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Category Archives: toronto’s heritage buildings

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse — Hanlan’s Point

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                  Gibraltar Point lighthouse at Hanlan’s Point, Toronto Islands

Recently I dined at a restaurant located atop one of the city’s towering skyscrapers that overlooks Toronto Harbour. The ever-changing panorama was mesmerizing. The dazzling pinpoints of light from the downtown buildings illuminated the darkness, their brilliance augmented by the many streams of red and white from the myriad of cars snaking along the Gardiner Expressway, Front Street, and the Lakeshore Road.

I tried to imagine the same harbour scene during the last decade of the 18th century, when it would have been enveloped in almost total darkness. The few flickering candles in the windows of the small cabins clustered around the eastern side of the harbour would not have been visible from my modern-day perch. Thankfully, we have a first-hand account of how the islands and the harbour area appeared in those long-ago decades.

In May 1793, Mrs. Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of Lieutenant Governor Simcoe, arrived in Toronto. After the tents, which were to be her home for the forthcoming months, were set-up beside the lake, she commenced exploring, recording and sketching the environs of the settlement. Elizabeth wrote: “We rode on the peninsula opposite Toronto, so I called the spit of land, for it is united to the mainland by a very narrow neck of ground.”

The peninsula is today known as the Toronto Islands, as in later years it was separated from the mainland by a fierce storm that washed away the sandbar at the eastern end of the harbour. How did the peninsula appear in the 1790s?

Elizabeth described it as having “. . . natural meadows and ponds, its poplar trees covered with wild vines, the ground where everlasting peas of purple colour were creeping in abundance, and where wild lilies-of-the-valley grew.” She discovered the sands bordering the open lake, and referred to these as, “my favourite sands.” She visited them time and time again “. . . praising the sweep of the wild fresh air, riding on the hard white surface, watching the antics of unnumbered wild fowl, and listening to the cry of the loons.” The peninsula [today’s Toronto Islands] was reached by boat, a mile across the bay when parties would land on Hanlan’s Point [its modern name]. Elizabeth added, “The Governor thinks the manner in which the sand banks are formed that they are capable of being fortified, he therefore calls it ‘Gibraltar Point’.”

Governor Simcoe thought that the land at the mouth of the harbour was as strategically important to Toronto as the rock that stands guard at Gibraltar, at the entrance to the Mediterranean. Thus, a carriage route was cut along the peninsula to connect the mainland to Gibraltar Point. It later evolved into Lake Shore Avenue, the main east-west axis along today’s Centre Island.

The small colonial town continue to develop. “The bay front and harbour, where it all began, and which for any years the main depot of transportation, was growing in wharves and landing stages. The first to be built was the landing of military stores at the garrison, [and soon] were added added Peter, John and Church Streets.” (Katherine Hale, “Toronto, Romance of a Great City,” Cassell and Company Limited, 1956),

It quickly became evident that it was important to assist ships to enter the harbour safely, to unload their goods at the newly-built wharves. “In 1799, Peter Hunter arrived as the new Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. . . he instructed that a lighthouse be constructed on Gibraltar Point, built of limestone quarried in Queenston.” (Frederick H. Armstrong, “Toronto, The Place of Meeting,” Ontario Historical Society Windsor Publication, published 1983.)

In 1803 an act was passed by the Provincial Legislature for the establishment of lighthouses. One of them was on Gibraltar Point. According to the act “. . . a fund for the erection and maintenance of such lighthouses was to be formed by levying three-pence per ton on every vessel, boat, raft, or other craft of the burthen of ten tons and upward shall be liable to pay any lighthouse duty . . .”

“. . . a lighthouse was begun at the point of York . . . the Mohawk was employed in bringing over stone for the purpose from Queenston; and that Mr. John Thompson, still living in 1873, was engaged in the actual erection of the building . . . (“Toronto of Old,” Henry Scadding).

In the decade when the lighthouse was being built, “The peninsula in front of York was plentifully stocked with goats, the offspring of a small colony established by order of Peter Hunter at Gibraltar Point for the sake, for one thing, of the supposed salutary nature of the whey of goat’s milk. These animals were dispersed during the War of 1812-1815.” (“Toronto of Old,” Henry Scadding).

