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Tag Archives: Toronto

The Story of Gibson House—North York, Toronto

1. DSCN2430

         Gibson House in North York, Toronto, at 5172 Yonge Street.

Gibson House, the home of David and Eliza Gibson, recreates life in a 19th century farm house, an era from our past that contrasts with our busy modern world. The early decades that this house represents may appear quiet and less-hurried when compared to today, but visitors soon learn that this is a mere illusion. It was an age that lacked modern technology, meaning that life was harsh and labour intensive. Despite this, many tasks performed by the Gibson family remain familiar to us today, while others are thankfully remote.

The story of the original inhabitant of the house is fascinating, as they witnessed and participated in some of the most turbulent events in the history of our province. David Gibson was born in 1804 in the parish of Glamis, Forfarshire (Angus), Scotland. His father, a tenant farmer, apprenticed him at 15 years of age to a land surveyor in Forfarshire. When David’s apprenticeship ended in 1824, he immigrated to North America. His uncle, Alexander Milne, who lived in Markham Township, Upper Canada (Ontario), encouraged him in this venture by informing him that it was relatively easy to qualify as a surveyor in the province as surveyors were in great demand.

David sailed for North America in the spring of 1825 and arrived in Montreal. Although he found employment there, a permanent position in his area of expertise eluded him. Finally, even though a well-paid position as a grocery merchant was offered to him, he departed Montreal and journeyed to his uncle’s farm in Upper Canada. Upon his arrival in the province, he was still unable to immediately secure the employment that he desired.

However, upon passing the provincial examination for surveyors in December 1825, he was appointed deputy-surveyor of roads and in September 1828, surveyor of highways for the southern part of the Home District. In a mere three years, he was well established and was busy mapping the roads and avenues of early-day York (Toronto).

In 1828, Gibson married his cousin, Eliza Milne, and the following year they bought a farm lot on north Yonge Street, nine miles north of the town of York. Located in an area that is today named Willowdale, they built a wood-frame house. Under David’s guidance, the property became an active and progressive farm.

However, despite his busy life as a farmer and surveyor, David Gibson set aside time to become involved in public affairs. In 1831 he was elected president of the York Temperance Society. It was during these years that he saw first-hand the inequalities of the political system in Upper Canada and became an avid Reformer. His views led him to a political association with William Lyon Mackenzie.

In 1834 and 1836 Gibson was elected to the assembly for the First Riding of York, where he became known as a reasonable but forceful supporter of reform. It is thought that because of his commitment to the reform movement, the newly-incorporated City of Toronto City Council gave him contacts surveying streets and sidewalks. However, despite his many activities, he continued to farm and prosper. He won several prizes from the Home District Agricultural Society, and successfully sold livestock at ever-increasing prices.

In December of 1837, Mackenzie began advocating for open rebellion against the government. Gibson learned of the plans only two days before events were to begin and was not fully aware of Mackenzie’s intentions. When he finally met with Mackenzie, the rebel leader demanded that Gibson choose sides. Gibson was hesitant. However, he eventually agreed, even though he believed that rebellion was wrong. He reasoned that such an extreme measure might force the government to institute reforms that were badly needed.

On a cold December morning, though he harboured doubts about the course of action, Gibson was present at Montgomery’s Tavern where Mackenzie and the rebels had gathered. Unfortunately, the tavern was raided by government forces lead by James Fitzgibbon and Allan McNab. During the skirmish, Gibson protected the loyalist prisoners held inside Montgomery Tavern from mistreatment, and eventually led them to safety. At this point, Gibson left the rebels and did not join in the march down Yonge Street.

The loyalist prisoners were grateful for their freedom and spoke on Gibson’s behalf. Despite this, Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head ordered the militia to torch the house on Gibson’s farm. While it was in flames, after ensuring that her children were safe, Eliza Gibson ran into the burning building to retrieve the clock-face and mechanical workings from their treasured wooden long-case (grandfather) clock. In her skirt, she carried out of the house the valuable parts of the clock.

