Page 7 Historic Buildings of Toronto

Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Faculty of Law - click to enlarge

Located just north of Queen’s Park, “Holwood” was built in 1901-2 for wealthy businessman Joseph Wesley Flavelle. The building was designed by architects Darling and Pearson, who were responsible for Convocation Hall, Toronto General Hospital and other Toronto landmarks. Flavelle had quite humble beginnings, growing up in Peterborough, Ontario and leaving school at age 17. He came to Toronto in 1887 and became immensely wealthy through his involvement in several business ventures. He was the president of a large meat-packing company, he owned a Toronto newspaper for a time, and he was part-owner of department store Robert Simpson Co. In addition he served on the boards of several banks and directed fundraising for Toronto General Hospital, which opened on College Street in 1913. Flavelle donated $350,000 of his own money towards the hospital’s construction. In 1915 he headed the Imperial Munitions Board, set up to supply the British government with shells during the war. The following quote from J.M.S. Careless in Toronto: an Illustrated History sums up Flavelle’s life quite nicely: “Millionaire meat-packer and financier, part-owner of Robert Simpson Co., Methodist philanthropist and university governor, Flavelle ultimately was named chairman of the wartime Imperial Munitions Board, for which service he was made baronet.” The Faculty of Law moved into Flavelle’s former home in 1962.

Croft Chapter House, U of T

Croft Chapter House - click to enlarge

Croft Chapter House is part of University College and is physically attached to it, being on the south-western corner of the building, on King’s College Circle. It dates from the time of the original construction of University College in 1856. The 1890 fire that destroyed much of the eastern wing of the college was extinguished before reaching Croft Chapter House. This unique round structure was named after Henry Croft, the first chemistry professor at the university, who taught between 1843-1880. During the Fenian Raids of 1866, Croft organized the University Rifle Corps, and was its captain when the corps defended the Canadian border at Niagara that year. After Croft retired he moved to Texas to live with one of his sons. Croft Chapter House was used as a chemistry laboratory in the early years; today it is used for lectures.

Hart House, U of T

Hart House - click to enlarge

The architects for Hart House were Sproatt and Rolph, who also designed the nearby Soldiers’ Tower. Although construction began in 1911, Hart House was not opened to students until 1919 due to the war. It was built in the Neo-Gothic style using Credit Valley sandstone and smooth Indiana limestone. The money for Hart House came from the estate of Hart Massey, a wealthy manufacturer of agricultural implements, whose company, Massey Ferguson, still exists today. The Massey family were intending to fund a new YMCA building when Vincent Massey, who was a student at the university, suggested a new student centre combined with athletic facilities be built instead. Hart House has been at the core of the cultural, social and recreational aspects of student life over the years, hosting debates, presenting concerts and plays, and providing a place where students from the different colleges at U of T can come together.

Cumberland House, U of T

Cumberland House - click to enlarge

Located on St. George Street north of College, this was the home of Frederic Cumberland, noted Toronto architect. Today it houses the International Student Centre at the university. The historical plaque outside the building reads: “Frederic W. Cumberland 1820-1881. An outstanding Canadian architect, civil engineer and railway manager, Cumberland was born in England and practised there before immigrating to Toronto in 1847. He quickly gained recognition, designing such notable buildings as St. James’ Cathedral (1850-53) and University College (1856-59), Toronto. In 1860 he completed this house, Pendarvis, in which he lived for 21 years. As an engineer Cumberland became increasingly involved in railway construction and management, and after 1858 achieved wide prominence as managing director of the Northern Railway. He carried his railway interests into politics and served as member for Algoma in the Ontario legislature (1867-72) and the Dominion Parliament (1871-72). A man of varied interests, Cumberland was a founder and first commanding officer of the present-day Royal Regiment of Canada.”

McMaster Hall, U of T

McMaster Hall - click to enlarge

Located on the south side of Bloor Street west of Avenue Road, the historical plaque outside the building reads as follows: “This building was designed by the Toronto firm of Langley, Langley and Burke, specialists in church architecture, to house Toronto Baptist College. The structure typifies the High Victorian style popular in the 1880’s. Its chief characteristics include rock-faced masonry, decorative stone and brick patterns, massive dormers and chimneys, and facades with projecting bays and recessed panels. Senator William McMaster financed the construction of the College, which opened in 1881. After plans for federation with the University of Toronto were abandoned, the College was united in 1887 with Woodstock College to form McMaster University, which moved to Hamilton in 1930. This building was acquired by the University of Toronto and has housed the Royal Conservatory of Music since 1963.”

Victoria College, U of T

Victoria College - click to enlarge

Victoria College has a long history as an institution of higher learning. It was founded in the early 1830’s by the Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada, who decided on Cobourg as the location for their new school. In 1832 the school opened and was originally called “Upper Canada Academy”. It was given its Royal Charter to confer degrees and was renamed Victoria College in 1841. A key figure in Victoria’s early years was Egerton Ryerson, who was Principal and later President of the college. (Toronto’s Ryerson University is named after him). In 1890 Victoria decided to federate with the University of Toronto and relocate from Cobourg to Toronto. This move was aided considerably by the bequests left by William Gooderham and Hart Massey, both of whom left $200,000 to the college in their wills. The building pictured here, designed by W.G. Storm in the Romanesque Revival style, was opened in 1892. “Old Vic”, as it is now called, was later joined by other buildings, including Annesley Hall and Burwash Hall, the women’s and men’s residences at the college. Victoria College is located south of Bloor Street off Queen’s Park Crescent.