The lighthouse was completed in 1808, the walls six-feet thick at its base. It was “a hexagon tapered tower, 52 feet high, on a six-sided oaken crib, with a wooden lantern cage 18 feet high above the stonework. In 1832, a perpendicular addition of stone atop the tapered tower increased the height of the lighthouse by 12 feet, making it 82 feet to the vane. The lantern cage was later replaced by an iron one, when a change was made from a fixed light, burning 200 gallons of whale oil a year, to a revolving occulting light of greater power, operated by a clockwork mechanism.” (Source: “Historic Toronto, Toronto Civic Historical Committee, February 1953.”).

The first lighthouse keeper, J. P. Rademuller, a German who had immigrated to Upper Canada. He kept watch at Gibraltar Point for enemy ships and friendly vessels returning to a safe harbour at York. He was in residence at the lighthouse during the Battle of York in 1813, when American ships invaded the town of York.

The lighthouse was in a secluded location, and its glowing beacon was easy to spot. As a result, it became a focal point for smugglers that wished to avoid taxes on imported goods, particularly alcohol. Some sources state that it was common knowledge that Rademuller kept a supply of home-brewed ale in his home beside the lighthouse. John Paul Rademuller disappeared under mysterious circumstances on January 2, 1815. It was alleged that he had been murdered by two soldiers who had been enjoying his home-brewed beer. They were arrested but eventually set free as there was insufficient evidence—Rademuller’s body was never found.

One version of the story states that Rademuller was killed after the soldiers bought the beer, but complained that its alcoholic content was low as it had become frozen during the cold winter weather. They felt that the lighthouse keeper was trying to rip them off. Whether or not this was true, most sources agree that Rademuller was killed that night and dismembered by his killers, who buried his body parts in various graves near the lighthouse. His ghost is said to still haunt the site.

The story of the murder was recorded by John Ross Robertson in his book, “Landmarks of Toronto”, written in 1908, and it has become a source for ghost stories ever since. But Robertson raises scepticism that the event ever occurred. He admitted that he had learned the details from the current lighthouse keeper in the 1870s, George Durnan, who had apparently gone looking for a body and had dug up a coffin containing a jawbone. Despite this, the historic plaque on the lighthouse mentions the ghost story and the jawbone, although many historians thought that this was not appropriate as it was not a proven fact. (For a link to discover more information about the murder,   https://torontoist.com/2017/08/spooky-story-behind-gibraltar-point-lighthouse, and spacing.ca/toronto/2015/04/30/true-story-torontos-island-ghost/ )

Image cropped and thumbnail updated April 2011

The painting on the left entitled, “View of York,” c. 1815,” is by Robert Irvine, and is today in the collection of the AGO. The painting depicts the lighthouse on Gibraltar Point in 1815. Irving was captured in September of 1813, during the War of 1812, and released from an American prison in September 1814. After the war, he was employed by the military and lived in York until 1817. In April 1830, records reveal that he was residing in Scotland. (Source: “Government of Fire,” Frank A. Dieterman and Ronald F. Williamson, Archaeological Services, 2001).

When completed, the lighthouse was the tallest structure in the city and remained so for nearly 50 years. Its power source was switched to coal-oil in 1863 and, then, to electric in 1916. The lighthouse still stands, but it no longer guides ships as it did for over a hundred years. It is still on Gibraltar Point, although because of the silt that has built-up over the years, the tower is now about 100 meters from the water’s edge. It was decommissioned in 1958, and is Toronto’s oldest building situated on its original foundation.

 

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Sketch of the lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper’s cottage in 1894. Toronto Public Library, r-450.

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Undated sketch of the lighthouse from the book “Historic Toronto,” by the Toronto Historical Society, published in 1953. Today, the structure is no longer at the edge of the water. Because of the silt that has been deposited on the shoreline, it is 100 metres from the water.

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Watercolour depicting ships off Gibraltar Point in 1894. Toronto Public Library 987-10-2 

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        Gibraltar Point Lighthouse in 1915. Ontario Archives F-4336.

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View gazing west at the lighthouse on Gibraltar Point in 1919, with private summer cottages lining the shoreline. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, item 10156.

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               Lighthouse in 1940, Toronto Public Library, 10013724.

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View from the base, where the stones are six-feet thick. Photo taken in 2010.

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Door that opens to the steps to ascend to the top of the lighthouse. The door faces east.

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                                      Historic plaque on the lighthouse

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Top of the structure where the lamp was located. The stones for the top of the towering lighthouse were quarried in Kingston.

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  Limestone base of the tower, the stones brought across the lake from Queenston.

