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That time Toronto moved a museum through the streets

Posted by Derek Flack / February 17, 2014

Campbell House MoveWalking 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 MoveHow 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 MovePhotos from the Toronto Archives



Ceta / February 17, 2014 at 11:13 am
The role of the local residents and local councillors was probably more significant than the lawyers in saving the building.
playedout / February 17, 2014 at 11:52 am
Can we stop with the headlines starting "That time Toronto...."

NotThatDave replying to a comment from playedout / February 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm
Liz / February 17, 2014 at 01:15 pm
We moved Scadding House out of the path of the Eaton Centre around that same time. I participated in a walk a thon to raise money for it when I was a kid.
CRA / February 17, 2014 at 01:30 pm
Is it still tax free? Would be strange, given the wealth of the Advocates' Society.
Jacob replying to a comment from playedout / February 17, 2014 at 11:44 pm
That time someone complained...
Kelly / February 18, 2014 at 12:11 am
This was also done with the Dempsey Brothers hardware store in Willowdale.
Bradley / February 18, 2014 at 10:45 am
To the gentleman in the red Brebeuf jacket. You appear to be out of uniform with your striped trousers, and downtown at 9:00 on a Friday morning. Please change and get back to school before the Jesuits find out.
DL / February 18, 2014 at 11:57 am
The yellow "North" sign hanging off the DVP trailblazer is so...70s.
David Duncan / April 10, 2015 at 10:08 am
In 1986, the David Duncan House in North York was also moved from the parking lot of the Prince Hotel (now The Westin Prince) on York Mills to a location around the corner off Don Mills Rd.
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