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Category Archives: Toronto’s lost buildings

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. 

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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. 

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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

 

 

 

 

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History of Toronto’s Swiss Chalet

Series 1465, File 280, Item 19

Toronto’s first Swiss Chalet on Bloor Street West, the entire block of buildings in the photo demolished in 2002. Photo from the Toronto Archives, taken between the years 1980 and 1998, Series 1465, File 10280, Item 0019.

The first Swiss Chalet opened in 1954 at 234 Bloor Street West, near the northeast corner of Bloor and Bedford Road. It was the beginning of a restaurant chain that was to become an icon of Canadian family-style dining. It became so popular that it was reported that a Canadian once jokingly quipped, “If America is such a great country, why don’t they have a Swiss Chalet?” This was prior to the chain opening outlets in the United States.

The founder of the chain of restaurants was Maurice Mauran of Montreal, in partnership with another businessman. In 1948, before opening in Toronto, Mauran introduced his barbequed-style chicken in Montreal, in his Chalet-Bar-B-Q restaurants. Apparently he was inspired by the Swiss method of cooking chickens, which consisted of skewering the birds on a spit and roasting them over an open flame. Because the birds rotated on the spit, they cooked in their own juices.

The first Swiss Chalet was located on busy Bloor Street, in close proximity to Varsity Stadium and Varsity Arena. As it was an instant success, two more restaurants were opened. One of them was at 362 Yonge Street, which still exists, and another one was on Yonge Street south of St. Clair.  The decor in the dining room of the restaurant on Bloor Street contained carved dark-wood panelling, dark ceiling beams, and small fake windows with frilly cotton curtains. It was an attempt to create the appearance of a Swiss mountain hideaway, such as in the children’s story, “Heidi,” by Joanna Spyn.

As a teenager in the 1950s, I dined in all three of these sites, mainly when attending movie theatres located within walking distance of them. The chickens were barbequed in an oven containing glowing charcoal, which imparted their unique taste. The prices were reasonable, and being teenager with a bottomless gut, I always ordered the half-chicken dinner. The restaurant on Bloor Street also had a banquet room in the basement level, for private functions. I was in this space on one occasion, with a group that performed in Varsity Arena, later in the evening. There were about 35 of us, and we enjoyed the meal immensely.

Before cooking, the chicken were rubbed with salt, and then, roasted for an hour and fifteen minutes. At the Bloor Street site, in the 1950s, the chicken was served with fries or  a baked potato, the fries cut daily rather than previously frozen. The meal also included dipping sauce and half of a toasted hamburger bun. A small bowl of water, with pieces of lemon in it, allowed a patron to rinse the fingers after eating. There were no ribs or other items on the menu; these were added during the years ahead.

I enjoyed the chicken immensely. However, I recently read some online reviews, and although there were many who enjoyed the meals, there were some that did not. However, I did not read any comments that indicated that the reviewers were aware that the chicken was roasted over real charcoal. Some compared it with St. Hubert chicken, which was roasted, not barbequed, and the sauce was more like home-style chicken gravy. I enjoyed it as well, but I preferred the chicken at Swiss Chalet.

I found it interesting that Maurice Mauran was also the creator of Harvey’s Hamburgers. His first location opened in 1959, on the southeast corner of Yonge and Observatory Lane in Richmond Hill. Similar to his Swiss Chalet, the burgers were flame grilled, and said to be the first in Toronto to employ this method. An article in the Telegram newspaper reported that Mauren had intended to name his hamburger restaurant “Henry’s.” However, while flipping through the telephone directory, he noticed an ad for John Harvey Motors at 2300 Danforth Avenue, known as Harvey’s. He liked the sound of the name, and decided to call his restaurant “Harvey’s.”

In 1963, Mauran opened a Harvey’s on Bloor Street, a few doors west of his Swiss Chalet. In 1977, the chain was bought by Cara Foods, and was operated by Toronto-based Foodcorp Limited, a subsidiary of the parent company. In 2002, there were 190 outlets in North America.

Mauran later became a highly successful mutual funds manager, possessing residences in England, Monaco, and Ft. Lauderdale.