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

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

 

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Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses. To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 Toronto: Then and Now®

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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History of Toronto’s Black Bull Tavern

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The Black Bull, 298 Queen St. West, northeast corner of Soho and Queen Streets. This photo was taken prior to the renovations in 2012.

The sign attached to the south side of the Black Bull Tavern states that it was established in 1833. Sources differ on the year the tavern opened, some stating the year 1833 and others 1838. Whichever date is accurate, it is undoubtedly one of the oldest watering holes in the city. However, it cannot claim to be the oldest continually serving tavern in Toronto as for several decades the building was not employed as ale house. The Wheat Sheaf at King and Bathurst outranks the Black Bull in this regard.

When the Black Bull opened in the 1830s, the structures surrounding it on Queen Street were of modest height (one or two storeys), constructed  of wood, many of them covered with stucco. Further west along the street, buildings diminished in number until there were only open fields and stands of timber. No one could ever have imagined the eclectic, colourful Queen West that exists today.

In the 1830, the Black Bull was typical of the structures of the period — a wood-frame, two-storey building, with a steep-pitched roof. The main doorway was located at the southwest corner of the premises, allowing patrons to enter from either Queen or Soho Streets, as the tavern was on the northeast corner of the intersection of these two avenues. The large door on the west side accommodated overnight guests staying in the rooms on the second floor.

Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto, published in 1894 (Volume 1, page 457) states: “York was a hospitable place in the old days, for the places of entertainment in every section of town were very much more numerous, when compared to the population, than they are now.” The Black Bull was, “a favourite stopping place for farmers on their way to town from the west and north-west.”

For many, the tavern was central to the life of the community, which was continually increasing in size, as dwellings were being constructed to the north and south of busy, commercial Queen Street. Food and necessities for the homes were purchased on Queen Street, supplemented by two markets within easy walking distance — St. Patrick’s and St. Andrew’s Markets. It was common for shoppers to visit the Black Bull on market days.

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Illustration is from Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto (Volume 1, Toronto: J. Ross Robertson’s Toronto Landmarks, 1894). A swinging sign, a wooden water trough, and pump are beside the establishment, on Soho Street.

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Sketch of the Black Bull c. 1912. It would appear it was inspired by the previous sketch. Toronto Public Library, r-238.

In 1861, the owner of the Black Bull added a third storey with a Mansard roof. During this year, patrons in the pub hotly debated the merits of confederation with the other North American British colonies. In 1885, an extension was constructed on the tavern’s north side, on Soho Street. This was the year of the Northwest Rebellion, when John A. Macdonald sent troops to western Canada to quell the Northwest Rebellion. In 1895, the establishment possessed 50 guest rooms. In 1910, the Black Bull was again extensively renovated, a red-brick cladding employed to encase the entire building. In this year, King Edward VII died, said to be the most popular British monarch since the mid-seventeenth century.

Sometime after the turn of the 20th century, the Black Bull’s name was changed to the Clifton House and it continued to serve the public for several decades under this name. However, it reverted back to its historic name, the Black Bull, in 1977. It appears that in this decade, it had a dubious reputation, the police sometimes summonsed to restore order. In April 2011, Toronto firefighters battled a three-alarm blaze that started in one of the upper rooms. Fortunately, it was contained.

The latest and most popular addition to the Black Bull is the patio, on its west side on Soho Street. It opened c. 1981, and is one of the most popular outdoor drinking venues in the city.

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  Google map, 2017 depicting the location of the Black Bull on Queen Street West.

Today, the pub is an attractive Second Empire style red-brick building, with yellow-brick pilasters (three-sided columns) on the west side of the 1885-addition. The main door, which at one time was at the corner, has been relocated to the Queen Street side. The slate-rock tiles on the roof survived until 2011, but were painted yellow.

During the restoration in 2012, the Mansard roof and third-floor windows were renovated, and the slate tiles were replaced with asphalt tiles. The pattern of the tiles was the same as the earlier ones of slate. Though not authentic, they are more in keeping with the original appearance of the building as they are slate coloured.

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A postcard sent c. 1895 from the Black Bull. It was likely obtained from the check-in desk of the tavern. The message was on the reverse side of the card, which is addressed to S. David of 45 Sullivan Street, one block north of Queen. The card gives the room rates and states that the hotel possessed 50 rooms.  The telephone number has only 4 digits. Because there is no postage stamp on the card, it is possible that it was delivered by a member of the staff of the hotel, as the address was only a five-minute walk away. Card is from the Baldwin Collection of the Toronto Public Library.

