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Tag Archives: Old City Hall Toronto

Postcards depicting Toronto’s past

Old City hall  1910, TRL. pcr-2198[1]

The Toronto Public Library system has many resources that can be accessed online. Because of my interest in the city’s past, I frequently search the materials available in their vast digital collection for posts for this blog. To access the collection of postcards, google : “Digital Archives Toronto Public Library.” Then enter into the topic box, “Toronto Postcards.” There are over 1200 postcards of Toronto available for viewing, dated between 1909 and 1999, many of them published by Valentine and Son’s.  

Another great source of Toronto postcards online is chuckman’storontonastalgia.wordpress.com. I have frequently used this collection as well, and I am very grateful that Mr. Chuckman allows them to be accessed by the public on his WordPress web site. It’s a great collection.

The above postcard of the Old City Hall at Queen and Bay Streets is from the Toronto Public Library collection. The card dates from 1910, before the cenotaph was erected in front of the building. Below are a few more postcards from the Toronto Public Library collection.

1st grandstand 1923, TRL. pc68[1]

             This postcard of the first grandstand at the CNE in 1923.

1910, Grenadier Pond  TRL. pcr-2201[1]

Looking toward the west bank of Grenadier Pond in High Park in 1910. The name on the card, “Howard Lake,” is not familiar to me.

                   City Hall and Temple Blg. 1910, TRL. pcr-2200[1]

Looking north on Bay Street in 1910, the Old City Hall visible in the background.

Csa Loma Stables, pcr-2152[1]

                       Horse stables at Casa Loma, c. 1910.

Bank of Toronto, King and Bay, 1910, TRL.  pcr-2167[1]

Bank of Toronto at King and Bay Streets. This building has been demolished.

Massey Hall  1910, TRL. pcr-2207[1]

Massey Hall on Shuter Street c. 1910, prior to the ugly fires escape being added to its facade. The hall is presently being restored.

Old Tor. Ref. Lib. 1910, TRL. pcr-2161[1]

The old Toronto Reference Library in 1910 on College Street at St. George. The first exhibitions of the art society that became the AGO were held in this building.

A link to a previous post that explores the history of postcards in Canada: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/torontos-golden-age-of-postcards/

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

A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/canadas-cultural-scenetorontos-architectural-heritage/

Recent publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication 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:

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

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

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 130 archival photographs.

A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016. 

 

 

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Toronto’s architectural gems—cenotaph at Old City Hall

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The cenotaph at the Old City Hall is not usually considered an architectural gem as it is a monument. However, it should be consider as such as similar to other heritage structures throughout the city, it required an architect, architectural drawings and building materials. For almost 90 years, it has graced the head of Bay Street in front of the Old City Hall. Each November 11th, it is the focal point of Toronto’s Remembrance Day ceremonies.
In Toronto, prior to the First World War, Remembrance Day services were usually held at the monument at University Avenue and Queen Street, to honour those who died in the Boer War. After the First World War, it was decided that a new cenotaph should be constructed in front of the Old City Hall.
The Ontario Association of Architects declared an open competition for designs. William M. Ferguson won the contract. A Scotsman by birth, he had immigrated to Canada and joined the architectural firm of John Lyle, who had designed the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Ferguson was also one of the architects of the city’s Toronto General Hospital on College Street. He later joined the prestigious firm of Darling and Pearson, the firm that designed the old Bank of Montreal Building at the corner of Yonge and Front Streets. It now houses the Hockey Hall of Fame. Ferguson died on April 18, 1956.
For the Toronto cenotaph, Ferguson worked with Thomas Pomphrey. At first, they decided to create a smaller version of the great cenotaph near the intersection of Whitehall and Downing in London, England. Its creator had been Sir. Edwin Luyton, and it was constructed in 1919 from Portland stone.
However, in Toronto the architects changed their plans and created a cenotaph about the same size as the one in London. Toronto’s was created with granite from the Canadian shield. The cornerstone was laid on 24 July 1924 by Earl Haig, Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces during the First World War. The first memorial service at the cenotaph was held on November 11, 1925, at which Governor General Byng laid the memorial wreath. The names of the battles listed on the sides of the monument were extended in the years ahead to include those of the Second World War and the Korean Conflict.
I am grateful to the information placed on the internet by Richard Fiennes-Clinton. It can be accessed at : Toronto Then and Now: # 34 ~ Toronto Remembers, Then and Now

            s0071_it4293[1]  May 13, 1926

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall in May of 1926, the year after it was dedicated. 

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The war memorial in London England (left) and the cenotaph at the Old City Hall in Toronto (right). The similarity is readily evident. The photo of the London memorial is from Wikimedia Commons.

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View of the Old City Hall in 1901, prior to the building of the cenotaph.

         Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 41 - Miscellaneous photographs

          The Old City Hall in 1925, the year the new cenotaph was dedicated.

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The plaque on the north side of the cenotaph to commemorate the dedication of the monument.