The entire block of buildings where the first Swiss Chalet was located was demolished in 2010 to erect a 32-storey condominium named 1 Bedford. It overlooks the rebuilt Varsity Stadium. As a footnote, Cara Foods purchased St. Hubert Chicken in 2016 for $577 million. That was certainly not “chicken feed.”

Sources: everything2.com, www.thestar.com (Bill Taylor) and www.blogto.com (Chris Bateman).

c. 1912  2011713-varsity-stadium-1906-10-f1244_it0528[1]

View gazing east on Bloor Street c. 1912, the north side of the street (left-hand side of photo) containing large residential homes. Bedford Road is directly across from Varsity Stadium. Structures were added across the front of these homes, where the lawns were, to convert them into commercial premises. The building containing the first Swiss Chalet does not appear to be in one of them. It is likely that the home on the site was demolished to create a new building. Toronto Archives, Fond 1244, Item, 0528. 

  Series 1465, File 280, Item 19

The surroundings of the first Swiss Chalet at Bloor and Bedford Road. The roofs of some of the old homes remain visible. Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 10280, Item 0019.

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Gazing toward the northeast corner of Bloor and Bedford Road in October 2016. The 32-storey condo (1 Bedford) occupies the block where the Swiss Chalet and the Harvey’s were located. 

DSCN8176

The Swiss Chalet at 362 Yonge Street, which was among the first outlets in Toronto. Photos taken in 2014.

DSCN8175

 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: , ,

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Frank Stollery store-demolished 2015

1970s  Fonds 124, File 2, It. 109  [1]

Frank Stollery’s store at Yonge and Bloor Streets in the 1970s. Toronto Archives F124, S 1465, fl 0685, it. 109

During the mid-1950s, I was a teenager and worked for one summer at the Imperial Bank at Yonge and Bloor Streets. Each day, on my lunch hour, if I strolled south on Yonge Street, I passed by Stollerys and gazed in the display windows. However, I never ventured inside the store as I knew that the prices were beyond my means. My employment at the bank was $28 per week. At the time, I knew nothing about Stollerys’ long and distinguished history in the city of Toronto’s retail trade.

Frank Stollery was born in Yorkville in 1879, during the days when it was a semi-rural community, surrounded by fields and farms. When he was a boy, residents of Yorkville journeyed to Toronto via the horse-drawn streetcar service on Yonge Street, its terminal being King Street near the St. Lawrence Market. Frank quit school when he was 14, which was not uncommon in that day. He found employment in a shop where he learned the skills required to cut men’s shirts and ties. Being adventurous, he relocated to Montreal and by age 20 was a foreman in a Montreal clothing factory, earning $12 per week. At age 21, he joined the Royal Canadian Regiment, but remained in service only a year. Returning to Toronto in 1901, he borrowed $1000 from his father and opened a haberdashery shop on Yonge Street, south of Bloor. A few years later, he relocated his business to the southwest corner of Bloor and Yonge Streets (1 Bloor Street West). He rented the property, but in 1928, purchased the site and commenced renovations. He also purchased the building to the south of his shop and incorporated it into the store.

However, in 1929, the City expropriated 20 feet on the north side of his shop to widen Bloor Street. This essentially created a situation in which Stollerys and many of the other businesses on the south side of Bloor Street were unable to operate, until the widening had been completed. Undaunted, Stollery demolished a portion of his shop behind the hoarding, and began the construction of a new structure. However, he continued operating in the remainder of the premises until the new building was completed. 

The attractive new structure opened about 1930 or 1931. It possessed two-storeys, with large display windows on the ground floor. The windows on the second floor were topped with rounded Roman arches, and the roof possessed red tiles. The decorative stone carvings on the facade reflected Art Deco, with modern Italian trends. The store’s display windows became famous as they were meticulously arranged to feature the most up-to-date styles of expensive suits, jackets, raincoats, ties, shirts, and pyjamas.

Frank retired in 1968, selling the business to his son Arthur, and Ed Whaley, each owning 50 percent of the enterprise. Whaley managed the store, while Frank remained a silent partner. Whaley renovated the store and also leased the building to the immediate south, including it as part of the shop. When the business was at its peak in the 1970s and 1980s, it employed 100 people and it was assets were valued at $30 million.

