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Category Archives: Toronto’s lost atchitectural gems

Salvation Square at the Toronto Eaton Centre

1890s- pictures-r-658[1]

Salvation Square was once the site of The Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters. The above photo, taken c. 1890, is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-658.

The small square on the west side of the Eaton Centre is named “Salvation Square” in recognition of an important Salvation Army building that at one time dominated the northeast corner of the intersection of Albert and James Streets. The building has been demolished, and the section of Albert Street east of James St., is now absorbed into the Eaton Centre.

The British evangelical church that is today affectionately referred to as the “Sally Ann,” arrived in Toronto is 1882. Because it was a church organized along military lines (a Christian army), it employed military terminology for many of its activities. When it held its first services, referred to as “meetings,” they were considered rowdy and theatrical by the traditional churches. They worshipped in whatever public spaces were available; on a few occasions they held meetings above a blacksmith shop. To attract people to their indoor meetings, they conducted “open air services,” which were held on street corners.

Desiring a more permanent place to worship, in April of 1882 they purchased land and erected a “barracks” (small building) at 54 Richmond Street West. In that decade, the street was known as Little Richmond Street. The modest building was covered with roughcast (lime, cement and gravel) and likely accommodated about 150 people. It was built to the west of the town, which in those years centred around King and Yonge Streets. Thus, the barracks was in an area that was not yet fully urbanized. To the west of the barracks was a lumber yard, and to the east of the barracks, as far as McDougall Lane, there were open fields. However, to the east of McDougall Lane, as far east as Spadina Avenue, there were prosperous brick houses. Today, the site of the Army building is where the condo 500 Richmond Street is located.

Requiring larger premises, the Army relocated to Terauley Street. Today, the street has been renamed Bay Street. Terauley was the section of Bay north of Queen Street. The new hall was named the Coliseum, and it seated about 300 persons. From this location, the Army soon expanded. It opened “outposts” (beginning churches) across the city. They included congregations on Lisgar and Lipincott Streets, and in Yorkville, Parkdale, Dovercourt, West Toronto, Riverdale, Wychwood, and Earlscourt.

By 1880s, the organization extended from St. John’s Nfld. to Victoria B.C. Thus, a larger building was needed in downtown Toronto to accommodate its territorial headquarters for Canada and Bermuda. As a result, in 1886,  land was purchased on the northeast corner of James and Albert Streets. The four-storey structure contained the offices necessary for the needs of the territory, as well as an auditorium for large rallies, concerts, and services. It also was home to the Toronto Temple Corps, which was a functioning congregation. The architecture of the building reflected the military roots of the organization.

The building on Albert Street contained towers, battlements, Roman arches, a parapet, a central tower, and towers on the east and west corners of the south facade. The interior auditorium was considered enormous, its extra wide platform capable of containing at least four full-size Salvation Army bands (35-40 men in each). A series of pilasters (three-side columns) on the walls supported the large ceiling arches that sustained the roof. The pilasters were of wood, carved in simple designs, and stained a dark colour. The ceiling was covered with sheets of rolled tin, richly embossed to resemble decorative plastering, this style being popular in the 19th century. Doors on either side of the platform allowed bandsmen and songster brigades (choirs) to enter. If viewed from the rear of the auditorium, the piano was on the right-hand (east) side of the platform. In the body of the auditorium were rows of wooden chairs with hinged seats. The gallery at the rear (south) of the auditorium was reached from stairs in the lobby.

This building was demolished in 1954 and replaced with a modern structure that was much admired among architectural professionals. It was designed by John B. Parkins Associates, which in 1964 designed the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The new Army Headquarters also contained a large auditorium for rallies, concerts and services. As well, it was where the Temple Corps (congregation) held its services. The structure opened in 1956, but was demolished in 1995, and the site incorporated into the Eaton Centre. The headquarters for the Salvation Army relocated to 2 Overlea Boulevard in East York.

Fonds 1244, Item 1998

View of the northeast corner of James and Albert Streets in 1912, when the Salvation Army Headquarters was decorated to welcome General Booth, the founder of the organization. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1998. 

                    Fonds 1244, Item 2561

The north side of Albert Street in 1912,  showing the decorations on the headquarters building to welcome the general. It was to be his last visit, as he died later in the year. Photo from the Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 2561.

1953.  pictures-r-630[1]

The headquarters building in 1953, photos from the Toronto Public Library, r- 630

Corner of James St. and Albert St., looking north-east

The modern building that opened in 1956. The photo was taken in 1972, and shows the lower portion of the building on the northeast corner of Albert and James Streets. Toronto Archives, Series 0831, File 0067, Item 0002.

                  Series 1465, File 466, Item 4

South facade of the new headquarters on Albert Street in the 1970s, Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, File 10466, Item 0004.

                              View of Eaton's Bargain store and Salvation Army on Albert Street west of Yonge Street – April 11, 1977 

Gazing west on Albert Street toward Bay Street in 1977. The building to the west of The Salvation Army Headquarters is the old Eaton’s Annex, which was connected by a tunnel under Albert Street to the Queen Street store. It later became the Eaton’s Bargain Centre, and was destroyed by fire in 1977. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 0085, Item 0076.

