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The top 10 buildings lost to demolition in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / November 14, 2010

Toronto buildings lost to TorontoThe top 10 buildings lost to demolition in Toronto is surely a strange title. In that these buildings no longer exist, the "top" serves the double function of referring to the merits of these former structures and the tragedy that was their demolition. And tragedy isn't really too strong a word. Toronto would be certainly a better place if these and many of the other buildings that were often rather carelessly destroyed remained vital pieces of our urban environment. But, for reasons that I've never fully made sense of, the city planners of the 1960s and 70s had virtually no historic sense, and numerous buildings of great significance were destroyed in favour of bland structures of little consequence or, unconscionably, parking lots.

Here are the 10 lost buildings that I "miss" the most.

The Temple Building
Temple BuildingBuilt: 1896
Demolished: 1970
What exists there now: Queen-Bay Centre
Why it's missed: Aside from being the tallest building in Toronto upon its completion, it was a lovely Romanesque counterpart to nearby Old City Hall.

Trinity College (original)
Trinity CollegeBuilt: 1852
Demolished: 1950
What exists there now: Trinity Bellwoods Park, though the original gate and women's residence still stand, the latter as a retirement home.
Why it's missed: Designed by Kivas Tully, the building was an excellent example of Gothic-Revival architecture.

The Armouries
The ArmouriesBuilt: 1894
Demolished: 1963
What exists there now: Provincial Court House (University Avenue)
Why it's missed: Thomas Fuller's Romanesque masterpiece was not only the largest armoury in Canada, but just look at what replaced it.

The Board of Trade Building
Board of Trade BuildingBuilt: 1892
Demolished: 1958
What exists there now: EDS Building
Why it's missed: Originally occupied both both the Board of Trade and the TTC, the rounded building would be the perfect companion of the still-standing Flatiron building a couple streets away.

Chorley Park
Chorley ParkBuilt: 1915 (started in 1911)
Demolished: 1961
What exists there now: Parkland
Why it's missed: Chorley Park was the fourth and last official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. Modeled after the chateaux of the Loire Valley, the opulent building was closed in 1937 due to the high cost -- paid for by taxpayers -- required to maintain the building. After stints as a military hospital in WWII and and subsequently as offices of the RCMP, Mayor Nathan Phillips acquired the building in 1960, which would have cost a significant amount to restore, with the intention of demolishing it. Still, without any replacement other than parkland, it seems a sad waste to lose such a beautiful building.

Union Station II
Old Union StationBuilt: 1873
Demolished: 1931
What exists there now: Citigroup Place (and a rather anonymous brick building)
Why it's missed: As wonderful as the current Union Station is, think of what it'd be like to have the previous iteration of the station preserved and used for another purpose.

Grand Opera House
Grand Opera House TorontoBuilt: 1874
Demolished: 1927
What exists there now: Scotia Plaza
Why it's missed: A fabulous Second Empire-style building with an an intriguing history courtesy of one-time owner Ambrose Small, the millionaire that one day up and vanished, nothing like it remains in Toronto.

The original Toronto Star Building
First Toronto Star BuildingBuilt: 1929
Demolished: 1972
What exists there now: First Canadian Place
Why it's missed: Designed by Chapman and Oxley, it was one of Toronto's finest examples of Art Deco architecture.

Odeon Theatre
Odeon Theatre TorontoBuilt: 1947-48
Demolished: 1973
What exists there now: Carlton Tower
Why it's missed: Despite its short life span, the 2300 seat theatre, with its curved marquee was everything a cinema should be (and nothing what they look like today).

Sam the Record Man
Sam the Record ManBuilt: 1961
Demolished: 2008-2010
What exists there now: Rubble, but Ryerson University will be building on the site shortly.
Why it's missed: Although not an architectural marvel, Sam's nevertheless was a Toronto icon. And while the neon sign may one day return in some capacity, it'll never be the same.


Here is a Google map of the approximate locations of these buildings.

Photos from the Wikimedia Commons and the City of Toronto Archives with the exception of the last, which is by spotmaticfanatic in the blogTO Flickr pool.



Richard J / November 14, 2010 at 02:01 pm
Don't forget University Theatre on Bloor Street which is now a Pottery Barn.
W. K. Lis / November 14, 2010 at 02:09 pm
What about the old Eaton's department store? Replaced by a mall bearing the Eaton name.
Julian / November 14, 2010 at 02:17 pm
There are so many more than just these ten. Off the top of my head, I'd add the Land Registry office (torn down for Nathan Phillips Square and New City Hall), the Dominion Bank (torn down for Mies Van Der Rohe's TD Centre), and the old Toronto Post Office at the top of Toronto Street (now an ugly, generic Federal Government building)
Sam Davies / November 14, 2010 at 02:40 pm
Just throwing this out there:

If possible, would love to see a photo project based on the preserved remnants kept at the Guild Inn.

Would love to see pics of what has survived, and a pic of what it originally was.