Frank Stollery died on January 1, 1971 at his home at 32 Teddington Park Avenue, near Yonge Street, seven blocks north of Lawrence Avenue. In the years ahead, due to internal business problems, the store became neglected, the display windows becoming rather shoddy. By the second decade of the 21at century, the value of the land where the shop was located was astronomical. It was sold and quickly demolished in 2015, its demolition accomplished within a single weekend.

Sources: “Toronto Architecture—A City Guide,” by Patricia McHugh—  www.thestar.com—www.mountpleasantgroup.com (Mike Filey)— www.theglobeandmail.com—torontoist.com

1912-  f1231_it1691[1]

The camera is pointed at the southwest corner of Bloor and Yonge Streets in 1912. The Frank Stollery men’s shop is on the corner. The photo provides a good view of the west side of Yonge Street, south of Bloor in the second decade of the 20th century. Toronto Archives, F 1231, Item 1691.

1922, Fonds-1034-Item-816-1024x574[1] 

Frank Stollery’s shop in 1922, the north facade of the premises facing Bloor Street. The windows have awnings that sheltered potential customers from the summer sun. Sadly, few modern stores offer this feature. Toronto Archives, F 1034, item 816.

1923,  f1231_it2089[1]

Stollery’s in 1923, shadows indicating that it was taken in the morning. The policeman operates a traffic sign as there was no stop lights. Toronto Archives, F1231, Item 2089.

Fonds 1244, Item 7393

 Stollery’s store in 1928, when the shop to the south of it was being incorporated. To accomplish this, half of the old store was demolished. The photo also contains Peter Witt streetcars that began service in Toronto in 1921. Toronto Archives, F1244, item 7393.

1970s  Fonds 124, File 2, It. 109  [1] 

The camera is pointed toward the northwest corner of Yonge and Bloor in the 1970s. This is the building that opened in 1930-1931. The red-tiled roof, second-storey rounded windows and the ground-floor display windows are visible. Toronto Archives, F124, File 2, Item 109.

Series 1465, File 614, Item 25

Gazing south on Yonge Street from Bloor Street in the 1980s. A third storey has been added, its facades constructed of glass. Toronto Archives, S 1465, fl0614, Item 002.

DSCN1945

Photograph of the southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor in 2013. The camera looks south on Yonge.

DSCN1944

                                Frank Stollery’s store in 2013.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

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

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

   To place an order for this book:

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book 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.

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. For further information 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 Lost CNE

“Toronto’s Lost CNE” refers to structures and features that over the past decades have been demolished or discontinued. Though I remain a fan of the Canadian National Exhibition and attempt to attend it each year, it is on these occasions that I find myself gazing around the grounds and recalling the many features of the annual late-summer fair that have disappeared.

                                   The Shell Tower

DSCN0829   Canada A. a052968-v8[1] 

CNE’s Shell Tower depicted on a postcard (left), and a photo of the tower (right) from  the Canada Archives, a 052968

                         1955. Tor Lib. pictures-r-2743[1]

              The Shell Tower in 1955, Toronto Public Library, r-2743

The Shell Tower was built by the Shell Oil Company in 1955, its architect George Robb. Located on Princess Boulevard, it was a glass and steel structure, almost 12 storeys in height (120’), containing an observation deck near the top. Above the observation deck was a large clock, visible from anywhere within the CNE grounds. As a teenager, each year I climbed to its summit via the stairs inside the glass-enclosed stairwells. From the top, there was a magnificent view of the CNE grounds, the lake, and the downtown skyline. When the tower was renamed the Bulova Tower, the clock was converted to digital, one of the first in the city. The tower was demolished in 1985 to accommodate the Indy race track.

PICT0083 

Photo taken from the top of the Shell Tower in 1957. The camera is facing north toward the Horse Palace and the Coliseum (now the Ricoh Coliseum), which today, on its east side, is attached to the Direct Energy Centre.

                          The CNE Grandstand

PICT0081

This view of the CNE Grandstand was also taken in 1957, from the top of the Shell Tower. Visible are the stage, background sets, and props for the grandstand show. A section of the midway is in the foreground.