                                  View of Salvation Army at James and Albert Streets – April 14, 1977

The camera is pointing south on James Street toward Queen Street. On the right-hand side is the east facade of the Old City Hall. Toronto Archives Fonds 1526, File 0086, Item 0034.

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When The Salvation Army Headquarters was demolished, the site was incorporated into the Eaton Centre, and today a portion of it contains the Chapters/Indigo store (on the 2nd and 3rd storeys). Photo taken October 24, 2016. 

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The square in front of the site where the headquarters building was located is now named “Salvation Square.” Photo taken in 2016. 

                   Salvation_Army_Territorial_Headquarters_Map[1]

Google map showing the location where the Salvation Army Headquarters was located. Albert Street no longer extends east to Yonge, as it is now part of the Eaton Centre.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

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

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

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

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

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

For a link to the Toronto Life article: 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 by 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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Lost Toronto, the Central Building—45 Richmond St. West

                        Fonds 444, Item 21

The Central Building on the south side of Richmond Street West, between Yonge and Bay Streets, c. 1928. Toronto archives, F 044, Item 0021.

The Central Building at 45 Richmond Street West was not among the structures that architectural preservationists would likely have fought to save from the wrecker’s ball. Built between 1927 and 1928, it was rather plain, its facade containing few architectural ornamentations. It was an oddity for the decade in which it was constructed, as most 1920s commercial buildings tend toward a little more exuberance. Its architects were Baldwin and Greene, who also designed the Concourse Building at 100 Adelaide Street West. In contrast to the Central, it contained one of the finest Art Deco facades in the city. Today, its south facade remains much admired. If the Central Building had survived, I doubt that it would elicit the same respect and admiration that the Concourse building has generated.

The Central’s architects also created the Claridge Apartments, on the southwest corner of Avenue Road and Clarendon, three blocks south of St. Clair Avenue. Its ornate Romanesque architecture, with a lobby decorations by The Group of Seven’s J. E. H. MacDonald, is a testament to the skills and artistry of Baldwin and Greene.

The 12-storey Central Building was constructed of beige bricks, its north facade possessing only a few elements of Art Deco design. On the side of this facade, near the corners of the building, there were faux ancient hieroglyphs, which began on the 3rd floor and ascended to the 11th. The cornice at the top was exceedingly unornamented, but the sub-cornice below it, possessed a few interesting designs in the brickwork. However, these details were lost to those who strolled by on the sidewalks as they were too high to be seen on the narrow street where it was located. In contrast, the two-storey entrance on the ground floor was well ornamented and contained an impressive Roman arch. On the fifth floor, in a central position, was a rather odd looking bay window. There is no record of why this was included, but I assume that the room behind it had special significance, such as a board room or a chief executive’s office.    

The building was demolished to create a parking lot to accommodate the many cars that daily enter the city’s downtown core. I was unable to discover the date of the building’s demise, but it was likely in the 1940s or 1950s.

                           Fonds 444, Item 20

Entrance to the Central Building at 45 Richmond Street. The doors were recessed into the archway. Toronto Archives, S 044, Item 0020.

Fonds 444, Item 22

The generous use of marble, the decorative ceiling, and light fixtures reflect the best of the Art Deco period. Toronto Archives, F 044, Item 0022.

Map of 45 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5H

      Location of the Central Building at 45 Richmond Street West.

Source: “Toronto Architecture, a City Guide,” by Patricia McHugh.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

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

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

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

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

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

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

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The north St. Lawrence Market—demolished 2016

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The north building of Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market in  2013. The view gazes toward the northwest corner of Jarvis and Front Streets. In the background, on King Street East, are the St. Lawrence Hall and the spire of St. James Cathedral.

The north building of the St. Lawrence Market was situated on the original site of York’s (Toronto’s) first farmers’ market square. At first, the market square was simply an open field with a water pump, where local farmers sold their produce and livestock. Early, each Saturday morning, farmers arrived from neighbouring townships, having departed their farms long before daybreak, travelling by horse and cart along the muddy roads that led to the town of York. About the year 1815, at the north end of the square, adjacent to King Street, they erected a small wooden shelter, measuring 35’ by 40’. In 1820, the sides of the structure were enclosed to form a brick building. However, in 1831, an impressive quadrangular market complex was constructed, stretching from King Street on the north to Front Street on the south.

DSCN6445

The above picture is a photo of a model of the quadrangular market building of 1831.  (City of Toronto Archives)

In the foreground of the above picture is the north facade of the red-brick market building on King Street East. The facade had three archways, each located above an entrance to the building. The complex included a rectangular courtyard for farmers’ carts and wagons. Surrounding the courtyard were sheltered spaces to accommodate stalls for butchers, fish merchants, and vegetable sellers. The covered sections protected vendors and customers from the whims of York’s (Toronto’s) cruel winter weather.