If you've never been out there, you should really check it out. Hands down, one of the coolest hidden gems of Toronto...
RobertB / November 14, 2010 at 02:47 pm
As a child, I lived above my grandmother's grocery store on the northwest corner of Armoury and Chestnut Streets, right across from the Armoury building. When the troops were on maneuvers, we were allowed, most likely contrary to regulations, to play inside that fantastic building. One of my fondest memories is of running around the mezzanine overlooking the parade hall. I can still hear our voices reverberating off the walls in that cavernous room. After I got married in 1970, I took my wife down to see the building and was shocked and dismayed to see that it had been leveled, to be replaced by the monstrosity that now occupies the space. That was a very sad day for me. The city was on the move, and sadly, the attitude prevalent at the time was out with the old, in with the new, and to hell with any thought to history or heritage.
cynthia / November 14, 2010 at 03:17 pm
I love to read these articles on Sundays. Absolutely love the pics, thanks!
Steve / November 14, 2010 at 03:42 pm
The old First Bank of Toronto that sat at Wellington and Church. Was connected to the Flatiron by a tunnel to the vault.

Was torn down and is now a hideous Pizza Pizza.
Torontonian / November 14, 2010 at 03:42 pm
I fondly remember the Bank of Toronto's main branch
at King and Bay Streets. Marble everywhere and a
stained glass ceiling. There was wrought iron work
on the doors as well.

This link has a photo:
alan / November 14, 2010 at 03:48 pm
the original toronto star building is awesome looking...
K. / November 14, 2010 at 04:16 pm
Interesting to note that many of these buildings were levelled around age 50-60yrs. In 2050, will we have the same nostalgia for buildings built in the 1950s that we're levelling now? (regent park?)
Matt / November 14, 2010 at 04:28 pm
The Temple Building, Board of Trade Building, and the old Star building are especially distressing, replaced as they were with nothing especially attractive or impressive. (I guess First Canadian Place gets points for sheer size, but I'd rather it had been built almost anywhere else.)
C. Edwards / November 14, 2010 at 04:29 pm
What a loss, each and every one of them. What I find most disturbing is that not one of them lasted 100 years - some only 40. Shame on our forebearers for having such limited vision.
W. K. Lis / November 14, 2010 at 04:32 pm
I a little worried about the old (actually second) Roncesvalles carbarn. When it comes time for the track rebuild for the new longer low-floor streetcars, I hope the old building will stay. Ditto for the Russell carbarn.
artsworker / November 14, 2010 at 05:03 pm
Please update this article with the specific addresses of where these buildings once stood.
Khristopher / November 14, 2010 at 05:20 pm
Such a shame. Some of them weren't even around very long!

Trinity College was beautiful!
Derek replying to a comment from artsworker / November 14, 2010 at 05:34 pm
How about a Google map...
:( / November 14, 2010 at 05:50 pm
this is just depressing to see what we've "lost" (thrown away).
The city just sucks and always has - despite the people.
Joel / November 14, 2010 at 06:04 pm
Interesting to see you take a shot at the University Ave. courthouse. Surely it was a tragedy to lose the Armouries, but the courthouse is actually quite a nice building.
Matt replying to a comment from :( / November 14, 2010 at 06:21 pm
C'mon, that's not true. Any North American city of considerable age has torn down a lot of its history. Toronto's not any worse for it than most other places.
actually... / November 14, 2010 at 07:04 pm
...from my travels around american cities I would say toronto is a lot worse than most at preserving its old buildings/downtown.
In its constant, desperate attempts to be "world class" and "now" toronto has become a bland , blank slate of a city with zero personality (architecture and design wise).
I love this city but, admit it, it looks like shit.
Jeremy Wilson / November 14, 2010 at 07:19 pm
The anonymous building beside Citiplace is 151 Front, the center for all Internet traffic in eastern Canada, and a large portion of the eastern US.

It's completely filled top to bottom with computers and wiring. In fact, they took out two of the elevators to run wiring.
Adam Sobolak / November 14, 2010 at 07:22 pm
It perplexes me that John Howard's 999 Queen has escaped mention--not just in the piece, but in the comments thus far.
gadfly / November 14, 2010 at 07:23 pm
One person's garbage is another person's treasure....? There was a time when I loathed 'old' architecture. I've slowly grown an appreciation for it, but still prefer 'modern' any day. Stand on the south-west corner of Bay/Queen where you can gaze north at two diametrically opposed examples of architecture: old and new city hall. Is one superior to the other? Always a matter of opinion, no?
For those lamenting Toronto's past, please remember that Toronto was a sleepy burgh until the 1950s. There wasn't really a lot to tear down, truthfully. Many of those American cities that some love to loathe were actually much larger than Toronto, until recently. (Even Buffalo!)
shannon / November 14, 2010 at 07:32 pm
Derek you been hitting some home runs with this article and the fog postings over the last few days.

Be great to see you picks for the top ten saved and restored buildings to compliment this article.
Adam Sobolak / November 14, 2010 at 07:55 pm
To add re 999 Queen: if any lost Toronto landmark carries the symbolic import of Penn Station in NYC, that's the one.