As there was a warrant for his arrest, Gibson hid near Oshawa for a month, and then, escaped across Lake Ontario to Lockport, New York. While in the United States, he avoided any contact with Mackenzie, who had referred to him in an article as a coward, because Gibson had left the rebels after the fighting at Montgomery’s Tavern. Gibson finally secured employment in Lockport as an engineer on the Erie Canal and sent for his family to join him. He prospered and soon was able to purchase a farm.

Although he was pardoned in 1843 by the government of Canada West (Upper Canada) on the charge of treason, he remained in the United States and in 1846 applied for citizenship. In 1848, however, he lost his employment contract on the Erie Canal. As a result, after 11 years in exile, he decided to return to his farm in Canada West (today named Ontario).

While Gibson was in the United States, his Yonge Street property had been tended to by relatives. Repossessing the farm, he was determined to re-build and also resume his profession as surveyor. He hired a farmhand to assist him when he was away surveying. Interestingly, the clock works that Eliza had rescued from the flames in 1837, had been placed in a new case after Eliza, David, and their children re-united in Lockport, New York.  When the Gibson family returned to the farm in 1848, the long-case clock was brought with them.

In 1851, the Gibson family built an impressive Georgian Revival farmhouse at 5172 Yonge Street. A narrow dirt lane led from the farmhouse to Yonge Street. A few years after the house was built, an addition was erected to provide accommodation for the labourer who worked on the farm. It was a separate second-level structure attached to the west side of the house, with a separate staircase and entrance that connected it to the kitchen. The worker used the separate entrance to enter or depart the house, and only visited the parlour and living space if he were invited by the family.

In 1855, Gibson opened a post office just north of his farm. In that decade, there were about 150 people living in the community, which was known as Kummer’s (or Cummer’s) settlement. David Gibson suggested that the name be changed to Willowdale, because of the numerous willow trees in the area.

The house was home to David and Eliza and their four sons and three daughters. After David and Eliza passed away, their son Peter Silas Gibson and his family lived it until 1916. Then, the house was occupied by a series of different owners and tenants. To rescue it from demolition, the Township of North York purchased the property in 1965.

Gibson House was restored and opened as a heritage museum on June 6, 1971. Today, it operates as a functioning household by interpreting 19th-century domestic skills involving cooking, sewing, gardening and farming. Visitors are able to tour this historic Georgian-style farmhouse and museum is at 5172 Yonge Street. The clock rescued by Eliza can still be seen in a prominent position in the house.

Sources:

I am indebted to the tour guide who showed me the rooms within Gibson House and the informative signs posted in the hallways to help visitors understand 19th-century life

Internet sources:

www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/toronto-feature-gibson-house/

www.torific.ca/gibson-house-reminder-of-early-settlements-and-rural-history-in-north

www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gibson_david_9E.html

58. gate and lane to G H in 1913.   nyhs00633[1]

Entrance in 1913 from Yonge Street to Gibson House, which in that year contained the offices of Peter S. Gibson. The view gazes west, with the house partially obscured by the trees. Toronto Public Library, Call number NYHS00633.

61, south on Yonge from north of Park Ave, 1914.   near  nyhs00010[1]

View looking south on Yonge Street from Park Home Avenue in 1914. The rural qualities of the community are clearly evident. This is the view a person would have seen in 1914 after exiting the laneway from the Gibson House and turning southward toward the city. City of Toronto Archives, Call number NYHS00010.

60.  1957.  pictures-r-6389[2]

View looking west at the land between Yonge Street and the Gibson House. The photo is dated 1957, but I suspect it was taken much earlier as the porch is missing from the front of the house. In the next photo, dated the same year, the porch has been restored. Toronto Public Library, Call number SI-4167. 

55. c. 1967  f0217_s0249_fl0090_it0001[1]

East and north facades of Gibson House. The photo is dated 1957, but as the house appears restored, the date of the photo is suspect. Toronto Archives, f 0217, S 0249, fl 1009, item 0001.