In 1834, the town of York was incorporated as a city and renamed Toronto. Because there was no City Hall, for a decade after its incorporation, city officials met in the red-brick structure on King Street, at the north end of the St. Lawrence Market complex. In 1849, a fire swept along King Street that destroyed the market. When they rebuilt in 1851, the new two-storey market building was a mixture of architectural styles, with windows topped by Roman arches and others that were rectangular. On the north end of the site, a grand hall was added – the St. Lawrence Hall. It became the cultural centre for the city, where citizenry gathered for recitals, concerts, and important speakers.

1898 water colour pictures-r-5181[1]

Painting depicting the north market of the St. Lawrence Market building, in 1898. This is the structure that was erected in 1851. The view gazes from the southeast corner of Front and Jarvis Streets, the cupola on the St. Lawrence Hall and the spire of St. James Cathedral visible in the background. Toronto Public Library, r- 5181.

1898  pictures-r-6039[1]

Photo taken in 1898, showing the same view as the painting. It is likely this photo was the inspiration for the painting. There were streetcars on Front Street. Toronto Public Library, r- 6039.

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View of the east and south sides of the market building erected in 1851. The cattle are being herded east along Front Street. The streetcar tracks are visible, even though the  roadway is unpaved. The photo is undated but is likely c. 1898.

n. market- 1850-1904  pictures-r-6041[1]

View of the east side of the market, looking north on Jarvis Street toward King Street East. The sign for W. E. Dobson Cigar Factory on the south wall of the St. Lawrence Hall belonged to a company that operated from 1883-1898. Toronto Public Library, r-6041.

In 1899, the north market buildings was demolished and another structure erected. Construction was completed in 1904, the architect being John W. Siddal. The style of the building matched that of the south market structure on Front Street. I was inside this building many times during the 1950s and 1960s. I remember its architecture as being rather dreary, its interior cavernous, and on cold days it was drafty. Because the windows were built high up in the walls, it was not well lit, especially on winter mornings. The brick walls and cement floors added to its austerity.

However, the colourful activity on Saturday mornings more than compensated for the structure’s dismal appearance. The interior was composed of one main, open space, the overhead beams visible. At the north end there was a stage to allow the building to be employed for political meetings or community events, as well as entertainers. Unlike the south market, where there were permanent kiosks and stalls, merchants sold their goods from folding tables, which were set-up every Saturday morning. The farmers paid a rental fee to acquire a space. This building was demolished in 1968. 

Series 1465, File 415, Item 6

Plans drawn in 1900 that depict the design for the building to replace the north market building erected in 1851. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, File 0425, Item 0006.

painting, c. 1945  I0003149[1]

Painting showing the north St. Lawrence Market c. 1945. The view is of the west side of the structure, the St. Lawrence Hall visible on its north side. 

1957  e010955318-v8[1]

Scene in the north market in 1957, the folding tables visible for displaying goods. Canada Archives, 010955318.

In 1968, a sleek new building was erected. I was in this building on many occasions as well. It was as spacious as its predecessor, the equivalent of two storeys, though not as cavernous. Its walls were composed of light-beige (almost white) bricks. On Saturday mornings, when the farmers’ market was held, the interior was brightly lit. In warm weather, around its exterior there were stalls for farmers who were unable to rent interior spaces. On the north end of the interior there was a stage to accommodate community events. On Sunday mornings, the building was employed as a flea market. During the remainder of the week, the interior space was available for rent.

Overhead view of the rear of St. Lawrence Market, from the King Edward Hotel – July 6, 1974 

Aerial view of the north market building in the 1970s or 1980s, the camera pointed east. On its north side (left-hand side of the photo) is the St. Lawrence Hall, its cupola possessing a green copper roof. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 0016, Item 0003.

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View in 2012 of the north market building’s south facade on Front Street, the spire of St. James Cathedral and the cupola of the St. Lawrence Hall in the background.

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      Interior of the north market building on a Saturday morning in 2012.

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     Interior view, showing the stage at the north end of the space.

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   Spaces for farmers’ stalls on Jarvis Street, on the east side of the north market building.

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   Vendors on the east side of the north market building in 2012.

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Vendors’ tents on the west side of the building on an autumn Saturday morning.

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View from the southeast corner of Jarvis and Front Streets in October 2016, the hoarding around the building to facilitate its demolition.

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Artist’s concept of the new structure to replace the former north market building. View looks from the southeast corner of Jarvis and Front Streets.

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.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: ,

Benvenuto—Toronto’s mansion on the hill—demolished 1932

1890, pictures-r-2084[1]

Benvenuto in 1890 — home of Simeon Henan Janes and later, Sir William Mackenzie, on the hill above Davenport Road, on the west side of Avenue Road.

Fonds 1244, Item 7072

Gazing south on Avenue Road from Edmund Road (south of St. Clair Avenue West) in 1910. The large stone retaining wall, on the west side of the steep hill (right-hand side of photo), is one of the few traces that remain of the great estate named Benvenuto. When paving Avenue Road and constructing the streetcar tracks, the road was cut into the side of the hill to reduce the incline. In the far distance, the clock tower of the Old City Hall is visible.