Oh, and notwithstanding what it replaced (the Armoury), I wouldn't be *that* hard on the courthouse at 361 University; all things considered, its "New Formalist" vocabulary has worn well, architecturally and urbanistically (and if one also considers the Frost and Macdonald Blocks at Queen's Park, the vocabulary characterizes Robarts-era Ontario as surely as the original "trillium logo")
Matt replying to a comment from actually... / November 14, 2010 at 08:04 pm
I can't admit that; it isn't true. Note that cities like Boston, Chicago, NYC, etc. were larger at an earlier stage than Toronto. Can't compare to them. Hell, look at this list of what NYC alone has lost:

that doesn't even include the entire 16 square block neighbourhood torn down to make way for the WTC site.

Toronto doesn't have the sort of unbroken heritage districts some cities have, but it's not an ugly city. Not beautiful either. It's finding itself, and that's okay with me.
Michael replying to a comment from actually... / November 14, 2010 at 08:16 pm
I don't know. As cool as these buildings are, do we really want to keep buildings if they are no longer appropriate for their location? The armoury and the old Toronto Star building were obviously no longer efficient use of space for their central locations. I personally love the old Toronto Star building, but it would be preposterous if something of that scale were built at Bay and King today.

Perhaps the Armoury could have been repurposed into a courthouse at a reasonable cost using present technology, but not back then.

I'm sure there were very good reasons to tear them down. I wonder if the archives could shed some light on those kinds of decisions.
Scott M2 / November 14, 2010 at 08:22 pm
I'm pretty darned sure that I saw the Sam's signs tossed into the pit of rubble where the southernmost part used to be.
James / November 14, 2010 at 08:33 pm

Most of these are doubtless lost to us forever, but there have been cities in Europe, in the last decade which have actually completely rebuilt historical treasures from scratch.

We can and should do that here, for the 2 or 3 sites where it is practical.

My first choice would be the armoury, not a complicated rebuild, and has a design that could easily be partially or totally repurposed for today's age. The public still own the land.


On another note.....Sam the Record Man? Really? Ugh. Not of any value historically, aesthetically or in any other way, in the past, the present, or the future.

There are better things to lament.


Speaking of which, there are also some great buildings not lost to us yet, if only we restore them....(Eglinton Cinema comes to mind)

Matt replying to a comment from Michael / November 14, 2010 at 08:40 pm
Uh, disagree. "Efficiency" is not the best metric by which to judge land use. If it were, we'd just demolish everything and put up a high-rise. The old Star building would be fine in that location. By that rationale, we should demolish the all the old bank buildings too, and knock down the old deco scraper on Bay Street for 80-storey numbers. Illogical.
Mauricio / November 14, 2010 at 08:44 pm
Great Post!

So sad to see what could have been, but interesting to look at these magnificent buildings. I've always wondered why architecture in Toronto is lacking.

Michael replying to a comment from Matt / November 14, 2010 at 09:13 pm
So what is a better metric than good use? Aesthetics? I don't think so.

Michael replying to a comment from Matt / November 14, 2010 at 09:18 pm
I want to add that if the owners of the old bank buildings can make more money by tearing them down and build 80-story numbers, then it is very logical. The logic is profit.
bob / November 14, 2010 at 11:00 pm
What about the stained-glass dome ceiling of the Bank of Nova Scotia branch, demolished (along with about 100 other buildings) to make place for Commerce Court (in order to save the north building)?

And let's not forget the old St. Larence Market buildings (plus Toronto Town Hall).
bob / November 14, 2010 at 11:06 pm
Actually, there were a lot of beautiful buildings lost to urban renewal.. Yonge Street suffered a lot, particularly.

There's also the Shell/Bulova Tower at the CNE and all those other modernist + Deco buildings at the CNE, and wasn't the old Sunnybrook Hospital knocked down?

Anyways, there's a lot more, but my mind is blanking right now.
Jason replying to a comment from Michael / November 14, 2010 at 11:35 pm
There's nothing inherently different about King and Bay than King and York, for example. First Canadian Place could have been built elsewhere and the Toronto Star building saved. The Bank of Toronto building was also beautiful, but at least it's replacement is a worthy successor. I work in the TD Tower and appreciate Mies van der Rohe's vision every day.
rapi / November 15, 2010 at 07:17 am
i'd like to add the south end of seaton, ontario and berkley street in cabbagetown...old victorian houses torn down to make space for moss park apartments....
Michael replying to a comment from Jason / November 15, 2010 at 08:20 am
You talk as if all land is owned by a single entity and people can just choose any corner to build a building. The owners of First Canadian Place owned the ground under the Toronto Star building. Not the land down the steet. In the real world, bulidings can't just be put anywhere by everyone.
Michael replying to a comment from Jason / November 15, 2010 at 08:21 am
You talk as if all land is owned by a single entity and people can just choose any corner to build a building. The owners of First Canadian Place owned the ground under the Toronto Star building. Not the land down the steet. In the real world, bulidings can't just be put anywhere by everyone.
Derek Boles / November 15, 2010 at 09:30 am
The old Union Station shown was opened in 1873 and the photo dates from the 1880s. The station was considerably renovated and expanded in the 1890s and the new office wing on Front Street is shown in an earlier posting by Derek on historic postcards:
Matt replying to a comment from Michael / November 15, 2010 at 09:50 am
Yes Michael, aesthetics should be considered. Why are economics necessarily more important? (Or as you seem to imply, the only thing that's important.) A city is not strictly an economic machine... it's a place we live in and inhabit. I don't want Toronto designed according only to "logic" and the principle of maximum profit. Not many people do.
Michael replying to a comment from Matt / November 15, 2010 at 10:35 am
Two reasons:
1. Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder and for any group to impose an architectural standard beyond economic reason would be in opposition to a free society.