59.  c. 1970  tspa_0107065f[2]

Controller Mel Lastman in front of Gibson House in 1970, when the house was overshadowed by a 17-story apartment building on its north side. Toronto Public Library, tspa 01007065f.

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The front of Gibson House in June 2018. Georgian Revival in style, it has a symmetrical facade, with nine windows, and a Greek portico.

                               4.

The Greek-style portico and the door with its side-light windows and fan-shaped transom window above, which add elegance to the entranceway.

11.

The kitchen of Gibson House with its large open fireplace and work table. This is where meals were prepared for family members, the domestic servant, and the farm worker.

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    The fireplace with various 19th-century utensils required for cooking.

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       A cozy table set for tea beside the fireplace in the dining room.

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       Tables set in the dining room for a Mothers’ Day tea in June 2018.

                          48.

The clock that contains the face and workings that Eliza rescued from the fire in 1837. The wooden case for the clock was acquired while the family lived in Lockport, New York. The clock was carried across the border when the Gibsons returned to Canada West (Upper Canada, now Ontario) in 1848. 

                          16.

Staircase leading from the ground-floor level to the second storey of the Gibson House. Photo June 2018. The charming young woman in the photo provided an interesting and insightful tour of the home.

                       23.

View from the top of the staircase, the sewing room on the second-floor level directly ahead.

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The boys’ room where James, William, Peter, and George slept, two in a bed. 

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In the girls’ bedrooms, the front room was where Elizabeth (Libby) slept. She had a writing desk beside the window where perhaps a few love letters were penned. The room behind hers was for her sisters, Margaret and Hellen. Two years after moving into the house, in 1853, Elizabeth married and departed her parents’ home.

25.

The bedroom of David and Eliza, containing the best furnishings in the house. On the far wall is a “dumb stove,” a circular device in a stovepipe that radiates heat from the parlour stove downstairs.

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As the heat rises through the stovepipe and reaches  the “dumb stove,” it spreads out and heats the room more efficiently. Clothes placed near the dumb stove are kept warm for the morning. 

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           The bed of David and Eliza in the master bedroom.

30.

The sewing room was where clothes were made for the family and where all mending and stitching was performed. In 1851, the hired girl who assisted Eliza with these chores, was 20-year-old Catherine Flynn, an Irish immigrant. Domestic work was not highly valued in this century and Catherine was likely paid about half the wages of the farm worker. However, her room and board were included. She slept in the sewing room.  

   35.

The guest bedroom, a well-furnished room that was designed to impress visitors. Due to the difficulty of travelling any distance after sunset, guests who arrived for dinner often stayed the night.

38.

The room of John Bosa, the young Englishman who was the farm worker that performed most of the labour on the farm while David Gibson was away surveying. The room was his bedroom, sitting room, and bathroom as it contained a chamber pot under the bed. He ate in the kitchen and entered his room via the back staircase. He did not enter the parlour or living space of the family unless invited. However, because he had a cozy room within the house, he was likely viewed as a valued member of the household.

                          image

John Bosa likely sat in his room many an evening after a hard-day’s labour on the farm, soaking his tired feet.

                   40.

The office of David Gibson, where he worked on the maps and documents related to his employment as a surveyor. The drafting table is beside the window to take advantage of the available daylight. 

                 49.

A person can only speculate how many times a member of the Gibson family peered out this window at the farmland and orchard on the property.

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 Author

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb_  

“ 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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Toronto’s King Street Pilot Project—Part Two

The King Street Pilot Project is a fascinating experiment. Allowing public transit to have the priority on streets is common in many cities throughout the world, but Toronto has been slow in adapting this concept. Harbourfront was resigned to emphasize pedestrians, streetcars and cyclists. After many initial problems, it now appears to be a great success. The King Street project too has had its difficulties, but with the return of good weather, it also seems to be doing well.