The steep hill on the north side of Davenport Road played a major role in the development of Toronto. The prominent landform was created after the ancient Lake Iroquois receded. Until that time, the land south of the Davenport Road was under water, including all of downtown Toronto. As the lake level dropped, its former shoreline loomed high over the old lake bed below.

When the early settlers arrived in York (Toronto), the enormous hill created a barrier to northern expansion. Before roads were cut into the hill to reduce its steep incline, climbing it on foot or horseback was exceedingly difficult. In the 1790s, it was daunting task for Lieutenant Governor Simcoe’s troops to built Yonge Street up over the hill to create a military supply route. During the years ahead, other roadways ascended the hill, Avenue Road being one of them.

Simeon Henan Janes was among the first men to build a home on the heights, with their commanding view of the city below. Janes was a prosperous real estate developer, who purchased land and built many magnificent brick homes that still exist today in the Annex District of the city. Living in a mansion on Jarvis Street, which in the 1880s was a wealthy residential area, he was desirous of building an even grander home. To fulfill his dream, he purchased a large piece of land on the hill overlooking Davenport Road, on the west side of Avenue Road. Today, the site would be at the southwest corner of Avenue Road and Edmund Road. The property overlooked the city below, and possessed a commanding view of the lakefront and the waters of Lake Ontario.

Janes intended that his a home would reflect his great wealth. Construction commenced in 1888, its architect being an American — A. Page Brown. He named it “Benvenuto,” the Italian word meaning “welcome.” However, because Brown relocated his firm from New York to San Francisco, the designs were actually assigned to Frank L. Ellingwood. The walls of Benvenuto and the two towers on its south side, were built of huge blocks of rough limestone, quarried at Kingston. The roof consisted of red terracotta tiles.

Because of the difficulty of heating the house during Canada’s severe winters, the windows were small within the massive walls. Most of them were rectangular, although those in the west tower and the two windows on the ground floor, to the left of the east tower, were topped by round Roman arches in the Romanesque Revival style of architecture. Indeed, in many ways, the heavy fortress-like appearance of the structure reflected the Romanesque Revival style. The same type of stone employed for constructing the house was used for the retaining wall that faced Avenue Road, on the east side of the estate.    

In most grand houses in the 1880s and 1890s, the entrance hall was where people were greeted, and thus, it was an important space, since it was where guests received their first impressions of their hosts. In Benvenuto, the hall featured a fireplace, as it was built in the days prior to central heating. It was also a place to allow visitors to warm themselves on cold winter days and evenings. The hall displayed several large pieces of art, and the grand staircase was accessed from the hall. The staircase possessed a landing that showcased more of the family’s art. The dining room and parlour were entered from the hall; their doorways had sliding doors and heavy draperies, such features necessary to control chilly draughts.

In 1897, Benvenuto was sold to Sir William Mackenzie, a railway contractor, who was knighted on January 1, 1911 for his contribution in developing western Canada. In 1914, Mackenzie commissioned the architects Darling and Pearson to design a service wing on the east side of the mansion. The Mackenzie family was prominent in Toronto’s social scene and entertained lavishly at their new home. Invitations to their garden parties, music evenings, and costume parties were highly prized. When Mackenzie died in 1924, rising property taxes and inflationary real estate prices meant that the house became too costly to maintain as a private residence.

As the number of homes built above the Davenport Road hill increased, more streets were constructed. Edmund Avenue was cut through the Benvenuto estate, separating the estate’s out-buildings from the main house. In 1926, land from the Mackenzie property was sold and became the site of an apartment building, its address 400 Avenue Road. The following year, another apartment building was constructed on the southwest corner of Edmund and Avenue Roads, its postal address 398 Avenue Road. Both these buildings remain today and are considered prestigious addresses. Eventually, Benvenuto was vacant and lacking the size and charm of residences such as Casa Loma and Oaklands (on the east side of Avenue Road), it was demolished in 1932. 

I do not remember Benvenuto as it disappeared before I was born. However, when travelling on the Bay streetcars on Avenue Road in the 1940s, I saw the stone retaining wall on the west side of the hill that descended towards Davenport Road. I never realized that they had been a part of a grand estate. Fortunately, these wall remain today.

Main reference source: “Lost Toronto,” by William Dendy

view from Ben. 1890.  pictures-r-2040[1]

Gazing south across the city from Benvenuto in 1890. Toronto had not yet extended up the hill at Avenue Road, which can be seen in the photo. The street is not paved and there is no streetcar line. Toronto Public Library, r- 2040.

hallway, 1890, pictures-r-4749[1]

The grand entrance hall of Benvenuto in 1890, with its rich panelling, impressive fireplace, and the some of the family’s art collection. Toronto Public Library, r- 4749. 

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        Dining room in 1890, Toronto Public Library, r- 2079.

drawing room, 1890,  pictures-r-4753[1]

The drawing room (parlour) of the home in 1890. Perhaps this photo best illustrates the extreme wealth of the Janes’ family. Toronto Public Library, r- 4753. 