2. Because Toronto(nor any other North American city) is not being "designed" by a single entity other than high level zoning. This is not Paris under Napoleon.

I like nice buildings too, but not at the expense of higher ideals. Especially if all that is being offended is my sense of style and good taste.
Michael replying to a comment from Matt / November 15, 2010 at 10:41 am
Also, without the principle of maximum profit, there wouldn't be very many buildings built in Toronto at all. Not even most of the ones pictured above.
jb replying to a comment from Michael / November 15, 2010 at 01:43 pm
In response to your points Michael . . .

1 - You need to look at the whole picture. Developers are often only thinking of their short-term economic gain when they design buildings, design-review panels are thinking of, among other things, the city's long-term financial health.

Good architecture is always a boon to a city economically. NYC's building stock is significantly more valuable because of it's quality, versus if it were filled with concrete slabs. The buildings themselves become part of the brand, and some even become icons of the city, promoting it internationally, and drawing in tourism.

But a "get in, get out" developer who is purely motivated by immediate profit is not going to consider any of that - which is why we need to have standards of excellence. These standards aren't in opposition to free society - often they are to protect society from developers which don't always act in accordance with the long-term social and economic interests of a city.

Also, in regards to your point on "maximum profit" you're not taking into account the nature of the development industry in early Toronto vs Now. Back then, developers had faces and personalities, they weren't anonymous multinationals like Cadillac Fairview. They also cared more about locality, and becoming involved personally in the cities they did business in. Whereas now developers would rather be removed and invisible. As such, early developers liked to be seen as patrons of the city, and readily invested in architecture that would benefit it as a whole - now many are only concerned with guaranteeing good returns for their shareholders.

So I don't think you can say that many of the buildings featured here wouldn't have been built without "maximum profit" as a motivation. Because buildings were seen as much more than just "profit machines" and had an important civic role to play.
Michael replying to a comment from jb / November 15, 2010 at 02:42 pm
I agree with a lot of that jb. Not all of it. Design standards are good to a point and within reason. If they scuttle the project, then that doesn't get anyone anywhere.

As for the then vs now. That's 100% baloney. The TD towers were built by a corporation. They cared enough to build a place that would stand out. But don't be fooled, they didn't spend so much on design as to impede their profit margin. That goes for the other private buildings on this list. In contrast, First Canadian was built by a family firm and it's ugly. (and efficient).

I go back to my original comment. These buildings are nice, but there were good reasons why they were torn down. I wish we knew what they were so that we don't just fetishize the past.

Jeff / November 15, 2010 at 11:14 pm
It would be a shame to not mention Maple Leaf Stadium in this thread. Simple architecture but it spawned literally a century of stadiums for years to come. If standing today, with a little extra TLC, would be our Fenway Park or Wrigley Field.

bob replying to a comment from gadfly / November 15, 2010 at 11:16 pm
'Toronto was a sleepy burgh until the 1950s'

That's not true, there was a considerable amount of buildings put up in the 20s and 30s, even with the Depression.

Actually, back then Toronto was typically known as the fastest growing city in North America, and even sometimes the world.

There was a huge blend of Art Deco, Victorian, and even Beaux-Arts structures all in and around what would now be the downtown core (especially the Financial District).

And don't forget, this was also the time that Toronto's Stock Exchange surpassed Montreal's.

It was the 50's where the historic buildings started to get demolished (because of 'urban renewal,' Toronto's second) for newer modernist, International, and brutalist buildings that get so much criticism today, not to mention our first taste of 'starchitecture'. This was all the way to the late 70s.

But with all we lost, it was this same period that Toronto became known as one of the world's most progressive architecture cities, the infrastructure was envied, we were 'The City that Worked', and... our TTC was much loved (reps from the PAris Metro and London's Underground were even hired to come here to see a trnsit system that 'worked').
Chris Lea / November 16, 2010 at 12:16 am
One has to wonder how much maintenance of these buildings played in the decisions to destroy them. As buildings age they get more and more obsolete in technical terms, making them more and more expensive to repair.

One likes to think we in this age are more enlightened, but recent talk of demolishing the pods at Ontario Place shows we are kind of in the same place.

Toronto is full of architectural treasure, spread over a large area, which is the case in many cities. Few cities are consistently architecturally beautiful. Definitely we should be trying to honour and protect the good stuff better than we do.
The Shakes replying to a comment from James / November 16, 2010 at 07:41 am
Regarding rebuilding original old buildings, the city had a perfect opportunity to rebuild St Lawrence Mkt North back to its former glory (a mirror image of the almost universally loved St Lawrence South). Instead they decided to go with a starchitect. And much like the other starchitect examples in our city, the practicality, aesthetic and context (you know the stuff that makes for good architecture) of the building was a secondary consideration, to landing an example of that particular architect's work. That is why we now have these god awful public masturbations blighting our downtown, particularly OCAD and the ROM crystal. And for those of you who say building a new building in an old style always ends up looking tacky, i say not if you do it right.
bob replying to a comment from The Shakes / November 17, 2010 at 06:18 pm
The decision for the North St. Lawrence Market was a competition, vote for the residents of the city. The identities of the firms + architects of each design remained anonymous until the en of the competition.

