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Osgoode Hall has always attracted attention. The city directory published two years after the first wing of the building was completed in 1832 listed Osgoode Hall nine times. The building appeared as a “splendid hall” in a list of the city’s public institutions. It was used as a landmark to locate streets and neighbourhoods. It was listed not only under Lot (now Queen) Street but also in the listings for York, King and Front Streets - “in crossing here you have a fine view to the right of Osgoode Hall...”

Everything about Osgoode Hall made it stand out: the scale of the building and the property in a district of single-family homes, its business and public purpose in a residential neighbourhood, its professional occupants in a working class area, its “waspishness” in what became the city’s main reception area for new immigrants, and its wealth in “The Ward,” once one of the city’s worst slums. Even today, surrounded by skyscrapers and pavement, Osgoode Hall affirms its distinctiveness.

This photograph exhibition deliberately shifts the focus from Osgoode Hall to its neighbours. It looks at the evolution of the area from its beginnings as the home of tradesmen and their families, to that of target for social reformers, to the commercial and civic centre it has become.

How to Visit

Neighbours is organized by broad periods of the district’s history. If you start at the first photo and finish at the last, you will get a good overview of the evolution of the neighbourhood. If you just want to look at the photos or if the story is already familiar to you, the index can take you where you want to go.

The Lot Days

1. York Street, looking north, 1856. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1498, Item 16.

2. West side of Centre Street looking north from Osgoode Street, c. 1890. Toronto Public Library (TRL), T 12491.

3. House of William Lyon Mackenzie, York Street, c. 1885. Toronto Public Library (TRL), T 11408.

4. College (University) Avenue gates, looking north from Queen Street West, 1880 (?). Toronto Public Library (TRL), T 13828.

5. The Armouries, University Avenue, c. 1900. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1497, Item 3.

6. York Street looking north from south of King Street, 1890. Toronto Public Library, T 12910.

7. African Methodist Episcopal Church, Richmond Street, 1913. Toronto Public Library (TRL), T 33461.


The New Influx

8. North east corner of Elizabeth and Albert street, 1916. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 2173.

9. 38-42 Elizabeth Street, 1912. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2008, Series 372, Sub-series 55, Item 44.

10. World War One Parade, University Avenue, c. 1915. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 720B.

11. East side of University Street near Osgoode Street, c. 1890. Toronto Public Library (TRL), T 12816.

12. York Street, looking north from Richmond Street, c. 1911. Toronto Public Library (TRL), T 12919.

13. York Street, looking south-west from Queen Street, 1909? Toronto Public Library (TRL), T 12925.


The Ward

14. Rear of 15-17 Centre Avenue, 1937. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2008, Series 372, Sub-series 33, Item 138.

15. “Greek, Hebrew, Polish children rolling hoops,” Chestnut Street, 1922. Toronto Public Library (TRL), T 13358.

16. Queen Street West and University Avenue, looking south-east, c. 1924. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 7160.

17. 100-110 Elizabeth Street, 1937. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2008, Series 372, Sub-series 33, Item 178.

18. Queen Street West at York Street, looking west, 1925. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 7106.

19. Registry Office, north-east corner of Albert and Chestnut Street, n.d. City of Toronto Archives, SC 268, Item 1660.

20. York Street, looking north from Adelaide Street, 1920. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 7389.


The End of an Era

21. “Eaton Parking Lot,” Louisa Street looking south from Elizabeth Street, 1925. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1002.

22. Albert Street, looking east from Chestnut Street, 1955. Toronto Public Library (TRL), J. V. Salmon Collection, T 33961.

23. Queen Street West, north side, looking east from Chestnut Street, 1955. Toronto Public Library (TRL), J. V. Salmon Collection, T33876.

24. University Avenue, looking north from Queen Street West, c. 1930. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1502.

25. Aerial view of University Avenue at Queen Street, looking east, c. 1930. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 7295.

26. Shea’s Hippodrome, Bay Street, 1953. Toronto Public Library (TRL), J. V. Salmon Collection, S 1-1215.

27. Sod turning for the New City Hall, Elizabeth Street and Osgoode Street, 1961. City of Toronto Archives, RG 5, Item 41.