Fonds 1244, Item 328A  

Benvenuto in 1910, taken the same year as the photo of the streetcar ascending the hill on Avenue Road. The above picture depicts the south and west facades of the mansion. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 0328. 

Fonds 1244, Item 1046A

Noel Marshall and women in the gardens of Benvenuto c. 1910. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1046.

on hill, 1910.  f1231_it1294[1]

Horse and buggy on the hill on Avenue Road in 1910, the streetcar tracks evident. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1294. 

               Fonds 1244, Item 319  

Gates at entrance to Benvenuto in 1910. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1234, Item 0319.

Fonds 1244, Item 10006

View from Benvenuto, looking south over the city c. 1930. In the far distance can be seen the Royal York Hotel on Front Street and the Bank of Commerce (CIBC) on King Street West. The east side of Benvenuto is in the foreground. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 10006.

Series 65 -Metropolitan Toronto Planning Department Library collection of Alexandra Studio photographs

Gazing south on Avenue Road in 1960. The land required for the widening the roadway was taken from the east side, from the grounds of Del La Salle College. Toronto Archives, S 0065, file 10034, id 0001. 

DSCN1060

Gazing south on Avenue Road at the retaining wall on the west side of the avenue. The wall is south of St. Clair Avenue, the photo taken in October, 2016. The wall was constructed by Simeon Janes, and similar stone blocks, quarried in Kingston, Ontario, were employed to build Benvenuto.

DSCN1065

Gazing north on Avenue Road toward St. Clair Avenue. This section of the wall is north of Edmund Avenue. In Simeon Janes’ day, the wall extended continuously, but a portion of it was demolished when Edmund Road was cut through the estate. Photo taken October 14, 2016. 

DSCN1070

The apartment building at 400 Avenue Road that was constructed in 1926 on the Benvenuto Estate. Photo depicts the south facade of the apartment, on Edmund Road in October 2016. 

Oaklands, Oct. 14, 2016.

Oaklands mansion, built in 1860 for John Macdonald, a wholesale goods merchant. This estate was a neighbour of Benvenuto, on the crest of the hill on the east side of Avenue Road. It is today a part of De La Salle College. Photo taken October 2016.

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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Moss Park—home of William Allan

1897, pictures-r-3661[1]

Moss Park, the palatial residence of William Allan. Photo taken in 1897, collection of the Toronto Public Library, r- 3661.

William Allan was one of the most influential men in the town of York (Toronto). His mansion, Moss Park, was perhaps the grandest residence ever built in the town. If it were in existence today, it would be considered an architectural treasure. However, there are very few photographs of this magnificent structure that have survived. I found this deficiency to be very surprising, especially considering the number of photos that exist of homes of much lesser importance. Gathering visuals to support this post involved considerable searching.

William Allan was born in 1772 on Moss Farm, in Huntly, near the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. Immigrating to North America, he eventually settled in Niagara, where he gained wealth and influence by selling supplies to the British garrisons at Niagara and York, for a Montreal company. In 1795, he relocated to the colonial capitol of York (Toronto), where he was granted a town lot and 200 acres of land. Due to the experience he acquired while working for his previous employer, he had an advantage over the other businessmen in the town, and his wealth increased substantially.

In 1797, William Allan and Alexander Wood formed a partnership and opened a general store that sold supplies to the garrison at Fort York. The same year, Allan sought to exchange his town lot for property closer to the lake. In 1798, he was granted title to land directly beside the shoreline. On the north end of the property, on King Street, he built a home. On the south end, beside the water, he constructed a wharf — Merchant’s Wharf. It was at the foot of Frederick Street, and was one of the earliest docking facilities for large sailing vessels. The partnership with Alexander Wood ended in 1801, and Allan continued his business enterprises on his own.

He was appointed collector of customs in 1800 and the postmaster general in 1801. His first home, on southeast corner of King and Frederick Streets, was a short distance north of the shoreline. Today, due to landfill, the site is quite a distance from the lake (see map below). His residence served as the post office and custom house.

Allan became an officer in the York Militia during the first decade of the 19th century. During the War of 1812, after the American invaders occupied the town in 1813, he performed a major role in negotiating the terms of surrender. Although his store was looted, he received compensation following the war, which provided funds for further financial ventures.

In 1819, Allan purchased the 100-acre park lot #5 from Surveyor General David William Smith, who had returned to Britain not long after Lieu. Governor Simcoe granted him the property. Allan now owned the land from Queen Street north to Bloor Street, between Sherbourne and Jarvis Streets. Other than Queen Street, which was then named Lot Street, the other streets did not exist, as the land was forested rural property to the east of the town. On the southwest side of the estate, there was a ravine containing a gurgling brook, which added to the rural quality of the site.

In 1827, he commenced building a grand mansion on the south end of the park lot, which contained thick stands of pine. It was west of Sherbourne, east of Jarvis Street, and between Queen Street and today’s Shuter Street. The home’s main entrance faced east toward to where Sherbourne Street now exists. Allan named his residence Moss Park, after his birth place.

