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Category Archives: Toronto’s lost atchitectural gems

The last surviving Tollkeeper’s Cottage in Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

www.tollkeeperscottage.ca/html/Background.htm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kitchen, living space

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

                                washstand in adults' room

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

four girls' bedroom

               The room where the four Bulmin daughters slept.

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

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

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

              Books by the Blog’s Author

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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.

 

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

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

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

                  image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]

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

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

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

 

 Toronto: Then and Now®

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

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

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

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

 

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Lost Toronto — by Doug Taylor

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Lost Toronto by Doug Taylor, Pavilion Press, published January 2018. Photo King and Yonge Streets, Toronto Archives.

When Old City Hall was slated for demolition in the 1960s, protestors united to save this key piece of Toronto’s architectural heritage. Their efforts paid off and eventually led to the passing of the Ontario Heritage Act, which has been preserving buildings of cultural value since the mid-1970s. But what happened to some of the cultural gems that graced the City of Toronto before the heritage movement? Lost Toronto brings together some of the most spectacular buildings that were lost to the wrecking ball or redeveloped beyond recognition.

Using detailed archival photographs, Lost Toronto recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. Along the way, the reader will visit stately residences (Moss Park, the Gordon Mansion, Benvenuto) movie palaces (Shea’s Hippodrome, Shea’s Victoria, Tivoli Theatre, Odeon Carlton), grand hotels (Hotel Hanlan, Walker House, Queen’s Hotel), department stores ( Eaton’s Queen Street, Eaton’s College Street, Robert Simpson Company, Stollery’s), landmark shops (Sam the Record Man, A & A Book Store, World’s Biggest Book Store, Honest Ed’s), arenas and amusement parks (Sunnyside, Maple Leaf Stadium, CNE Stadium), and restaurants and bars (Captain John’s on the M. V. Normac, Colonial Tavern, Ed’s Warehouse).

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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              Back cover of Lost Toronto, available in book stores or online, $26.95

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[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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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in A&A Record Store, Arcadian Court in Simpson's, Bank of Toronto King and Bay Streets, baseball history Toronto, Bay and Gable houses Toronto, Benvenuto, Bluebell ferry- Toronto, books about Toronto, Brunswick House Toronto, Captain John's Toronto, Centre Island Toronto, Chorley Park, CNE Stadium Toronto, Colonial Tavern Toronto, Crystal Palace Toronto, Doug Taylor, Toronto history, Dufferin Gates CNE Toronto, Eaton's Queen Street store, Eaton's Santa Claus Parade Toronto, Ford Hotel Toronto, Frank Stollery Toronto, High Park Mineral Baths Toronto, historic Toronto, historic toronto buildings, history of Toronto streetcars, HMV toronto (history), Honest Ed's, local history Toronto, Lost Toronto, Memories of Toronto Islands, Metropolitan United Church Toronto, MV Normac, old Custom House Toronto, Ontario Place, Quetton St. George House Toronto, Riverdale Zoo Toronto, Salvation Army at Albert and James Street, Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters, Sam the Record Man Toronto, Santa Claus Parade Toronto, St. George the Martyr Toronto, Sunnyside Toronto, tayloronhistory.com, Temple Building Toronto, toronto architecture, Toronto baseballl prior to the Blue Jays, Toronto history, Toronto Island ferries, Toronto's Board of Trade Building (demolished), Toronto's disappearing heritage, Toronto's lost atchitectural gems, Toronto's restaurant of the past, Walker House Hotel (demolished), World's Biggest Book Store-Toronto, Yonge Street Arcade Toronto

 

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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.

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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. 

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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

 

Tags: , ,

The north St. Lawrence Market—demolished 2016

image

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.

DSCN6553  

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.

DSCN1545  DSCN1544

   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.

DSCN1568

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

 

 

       

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.  

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   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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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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