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Visiting the former Canadian Bank of Commerce building at 744 Queen Street East, Toronto: Classicism from 1905

Updated on December 2, 2011
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Former branch, Canadian Bank of Commerce, 744 Queen Street East in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Former branch, Canadian Bank of Commerce, 744 Queen Street East in Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Source
Frank Darling
Frank Darling | Source
John A. Pearson
John A. Pearson | Source

A convex frontage adding distinction

This former bank building in Toronto, Ontario, is a remarkably fine example of Classical architecture.

Some history and features

Dating from 1905, the former Canadian Bank of Commerce building at 744 Queen Street East has an especially striking feature which distinguishes it: its convex frontage. Present are the pillars — Ionic columns — so beloved of architects working in Classical style; but in my view the shape of the frontage gives it an extra dimension.

The interior of the building is noted for its quality woodworking and its staircase in spiral configuration.

The architectural partnership responsible was Darling and Pearson (1). Its execution of quality stonework is fundamental to the success of the design whole.

When the structure outlived its originally commissioned, commercial purpose, attempts were made to preserve it because of its sheer quality as a property. The building has thus been designated a heritage property by the City of Toronto.

In recent years the property has been known as the headquarters of a prominent fashion house. Here, the leitmotif of quality, in relation to such activities within such a fine building, thus chosen as their base, is obvious.

When floodlit at night, this property in the Riverdale suburb of Toronto looks especially impressive.


(1) Frank Darling (1850-1923), who also designed what is now the Hockey Hall of Fame in what was the Bank of Montreal Building at the intersection of the City's Front and Yonge Streets, was a Toronto architect who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; he was in partnership with a number of other architects, including John Pearson (1867-1940), who designed the Peace Tower at the Parliament Buildings, Ottawa.

Also worth seeing

In Toronto itself, Queen Street contains many architecturally distinguished and historic properties, which include: from west to east: the Gladstone Hotel: Campbell House: Osgoode Hall: Old City Hall: United Metropolitan Cathedral: 111 Queen Street East: the Ashbridge Estate. Other outstanding properties in Toronto include the Ontario Legislative Assembly Building, Queen's Park, Old Fort York, Union Station, the Royal York Hotel, and last but certainly not least, the CN Tower, a great wonder of Canada.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. Visitors may prefer to use the TTC streetcar service No. 501 from Downtown Toronto , which passes directly in front of 744 Queen Street East. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

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

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