Corner of Soho St. and Queen St., looking north-east

The Black Bull in 1972, when it was named the Clifton House. Toronto Archives, S 0841, Fl 0048, Item 0026.

Queen St W., northeast corner at Soho St – September 27, 1981

The tavern in 1981, when the roof tiles were painted yellow. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, fl 0048, item 0026.

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  Yellow-brick pilasters (three-sided pillars) on the west wall of the Black Bull

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        # 3 Soho, attached to the north side of the Black Bull pub

Attached to the north end of the Black Bull is #3 Soho Street, a building that matches the brickwork of the pub. However, it is in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, with heavy stone blocks at its base and Roman arches above the windows and door. The most famous civic building constructed in this style is Toronto’s Old City Hall. 

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           A PCC streetcar passing the Black Bull in April of 2012.

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Mansard roof on the south side of the Black Bull (prior to renovations)

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The old angled doorway is now a window (left side of photo) and the modern doorway faces Queen Street 

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West side of the Black Bull, with the popular sidewalk patio. This photo was taken prior to the restoration, the original slate tiles on the roof painted yellow.

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                The patio of the Black Bull on a hot summer night.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

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

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

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

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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

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

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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

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

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

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

 

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Lillian Massey Building for Household Sciences

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Lillian Massey Building, Department of Household Sciences. View is from the west side of Queens Park, south of Bloor Street West.

The solidly impressive building that occupies the southeast corner of Bloor Street West and Queens Park (157 Bloor Street) is a reminder of the great public buildings erected across Canada in the 19th and early-20th centuries. The Department of Household Sciences building in Toronto is one of the finest example of these structures. The funds for its construction were provided by Lillian Massey, whose father was Hart Massey. He was the founder of the Massey-Harris Company, at one time the biggest manufacturer of agricultural machinery in the British Empire. Hart Massey donated Massey Hall to the city; other structures associated with the Massey family are Hart House on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus, and Massey College, a graduate residential college.

Lillian Massey was born in 1854 in Newcastle (Durham Region), in Canada West (Ontario). In 1897, in Toronto, she married John Mill Treble. Throughout her life, she remained keenly engaged in social reform, philanthropy and education. A wealthy heiress, she was also a patron of the University of Toronto.

Lillian was a believer in “scientific household management” and was one of the first in the country to promote this concept. She was instrumental in having the University of Toronto offer a four-year degree programme in household science to educate women to manage their homes scientifically. Lillian believed that these courses would better women’s lives.

In 1905, she went a step further and donated funds to erect a building to house the new department. It was to include facilities to support the teaching staff, as well as classrooms, laboratories, and recreational facilities. It was to possess a gymnasium and a swimming pool, the latter located in the basement. At the time, these athletic facilities were to be the only ones on campus open to female students.

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Construction on the Household Sciences building began in 1908, and it required five years to complete. When it opened in 1913, it was a spectacular structure, its interior trimmed with marble and oak. There was also a series of stained-glass windows, by artist Henry Holiday (1839-1927), the windows dedicated to Lillian’s mother, Eliza Phelps. They were in the Pre-Raphaelite style, featuring simple lines and large areas of brilliant colours, such as found in the early Italian painters before the famous Italian painter—Raphael. The windows were placed in the stairwell surrounding the staircase in the entrance hall. Images in the stained glass depicted Egyptian women performing household tasks, the male figures engaged in hunting and harvesting.

The architect Lillian selected for the building was George M. Miller, who had supervised the designs for Massey Hall on behalf of an American architectural firm. Miller chose the Neo-Classical style for the structure, which was very popular for large public and commercial buildings in that decade. The portico was supported by four Ionic pillar of Indiana limestone, the pediment above it containing the coat of arms of the University of Toronto. The porch and west facade faced Queens Park, directly across from the Royal Ontario Museum. At the time, the building was considered the finest facility of its kind in North America.

The domestic courses offer in the building were reviewed in the 1960s, resulting in the university deciding to phase out the program. Some courses were transferred to the Faculty of Medicine and others to the Faculty of Arts and Science. However, by this time the building was showing its age and was in need of renovation. Despite this, the Lillian Massey Building continued to house some courses of the Department of Household Science until the 1970s. Then, it was occupied by the Department of Nutritional Sciences, a part of the Faculty of Medicine. In 1975, it was designated a heritage structure by the City of Toronto.

