REMEMBERING TORONTO GENERAL POST OFFICE & THE CITY’S 1ST BLACK LETTER CARRIER

The TORONTO GENERAL POST OFFICE stood where Toronto Street meets Adelaide from 1873, until the 1950‘s when it was demolished.

All that remains is Canada’s coat-of-arts removed from above the doorway, and a memorial plaque to one ALBERT JACKSON – in a Lombard Street parkette.

ALBERT JACKSON, born into slavery in Delaware in the 1850’s, became TORONTO’s first Black letter carrier and one of the few people of colour appointed a civil servant in 19th century Canada.

Jackson’s mother, Ann Maria, escaped from the United States to Canada via the Underground Railroad network after two of her sons were sold and her husband died of grief. Anna Maria and seven children arrived in TORONTO where Albert grew up and was educated.

Mr. Jackson was appointed a letter carrier on May 12, 1882. Racists within the post office refused to train him, but with some help from Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald and the Black community, he eventually delivered mail for over 30 years, and worked at the post office until his death in 1918.

Advertisements

WILL THE CLOCKTOWER OF OLD FIRE HALL #3, 484 YONGE ST. SURVIVE THE CONDO-BUILDING FRENZY?

Whatever’s left of the west side of Yonge St. from College to Grenville is on the endangered species list. That includes Old Fire Hall #3’s clock tower. The fire station itself is long gone, but the elegant little tower lives on – so far.

<PHOTO – west side of Yonge Street between College St. and Grenville, ca1950’s>

Built in 1872, the structure had a checkered career from once being a tire emporium to a hotel to Canada’s largest gay dance hall, restaurant and tavern. In 1939 a fire destroyed the whole building, but the little tower survived.

<PHOTO – the clock tower in the 1950’s; foreground future site of the Westbury Hotel>

The clock, perpetually stuck, will soon be surrounded on all sides by tall buildings.

<PHOTO – street-level businesses have all been closed>

In 2015 it was announced that Kingsett Capital was planning to transform the site into a 45 storey mixed-use condo and retail project designed by Quadrangle Architects. The centre piece would be the clock tower. Will the St. Charles Tower survive as a monument to gay culture in TORONTO? We can only wait and see.

BLACK CREEK PIONEER VILLAGE WILL BE REACHABLE BY SUBWAY IN LATE 2017 OR EARLY 2018

It’s been a long time coming, but soon subway trains will be on their way to one of Canada’s finest heritage villages. Surrounded by development, Black Creek Pioneer Village is a living tribute to the TORONTO Region’s roots, with architecture dating as far back as the 1790’s.

On-site there are 40 buildings considered to be amongst the oldest in TORONTO and its surroundings.  Inside several of them, interpreters and artisans in period costume describe life as it was lived in pioneer Canada.

BLACK CREEK PIONEER VILLAGE is open daily from May 1 to December 23.  It’s located in TORONTO’s north-west end, at 1000 Murray Ross Parkway near the intersection of Jane Street and Steeles Avenue.

GETTING THERE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT – subway to FINCH STATION, then take the Steeles bus #60 westbound; or from JANE SUBWAY STATION use the Jane bus #35.

<PHOTOS ABOVE – the new Black Creek Pioneer Village subway station, designed by Will Alsop –  TTC and Jack Landau/UrbanToronto>

The Village website – https://blackcreek.ca

‘OLGA’, THE SIKORSKY SKYCRANE PLACES 39-SECTION ANTENNA ATOP INCOMPLETE CN TOWER, 1975

From the CTV News collection in the City of TORONTO Archives – the Evergreen Sikorsky Skycrane puts on the last piece of the 39-section broadcast antenna atop the incomplete CN Tower – April 2/1975.  The helicopter’s official model number was N6962R – known locally as ‘Olga’.

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO’S SOLDIER’S TOWER, 1924, IS DEDICATED TO 1,185 WHO DIED IN TWO WORLD WARS

The Soldier’s Tower on the St. George Campus commemorates those who lost their lives while fighting in WWI and WW2. It’s Canada’s second tallest war memorial after the Peace Tower in Ottawa.  Designed by Hart House architects Henry Sproatt and Ernest Rolph, the Tower is built of grey ashlar stone amd trimmed with limestone.

The Memorial Room sits directly above the archway and is open to the public. It contains artifacts focused on the U of T’s wartime service, and the names of those who lost their lives.

The Memorial Room stained-glass window is based on John McCrae’s poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. It was dedicated in 1995. Eight additional windows honour the wartime services of the Canadian Forces.

Built by the British firm Gillett and Johnston, the tower clock’s original 23 bells were replaced in 1976 by the current 51-bell carillon. The 51 bells span four octaves and range in weight from 23 pounds to 4 tons.  <PHOTO – clock face mechanism>

The bells are played using an organ-like console.

Bridging the gap between University College and the Soldiers’ Tower is the Memorial Screen, displaying the names of the 627 who died in the First World War. Students walking under the tower through the Memorial Archway pass by the engraved names of the 557 university members who lost their lives in World War II.

1 SPADINA CRESCENT TO BE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO’S LANDSCAPE/ARCHITECTURE/DESIGN BUILDING

<One Spadina Crescent as it was two years ago>

One Spadina Crescent, with its Gothic towers and long history, is getting yet another lease on life after a career as Knox College, World War I barracks, a penicillin factory, an eye bank, a veterans hospital, a library, pathology lab and several departments within the University of Toronto.

Amelia Earhart once worked here as a nurse’s aide until she contracted influenza, and there’s been at least one murder within the building. It was nearly demolished in the 1960’s to make way for the (canceled) Spadina Expressway.

Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design is now rehabilitating the historic structure and adding a modern extension on the back.

The extension will contain lecture rooms, research facilities, a green roof testing lab, design studios, a fabrication lab and the Global Cities Institute.

<PHOTO – looking down on One Spadina Crescent prior to the renovation>