On our way home from the market last week, we passed this building that I’ve walked by many times before (located at 16 Ryerson Avenue, just East of Bathurst Street and north of Queen Street West). But this time I took a photo because they had their Canadian flag out in honour of Canada Day on July 1st.
When I got home, I began wondering about it. How old was this building? What had it been originally? What other such buildings were still standing among the shiny new structures in the city? I looked it up and came upon a wiki-list of old buildings that remain in Toronto, ordered from the oldest to newer.
A few days later I went back to this particular building (which I couldn’t find on the list … adding it may become my first contribution to Wikipedia!) and saw this plaque which I hadn’t noticed before.
This building has been classified as a heritage site, so it can never be torn down, and was built as a bakery and stables in 1902. It is currently owned by a theatre troupe called Theatre Passe Muraille, who have a very interesting story themselves. They bought the building in 1976 and converted it into two stages. Read more about them here
Theatre Passe Muraille
Going through the list I saw many places that I’ve passed in daily life, without taking note of the significance of the building. Whenever I travel to other cities I take interest in the historical significance of the sites I visit, but here in my own city, I just walk on by. Now I’ve become quite intrigued by such old buildings and intend to make a project of visiting and really looking at them.
It is true that our buildings in Toronto are not that old when compared to those in many other great cities around the world, as Toronto is a relatively young city, having been incorporated in 1834 with a population of 9,254. To put it in perspective, London was a city of 50,000 people in 1530, and New York City was significant enough to have served as the capital city of The United States from 1785 to 1790, with a population of 33,000. Also, effecting the age of the buildings in the part of the city that was first developed, was “The Great Fire of Toronto, in 1904, which burned many of the earliest buildings in the core of the city to the ground. With this in mind, I acknowledge that the historic buildings in Toronto are not that old, but I hope you will find my exploration of them interesting none the less.