ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Old City Hall, Toronto, Ontario: imposing Romanesque Revival building by E. J. Lennox

Updated on March 10, 2014
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Old City Hall, Toronto, Ontario, completed 1899
Old City Hall, Toronto, Ontario, completed 1899 | Source
Historical plaque, Old City Hall, Toronto, Ontario
Historical plaque, Old City Hall, Toronto, Ontario | Source
Map location of Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Toronto, Ontario | Source

On completion, the largest civic building in North America

Situated at Queen Street West and Bay Street, the Old City Hall, Toronto, Ontario, was completed in 1899 to an 1887 design by architect E. J. Lennox (1854-1933) (1).

The building served as Toronto's municipal headquarters until 1965; hence the current inclusion of the word 'Old' in the building's name. It is now a courthouse.

Its thick walls and round arches are complemented by rich carvings and by the 103.6 metre clocktower, which forms a a striking landmark down the length of Bay Street. Among the principal materials used in the buildings execution was Credit River sandstone.

The interior of the building is distinguished by various murals depicting local, historical personalities. The designer of these murals was George A. Reid. There are also striking stained-glass windows by Robert McCausland.

Architect Lennox found that this lengthy project greatly exceeding its original budget; on completion, its total cost was a then astronomical sum of over $2.5 million. His relations with local politicians also suffered. However, it is probably true to say that many of E. J Lennox's detractors are not remembered as much as he is now.

At the front of the building is the Cenotaph, erected in 1925 to honour the memory of the fallen in World War One. Commemoration at this monument was later extended to include the fallen of World War Two, the Korean War and Peacekeeping operations.

Old City Hall is located in the heart of Toronto's financial district. The building thus came to signify somewhat the confidence of the business community and civic assurance.

It has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.


(1) E. J. Lennox was responsible for many buildings in Toronto. These include Casa Loma and the West Wing of the Ontario Parliament's Legislative Building. He was heavily influenced by Richardsonian Romanesque and it is as a fine example of Romanesque Revival that Old City Hall is particularly known.

Also worth seeing

Visitor attractions and historic buildings in Downtown Toronto are too numerous to summarize properly, but some noteworthy, historic buildings include: Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, United Metropolitan Church, St. Michael's Cathedral, St James's Cathedral, the Ontario Parliament's Legislative Building.

Further afield are:

Ashbridge Estate, Toronto (distance: 5.2 kilometres), home to an old Ontario family for more than two centries.

Gibson House, Willowdale (distance: 15.2 kilometres), historic 19th century house, now a museum.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. However, visitors to Downtown Toronto will find many sights to be easily walkable. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, please refer to appropriate consular sources.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)