Historicism isn't exactly the best way to commemorate lost buildings. Using the same designs as what was there before would mean 1) The building is a lie and 2) We are not moving forwards architecturally.

Also, Alsop designed OCAD before we was famous worldwide. We barely had any commissions, and none outside the UK.

And both the ROM and OCAD were chosen for architectural merit. The ROM was chosen because it was the most dramatic design out of the bunch - they took a chance. What other city in Canada can say the same thing? In the end, it wasn't perfect, but the building came out beautifully.
The Shakes replying to a comment from bob / November 17, 2010 at 09:06 pm
The St Lawrence Market was a competition, and yes the public had an opportunity to provide feedback, however there is no evidence that the public feedback was ever taken into consideration in the final decision, which was made entirely by a panel. In fact, i seriously question, whether any member of the panel read all the feedback, let alone consider any of it in their decision. Below is taken from the press release:

<I>"The winning design was chosen after five architectural design teams were selected from a field of 30 from around the world in February 2010 to develop full architectural designs in Stage 2 of the St. Lawrence Market North Building Design Competition. On May 7, 8 and 9, the five teams each exhibited a design at St. Lawrence Hall and online at Thousands of Torontonians viewed the short-listed designs and over 1,000 individual comments, letters, e-mails and essays from citizens were received and submitted to the panel of jury members for their consideration.
The jury, made of some of the most distinguished members from across North America in markets, architecture and culinary arts, unanimously selected the submission from Adamson Associates Architects and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners."<I/>

The purpose of architecture is to serve people, not the Architect, and certainly not for some notion of moving forward. So if people all universally prefer a historic design, please explain how a building can be "a lie". The definition of design itself is the confluence of where form meets function. In the case of OCAD and ROM crystal, they are epic failures in both regards. I agree they are "different", "unique" or "dramatic", but none of these adjectives is a merits on its own. Plain and simple OCAD and the ROM crystal are the Lady Gaga meat dress of architecture.
skeeter / November 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm
does anyone know why the Colonial Tavern was torn down? it was situated on Yonge just north of Queen. there's an empty lot there now. has it always been like that?
bob replying to a comment from The Shakes / November 19, 2010 at 12:49 am
Just having a historic design isn't enough, it's about the heritage of the building, not creating a carbon copy of it.

Because it cannot be historic if it was built yesterday.

And sure, if you want to look at design as a calculative measure, sure, but others see it as creating art, and art was never about calculating.

The Shakes replying to a comment from bob / November 19, 2010 at 01:01 pm
"Just having a historic design isn't enough" Enough for what, exactly? The proposition of using historic designs is for the purpose that old buildings look dame good. That's it. We're not talking about rewriting a history that never existed.

And i'm glad we agree that OCAD and ROM Crystal are fine if you think of them purely as big ass art installations, but as buildings and architecture they suck.
bob replying to a comment from The Shakes / November 21, 2010 at 01:19 pm
So, your problem is that you don't like how contemporary architecture looks. Well I guess Toronto isn't for you then.
The Shakes replying to a comment from bob / November 21, 2010 at 07:27 pm
Sorry Bob, you're wrong again. Don't you ever get tired of it? I have no problem whatsoever with good modern or contemporary architecture. I love Allen Lambert Galleria and Gehry's renovation of the AGO. My problem is bad architecture, particular the grand-standing starchitect kind, that serves no one but it's own creator's ego. And those fools that mindlessly lap up these works, remind me of teenage girls who have gone gaga over UGGS.
Mike / November 21, 2010 at 10:01 pm
I find it interesting that the author "misses" a bunch of buildings that were demolished before he was even born.

I'm sure gonna miss sam the record man, where else will i be able to buy music in toronto? other than the store right across the street from sam the record man, the hmv next to that, the 10 stores in the eaton center that sell music, or on itunes from anywhere in the city/world
bob replying to a comment from The Shakes / November 24, 2010 at 10:04 pm
watch out everyone, we got a design expert here! (s/he is also never wrong!)

Alsop wasn't that famous before OCAD.

You know, you have no place assuming what someone was thinking while they were creating.

And good architecture is original architecture, therefore historicism is wrong.

ps. Gehry and Calatrava are staple "starchitects"
The Shakes / November 25, 2010 at 07:35 am
It's not that i'm never wrong, it's just that you're always wrong! No need to cry like a little girl, because i called you out on your pompous architectural notions. Let me just straighten you out YET AGAIN, cause clearly listening isn't a strong point. Good architecture serves a purpose beyond stroking the creator's ego (even if it is built by a starchitect), i am all for good architecture and good buildings, i don't actually give a shit who created it. This i've stated above and justified over and over. If that still isn't clear there's not much hope for you

You on the other hand are incapable of seeing gradients and can only see things in broad tenets, which you've yet to justify. In your pompous view: Architecture = mission to move things forward, historicism = wrong, original = good, people who don't like a new building even if they can justify their view = historicists and therefore should leave Toronto. I don't think i need to shred each of your shallow arguments again, as they are clearly horse shit and don't stand up on their own. I will let you just sulk away on your own.
bob replying to a comment from The Shakes / November 25, 2010 at 10:53 pm
K, calm down now. Don't get your panties in a knot.