28. “The Last Bay-Dupont Streetcar,” 1963. City of Toronto Archives, SC567B-130-1.

29. The move of Campbell House, University Avenue, looking north from south of Queen Street West, March 31, 1972. Photo courtesy of Campbell House, reproduced with permission of the Toronto Transit Commission.

30. The Law Society of Upper Canada Caretaker’s Cottage, c. 1955. The Law Society of Upper Canada Archives, P412.

Aims and objects of the Toronto Humane Society, J. George Hodgins, ed., Toronto: Printed for the Society by William Briggs, 1888.

Dendy, William. Lost Toronto, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1993.

Dennis, Richard. “Private Landlords and Redevelopment: ‘The Ward’ in Toronto, 1890-1920.” Urban History Review, XXIV, no. 1, Oct. 1995.

Firth, Edith G. Toronto in Art. Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1983.

Gathering Places: Peoples and Neighbourhoods of Toronto, 1834-1945. Robert F. Harney ed., Studies in Ethnic and Immigration History. Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1985.

Greater Toronto and the Men who Made it. Toronto: Inter-Provincial Publishing, 1911.

Guillet, Edwin C. Toronto: From Trading post to Great City, Toronto: The Ontario Publishing Co., 1934.

Jones, Donald. Fifty Tales of Toronto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992.

Lindsay, John C. Palaces of the Night: Canada’s Grand Theatres. Toronto: Lynx Images, 1999.

McKelvey, Margaret & Merilyn McKelvey. Toronto: Carved in Stone. Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1984.

Mulvany, C. Pelham. Toronto: Past and Present, Toronto: W.E. Caiger, 1884.

Polyphony: Toronto’s People, Spring/Summer 1984, vol. 6, no.1.

Report of the Medical Health officer dealing with the recent investigation of slum conditions in Toronto, 1911.

Robertson, J. Ross. Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto, Toronto: J. Ross Robertson, 1908.

Rose, A. W. H. The Emigrant Churchman in Canada, Rev. Henry Christmas ed., London: Richard Bentley, 1849.

Royal Commission on the Relations of Labor and Capital 1889.

Scadding, Rev. Henry S.; Dent, John Charles. Toronto: Past and Present: Historical and Descriptive, Toronto: Hunter, Rose and Company, 1884.

Statistics Canada. Historical Statistics of Canada, Section T: Transportation and Communication, T 147-194 Motor Vehicle registrations, by province, 1903 to 1975. Accessed July 12, 2002.

Taylor, Conyngham Crawford. Toronto “Called Back” from 1897 to 1847, Toronto: William Briggs, 1897.

Toronto City Directories, accessed through Historicity (Toronto Public Library), July 2002.

Transit Toronto. “The University Subway,”, accessed April 5, 2005.

What is “The Ward” going to do with Toronto? Toronto: Bureau of Municipal Research. c. 1918.

Yesterday’s Toronto, Prospero Books, 1997.

Neighbours would not have been possible without the great photographic collections of the Toronto Public Library (Toronto Reference Library or TRL) and the City of Toronto Archives. Our problem was not to find photographs but to make a selection of those that would remain. These institutions, as well as the Archives of Ontario, have digitized some of their images and have made them available on the web. Visit their sites for more photos of old Toronto.

Neighbours originated from the wish of past-Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada Robert P. Armstrong (now The Honourable Robert P. Armstrong) and the Chair of the Law Society Heritage Committee, Thomas J. P. Carey, to revive the museum of the Law Society. The creation of the “real” display space was delayed but we thought that we should share what we have in the meantime. We thank Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Carey for their support.

We also wish to thank Sally Gibson and Mark Cuddy of the City of Toronto Archives, Susan Tracy of Campbell House, Alan Walker of the Toronto Reference Library and Huguette Loubert for their assistance.

Source of Photos
City of Toronto Archives
The Law Society of Upper Canada Archives
Toronto Public Library (TRL)
Toronto Transit Commission

Elise Brunet

Additional Research
Susan Lewthwaite

Geneviève Proulx

Terms or Concepts Explained