passageway that connects the Bickford home to the new addition.

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     Gazing south over the sculpture garden from the terrace of the Bickford home.

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A doorway in the sculpture garden, rescued from the Bank of Nova Scotia at 39 King Street West, built in 1903 and demolished in 1969 (photo 2017).

1981, Spencer Clark  tspa_0038428f[1]

Spencer Clark in the sculpture garden in 1981, the Corinthian columns from the Bank of Toronto in the background.

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The columns from the Bank of Toronto, photographed in June 2017. Today, the salvaged architectural remnants create the backdrop for the Greek Theatre, which opened in 1982. The bank once stood on the southwest corner of King and Bay Streets.

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The Greek stage being checked out by Jamie Robinson, director of “She Stoops to Conquer.” The play is being performed from July 13th to August 13th, 2017. The audience watching this classic romantic comedy will be seated on the spacious grass area in front of the stage. 

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     View of the Guild Inn Estate from the sculpture garden in June 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[2]

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

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[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: , , , , , ,

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.

                          DSCN1762

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.

image

                               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.

                      DSCN1659

    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:

Toronto’s Temple Building (demolished)

             1902, Canada archives  a028964[1]

The Temple Building on Bay Street in 1902, after a tenth storey had been added. The camera faces the northwest corner of Bay and Richmond Street West. The Old City Hall, on Queen Street West, is visible in the background. Photo from the Canada Archives, aO28964

In the 1880s, as elevator technology became more proficient, Toronto began experimenting with taller commercial buildings. Multi-floor structures, with elevators to connect the various floors, allowed greatly increased floor space and thus greater profits. These structures became possible because iron and steel were being employed to erect the frames of the buildings. However, the stone and brick exteriors were still sustained the weight of the walls, as opposed to using solely relying on the steel frame.

In the 1890s, as technology improved, steel frames began supporting the entire weight of the walls, allowing for greater height without compromising the  overall strength of the structure. This allowed true “skyscrapers” to be erected.

When City Council voted to erect a new city hall at the top of Bay Street at Queen West, it was evident that taller buildings were in the future for upper Bay Street. There were already tall office buildings to the south of it at King Street, but the upper portion of Bay Street remained mostly low-rise commercial structures and frame cottages with stucco facades. The first of the taller buildings to be planned for this section of the street was the North American headquarters of the Independent Order of Foresters, a fraternal service club founded in 1874 to provided life insurance, savings accounts, and investment opportunities for families. Named the Temple Building, it was also was to contain club rooms for the members.

The Temple Building was at 62-76 Richmond Street, on the northwest corner of Bay and Richmond Streets. A competition was held for the architectural contract, which was won by George W. Gouinlock (1861-1932).  This was an important contract in the history of the city, as it was the first time that a Canadian had been hired to design all the stages of erecting a Toronto skyscraper. Gouinlock was born in Paris, Ontario and was educated in Winnipeg and Toronto. He was later to design the Press Building at the CNE in 1905, the Music Building in 1907, the Ontario Government Building (now the Medieval Times building) in 1926, and the Horticultural Building in 1927. All these structures remain on the CNE grounds today.

The corner stone of the nine-storey Temple Building, with its cast-iron frame, was laid by the Governor General, the Earl of Aberdeen. The structure was completed in 1897, and for a year or so was the tallest building in the British Empire. Above the ninth floor there was an observation space, with a wide view of the downtown area. Created in the Romanesque Revival style, the building was similar in design to the City Hall to the north of it, which was completed in 1899 (today’s Old City Hall). The foundation walls supporting the Temple Building were over three feet thick, composed of stone and brick. Despite their immense size, it was the steel frame of the structures that supported it. It was devoid of architectural detail, other than over the two main doorways. The facades contained red bricks and Credit Valley sandstone. On the ninth floor, the walls were reduced in size to eighteen inches. The rectangular windows were recessed, which would have reduced the amount of sunlight entering the interior if Gouinlock had not created bay windows that captured extra light. It possessed heating and air-conditioning systems, marble fountains with taps that spouted iced water, mosaic floors, rich wood panelling, and fireproofing. The turrets on the corners above the ninth floor added to its appearance of Skyscraper height.

In 1901, a tenth storey was added to the structure, but the original cornice was retained. In 1921, the firm of Shepard and Calvin was hired to make minor changes and upgrades to the building. The Foresters relocated in 1954 to larger premises on Jarvis Street, and then to a 22-storey building in Don Mills.

However, as the 20th century progressed, Toronto rushed headlong into the future, fully entranced with the idea of out with the old and in with the new. The desire to create even higher buildings became overpowering. The last of the tenants of the magnificent Temple Building vacated the premises on June 29, 1970, and it was demolished later in the year. On the site of the Temple Building, a faceless 32-storey high-rise office building was erected, which contributed little to the streetscape. Its address was 390 Bay Street, and it was named the Thomson Building.

I remember the Temple Building quite well, as in the 1940s when my parents visited Eatons at Queen and Yonge, we travelled on the Bay streetcars and alighted at Bay and Queen. We walked eastward to the Eaton store. As a young boy, I often glanced southward toward the building, as in my imagination it resembled the castles that I had seen in my picture books.

Sources: urbantoronto.ca, heritagetoronto.org, torontoist.com, www.foresters.com, www.blogto.com, and “Lost Toronto” by William Dendy.

1890- Library pictures-r-1431[1]

Views of the Temple Building in 1897 from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-1431

                   1900. library pictures-r-1457[1]

View looking north on Bay Street in 1900, the clock tower of the City Hall (now the Old City Hall) visible in the background. Toronto Public Library, r- 1431

             1910, Library  pcr-2200[1]

Postcard view, looking north on Bay Street in 1901 from Richmond Street, Toronto Public Library, pcr-2200

             

Similar view to the previous photo, taken in 1910. Photo from the Ontario Archives, 10021945

1910, Death Edward VII  Library  pictures-r-6528[1]

Entrance to the Temple Building in 1910, when King Edward VII died. Toronto Public Library, r-6528 

Bell telephone dinner, March 21, 1911,  Canada  a029799[1]

Banquet held by the Bell Telephone Company on March 21, 1911, inside the Temple Building. Canada Archives, aO 29799

1928-temple-building-f1244_it7361[1]

View gazing south from Queen Street in 1928, from the steps of today’s Old City Hall. Toronto Archives, F 1244, Item 7361.

                  May, 2013

View looking south on Bay Street from Queen Street in May 2013. The building on the right-hand side of the photo (in the foreground) is now on the site of the Temple Building.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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

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. This book will be released in June 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

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

 

 

Tags: ,