You seem to think that your mind is capable of a much broader range than what it really is (i.e thinking for others, knowing one's thoughts when designing buildings, etc), but I'm here to tell you that it's not.

All I'm saying is that people want good architecture. That is, original, contemporary, structures that don't rely on backtracking to create an image for itself.

I hope that we can just agree that people just want beautiful, functioning buildings.
David / December 14, 2010 at 01:11 pm
what about the original uptown theatre? not sure if it has already been mentioned but it lasted for so long in one way or another. the uptown i knew in the 90's was a miniature version of the original which was twice the size. It was a gorgeous building.
Londres / January 6, 2011 at 07:51 am
Many of these buildings can be seen in this lost Toronto slideshow:
Ved / April 10, 2011 at 10:32 am
So very sad.

Now we have to go to Montreal or Boston to experience what, at least partly, we could have experienced in our own city.
Khyron replying to a comment from Jason / April 10, 2011 at 11:53 pm
Excuse me, but just where would First Canadian Place have been built? Scarborough? Bay & King is where Toronto's business district is, and that's where it should be. Anything else is just wishful silly nostalgia.

@Ved: Being a big drama queen, much? As was said above, a lot of other cities got rid of a lot of the same architecture just like Toronto did. When something no longer serves a purpose, it is gotten rid of, not kept around because it 'looks beautiful'.

Try and get this through your heads: <i><b>A city is not a museum</i></b>. People live in it, work in it, play in it, and die it in, and each building either serves a function or it simply is garbage-beautiful garbage, but garbage nonetheless. I don't see you crying for Regent Park (or Moss Park when it will eventually be torn down) so what's with all the tears and heartbreak?
nikon lens reviews / May 12, 2011 at 07:45 am
I am wondering if anyone else has come across something
Dmitri / September 19, 2011 at 01:13 pm
That's a travesty. Especially the Toronto Star building. It is hard to think of anything uglier that current Star building.
Robert W. Ferguson / October 29, 2011 at 11:08 am
Toronto has been rudderless for my entire life. Destroying our history is damn near treasonous.

The old Bank of Toronto building at King and Bay makes the present TD Centre look like a dump.
Moneytrain / November 22, 2011 at 03:29 am
Reading by way of your nice content, will help me to do so sometimes.
FAC33 replying to a comment from Robert W. Ferguson / December 5, 2011 at 07:48 pm
While I like the TD Centre, I've seen photos of the first tower going up before the Bank of Toronto building was torn down. While we might have lost some of the unity of the current site, this beautiful building might have survived. Same goes for the Bank of Montreal building (not on Derek's top 10--but a lovely postwar modified Deco building that was actually started just before WWII and not finished until after)--I've seen photos with the main FCP tower in place as it was torn down. That one in particular was a loss--you might be able to argue that the Mies TD pavillion was an acceptable replacement for the Bank of Toronto, but no way was the BMO podium pavillion-thingie at all comparable to that demolished building. FCP and the neighbouring Exchange Tower finished off not one, but four different Deco buildings.
ginnee / December 12, 2011 at 02:26 pm
For the addresses of these and more lost buildings, look for the book Lost Toronto by William Dendy. It's available at the library. Fabulous, fabulous book.
Melanie / December 15, 2011 at 01:59 pm
What about that magnificent House of Refuge where the Don Valley ramp is now?
Leslie Wilson-Utting replying to a comment from Jeremy Wilson / December 18, 2011 at 10:57 am
I just saw your surname, thought I'd ask if you have a grandfather, uncle etc with the name of Garfield in your family or in your tree,
I'm still on the look out for Wilsons I can't account for..
leslie Wilson
aka williesbaby
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Ife / March 13, 2012 at 01:25 am
The Armouries was great, but come on. The provincial Court House is a beautiful piece of modernism, why speak poorly of it???
mondayjane / March 13, 2012 at 07:09 am
"the city planners of the 1960s and 70s had virtually no historic sense".

And how is this different from now?
Peanut Gallery replying to a comment from mondayjane / March 13, 2012 at 07:55 am

OK, 3 differences:

In the 1960s, vast swathes of downtown was torn down to make way for surface parking lots. In 2012 that does not happen.

In the 1960s, there was no heritage body, and no such thing as a "listed" building. Not the case today.