The CNE Grandstand was built in 1948, its architects Morani and Morris. The design won an architectural silver prize in 1950. Its massive steel-truss roof protected the crowds from the sun and the rain during grandstand performances and other events, such as stock car races. Its north facade possessed red bricks and limestone, creating a degree of architectural elegance. The shows presented on the grandstand’s stage, held every evening during the run of the Ex, were magnificent in scale as they often featured a cast of over 1500. The orchestra was conducted by Howard Cable from 1953 until 1968. On the ground floor of the grandstand’s north side there was a Stoodleigh Restaurant. Unfortunately, the stadium was demolished in 1999.

   1950s, CNE archives  ad68fb7f-1f51-43c2-aa3b-ecd2a6f1f526[1]

The north facade of the CNE Grandstand in the 1950s. CNE Archives, ad68fb7f-1f51-43o2

Canada A. a052935-v8[1]

A view of the stage during a grandstand show in the 1950s, Canada Archives, a052935-v8

Canada A. a052926-v8[1]

Another view of the stage during an evening CNE grandstand show. Canada Archives, a05926-v8

Series 1465, File 138, Item 13

The grandstand in 1976, when it was a football and baseball stadium. Toronto Archives, S1465, Fl10138, id 0013

1995- DSCN0850

                 Photo of the grandstand taken in 1995.

                The Manufacturers Building.

Crowds at C.N.E., Manufacturer's Building in background – 1908

Crowds in front of the Manufacturers Building in 1908, Toronto Archives, S0409, item 0043.

PICT0025

This photo was taken in 1958, from the north side of the Gooderham Fountain, the Manufacturers Building visible in the background. The Manufacturers Building opened in 1903, its architect George W. Guinlock, who also designed the Horticulture (now the Muzik Club), and the Art and Crafts Buildings (now Medieval Times), as well as the CNE Fire and Police Stations. The Manufacturers Building was located to the east of the Ontario Government Building (now The Liberty Grand). Although it was only one-storey in height, its soaring roof, supported by structural steel, created the illusion of a much taller structure. It displayed household appliances and other manufactured products, many of them first seen by Torontonians in this building. Two examples are RCA Victor televisions in 1939 and early-day microwave ovens in 1958. Displays were eventually expanded to include the manufactured goods of foreign countries. The last year it existed, it featured the products of Spain. The building was destroyed by fire in 1974 and never rebuilt. In the foreground of the above photo is the Gooderham Fountain.

Copy of PICT0068

The Manufacturers Building prior to the fire that demolished it in 1974.

International Building- burnt 1974 Pub. Lib.   tspa_0000630f[1]

The Manufacturers Building following the fire in 1974, the Ontario Government Building (now the Liberty Grand) is to the west of it (right-hand side). Photo from the Toronto Public Library, 0000630.

                 The Gooderham Fountain

Fonds 1244, Item 269

The Gooderham Fountain in 1926, Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 0269.

The Gooderham Fountain was built in 1911. It is thought to have been designed by George W. Guinlock, the architect of many buildings on the CNE grounds. The fountain was inspired by those in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square. The fountain was named after George W. Gooderham, a prominent industrialist, president of the CNE from 1909 to 1911. It was located at the western side of the Ex, near the Horticultural Building. The fountain was a favourite meeting place for visitors who attended the CNE, and for Torontonians, was the origin of the expression, “Meet me at the fountain.” The Gooderham Fountain was demolished in 1958 and replaced by the Princess Margaret Fountain. It was officially opened by HRH in 1958, during her royal tour of Canada.  

1928. pictures-r-4190[1] 

The Gooderham Fountain in 1928, Toronto Public Library, r- 4190.

                          The CNE Flag Pole

Fonds 1244, Item 631B   Fonds 1244, Item 631A

The flag pole at the Ex in 1930 (left-hand photo), Toronto Archives F1244, Item 0631b, and its installation (right-hand photo), Toronto Archives F1244, Item 0631a

1936- f1231_it1451[1]

The base of the flagpole in 1936, the Horticultural Building (now Muzik) in the background. Toronto Archives, F 1231, Item 1451 

The flag pole depicted in the above photos was donated to the CNE by J. G. Robson. The magnificent Douglas Fir, hewn from the forests on Vancouver Island, was 184 feet (56 metres) tall after it was trimmed. Shipped from British Columbia via the Panama Canal, it was brought to Toronto through the St. Lawrence River. At its base, it was 36 inches in diameter. Because it required time to cure the wood, it was not installed at the CNE until 1930. In that year, it claimed to be the world’s largest flag pole.