In 2007, the building was finally renovated by the University of Toronto. It presently houses the Department of Classics and the Centre for Medieval Studies, as well as a Club Monaco store. Thankfully, it is one of our historical buildings that remains purposefully occupied. 

The author is grateful for the information contained in: medieval.utoronto.ca/about/history/lillian-massey-building/ and

www.blogto.com/…/nostalgia_tripping_the_lillian_massey_department_of_household

Note: Photo of stained glass window is from the Toronto Public Library, photo by John Elmsley.

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

Gazing east on Bloor Street toward Avenue Road (Queens Park) in 1912, prior to the widening of the street. In this year, the ROM building on the southwest corner of Queens Park and Bloor had not been built. The Lillian Massey Household Sciences building is in the distance, on the right-hand side. Toronto Archives, Series 0372, SS 0058, item 0131.

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Photo of a horse-drawn fire reel on Bloor Street c. 1914, the Household Science Building in the background. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 1382. 

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

The Household Sciences building in 1918. Toronto Archives, Series 0372, SS 0058, item 0781. 

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View of the west facade of the Household Sciences building in 1920. One of the pillars of the Alexandra Gates can be seen. It is topped with a street lamp. The gates were relocated in 1962 to the north end of Philosopher’s Walk, when Queens Park was widened. View is from the west side of Queens Park. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 7163.

Ontario Safety League – July 28, 1923

View of the southeast corner of Queens Park and Bloor Street in 1923. In the foreground is a Peter Witt Streetcar. Toronto Archives, S0071, item 2429.

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View of the building c. 1933, from the west side of Queens Park; the view looks southeast, the legislative buildings in the far distance. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 7362.

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View in the 1960s, looking south on Avenue Road toward the legislative buildings at Queens Park. The Household Sciences building is on the left-hand side of the photo, across from the ROM. On the right-hand side of the photo is the Park Plaza (Park Hyatt) Hotel. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, SS 1057, item 5334.

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Gazing north toward the intersection of Bloor Street and Avenue Road (Queens Park).

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     West facade with the portico supported by four Ionic-style columns.

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The doorway to the building on Queens Park (left), and architectural detailing around the doorway (right).

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Upper portion of the portico on the building, with the four Ionic-style pillars and above them, the coat of  arms of the University of Toronto.

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      View of the building from the west side of Queens Park.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

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

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

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

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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

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

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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

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

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

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

 

 

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history of the National Club, Bay Street

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The National Club on the east side of Bay Street, during Doors Open Toronto (2015) 

Toronto is today one of the world’s most multi-cultural cities. However, before the waves of immigrants arrived following the Second World War, most Torontonians considered their city to be a loyal outpost of the British Empire. In that era, cultures that were different from those of Great Britain were viewed with suspicion. The majority of Canadians believed that their national identity was best expressed in terms of loyalty to the Mother Country. This idea was also prevalent in the latter decades of the 19th century, although there were some who preferred the ways of the republic to the south.

In 1868, the Canada First Movement was a formed to generate continued support for the sentiment that Canadian identity was best promoted through British Protestant ideas. Prominent Toronto citizens who supported the ideas of the Canada First Movement were H. J. Morgan, Charles Mair, R. J. Haliburton, G. T. Denison, and W. A. Foster. Edward Blake, Ontario’s second premier, was also a prominent member. 

The National Club was created in 1874, intended as a place for members of the Canada First Movement to meet. It was located at 98 Bay Street, near the site of Toronto’s original Stock Exchange, near King and Bay. It included a library, receptions rooms, smoking rooms, and several dining rooms. However in 1875, Edward Blake joined the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie, Canada’s second prime minister and leader of the nation’s first Liberal government. After Blake went to Ottawa, support for the Canada First Movement dissipated. Adding to its demise was the movement’s inability to make its platform acceptable to French Canadians.

Adjusting to the new circumstances, the National Club became a non-political organization, though many of its members were supporters of the Liberal Party. During the years ahead, it enlarged its membership and prospered as a private social club for business professionals. By the first decade of the 20th century, more spacious premises were required. It was proposed that the club relocate to a site further north, at 303 Bay Street, near the corner of Richmond and Bay Streets.