In the 1960s, one wouldn't think to preserve or incorporate a facade when approving a new building. It's different in 2012.
Gilles / March 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm
Interesting fact about the "Anonymous brick building" you mentioned that now rests on the site of the former Union Station II. Union Station was the site of Canada's first telegraph, and the building that was built there is Canada's largest Internet Exchange, in way continuing the legacy of national communications on that site. There is a nation historical plaque commemorating this located in the lobby, although it's a secured area and few people get to see it.
Binky / March 15, 2012 at 11:52 pm
Some ass-clown has hacked your EDS (The Board of Trade Building) link. It now connects to a Viagaramonger. EDS. Hilarious.
Dtowner / March 16, 2012 at 10:54 am
Don't get me started. These beautiful buildings were destroyed (murdered!) for no reason but they wanted to modernise. The 50's was the beginning of the end of architecture in Toronto. Beautiful, artistic, gorgeous buildings that had style and were infused with humanity were replaced with bland, assembly line monstrosities.
sweetgrasslady / March 18, 2012 at 08:04 pm
Yes , some great buildings have been lost. I might mention that in the "Peg" , they have managed to save a lot of the lovely buildings. Some are lofts and antique stores, but a good walk around the city and you see lots of great architecture. So not only in Montreal , Quebec City , or cities south of the border can you find some wonderful old buildings. I love Toronto, its people and its great history. :)
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Slide small cooking pot in the cable to make it easier for you to link the other big wooden bead for the conclude with the cord.
David Imrie / April 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm
Like all cities, Winnipeg has tried to preserve some of its early 20th Century architecture with some success. I'm from Toronto, looking at these shows what a loss the University Avenue Armouries were, both architecturally and historically. My Grandfather signed up for military service there in 1914. 1963 thinking was to destroy the past. Today, such a structure would be renovated - how many courtrooms could have fit in there?
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Adam / May 21, 2012 at 09:39 am
Could you imagine if we kept the old Union Station as our Convention Centre? My God that would have been amazing.
prevent ed / June 20, 2012 at 06:37 pm
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damian / June 24, 2012 at 06:19 pm
What an embarrassment.
damian / June 24, 2012 at 06:24 pm
An absolute crime. The bastards who tore down those buildings should have been jailed.
Ben / July 17, 2012 at 07:44 pm
Why are 19th and early 20th century building so magnificent and new ones so ugly? What happened to architects sense of style?
Alex / July 21, 2012 at 07:38 pm
It's difficult to compare Toronto to most American cities along the Eastern Seaboard. Cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia have always been larger than Toronto at any given stage during their respective developments. Therefore, they have a larger stock of old buildings. While New York has lost many beautiful buildings, it's shear size leaves with virtuously untouched historic districts like Soho, Greenwich Village, Upper West Side etc. So while a city like New York can afford to lose a few old buildings a year, Toronto needs to value what it has in order to preserve it's history for future generations.
Alex replying to a comment from Alex / July 21, 2012 at 07:46 pm
Correction... I should clarify that New York, Boston and Philadelphia are older than Toronto. Therefore, they possess a larger stock of older buildings. Obviously, Toronto is currently larger than Boston and Philadelphia.
Stephen MacDonald / August 15, 2012 at 12:57 am
Does anyone have pictures of the old Blake House at 449 Jarvis? The older the better. Thanks
Jack / November 15, 2012 at 02:46 pm
Never noticed before how much the front facade of the armoury building resembles the St.Lawrence Market south building facade or vice versa depending whichever was built first.
Jean ValJean / January 21, 2013 at 12:15 pm
They came very very close to tearing down the OLD CITY HALL as well when the Eaton Centre was developed. Imagine if that was gone as well
Bobby Hamon / October 8, 2013 at 01:48 pm
Shakes I like your comments. You put forward a realistic scenario. This is probably the most exciting blog of any on .
Can I make a few comments as someone who worked in a Toronto architect's office in the late 50's and 60's. I'm and old Torontonian and very proud of TO as 'my' city, although I'm well retired now and live in London England.
For a retro rather than demo look at Loew's Winter Garden,(Yonge north of Queen, east side. It will blow your mind away.
Remember when the 'glam' was at the Park Plaza and ladies from Rosedale and Forest Hill lunched at Eaton's College St.
The best Ivy League was purchased at Brooks on Bloor St. W. and The House of Mann, Yonge St. east side north of Gerrard.
Bobby Hamon / October 8, 2013 at 02:00 pm
Back to the crux of what you are bloging about. If you can't rent it don't build it. Commercial building is riskier than you think and even the big boys get their fingers burnt.
Look at all the building in the 70's in America when things went 'belly up' There were empty builds all over.
It's interesting research.
But keep the dialogue going.
rudra / October 31, 2013 at 08:52 am
Totally missed for the old Toronto Star building:
"Superman co-creator Joe Shuster used the building as a model for the Daily Planet Building."
Karin Dillabough / October 31, 2013 at 09:24 am
As I travel I often wonder why it is that a city as well off as Toronto never had anyone/organizations/political will to have the long term vision to better preserve historical and/or architecturally interesting buildings for future generations. There were a lot of ugly buildings put up in the 60s and 70s that add no value to the city landscape. These days when people travel they are drawn to beautiful old buildings that house museums, art works, multi-purpose venues and pay to see them. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess, but it is difficult to find The history that made Toronto one of Canada's premier cities.
Jason / October 31, 2013 at 11:18 am
A bit of a smaller scale but another one is about to be destroyed in Etobicoke. Vincent Massey Public School (Formerly Daisy Ave school) which was built in 1929 is being threatened by sale to developers.