The large south portico on the south side, facing Queen Street, was very grand, but it was mainly ornamental. It had no steps leading to it or a carriageway. It was meant to impress those who passed in the distance, on Queen Street. The east facade, which faced Sherbourne Street, was the main entrance to the residence.

In 1833-1844, Allan hired John. G. Howard to design additions to the mansion, which included a Grecian-style porch over the front door. It possessed four Ionic columns, two-storeys in height, with a pediment above them. In 1841, a bath was installed with hot and cold water. Allan passed away in 1853, and his son, George Allan then resided in the house, until his death in 1901. The City of Toronto eventually purchased the property, but unfortunately, the grand mansion was demolished shortly thereafter (c. 1905). 

  Frederick St, page 252, John Ross Rob. DSCN0941

The home of William Allan on the southeast corner of Frederick and King Street East. Sketch from John Ross Robertson’s book, “Landmarks of Toronto,” page 252. 

data=RfCSdfNZ0LFPrHSm0ublXdzhdrDFhtmHhN1u-gM,ot-xB63fC-m1wy31W4Mf3poplyqlxnZxm4jql4ORidYMBwMZB9j8JzgXB45Gbs6l1ZXTb5BdvADyRciJd0kQsSBay3oFDVfEJzki9U9[1].png

The corner of King Street East and Frederick Streets, where Allan’s first home was constructed. The map illustrates how far from the lake the site is today. The land south of Front Street is landfill.

           image 

Map depicting the mansion, Moss Park. The map is after the late-1830s, as the name “Queen Street” appears.  Moss Park is north of Queen Street, with Sherbourne Street on the east (far right-hand side) and Jarvis Street on its western side (far left-hand side). The north service wing on Moss Park is visible, as well as the east and south porticos. The map also shows Hazelburn, the residence of the Jarvis Family. The brook cutting diagonally across the property is shown in blue.

The water colour by John G. Howard illustrates the rural qualities of Moss Park when it was built to the east of the town of York, between the years 1827 and 1829. The two people in the foreground, walking past the estate, are on Lot Street (Queen Street). One of them is pointing to the mansion, Moss Park.

  Canada archives e010965833-v8[1]  300px-Leah_Allan_wife_of_William_Allan[1]

(Left) undated portrait-photo of William Allan and his signature, Canada Archives, e 10965833-v8 and the right-hand photo, his wife Leah Allan.

1854 map, lots for sale  -r-144[1]  1854 map, lots for sale,  maps-r-2[1]

Maps authorized by George Allan in 1854 to sell small plots of land on the estate he inherited in 1852. Toronto Public Library, r- 144 (left-hand map) and r-2 (right-hand map).

1880-- pictures-r-3657[1]        

This photograph of Moss Park in 1880, from the collection of the Toronto Public Library (r-3657). It illustrates the forested appearance of the estate.

Aug. 3, 1889, in Evening Telegram, pen and ink,  -r-3658[1] 

The sketch of Moss Park from John Ross Robertson’s book, “Landmarks of Toronto,” page 560. It was reproduced in the Evening Telegram newspaper on August 3, 1889. It depicts the east and south facades of the mansion. The above copy of the sketch is from the Toronto Public Library, r- 365.

pictures-r-3663[1]

Ornithological Museum (nature museum) in the former dining room of Moss Park. This is the only photo that I was able to find that hints at the grandeur of the interior of Moss Park. Toronto Public Library, r- 3663.

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.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: , ,

St. George the Martyr, Anglican, destroyed by fire 1955

                      1909, ,  f1244_it2162[1]

The Anglican Church of St. George the Martyr, view gazing north on John Street (Toronto) from Queen Street in 1909. In the distance is the Grange, now part of the Art Gallery of Ontario.Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 2162.

The Anglican Church of St. George the Martyr at 197 John Street dates from 1844. Located on the northeast corner of Stephanie and John, it was built when Toronto’s population was only 18,000. Land for the church was donated by the Boulton family, which resided at the Grange. The land was part of their estate, which had been Park Lot #13, granted to Charles Wilcox in 1793 by Lieu. Governor Simcoe.

The architect chosen for the church was Henry Bower Lane, who designed Toronto’s first City Hall on Front Street, which is today incorporated into the St. Lawrence Market. Bower also worked on additions to Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West. For the new church on John Street, he chose the Gothic style, which was very popular for sacred structures in that decade. The congregation named the church St. George the Martyr, the patron saint of crusaders, as well as of England, Portugal, Germany, Aragon, Catalonia, Genoa, and Venice. 

The church possessed a large nave, with a balcony at its west end, the seating capacity being 750 people. The Gothic spire that towered above the entrance on John Street reached 150’ into the air. It was said that it aided ships sailing into the harbour.

In the decades after it was consecrated, the congregation continued to increase, resulting in a parish school being constructed in 1857. The rectory was added in 1865, and the parish hall in 1876. The church ministered to the community surrounding it, its two Sunday schools accommodating 400 children each Sunday. Congregants paid a fee to reserve a pew for morning services, but during evening services, pews were free for everyone. This was a common practice in many churches in the 19th century.