I visited King Street during twilight hours on the evening of June 28th to observe the changes that the project have created. To view this post: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/impressions-of-the-king-st-pilot-project/

I decided to view the street again, this time on the hot humid afternoon of July 4th. During my visit, with the humidex, the temperature was over 40 degrees. Because of the heat, the street was relatively deserted as most people were dining or drinking inside the restaurants rather than the patios. Despite the lack of activity, I enjoyed observing how much the street has changed because of the Pilot Project.

I commenced my exploration at Bathurst Street and walked eastward toward Jarvis. It was an interesting stroll, as it became obvious that some areas of King Street had been embraced by the restaurateurs more than others. The section between Bathurst and Spadina seems to have taken advantage of the Pilot Project the most. This is perhaps logical as this part of King Street as the most patios that are located close to the sidewalk. 

In the business district, between Yonge and Jarvis, there were almost no patios. However, the Pilot Project had greatly influenced the traffic patterns as the vehicle traffic was light and the streetcars were moving quickly along the street as they were unobstructed.

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View looks west, a short distance east of Bathurst Street at the patio of Oretta restaurant. 

Wilbur patio, not yet open

The patio beside Wilbur Mexicana Restaurant, at 552 King Street. The patio has not yet opened to the public so remains bare.

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King Street gazing east from Brant Street on Wednesday July 4, 2018. The brick building behind the row of white umbrellas is the old Gurney Stove, built in the 1870s. 

April 13, 1927 - s0071_it4812[1]

Photo of the Gurney Iron Foundry on King Street West on April 13, 1927. The view gazes west on King Street from near Spadina. The streetcar in the distance is where the umbrellas are positioned in the previous photo. Photo from the Toronto Archives, S0071, It.4812 (1).

How things have changed since this photo of the Gurney Stove Factory was taken in 2015.

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View of the same section of King Street after the Pilot Project commenced. This photo was taken from near Brant Street, the view showing the patios of Cibo Restaurant on the north (far) side and the patio of the Spice Route on the south side (in foreground). 

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Patio in a laneway on the south side of King Street, the Gurney Stove Foundry in the background. In the early decades of the 20th century, the lane was where trucks and carts delivered or picked-up goods from the factories on King Street.

Patria, closed for lunch     DSCN2640

(left) The patio of Patria in the afternoon, when it was not open for lunch. (right) The patio ready for the evening diners.

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Patios of Wesloge and Patria at at 480 King Street. Both of these are closed at lunch time. 

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Sculptures east of Spadina Avenue. The view gazes west on King Street. 

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Patio of the Red Tomato at 321 King Street West, the Bell Lightbox in the background.

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                     Princess of Wales Theatre at 300 King Street West.

                             north side of David Pecaut Square

Chairs on the north side of David Pecaut Square, opposite the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

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The Royal Alexandra Theatre at 260 Queen Street West, a sculpture of yellow milk cartons in the foreground.

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Sculpture on King Street on the north side of David Pecaut Square, the Royal Alexandra Theatre in the background.

               Crossing Over to the east side of Yonge Street

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Sitting area on the north side of King East, opposite the King Edward Hotel. View looks west toward Yonge Street.

DSCN2933

Another view of the sitting area opposite the King Edward Hotel. The camera is pointed east toward Jarvis Street.

                             garden by King Edward

A container garden on the north side of King, a short distance east of the King Edward Hotel at 37 King Street East.

garden on north side, east of King Edward

   Another view of the container garden east of the King Edward Hotel.

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Looking east on King Street toward Jarvis Street. The installations for the Pilot Project are beside St. James Park. 

A link to the first post about the King Street Pilot Project.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/impressions-of-the-king-st-pilot-project/

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 Author

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb_  

“ 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[2]

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: ,

Impressions of the King St. Pilot Project

image

King Street, gazing west from near John Street toward Peter Street, at 9:15 pm on Thursday, June 28, 2018. The shadows of evening are enveloping the fading twilight in the western sky.

