A Date With Julie and James in the Oldest Brick House in the City


In my last post, after introducing you to my friend Julie’s cute baby James, I mentioned that the three of us were set to go out together the following afternoon. This post is about what we did.

I was treated to a great afternoon, that included lunch inside a building that I’ve always wanted to see the inside of — The Grange.


Built in 1817, The Grange is the oldest brick house still standing in Toronto. Situated directly to the south of the AGO, its location, right beside the art gallery, is no coincidence. Rather the AGO is where it is because of this mansion, as it was the home of Toronto’s first major gallery, after having been bequeathed for that purpose in 1902. The Art Gallery of Toronto, (as it was called then), remained inside The Grange until the larger structure was built in its backyard sometime in the early 70s.

(If you’re interested in knowing more about its history, here is their wiki page, and here’s a post in which I included several shots of the outside of it.)

Today, The Grange is connected to the AGO by a passageway, and operates as a lounge and restaurant for gallery members and their guests. There are also some administrative offices on the upper floor.

I’ve lived downtown since I was a teen, and have passed this beautiful building hundreds of times, but I’ve never had the chance to go inside. So, I was excited when Julie invited me to have lunch there on Thursday. Of course, I was excited to see baby James and Julie too!

Having been a family home for 85 years, then an art gallery for 70 years, and then an extension of a larger gallery for another 44 years, the place has inevitably seen some renovations and alterations during its 199 year lifetime, but you can certainly still see many of its original features still intact. In fact, the library, which was added to the original home in 1885, remains decorated very much like it would have originally been. Visitors can take a peek at it through some glass doors.


↑ April 2016 ↑

↑ December 1909 ↑







↑ The adjacent park was being renovated – (more about that at the end of the post) ↑

Here’s a watercolour of the building and park painted in 1875 …


And here’s a photograph of it in 1907, shortly after it had become The Art Gallery of Toronto …


Here’s taken a few years later in 1910, showing visitors approaching the gallery. The house was already 90 years old by then …


While the building in which it is housed, may be very old, the offerings on the menu were fresh and modern sounding (see it here). After a bit of deliberation, I went with the Mushroom Tartine, described as “balsamic glazed mushroom, soft-boiled egg, brie, market greens”. Julie chose the Grilled Artichoke & Grains, “broccolini, beluga lentil, quinoa, beet, almonds, red pepper coulis”. The meal was delicious.




Following our lunch, we re-entered the art gallery and headed to the special exhibit currently on, called The Outsiders.


↑ The back of The Grange, as seen through the glass wall of the AGO ↑

This was a welcomed repeat look at this show for me — I previously wrote about it in this post.

With over 300 photographs on display, there were many of them I hadn’t noticed before, but I will admit that a highlight for me was carrying James, who would rather have enjoyed the art from the vantage point of someone’s arms, than from inside his stroller. Although, he looked pretty happy in there at first …


After looking at the photographs, we quickly checked out a few other things, as we wound our way back to the entrance, because, by then, we’d already been at the gallery for four hours. It was amazing how quickly that time flew by.



↑ Julie might be looking at this picture and thinking, “Hold it … I didn’t take that”. And she’d be right … while a diaper change was going on in the washroom, I exchanged picture taking with some students who wanted a photo in front of those frames, which date back to the 1600s (I think).” ↑

And what a good baby James is … during the afternoon, he had a couple of naps in his stroller, lots of cuddles for me and his mom, and barely a moment of crying! He’s a real delight.

I walked home via the back way, to get a look at The Grange from the outside. As we’d noticed through the windows, the park south of it is currently undergoing a complete revitalization (which you can read all about in this article at The Star.


So it was all fenced in and I couldn’t get near enough to get a good shot, but you can still see it there.


I’ll be sure to follow up this post with a look at the park once it’s all done.

Thanks for checking out what I’ve been up to. I hope you’re having a great week!
xo loulou