In a city with hundreds of gleaming new skyscrapers, I found it refreshing to see and visit a view a few of Toronto’s older buildings, including this one in particular. It was designed by noted Toronto architect, Edward James Lennox (who also designed Casa Loma). The project took almost 10 years to complete, opening in 1899, and came in at the then hefty sum of $2.5 million. It’s a huge square quad building with a central courtyard. Two types of colored stone were used in the construction: 1) grey from the Credit River Valley in Ontario, and 2) brown from New Brunswick. To give you an idea of the scale of the project, it took the equivalent of a train nine miles long to deliver all of its quarried stones. The building is known for its fine details, perhaps best seen in the exquisitely carved stone, including a number of “gargoyles” (which may in reality be “grotesques” if they don’t spout water).
When it was completed it was not only the biggest structure in Toronto, it was also the largest municipal building in North America. It was then, and still is, in the heart of city. Its clock tower is a well known local landmark and its “Romanesque Revival” architecture makes many people stop and give it a close look every single day.
In the past century Toronto grew quickly into Canada’s most populous city (and one of the largest cities in North America), so the building’s administrative space quickly became inadequate. The city’s fourth (and still currently used) City Hall opened across the street from this building in 1965, and Old City Hall then became a courthouse for the Ontario provincial government and is still used for that purpose. Old City Hall was declared a national historic site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1989.
A few more photos of beautiful Old Town Hall follow: