ONTARIO PLACE opened in 1971 as TORONTO’s way of importing some of MONTREAL’s Expo67 magic. Pods, bridges, Cinesphere – the first IMAX cinema anywhere, patio restaurants, water slides, swan boats, concerts at the Forum . . . it was nearly all free.
These days things are looking more than a bit rundown. Some locals see demolition in the future of ONTARIO PLACE, and believe there’s a good chance a casino is in the works. After all this is the primest of prime lakefront development property.
DOUG FORD’s recently appointed chair of ONTARIO PLACE is all for demolition. “It’s disgraceful,” he says. “Everything is in complete disrepair, there is nothing that can be saved. It can be rebuilt in any way that Ford wants it to be rebuilt.” (Whatever it is, you can be sure it won’t be free.)
With the Goths at the gate, here’s a look at ONTARIO PLACE in the golden years of 1970 through the 90’s. Photos are from the City of Toronto Archives.
AND WHAT OF THE FUTURE? We can only wait and see.
<The image above, was taken from atop the Canadian Pacific Railroad Bridge, looking toward Shaftesbury Avenue along Yonge in the Summerhill neighborhood. Along both sides – a strip of Rosedale shops. The Rosedale Hotel sign is on the far right – and that was the clue.>
<This photo is closer to Shaftesbury Avenue, looking south toward the Canadian Pacific Railroad Bridge fading in the distance. The bridge is still there and so are some of the buildings. Again the Rosedale Hotel sign shows up – on the left.>
<ABOVE – the last run of a streetcar on Yonge was the day the subway opened. That’s it passing through Davisville.>
<PHOTOS – City of TORONTO Archives/Sidewalk Labs>
The CP Railroad Bridge, still in use by freight trains, accommodates Summerhill’s blue Christmas tree annually. The clock tower on the left and the building below, formerly a train station, is now an up-scale LCBO liquor store.
Financier HENRY PELLATT (1859-March 8/1939), shown above on the right at a military event, commissioned architect E. J. LENNOX and hired 300 workers to create the largest private residence in Canada.
<Black & white photos – City of TORONTO Archives & Sidewalk Labs>
Among the amenities – 98 rooms, an electric elevator, a massive oven, a central vacuum, two secret passages, stables, three bowling alleys, a swimming pool and shooting range (both unfinished), a telephone in almost every room – and an estimated 50 servants to run the place.
Construction ended in 1914 – just in time for World War One.
<The Palm Room, 1911>
<The Conservatory as it is today, by JOHN VETTERLI>
<CASA LOMA in the winter of 1917>
<THE STABLES, reachable by tunnel from the castle>
<The approach to Casa Loma’s stables and gardens, 1908>
By 1933, the city had seized Casa Loma for approximately $30,000 Mr. Pellatt owed in back taxes. He would die almost penniless, less than six years later in the home he shared with his former chauffeur. He and his wife, Lady Mary Pellatt (first Chief Commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada), had managed to live in the castle for just one decade.
<The OAK ROOM, most decorated room in the house, 2018, photo by DENNIS JARVIS>
<THE LIBRARY, 1914>
These days CASA LOMA is a museum, landmark & special events venue, open to the public year ‘round. Operated by the City of TORONTO, the castle and stables remain one of our city’s most popular tourist attractions. HENRY PELLATT’s name lives on. Also, several well-to-do neighbourhoods have grown up around the castle. It’s become quite the prestige address.
Subway stop – DUPONT, and then walk northwest uphill, or ST. CLAIR subway stop, and then streetcar #512 westbound to Spadina Road, and walk south.
BLOUIN Art Info – “maybe four decades have gone by, but “Hair”, the movie seems to be a story as fresh as it was when first released. The 1979 anti-war drama film was based on the 1968 Broadway musical “Hair: An American Tribal Love-Rock Musical”.
<PHOTO ABOVE – the Canadian cast of “HAIR”at TORONTO’s Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1969. The musical ran for 52 sold-out weeks, complete with the controversial nude scene>
“HAIR”, live onstage until February 2/2019 – at the Hart House Theatre, University of TORONTO. The original rock musical celebrates its 50th anniversary at a time of new-found social justice movements and civil unrest.
When a tribe of freedom-loving hippies is confronted with the realities of war and an oppressive government hell-bent on conflict, they become even more committed to their ideals of freedom, liberty from social shackles and the space to form individual expression…through “long, beautiful Hair”
Website and tickets – http://www.harthousetheatre.ca
<PHOTO by Alan Rowe>
“December 13th/2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Prince Edward Viaduct, which spans the Don Valley, connecting Bloor Street East with the Danforth. To those who cross it or drive under it, the viaduct has an air of immutable solidity.” – @tophotolaureate
“During the three-year construction period, the site presented a very different aspect – messy, chaotic and raw.” – @tophotolaureate
The Viaduct opened in 1918 minus the “luminous veil” (which was created to prevent suicides). The bridge, which crosses the Don Valley, carries the Bloor-Danforth subway, four lanes of traffic, and two sidewalks into (what once was) the village of Danforth.
<PRINCE EDWARD VIADUCT, hand-tinted lantern slide by WILLIAM JAMES, 1926; City of TORONTO Archives>
<The Viaduct in 2018, with suicide prevention’s illuminated “Shimmering Veil” on both sides>