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Home Featured Stories Historic Osgoode Hall series: December on the grounds of Osgoode Hall

Historic Osgoode Hall series: December on the grounds of Osgoode Hall

December 03, 2021

December is upon us and suddenly the air feels a little crisper and the streets are filled with the bustle of the  many holidays and occasions celebrated this month. This first weekend in December marks the return of the Toronto Santa Claus parade. Due to the ongoing pandemic, floats and marching bands won’t be weaving through the streets of Toronto. The parade will instead be a televised-only event. So, in the spirit of the season, we thought we would look back on years past. 

Crowds gather outside the grounds of Osgoode Hall on
November 20, 1926 for the Toronto Santa Claus Parade1


With the parade dating back to 1905, the grounds of Osgoode Hall have borne witness to more than 100 years of floats, music and merriment. Typically, the grounds of Osgoode Hall would be the scene of countless happy children and their families eagerly enjoying the sights and sounds of the parade with their backs to the grounds’ historic iron fence.

While present-day Osgoode Hall may be landlocked, at one time it was surrounded by a network of streets. Albert Street came all the way to Osgoode Hall. Chestnut Street connected Dundas and Queen Streets and Osgoode Street provided access to University Avenue along what we now know as the McMurtry Gardens of Justice.

The photo above shows the former University Avenue Armouries at the top right, in the location where the Superior Court now sits at 361 University Avenue. Law students who were part of the Osgoode Hall Canadian Officer Training Corps trained at the armouries.

The tall wall and the house on the upper left are part of the Osgoode Hall grounds. The wall started where the fence stopped, completing the enclosure around the property. Two small portions of this wall can still be seen near the fence’s east and west gates. The house is the former Law Society’s caretaker’s cottage.

gates of osgoode hall

A photo of the famous kissing gates and the vehicle gate. To the left of the kissing gate, you can see a portion of the stone wall that once completed the enclosure around the grounds of Osgoode Hall.

historic map of osgoode hall

A 1924 drawing shows what the streets of Toronto looked like nearly 100 years ago. The star marks the location of the float in the above photo of the parade.2

The grounds of Osgoode Hall have long been a popular outdoor space in the community; whether watching a parade, taking a walk or enjoying a coffee among the gardens. Whether you’re out running errands or enjoying a seasonal skate at Nathan Phillips Square, take a moment to stroll through the grounds of Osgoode Hall this winter and enjoy this unique slice of history located right in modern-day Toronto.

1) Eaton's Santa Claus Parade, Santa Claus & reindeer on curve. City of Toronto Archives, Globe and Mail fonds, Fonds 1266, Item 9446.
2) Toronto Fire Insurance Plan 1924, City of Toronto Archives.

About the Historic Osgoode Hall series
Osgoode Hall is the oldest continuously used institutional property in Toronto. While the grounds have changed over time, they have retained their overall character, making Osgoode Hall one of the few remaining examples of mid-19th century Ontario institutional landscapes. 

The Historic Osgoode Hall series brings to life some of the stories, traditions and notable events that have taken place in Osgoode Hall’s almost 200-year history. 

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