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Visiting the former Lambton Lodge, Toronto, Ontario: now George Brown House, a National Historic Site of Canada
Residence of a pivotal Canadian historical figure
When George Brown (1818-1880) died at the hands of an assassin, the dramatic nature of his passing only emphasized the historic nature of his achievements. Founder of the Toronto Globe newspaper in 1834, he also served briefly as Premier of Canada West (formerly Upper Canada, now Ontario) in 1858 and as a Senator for Lambton from 1873-1880, and was regarded as a leading figure in the Liberal party (1). He also attended the Charlottetown Conference of 1864, and is often referred to as a Father of Confederation.
Today, the Globe and Mail has among the largest of circulations among Canadian newspapers.
The residence of George Brown was designed by William Irving and Edward Hutchings and built 1874-1876. Its naming as 'Lambton Lodge' was almost certainly a reflection of the fact that George Brown was appointed Senator for Lambton.
The style of the dwelling exhibits Second Empire and Italianate influences. Particular features include its use of mansard roofing with prominent, dormer windows, a proportionately very large, and somewhat ornate, arched doorway. The first two stories are executed in brick; for the top storey incorporated into the mansard roofing, a slate exterior was used.
After George's Brown's death, the house passed to the Coulson family, who, in the 1890s, sponsored a refurbishing of the dining room in Art Nouveau style. Today, George Brown House's restored interior exhibits marble fireplaces, mahogany panelling and Crystal chandeliers. 2000 volumes of George Brown's personal library collection are now held at the house.
The structure was re-named George Brown House, and for the past few decades has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The property underwent a thorough program of restoration in the 1980s, spearheaded by the Ontario Heritage Foundation (now called the Ontario Heritage Trust). Among its current functions is the provision of office space for the Ontario Heritage Trust. The building is regularly hired for conferences and special events; since the property consists of several, refurbished rooms, the practice has arisen both of hiring out of a number of its rooms together, or of individual rooms. (My strong feeling is that as a venue this historic house would greatly enhance an event.)
I have included a picture (above, right) of the house as depicted in an artist's impression of George Brown's funeral, for which the building forms a backdrop.
The house is supposed to be haunted, and television broadcasting on this subject has been undertaken; I myself struggle with such ideas, but it is clear that with the murder of George Brown and records of his funeral from the property, at the very least the power of historical allusion at the property is necessarily strong.
George Brown House is located at 186 Beverley Street, in Toronto's Grange Park neighbourhood.
For contact details see note (2), below.
February 7, 2015
(1) Like various, other influential 19th century Canadian figures — such as Sir John Macdonald, William Lyon Mackenzie,.and Alexander Mackenzie — George Brown was Scottish-born. Brown was a staunch Presbyterian and was a member of Knox Presbyterian Church, Toronto, although interestingly he strongly argued for separation of church and state, unlike the prevailing arrangement in his native Scotland.
Also worth seeing
In Downtown Toronto itself, its many visitor attractions include: Old City Hall, Fort York, Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, the CN Tower, Casa Loma; the Ontario Legislative Assembly Building at Queen's Park, Union Station, and many others.
How to get there: Porter Airlines, flies to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, and has wide North American connections. Car rental is available at Union Station; Air Canada flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available, but visitors to Downtown Toronto will find many sights to be easily walkable from Union Station. For up to date information, you are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent. 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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