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The stone to commemorative the laying of the cornerstone by Earl Haig in 1924.

                         Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 41 - Miscellaneous photographs

The wreath that was laid by Earl Haig at the ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone of the cenotaph on 24 July 1924.

f1257_s1057_it2903[1] Eisenhauer and Saunders, 1946

General Dwight Eisenhower and Mayor Saunders at the cenotaph in 1946.

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                 Decorative carvings on the base of the Toronto cenotaph

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                            Symbolic carvings on the cenotaph

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View of the south facade of the cenotaph in March of 2013, the Old City Hall in the background.

Note: historic photos are from the collection of the City of Toronto Archives.

 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)

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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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Toronto’s Architectural gems – Old City Hall

In the heart of Toronto’s financial district, each day thousands of people pass the Old City Hall. The reverberating sound of the bells in its clock tower has rung out across the downtown for over a century. Today, the building bustles with more activity than at any time in its history, as it contains numerous law courts. Its hallways are crammed with lawyers and those who must appear before the judges for their various misdemeanours. The TV program “Wonderland” ably captured the “Alice in Wonder” world that exists with the walls of the Old City Hall today.

I remember the days when it was possible to enter the building to explore its architectural splendour and photograph its interior. Today a person must submit to extensive security checks, and no photography is allowed within the interior. This is sad, as the history of the building can no longer be enjoyed by the residents of the city.

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This photo of the City Hall on Queen Street was taken in 1901. The building opened two years before, on 18 September. There was not yet a war memorial. When this picture was taken, to the street of the right was Terauley Street. In 1922 it was renamed Bay Street so that it would have the same name as the street in front of the Hall that proceeds south toward the lake. (Photo from City of Toronto Archives)

Toronto’s first permanent City Hall, built in 1845, was located at the corner of Front and Jarvis Streets. When the city’s population increased, they decided that a new court house was required. In 1885, an international contest was held, in which fifty architects submitted designs. The chosen site was on Queen Street, at the head of Bay Street. The cost of the building was not to exceed $200,000. It was soon discovered that the funds were insufficient, as the space requirements of the building were so immense. The foundations of the building were put out to tender, and they alone cost $110,000. Arguments over the cost of the project created extensive delays, to the frustration of the city officials and voters, but to the delight of the children of the city, who used the site as an ice rink. 

Finally, they decided that a new City Hall was needed, as well as a court house, and they hired the Toronto architect  E. J. Lennex to prepare a design for a building that would fulfill both functions. The total cost was expected to be $300,000. Construction commenced in 1889.

Lennox planned a Romanesque design, and as he admired the buildings of the Chicago architect, H. H. Richardson, he incorporated some of his ideas. One of Richardson’s most famous buildings was the Pittsburgh Courthouse of 1884. However, though Lennex was influenced by Richardson’s style, his creation for Toronto was not a mere imitation. The design was truly creative and original. Its massive red sandstone blocks were from a quarry at the Forks of the Credit River Valley. When the building was officially opened by Mayor Shaw on September 18, 1899, the final cost was $2,500,000.  It contained 5.4 acres of floor space. However, the final cost created great controversy, much of the criticism directed at E. J. Lennox.

Similar to the CN Tower of today, the clock tower of the Old City Hall, which soars over 300 feet into the air, was visible from many vantage points throughout the city. It was the tallest structure on the skyline at the time. It was highly visible when people crossed the harbour to the Toronto Islands to attend a baseball game or enjoy the amusement park. Its hour-bell weighs 11,648 pounds. The civic officials climbed the tower on 31 December 1899 to “ring-in” the 20th century.

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The Old City Hall in 2012. The gargoyles on the tower were removed several decades ago as they were falling to the street below. One of them crashed through the roof of the Old City Hall. They have now been replaced by bronze gargoyles.

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        The bronze gargoyles (protruding ornaments) on the tower in 2012.

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                   Massive stone blocks and tower of the Old City Hall

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  Marble columns line the interior view of the Old City Hall. Photo taken in 1965.

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                                                Grand staircase in 1965

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Allegorical stained-glass window designed by Robert McCausland. It is located on the staircase, facing the entranceway. At the top of the colourful window is the city’s coat-of-arms, the panels below it illustrating the union of commerce and industry.

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           Roman-style mosaic inlaid tiles on the floor of the first-floor level

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Although Lennox said little about the above designs, it has been said that the carved stone faces at the top of several of the columns resemble those of the politicians who criticised him. One theory suggests that the politicians are trapped in the fires of hell, as depicted in “Dante’s Inferno,” the leaves around the faces representing the flames.

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It was discovered that under the eaves of the building, Lennox had secretly ordered a series of letters to be carved, which spelled out his name. Lennox was severely criticized for this act of immodesty. A letter “N” can be seen in the photo above. 

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                        View of City Hall today, looking north on Bay Street

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

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication 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 of 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:

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

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

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), the Photodrome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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