At the turn of the 20th century, the neighbourhood near the church began to change and attendance slowly dropped. Finally, St. George the Martyr amalgamated with the congregation of St. Margaret’s, on Spadina south of Queen Street, with the understanding that all pews were henceforth to be free. During World War I and World War II, the congregation greatly supported the troops overseas, making a considerable contribution. On the honour roll, denoting those who gave their lives in the wars, there are 280 names. In 1945, the church celebrated its 100th anniversary of faithfully serving the community.

During the early morning hours of February 13, 1955, a fire demolished much of the church, only the rectory, the tower and its bell, and the parish hall surviving. The cause of the fire was never determined. From the ruins, six men removed the altar from the interior, which was covered with ice from the water from the firemen’s hoses. Remarkably, the silver, brass, and some of the linens were also rescued.     

The congregation decided that rebuilding the church was not possible due to the enormous costs. The ground floor of the minister’s home (the rectory) was altered and employed for services. In 1957, renovations of the parish hall had been completed and it was then used for services, concerts, and other community events. The same year, the area where the nave had been was a garden. In 1985, a two-story cloister was built, containing offices, the Fellowship Room and apartments. It surrounded the garden planted on the site of the old nave.

Today, St. George the Martyr remains a vibrant church community that continues to minister to downtown Toronto.

Sources: stgeorgethemartyr.ca, www.geraldrobinson.ca    

water colour, 1851,  pictures-r-403[1]

Water colour painted in 1851, the view looking north on John Street from Queen. The spire of St. George the Martyr is prominent. From the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-403.

                     1867, Ont. Archives  I0005287[1]

      St. George the Martyr in 1867, Ontario Archives, 10005287.

water colour, St. Pat's market, 1912. pictures-r-5352[1]

Water colour of the St. Patrick’s Market on Queen Street, east of John Street, in 1912. The spire of St. George the Martyr can be seen behind the market building, which was demolished. Toronto Public Library, r- 5352.

image

St. George the Martyr following the disastrous fire of February 1955. Toronto Public Library, r-195.

pictures-r-358[1]

Fire truck on Stephanie Street in 1955. The south facade of the church is visible. Toronto Public Library, r- 358.

1956,  pictures-r-185[1]

The church in 1956, the year after the fire, when only the tower was left standing. Prior to the fire, the spire on the tower had already been removed. I was unable to discover when this occurred. Toronto Public Library, r-185.

            DSCN1753         

                The tower in the spring of 2012.

                DSCN0952

The east side of the tower, in the foreground, the garden area where the nave was once located. Photo taken October 2, 2016. 

DSCN0948

View of the two-story cloister that was built in 1985. It surrounds the garden area on the north and east sides. 

image

The former parish hall that became the sanctuary in 1957, the view facing east.  Photo taken in 2016. 

  DSCN0958  DSCN0959

(left) the east window over the altar, and (right), the west window. 

DSCN0963

The 1845 tower of St. George the Martyr, now set amidst Toronto’s modern downtown towers.

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 Toronto Life article: 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 by 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 Colonial Tavern – demolished

            1973 Yonge St. Mall, Tor. Archives, Series 377, It. 782  colonial_feature1[1]

The Colonial Tavern during the summer of 1973, when Yonge Street was closed to vehicle traffic to create a pedestrian mall. In the photo, the  facade of the Colonial appears curved, but the other pictures reveal that it was actually straight (see photos at end of post). Photo from the Toronto Archives, Series 377, Item 782

The Colonial Tavern at 201-203 Yonge Street opened in 1947, between two historic bank buildings, opposite today’s Eaton Centre, In its heyday during the 1950s and 1960s, the tavern was one of the most popular music venues in Toronto. In the 1940s and 1950s, Yonge Street was not only the “main drag,” but was the centre of the city’s nightlife and entertainment. The section of Yonge between College and Queen was where Hollywood-style bright lights, flashing neon signs, and boisterous crowds created an exuberance that was unequalled in Canada. The names of the popular night spots on Yonge from those decades still reverberate after all these years—Friar’s Tavern, Le Coq D’ Or, Steele’s Tavern, Zanzibar, Edison Hotel, Brown Derby, and the jewel in the crown, the Colonial. The only other popular jazz joints were the Town Tavern (16 Queen Street East), and George’s Spaghetti House at 290 Dundas Street East.

In the 1890s, the site where the Colonial opened was the location of the Athlete Hotel, which in 1918 was renamed the Scholes Hotel. It was purchased by Goodwin (Goody) and Harvey Lichenberg in 1947, renovated, and opened as the Colonial Tavern. It was the second establishment, after the Silver Rail, to receive a liquor license from the LLBO, following the relaxing of Ontario’s liquor laws. The Colonial was a jazz and blues venue, which defied the norms of the times when it booked an all-black dance band group—Cy McLean and the Rhythm Rompers. Cy was a pianist by profession, who formed a band in 1937. During the swing era of the 1940s, it was Canada’s only all-black orchestra. When it played at the Colonial, it was its first performance in a mainstream venue.

