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Visiting the Dominion Public Building, Toronto, Ontario: Beaux-Arts neo-Classicism by T. W. Fuller and J. H. Craig

Updated on April 4, 2012
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Dominion Public Building on Front Street West, Toronto, Canada.
Dominion Public Building on Front Street West, Toronto, Canada. | Source
Map location of Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Toronto, Ontario | Source

A grand, Federal presence in Canada's largest city

This imposing structure in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, is known as the Dominion Public Building.

Some history and features

It was built between 1926 and 1935, the work of architects Thomas W. Fuller (1) and James H. Craig. The style in which the architects executed their design is described as Beaux-Arts neo-Classicism. Features include its pillared and curved frontage (2), and the interior use of marble.

This thoroughly solid-looking, limestone building is situated at 1, Front Street West, near its intersection with Yonge Street to the east and adjacent to Union Station to the west.

The building's name is somewhat revelatory of the period when it was built. From 1867 onwards until the 1930s or 40s, the term 'Dominion of Canada', still in force, was also widely used; whereas in more recent decades, public references are usually made to the 'Government of Canada' or to the Federal Government', rather than to the 'Dominion of Canada'. Thus, the term 'Dominion Public Building' denoting a Federally used office, may not be in strictly current usage, but but dint of long association the name has stuck.

Formerly used by customs, the building's more recent use has been by the Canada Revenue Agency / Agence du revenu du Canada. Included in its facilities is a law library for the Agency.

In recent years, the limestone exterior of the building has undergone restoration from the effects of weathering, as has the 'Long Room', or Custom Hall.

April 4, 2012


(1) Other work for which Architect Fuller is widely known includes the Confederation Building, Ottawa.

(2) Visitors should bear in mind that the curved nature of the frontage and the proximity of other buildings can pose some difficulties for photography in which the intention may be to take in the entire, Front Street elevation. Indeed, in some architectural commentary, a photo-montage method has been adopted for best effect.

Also worth seeing

In Toronto itself, a few of the many fine buildings of interest include: Union Station, in the shadow of the CN Tower; Old City Hall, Osgoode Hall, the Ontario Legislative Assembly Building at Queen's Park, Old Fort York, St. Lawrence Hall, the Toronto Harbour Commission Building; the former 1845 Commercial Bank building; and many others.


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. You are advised to 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.


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