Campbell House Move

That time Toronto moved a museum through the streets

Walking west on Queen Street past University Avenue you'll encounter a perfectly normal looking Georgian building, which if you didn't know its story might seem as though it was somehow spared redevelopment over the years if only because of its proximity to Osgoode Hall. In fact, the house was originally located at Adelaide St. and Frederick St. Built in 1822, its one of the best examples of what buildings used to look like before the Town of York became Toronto. It's also a structure that the City of Toronto took significant measures to preserve at a time when this was a rarity.

Campbell House Move

How did this all come to pass? Well, the building was uprooted and plopped in a new location so as to save it from being demolished. On March 31st, 1972 Campbell House was moved through streets of Toronto on a flatbed truck while a throng of interested viewers took in the spectacle. It took over six hours to make the one and half kilometre journey to the new site, the majority of which took place along Adelaide Street, which was stripped of traffic lights and low-hanging Hydro lines in preparation for the move.

When the last owners of the building prior to its move announced plans to demolish Campbell House, a Lawyer's group called the Advocates' Society took the building off of , but they needed significant help from the City to make it happen. One of the perks the group received was a tax-free provision for the property at the northwest corner of University and Queen, something which not every councillor was in favour of. Ultimately the City did vote to grant the special status and Campbell House subsequently became part public museum and part private lawyers club.

Campbell House Move

Photos from the Toronto Archives


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