During the 1950s, the Colonial was Toronto’s main music venue. However, on July 24, 1960, a disastrous fire gutted it. Two years were required to rebuild, and when it reopened in 1961, the building that had been Scholes Hotel, was replaced with a structure that was only two storeys in height. It was now more intimate, the tables and chairs grouped closely around the stage. The ceiling was low, but there was sufficient height to accommodate a balcony. The singers that performed at the Colonial were among the greatest names of jazz and the blues—Miles Davis, Carmen McRae, Thelonius Monk, Art Blakey, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzie Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughan.

In 1971, the first Yonge Street Mall was created. Because the street was closed to vehicle traffic, sidewalk cafes dotted the strip, the Colonial’s cafe being one of the most popular. The Litchenbergs hired twenty extra employees to handle the crowds. The mall experience was recreated again in 1972, 1973, and for eight weeks in 1974. It was during the 1970s that I visited the Colonial. I was too enthralled with the performance on stage to remember many details about its interior. However, I do recall that it was a cozy venue, where no seat was very far from the performers.  

By the mid-1970s, jazz was declining and the Colonial became more or less a discotheque. In the late-1970s, the basement of the Colonial was rented to various punk bands such as Teenage Head and Vilestones. The downstairs space was referred to by various names, the most well known being the “Colonial Underground.” During this decade the legal drinking age was 21, and the basement venue was a magnet for underage teenagers who wanted to defy the laws, the most commonly feared words being, “Let me see your ID.” Though the Colonial featured punk bands during these years, it is today remembered as a jazz and blues venue. Also during the 1970s, Wayland Flowers and his puppets—Madame and Crazy Mary—performed at the Colonial. Flowers was later to play at the Royal York’s Imperial Room. 

The Colonial was sold In the late-1970s and during the years ahead, it slowly deteriorated. It mainly featuring rock bands and exotic waitresses. As well, the famous Yonge Street strip, where the venue was located, also started to become seedy. It was during these years that the clubs, bars, and taverns began to close. The murder of a young shoeshine boy in 1977 finally created the impetus for the City to clean up the street. However, the sanitized version of “the strip” never achieved the buzz and excitement of former decades, as the music clubs had disappeared.

The Colonial lingered on, but it had lost its lustre. Robert Fulford wrote in the Toronto Star in 1987 that the famous jazz venue offered bad food, surly waitresses, and patrons that were loud and drunk. He also stated that the low ceiling made the space feel cramped and that it appeared as if the space was a tunnel with a bulge in the middle. The tables close to the stage, he stated, suffered from music that was too loud, and the tables at the back gave a person the sense of over-hearing the music, rather than hearing it. However, Fulford grudgingly admitted that none of negative features mattered, “because of the quality of the music.” The same year that Fulford visited the Colonial, it permanently shuttered its doors.

The site was purchased by investors that intended to reopen it as a hotel, but the plans never materialized. In 1982, the City bought the property to build a space that would connect Massey Hall with the Elgin Theatre, forming a theatre complex in the heart of Toronto. However, in 1987, due to a lack of funds, City Council voted to demolish the Colonial and create a parkette. Another great idea never saw the light of day.

Edward Keenan wrote an article about the city in the Toronto Star on September 22, 2016: “And the thing about big plans with no money behind them is that they inspire hope and then gather dust on a shelf for decades and then inspire cynicism about the next big plans that come along.” He was referring to the plans to construct a public park over the rail lands, but the same might be said of the idea for a theatre complex in the centre of the city.

scholes hotel c. 1945, Fonds 1257, S1057, Item 537  [1]

The charming Scholes Hotel in 1945, where the Colonial opened in 1947, the two historic bank buildings on either side of it. This is the building that was gutted by fire on July 24, 1960. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 537.

mid- 1970s, F124, fl002,id0066  colonial[1] - Copy

The rebuilt Colonial Tavern that reopened in 1961, as it appeared in the mid-1970s. Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 002, id 0066.

                     Series 377, Itm. 545 colonial_copy-225x300[1].png

The Colonial and its patio in the 1970s, when Yonge Street was closed to create a mall. Toronto Archives, Series 377, Item 545. 

f0124_fl0003_id0123[1] - Copy     

The Colonial in the 1980s, when it possessed a rather dreary facade. Toronto Archives Fonds 0124, File 0003, id 0123. 

1986-  f0124_fl0003_id0152[1]

The site in December 1987, after City Council voted to demolish the Colonial. Toronto Archives, Fonds 1024, File 0003, id 0123.

DSCN0940

The site where the Colonial once stood, between the two historic bank buildings on Yonge Street. The construction of the Massey Tower occupies most of the site. Photo was taken on September 19, 2016. 

To discover more about Yonge Street when it was the musical heart of Toronto—a link to Edward Keenan’s article in the Toronto Star on September 29, 2016.

torontostar.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx?issue…33…

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 direct 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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