Page 2 Historic Buildings of Toronto

Campbell House

Campbell House - click to enlarge

Campbell House is located on the northwest corner of Queen and University and is today restored as a museum. The historic plaque reads: “Sir William Campbell, 1758-1834. Campbell was born near Caithness, Scotland. He fought with the British forces during the American Revolution and was taken prisoner at Yorktown in 1781. Three years later he was practising law in Nova Scotia where, in 1799, he was elected to the House of Assembly. In 1811, Campbell moved to Upper Canada where he had accepted a judgeship on the Court of King’s Bench. He was made chief justice of the province and speaker of the Legislative Council in 1825. Four years later he received the first knighthood awarded a judge in Upper Canada. Campbell built this Neo-classical brick house on Adelaide Street East at Frederick Street around 1822. The Advocates’ Society and the Sir William Campbell Foundation moved it to this location in 1972.”

Gooderham and Worts Distillery

Gooderham and Worts Distillery - click to enlarge

Located on Mill Street east of Parliament, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery was built in 1859. After an 1869 fire it was rebuilt, though it did not differ markedly from the original. By examining maps of the period, the distillery was then located right at the waterfront. Today, however, owing to the use of landfill to extend Toronto’s waterfront, the best view of it can be had by driving past on the Gardiner Expressway, just south of the building. (ed. note – the Gardiner is in the process of being torn down!) James Worts and his brother-in-law William Gooderham first set up a wind-driven flour mill in 1831-32 near the mouth of the Don River. This milling operation expanded to distilling and then to a number of manufacturing and financial interests carried on by successive generations of the family. Today Gooderham and Worts is a subsidiary of Hiram Walker Co.

Daniel Brooke Building

Daniel Brooke Building - click to enlarge

The Daniel Brooke Building, located on the northeast corner of King and Jarvis, is one of the few surviving buildings from Toronto’s days as the Town of York. The Toronto Historical Board plaque on the building reads: “This building was first constructed in 1833 for owner Daniel Brooke, a prominent merchant in the Town of York. It was substantially rebuilt between 1848-49 prior to the great fire of April 1849 which started in a nearby stable. While much of the business district was destroyed, this building escaped major damage. It housed a variety of commercial enterprises over the years, including the prosperous wholesale grocery business of James Austin and Patrick Foy in the 1840s. Austin went on to become a president of the Consumers’ Gas Company and of the Dominion Bank. His home Spadina became a museum in 1984. During the mid-19th century, the Daniel Brooke Building contained the offices of The Patriot, an influential conservative newspaper. The block is a rare example of Georgian Architecture in Toronto.”

Flatiron Building

Flatiron Building - click to enlarge

The Gooderham building, commonly called the “Flatiron Building”, is located at the junction of Front and Wellington Streets. This structure was built in 1892 and housed the offices of George Gooderham, of Gooderham and Worts. He also had other business interests and was president of the Bank of Toronto. Prior to the erection of the Gooderham building, a blunter and less esthetically pleasing structure stood on the site, known as the “coffin block”, as the building resembled a coffin. I have read somewhere that the name “Flatiron” building has a similar origin – the building resembles an old-fashioned iron. Today it houses cafes in the lower level and offices above.

St. Lawrence Hall

St. Lawrence Hall - click to enlarge

The St. Lawrence Hall, located at King and Jarvis Streets, was built in 1849-50. The structure originally contained a hall for public gatherings at the King Street end, and a covered market extending back to Front Street in the rear. In its heyday it was the venue for many important social and cultural events and lectures. Towards the end of the 19th century it fell into a sad state of disrepair, and remained that way until 1967 when it was restored to its former glory. Until recently it housed the National Ballet of Canada. Today the Hall is again the locale for social and cultural events and has retail stores at street level.

Toronto’s first Post Office

Post Office - click to enlarge

This building on Adelaide Street housed the first post office in the newly christened City of Toronto, which prior to 1834 was the Town of York. Today it operates as a post office and museum, enabling visitors to step back in time and learn about postal history. The historic plaque outside the building reads: “York Post Office. Originally all post offices in Upper Canada were owned by the postmasters in charge, who were imperial appointments. This building was constructed for postmaster James Scott Howard during 1833-35 and functioned as the town’s post office until Howard’s dismissal in 1837. A typical example of a small public building of the time, combining public offices with a private residence it survives as a rare example of an early Canadian post office. In 1876, it was incorporated into the present block of buildings. The mansard roof is a later addition.” Incidentally, Howard’s dismissal occurred because he was rumoured to be a reform sympathizer during the rebellion of 1837. He appealed his dismissal but to no avail.