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Visiting Toronto, Ontario: St. Lawrence Hall and the former Canadian Bank of Commerce building

Updated on November 12, 2015
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
St Lawrence Hall (left) and the Canadian Bank of Commerce building (right)
St Lawrence Hall (left) and the Canadian Bank of Commerce building (right) | Source
Historical plaque at the Canadian Bank of Commerce building, which formerly incorporated the Township of York's Council Chambers
Historical plaque at the Canadian Bank of Commerce building, which formerly incorporated the Township of York's Council Chambers | Source
Map location of Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Toronto, Ontario | Source

Architectural grace from a bygone era at Jarvis and King St. E.

The intersection of Jarvis Street and King Street East in Toronto, Ontario, contains buildings which are both of note historically and, in addition, evidence architectural grace redolent of a bygone era.

St Lawrence Hall

Situated close to the St Lawrence Market, in Toronto, Ontario, St. Lawrence Hall was built in 1850 and is one of Toronto's great, meeting halls and historic buildings. With its origins dating thus from prior to Confederation in 1867, the building witnessed some of the seminal events in Canadian history, with prominent figures such as Sir John A. MacDonald and George Brown having addressed gatherings on subjects of far-reaching import.

The Renaissance Revival building, with its Corinthian columns and ornamental cupola, was designed by architect William Thomas. For a number of years St, Lawrence Hall was the home of the National Ballet of Canada.

1967 proved to be an important year in the building's history, since underwent thorough restoration as a City of Toronto project in commemoration of Canada's Centennial; also in 1967, St. Lawrence Hall was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

Former Canadian Bank of Commerce building

Also at the intersection of Jarvis Street, and King Street East is the former building of the Canadian Bank of Commerce. Given that the upper levels of this pillared, three-story structure contained offices unused by the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the building was used for many years as the Council Chambers of the former Township of York, the inception of this use given as 1907.

This building was one of the early branches of the Bank in Toronto; the Bank merged in 1961 to form the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

A plaque, dating from 1973, commemorates the 180th anniversary of the founding of the former Township of York.

Daniel Brooke Building

This building, also at the intersection of Jarvis Street with King Street East, but on the east side of Jarvis, dates from 1833 and is a rare example of Georgian architecture in Toronto. Unlike many buildings in its vicinity, it was one of the few which survived Toronto's great fire of 1849.

The original owners of the building were Daniel Brooke, for which it is named, and John Murchison. There are various historical associations of note, in connection with the building. It was home to The Patriot newspaper in the mid-19th century. Another figure linked with the building was James Austin, who later served as President of the Dominion Bank.

Also worth seeing

In the Greater Toronto Area, visitor attractions and cultural sites are far too numerous to summarize adequately here. But a few of these include:

In Downtown Toronto, close neighbours are St James's Anglican Cathedral and St Michael's Roman Catholic Cathedral, both with tall spires which are local landmarks, and United Metropolitan Church, with its tall tower. Almost opposite St Michael's Cathedral is Mackenzie House, former home of William Lyon Mackenzie, at 82 Bond Street, now a museum. On Queen Street East, next to the renowned Eaton Centre, is Old City Hall, which dates from 1899. On Queen Street West may be seen the imposing lines of Osgoode Hall and the historic Campbell House.

East along Queen Street East is the Ashbridge Estate (distance: 5.5 kilometres), associated for over 200 years with the family whose name the property bears. The centrepiece building dates from 1854.

The Thomson Settlement and Scarborough Historical Museum (distance: approx. 25.6 kilometres) situated in the Thomson Memorial Park, Scarborough, comprises Cornell House and the McCowan Log House.


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. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

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

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