Taking advantage of the lengthened daylight hours of the first week of summer, I set out to photograph King Street. I chose the section between Bathurst and Simcoe Streets, as this is the area where many restaurateurs have taken advantage of the extra space in the roadway created by the Pilot Project. There has been much controversy over the Project, which favours pedestrian and streetcar traffic over automobiles. My goal was to see for myself the impact of the Project on the street. The photographs that follow were all taken after 9 pm, when the sun was fading in the west and the lights of evening were increasingly emerging. The long twilight offered unique lighting conditions that exist at our latitude for only about two weeks each year.

As I strolled along, I noticed that ambiance of the street had changed greatly. Because it was relatively free of cars, it was quiet. Not dead, but quiet. People were embracing the street and the safety it provided, as the automobile traffic was greatly diminished. There were more cyclists than before the Project, due to the abundance of open space. The air was cleaner as exhaust fumes were reduced. Gone were the noise and chaos of traffic, and instead, people were relaxing and enjoying themselves. It was as if the hustle and bustle of city life no longer existed.

Dominating the evening air were laughter, lively conversations, the tinkle of wine glasses, and the clink of cutlery and dishes. Amidst the happy sound of human activity, the graceful new Toronto streetcars quietly glided past, their presence animating the scene. Similar to cities in Europe that I have visited—Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Athens, Lisbon—the traffic seemed to be only inches away from the tables, with their white tablecloths. No one seemed to be bothered by this phenomenon. However, in reality, there are almost five feet between the streetcars and the patios, providing sufficient space for cyclists to pass. It was a scene I had never before witnessed in Toronto. Was this really my city?  

                                 DSCN2635

The patio of Cibo restaurant on the northeast corner of Brant and King Streets.

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The north side of King Street from a short distance east of Brant Street, the patio operated by Cibo restaurant.

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I believe that this patio is owned by Patria. It is a short distance west of Spadina. I noticed that taxis have adjusted to the conditions imposed by the Project and are becoming more common on the street.

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                  The patio of Patria, viewed from its east side.

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Patio of Weslodge, near the corner of Spadina and King Street.

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Chairs provided by the City of Toronto. View gazes east on King Street toward Peter Street. These chairs are usually fully occupied by office workers during the lunch hour on weekdays.

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The south side of King St. opposite the Bell Lightbox, looking east toward John Street. Several restaurant have taken advantage of the space created by the Pilot Project to extend their patios into the roadway beyond the sidewalk.

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                  View of the same patios looking west toward Peter Street.

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Another patio on King Street to the west of John Street, the Bell Lightbox in the background.

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The Princess of Wales Theatre, view gazing east on King Street toward Duncan Street. 

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The Royal Alexandra Theatre, in the foreground some of the chairs placed in the street by the City to reclaim a part of the roadway for pedestrians.

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A sculpture created by plastic cartons on which people can sit and watch the passing scene.

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This photo was taken at 9:35 pm, and though the chairs are enveloped in the shadows of evening, light remains in the eastern sky. The chairs face David Pecaut Park, on the east side of Metro Hall. These chairs are mainly occupied by office workers during lunch hours, Monday to Friday, rather than in the evenings or on weekends.

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People enjoying interactive art work on the south side of King Street, west of Simcoe Street. The pegs on the boards are used to create shapes.

                             DSCN2937

Someone has created the shape of a human body by employing the pegs.

image

The Roy Thomson Hall at King and Simcoe Streets, at 9:40 pm on June 28, 2018.

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 Author

               DSCN2207_thumb9_thumb2_thumb4_thumb_  

“ 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[2]

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

 

Tags: , ,

History of Toronto’s Black Bull Tavern

DSCN1522 

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

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

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

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

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

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

c. 1835  Toro. Pub. Lib. b1-70b[1]

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

1912  pictures-r-238[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

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

Books by the Blog’s Author

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

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

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

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

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

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

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

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

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

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

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

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

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

 

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Views of Toronto—Then and Now

                            Toronto: Then and Now®

“Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England), is a coffee-table style book that explores 75 heritage sites in Toronto and illustrates how they have changed throughout the decades. The photos are large, many occupying a full page, and because they are opposite each other, comparisons are easier and more dramatic than in other formats. Each photo is accompanied by a brief text that informs readers of the history of the sites, and includes interesting anecdotes. Most of the archival photos are from the Toronto Archives, and the modern photos were taken by Karl Mondon.