More info at

This is the building Degrassi Junior High was filmed at.
Jason replying to a comment from Jason / October 31, 2013 at 11:19 am
Karen J. Pottruff replying to a comment from Richard J / October 31, 2013 at 12:16 pm
I remember being in the University Theatre on Bloor St.--a beautiful structure inside. Plush surroundings to watch a movie in.
Troy / October 31, 2013 at 02:42 pm
We have lost some truly fabulous and majestic buildings...but architecture isn't art.
Buildings are "functional objects" and have requirements to fulfill - to their communities, tenants, owners etc. in addition to aesthetic considerations and functionality. Architecture, like its other Design siblings (like fashion and industrial design) is subject to a generational "Survival of the Fittest"...
But all that being said I really miss the Uptown theatre...
gonzo replying to a comment from Richard J / October 31, 2013 at 08:50 pm
It will live forever in the first 10 minutes of Strange Brew. It's a beauty eh.
Mavis replying to a comment from RobertB / November 22, 2013 at 01:09 am
RobertB - I remember your grandmother's store! My brother and I delivered newspapers throughout that area and knew the Fong, Lewis and Smith families that lived on Armoury St. We used to stop at that corner store to buy popsicles while on our delivery route. I remember climbing a couple of cement steps to the store. We used to go the the Armouries for special occasions and I remember miniature war display tables with simulated gunfire and poofs of smoke that were set up in that cavernous room.
Jerry K / February 5, 2014 at 02:53 pm
With the exception of Chorley Hall, none of these buildings had any significant architectural merit that make them worth preserving. The Armories may have been an attractive building on its own terms, however, there's not much you can do to reconfigure a warehouse that has a sloping roof and occupies a prime piece of real estate in the heart of the downtown core. Likewise, Trinity College may have been a beautiful example of Gothic revival architecture but it's cramped interior with its many nooks and crannies and it's narrow staircases and landings made it increasingly impractical and unusable as time went on. We tend to pay too much attention to the exterior appearance of these buildings without also considering the very important issue of whether the interior design can be reused or remodeled for something useful in today's world. Buildings are not just meant to look nice. They also have to serve a utilitarian purpose.
Chris / August 10, 2014 at 04:12 pm
It would be nice if the author had included the addresses of these places. He may know where Chorley Park was and where the EDS building is now, but most of us don't.
Chris replying to a comment from Ben / August 10, 2014 at 04:17 pm
Ben, it's all personal preference. I'll take van der Rohe's TD Centre and Santiago Calatrava's BCE Place over Old City Hall any day of the week.

I get a boner looking at Hariri Pontarini's One Bloor East tower and I'm also almost giddy over the new Gehry towers that may rise over King Street.
Tim Scammell / November 4, 2014 at 08:14 pm
I'm wondering if someone can help me? I recall seeing at one time that there was a house designed by Buckminster Fuller in Etobicoke or Mississauga that was demolished several years ago. I can't find a reference to that now. Was I mistaken?
Tim Scammell / November 4, 2014 at 08:17 pm
Please disregard that last post. I was thinking of Frank Lloyd Wright. Sorry.
Sam Marji / November 29, 2014 at 10:32 am
What a shame to see a huge part of history go down in shambles.
rapi / January 21, 2015 at 12:17 pm
gone are whole blocks of victorian era houses...see seaton, Ontario and Berkley streets between shuter and queen...made space for moss park apartment buildings
Gregg replying to a comment from bob / March 17, 2015 at 07:28 pm
Well put Bob! shesh...
Gierolf Hvitrserkr replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / April 8, 2015 at 12:24 pm
sadly, my family owned the land that the eatons center now resides on, back when it was still just dirt and not all that great for farm land, they sold it of course, but its still nice bit of history
Mike replying to a comment from actually... / April 8, 2015 at 03:47 pm
The central business district looks like shit with a couple of exceptions. But there are many bright spots beyond.
Mike replying to a comment from Chris / April 8, 2015 at 03:50 pm
True it's preference. BCE Place is nice. But it's surrounded by Legoland in my mind. DULL. One day all the glass boxes will be torn down and no one will even remember what was there--they all look alike. I'll take craftsmanship and beauty any day over cheapness, dullness, and right angles. But that's just me.
Mike replying to a comment from Jerry K / April 8, 2015 at 03:56 pm
I respectfully disagree. I'm told by people who worked there that, for example, the Temple Building had an incredibly spacious and beautiful lobby. And the old Dominion Bank building was gorgeous inside and out and was huge inside. But it comes down to taste, if you prefer glass and right angles to ornate detailing and craftsmanship, no one can argue.
JOHN CAMPBELL / May 21, 2015 at 04:18 am
What splendid photographs! I grew up in Toronto but have spent my entire adult like in New York City. I am thinking about retiring in Toronto and love the city's history. The new Toronto appears to have terrific things to offer.
Omer Quenneville / October 25, 2015 at 08:54 am
We continue to erase our history. What about the peace garden that occupied a section of Nathan Philips Square to honor the Popes visit of past. Has anyone else noticed it missing? Notice how quietly that disappeared. Most likely the work of Kristyn Wong-Tam. She has a record of replacing history with her own version and renaming things after her personal friends.
Barry replying to a comment from alan / January 22, 2016 at 02:11 pm
aka the daily planet building in superman!!
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