FAMED VAULTS The Hockey Hall of Fame, a public hommage to Canada’s favourite past time, which opened in 1993, is housed in the former head office of the Bank of Montreal. Built in 1885, the bank continued to operate until 1982 when a new branch was opened at King and Bay streets.
ARCHITECTURAL MARVEL Created by Jacques Carlu—who was also behind New York’s famed Rainbow Room—the self-named The Carlu (College Park, 444 Yonge St., 7th floor, 416-597-1931) is a National Historic Site and one of the best surviving examples of Art Moderne architecture in the world. Built in 1931, the grand concert hall closed in the 1970s but re-opened again on May 1, 2003 as a special events venue.
A HISTORICAL FEAST Tony Rosewater Supper Club‘s contemporary cuisine is served daily in the former head offices of the Consumer Gas Company, which was Toronto’s chief supplier of gas for decades. Originally built in 1852, two additions were made, one in the 1870s and a second in 1899 done in the Renaissance style.
THE TRADING FLOOR Canada’s design museum, the Design Exchange, was once the hub of business in the city, operating as the Toronto Stock Exchange. The Art Deco facade features a rare bas-relief frieze of Canadian workers across granite and limestone.
FROM BARLEY TO THE BARD Two British brother-in-laws, James Worts and William Gooderham built the complex that is today known as the Distillery Historic District. In its hey day, it was a 47-building complex that was the largest distillery in the British Empire. Later additions to the business included the offices located along Mill Street and the Pure Spirits Building. Today, the area is a fine and performing arts cultural complex, boasting numerous galleries and the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, home of the Soulpepper Theatre Company.
ALL ABOARD The significance of Steam Whistle Brewery‘s name is twofold. The three founding members of the brewery were originally inspired by the sound of steam rushing from factory whistles which signalled the end of a workday and time for a reward. When they discovered that the site of their new brewery, the John St. Roundhouse, originally served as a locomotive repair facility for the Canadian Pacific Rail, it seemed like fate.
ORDER IN THE COURT As you tuck into the Nova Scotia lobster or the butternut squash risotto at the Courthouse Market Grille, consider the many judicial acts and verdicts that have been handed down in the very same room. Built in the mid-19th-century, this building originally served as the York County Court House—a holding cell still remains visible—and the home of the York County Council.
THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is the only remaining double-decker theatre complex in the world that continues to serve its original function. The theatres were designed before the First World War as a venue for vaudeville and silent films, but the introduction of talking pictures during the 1930s made this function obsolete. In 1981, the Ontario Heritage Foundation restored the theatre to its former glory at a cost of more than $29 million, and today, live shows are staged here regularly.
FROM VINYL TO CDS The pair of larger-than-life neon records that loom over the corner of Yonge and Victoria streets is one of the most recognizable Canadian landmarks. Sam the Record Man is a living monument to the Canadian music scene, which has seen the debut of many up-and-coming performers who have gone onto worldwide success including Gordon Lightfoot and Anne Murray.
EXIT STAGE LEFT While some of the city’s buildings aren’t historical unto themselves, some great moments that will forever be etched into the history books have occured within them. One such moment was the defecton of Mikhail Baryshnikov from the then Republic of the Soviet Union. In 1974, while touring with the Bolshoi, a Russian ballet troupe, Baryshnikov bolted from the centre stage doors of the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts (1 Front St. E., 416-393-7469)—then known as the O’Keefe Centre—into an awaiting getaway car which drove off down The Esplanade. The world-renowned dancer later sought political asylum in Toronto and remained sequestered in Canada for several years.To learn more about the architectural history of some of Toronto’s architectural gems, see 10 Famed Facades.—Linda Luong