Below are a few of the heritage sites that are featured in the book by Doug Taylor.

4F. . Sept. 1, 1927 Trillium, s0071_it5215[1]    04_Trillium_2935

(Left) Toronto ferry the Trillium in 1934, and (right), the Trillium in 2015. 

6. f0124_fl0003_id0015[1]  06_Terminal_Warehouse_2025

(left) The Terminal Warehouse at Queen’s Quay in 1973, and (right), Queen’s Quay Terminal in 2015

2. entrance to Fort on April 10, 1909  f1548_s0393_it1737[1]    02_Fort_York_1987

(left) The east gate of Fort York in 1909 and (right), the same view of the fort in 2015.

10B. 1927-- s0071_it5795[1]   10_Princes_Gate_1913

         The CNE Princes’ Gates in 1929 and (right), the gates in 2015.

                Fonds 1526, File 47, Item 3   14_CN_Tower_2105

View of the CN Tower, gazing west on Front Street in 1973, and (right,) the same view of the tower in 2015.

72. April 24, 1924. f1231_it0349[1]   DSCN3055

(left) The Church of the Redeemer at Bloor St. and Avenue Rd. in 1924, and (right), the same view in 2015. 

For a link to a review of the book in Spacing Magazine, written by Dylan Reid:

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

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

“Toronto Then and Now”— 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

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/

Other books by the author of this blog

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 contains 75 theatres, accompanied by over 125 archival photographs. The text relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old movie houses and their tells about 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

 

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Toronto’s architectural gems–the amazing Fashion Building on Spadina

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The Fashion Building on the northwest corner of Camden and Spadina is one of the most impressive warehouse-loft buildings ever constructed to facilitate the needs of Toronto’s garment trade. Built between the years 1925 and 1927, the rental spaces within the structure at 130 Spadina remain desirable locations for modern businesses today.

During the early years of the 1920s, the grocery store of Wm. Coo was located on the site, along with other shops and residences. They were all demolished to erect the yellow-brick Art Deco-style warehouse. Its walls are of solid concrete, built to last. It was constructed by the Goldberg Brothers and  Mr. Hartman. The architect was Caplan and Sprachman, who designed many theatres in Toronto, among them the Vaughan at St. Clair Avenue and Vaughan Road, and the Downtown Theatre at Yonge and Dundas Streets. Both of these theatres have since been demolished. The shops on ground floor of the Fashion Building, facing Spadina, were not there in the 1920s, but were added later.

The eight-storey structure, contains Neo-Gothic detailing around the main doorway, the second-floor windows, and on the cornice. The small marbled lobby has decorative plaster patterns that contain emblems and the word Fashion. The detailing on the cornice are typical Art Deco, with a few Gothic designs included. Though the Fashion Building is a commercial structure, it could be mistaken for an apartment building.  The Fashion Building, along with the Tower Building, provided the inspiration for the architecture of the condominium the Morgan, located on the northwest corner of Spadina and Richmond.

 

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The above view is of Spadina Avenue in 1921, looking south from near Queen Street. The small street in the photo, which extends west from Spadina, is today’s Camden Street. The Robert Darling Building, on the left in the picture, was the only warehouse building on Spadina when the photo was taken. The houses located to the north (left) of the Darling Building are where the Reading Building is today. In this 1921 photo, on the northwest corner of Camden and Spadina, is the grocery store of William Coo. It was demolished, along with the houses to the north of it, to facilitate the construction of the Fashion Building.

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Doorway of the Fashion Building, with its ornate surround containing Gothic designs.

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Designs on the cornice of the Fashion Building on the northeast corner of the facade facing Spadina Avenue.

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Cornice trim in the central position on the east facade, displaying Gothic tracery

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The stately Fashion Building on a hot summer night.

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

      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), thePhotodome, 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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