It was replaced in June, 1977 by a pole of British Columbia redwood, shipped to Toronto on three flatbed rail cars. It was 196 feet (60 metres) tall, and again, was said to be the world’s tallest. However, eventually it began to rot and unfortunately it was removed from the grounds.

Information about the 1977-flag pole: Mike Filey  http://oppositethecity.wordpress.com

                            Automotive Shows

Automotive Blg, Canada A. 1939, a052897-v8[1]

The Automotive Show in 1939, in the Automotive Building. Canada Archives, a0528897-v8

The Automotive Building, built in 1929, survives to this day. However, it has been rebuilt and is now a convention facility named the Allstream Centre. Until the 1960s, each year during the run of the CNE it housed the automotive show, which featured the latest models of cars for that year. As a boy, I remember visiting it. I never tired of getting behind the wheel of the shiny new cars and playing with the knobs and buttons on the dashboard. I dreamt of being of sufficient age to qualify for a driver’s license. The auto show was one of the most popular features of the Ex.  

   Horse, Dairy and Agricultural Shows and Contests

Beef cattle, 1980s, Ont. Archives  I0004457[1]  Elsie the Cow, 1941, Ont. A. I0011011[1]

Beef cattle at the CNE in the 1980s, Ontario Archives 10004457 (left-hand photo) and Borden Dairies’ “Elsie the Cow” in 1941, Ontario Archives 10011011 (right-hand photo)

After the Ex opened in 1879, for many years it featured both industrial and agricultural products. In the Horse Palace and Coliseum there were farm animals and horse shows. As well, there were judged competitions of homemade jams, jellies, preserves etc. I remember the horse shows in the Coliseum and of course, Borden Dairy’s advertisements that featured “Elsie the Cow.”

                 Ontario Government Building

Aug. 12, 1929--s0071_it7109[1]

The Ontario Government Building on August 13, 1929. Toronto Archives, S0071, Item 7109.

The Ontario Government Building was constructed in 1926 to showcase exhibitions of the Ontario Government. Today, it is no longer open as part of the Ex as it is occupied by the Liberty Grand. I remember visiting the building when I was a boy, and also as a teenager. In its central courtyard there were many large aquariums containing the species of fish native to Ontario. There were also colourful over-sized representations of the fictional lumberjack, Paul Bunyan, and Babe, his Blue Ox.

              PICT0074

Paul Bunyan the lumberjack, famous in American folklore. Photo taken in 1958 in the interior courtyard of the Ontario Government Building.

PICT0075 

Paul Bunyan’s Babe, the Blue Ox, in the courtyard of the Government Building in 1958.

                                     Trout Fishing

PICT0076

         Trout fishing in the Coliseum at the CNE in 1958.

                 The Flyer, the Rollercoaster at the CNE

PICT0084

This photo of the Flyer at the CNE was taken with a 35mm Kodak Pony camera in 1958, from the top of the Shell Tower. Built in 1953, the year of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the Flyer was advertised as the “fastest in the world,” as it reached speeds of up to 65 miles an hour. It was 2612 feet in length and 62 feet in height, capable of carrying over 26,000 passengers a day. I remember riding the Flyer and experiencing the thrill of the downward plunge from the tallest section of the structure. Unfortunately, as technology and tastes of the public changed, the Flyer was viewed as tame. It was demolished in June 1992, after it failed the safety tests. However, for several decades, it was the  main “thriller” of the CNE midway. Over 9 million passengers enjoyed the ride during the years it operated.  (information from CNE Archives)

Series 1465, File 129, Item 12

The CNE’s roller coaster (the Flyer) in 1976, the Bulova (Shell) Tower to the right of it. Toronto Archives, S1465, Fl0129, id 0012. 

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/

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

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Published by Dundurn Press, this book tells the story of 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about the grand old theatres.

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                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

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