The new building opened in 1907, its architect S. George Curry of the firm, Curry, Sproatt and Rolph. The structure’s four-storey, red-brick facade contained generous stone trim, especially on the ground-floor level. Built in the Neo-Georgian style, its appearance was formal, somewhat resembling a grand home such as might be found in Rosedale. Its large portico was supported by impressive Doric-style columns. The large bay windows on the lower three floors allowed plenteous light to enter the rooms within. When it was built, its domestic-like appearance was viewed as appropriate as the club possessed over-night accommodations; it was a “home away from home” for some of its members.

When it was opened, it complemented the surrounding structures, as in that decade the northern part of Bay Street contained mostly commercial blocks of two or three storeys, interspersed with churches and modest residential properties. Today, the street has changed greatly, and the club is nestled among high-rise structures of glass and steel.

Women were first admitted to the club in 1992, and currently make up approximately 15 per cent of the membership. A few years ago, on the roof of the club, a 3000 square-foot patio was added, one of the largest of those belonging to the private clubs in downtown Toronto. The National Club has an extensive wine cellar, which is said to contain about 40,000 bottles. The club often features theme nights, such as oyster or martini parties. The premises is exclusively for members from Monday to Friday, but guests are able to rent various spaces on weekends. On these occasions, its dining rooms host private events for families and businessmen. It is also a popular venue for wedding receptions. Revenues from the rentals help defray the annual costs of maintaining the historic building, which can be as much as $200,000 a year.

The National Club remains one of the most prestigious clubs in Toronto, its rivals being the Toronto Club, Albany Club and University Club. I was fortunate in being able to view the interior of the club during “Doors Open Toronto.”

The author is grateful for the informatio0n provided by: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on…national-club/article25484992 and www.blogto.com/…/six_private_member_clubs_in_toronto_you_probably_dont_wan..

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  Painting of the club (c. 1907) designed by S. George Curry. The buildings on either side of it are of less height.

             c. 1909  urbantoronto-3665-10636[1]

The National Club at 303 Bay Street in 1909. Photo, urbantoronto 36-65-10636

            1969, Tor. Star. tspa_0111539f[1]

The National Club in 1969, the view from the west side of Bay Street. Photo, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0111539.

               1978, Toronto Star, tspa_0110248f[1]

The National Club in 1978, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0110248

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The impressive portico and main entrance to the club on Bay Street.

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The entrance hall of the National Club, view from the doorway.

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  The mosaic tile on the floor of the entrance hall of the club.

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       Staircase from the entrance hall to the second floor.

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                       Meeting room on the second floor.

image

    Group of chairs on the left-hand side of the fireplace.

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                 Space for receptions and special events.

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Area on the 4th floor that provides access to the outdoor patio.

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            An area for club members to relax, read or chat.

                   DSCN7361

                               Hallway in the National Club.

National Club, May 23, 2015

The National Club on May 23, 2016. View gazes northeast on Bay Street.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

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

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

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

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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

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

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

  ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Enoch Turner School (Ward School)

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The historic Enoch Turner schoolhouse in December, 2016. The view gazes southwest on Trinity Street, a short distance south of King Street East.

Today, the historic building, which once housed the first free school in Toronto, appears lonely and rather out of place as the excited voices and boisterous activities of children have long since vacated the scene. Located at 106 Trinity Avenue, the restored building is a short distance south of Queen Street East. When it opened in 1849, it was a breakthrough in the educational life of the city.

In the 1840s, Toronto was young, having been incorporated a mere 15 years before the school opened. In that decade, immigrants continued to arrive daily, many of them from Ireland, where the potato crop had failed, creating economic hardship and severe famine. When they reached Toronto, most families were too poor to afford an education for their children. This meant that for their entire lives they would likely be confined to low-paying jobs involving manual labour. One of Toronto’s prominent citizens, Enoch Turner, stepped in alleviate the situation by providing funds to open and operate a school that was free to attend.  

Enoch Turner was a successful businessman who earned his living as a brewer. Born in 1792 in Staffordshire, England, he arrived to the city about the year 1831. He established a brewery on Taddle Creek, where today the intersection of Front and Parliament Streets is located. Turner had earned a reputation as man with a strong social conscience. It was said that at his brewery he employed ex-slaves that had fled north from the United States. In 1832, a disastrous fire destroyed much of his brewery, but his reputation was such that his fellow citizens stepped in to assist him to rebuild. This was accomplished by having the York Circus give a benefit performance.

By the mid-1840s, he was once more prospering, and in 1845, he provided funds for the free school on Trinity Street. The property was owned by Little Trinity Anglican Church, located on the southwest corner of Trinity and King Street East. Turner was a benefactor of the church and well known by the church’s elders. The site for the school, which they named the Ward School, was immediately south of the church.

It is not known definitively who Turner hired to design the schoolhouse, but it is generally thought to be Henry Bower Lane, as two years previously, he had been the architect of Little Trinity Church. The school was a one-storey, red-brick building in the simple Gothic revival-style. The narrow peaked windows were trimmed with stone. Yellow bricks were inserted at the corners of the structure, around the doorway on Trinity Street, and in a solid multi-brick row near the roofline.

There’s some debate about when the Toronto Board of Education was founded, but it is thought to be in 1850 as this is the year that legislation was adopted in Canada West (Ontario) to create municipally funded education. The following year, the Toronto Board of Education assumed responsibility for educating the children of Toronto. The Ward School was taken over by the board and renamed Trinity School. However, it closed in 1859 when the public school relocated to a more spacious location. The ownership of the old school and the property on Trinity Street now reverted to Little Trinity Church.

In 1869, Little Trinity Church added an extension on the building’s west side (the West Hall), designed by the noted Toronto architectural firm of Gundry and Langley. It was one of the earliest commissions of Henry Langley, when he was in partnership with Thomas Gundry. Langley eventually became one of the most influential 19th-century architects in Ontario, designing the Metropolitan Methodist (United) Church at 56 Queen Street East, McMaster Hall at 273 Bloor Street West, and the Bank of British North America at Yonge and Wellington.   

Until the 1960s, the former school building was employed as the Sunday school and Parish Hall for Little Trinity Church. Near the turn of the century, in 1899, it was a recruitment centre for enlisting troops for the Boer War. During World Wars I and II, it was a recreation centre for serviceman training in Toronto that were distant from their homes. In the Great Depression it was employed as a soup kitchen, serving 1500 people a week. After the war, in the 1950s, it was the church’s neighbourhood youth clubhouse. In 1961, temporary services were held in it after a disastrous fire in the church. When Little Trinity was restored, the former school became a cultural centre for the community, featuring  concerts, youth programs, and the visual arts.

By the 1970s the structure was badly in need of repairs and it was feared that it might be demolished. Thanks to architect Eric Arthur, who wrote “No Mean City,” a group was formed to raise funds for its restoration. It was successful. Governor General Roland Michener officially opened it as an historic site and museum in 1972. It is today one of the oldest, continuously operated buildings in Toronto. Now owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust, it is employed as a museum, conference space, and special events venue.

 

The author is indebted to the following sources for much of the information. 

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

https://enochturnerschoolhouse.ca

www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/index.php/properties/enoch-turner-schoolhouse

www.theworldofgord.com/2011/10/enoch-turner-schoolhouse.html

1953, pictures-r-2817[1]

View of the east facade at 106 Trinity Street in 1953. The West Hall is visible at the rear of the building. Photo was taken prior to its restoration. Toronto Public Library, r- 2817.

1956,  pictures-r-2820[1]

View of the school looking northwest on Trinity Street in 1956. On the north side of the school is the south (rear) portion of Little Trinity Church. Toronto Public Library, r- 2820.

Series 1465, File 676, Item 38

View looking west on Trinity Street in 1990. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, fl0676, item 0038.

Series 1465, File 676, Item 36

Gazing south on Trinity Street toward the lake in 1991. Lake Ontario and the Gardiner Expressway are behind the buildings at the end of the street. The schoolhouse is on the west side of the street, in the foreground. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, Fl 0676, item 0036.

Series 1465, File 651, Item 33

Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in 1991. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, Fl 0651, item 0033.

www.theworldofgord.com   007[1]

Undated photo of the interior of the school. Photo from www.worldofgord .

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Gazing north on Trinity Street toward King Street East in December 2016. The shops on the north side of King Street are visible.

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View of the east facade, revealing the yellow bricks on the corners of the structure and around the doorway. The windows are trimmed with stone.

DSCN1633

The north facade of the original building in 2016, the east side of Trinity Street visible in the background.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

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

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

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

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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

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

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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

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

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

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

 

Tags: , ,

Toronto’s historic Massey Hall

DSCN9248

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. 

 

1912.  DSCN6122

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.

Fonds 1266, Item 6468

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.

DSCN1876   DSCN1878

                   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

 

 

 

 

Tags: ,

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. When it was built, 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.

DSCN1910

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.  

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   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)

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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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