My Toronto Art Deco trip – part 1

This past Saturday I did something a little bit crazy: I took a 25 hour trip to Toronto and back to take pictures of Art Deco buildings and to visit the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant during Doors Open Toronto. This trip was knitting-related because I like to use Art Deco details as inspiration for my designs.

I took the Greyhound bus. The price was right and the timing and flexibility couldn’t be beat. Plus the Toronto Coach Terminal (610 Bay) happens to be an Art Deco building, so I could start taking pictures right away!

I hopped a bus in Ottawa at 1:00 am, arriving at 6:00 am in Toronto. It was 4 degrees C (39 degrees F) and I was thrilled that my last minute packing addition was a pair of fingerless mitts.

I started out inside the terminal. If you look up, you can see the same glass ceiling that was there when the building opened in December 1931. From a picture I saw on another site, the only significant change to the ceiling was the removal of a central chandelier.

The grand staircase with the shiny silver metal is still there, although the mezzanine has been mostly walled off:

And here’s what it looks like from the outside in the first rays of the morning sun:

I planned this trip out in great detail to hit the buildings that I really wanted to see that were all in a reasonable walking distance/transit distance. There were a few I couldn’t get to this time, but you have to start somewhere!

Next stop, Yonge Street. I walked south a little to have a look at the white terra cotta exterior of what is now the Hard Rock Cafe (279-283 Yonge St.). Back in 1918, it was Childs Restaurant (a New York chain) and it was designed by Childs’ New York architect, John C. Westervelt.1

It wasn’t at the top of my list, but since I was in the neighbourhood I had a look. That also applied to the next building: 340 Yonge. I wanted to see it simply because of the architect, John M. Lyle. This 1921 building is Italianate, but the architect also designed many other buildings, especially banks.

Just up the street at 380 Yonge is another John M. Lyle building. Originally a Dominion Bank, it is now a pub.

This building was of particular interest to me because of the bas relief details that include Canadian animals and plants. Check out the owls along the front:

And the cow in the doorway:

Next up was the Monetary Times Building (341 Church St.). This was built in 1930 & the architect was Joseph A. Thatcher. It’s fairly straightforward building with a few nice details:

At this point it was still not even 7:00 am. It was still chilly, but I was having no trouble taking pictures because there was very little traffic and only a few pedestrians. I’ll work my way through some more pictures & continue my tale a little later on this week.

1: Patricia McHugh, Toronto Architecture: A City Guide (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1989), 69.

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7 Responses to My Toronto Art Deco trip – part 1

  1. kmkat says:

    I love it! Boarding a bus at 1am for a whirlwind day of photographing buildings for their design inspiration — you are a dedicated artist! I look forward to seeing more of your photos.

  2. Nannie says:

    I love the owls at 380 Yonge!

  3. Amanda says:

    This is so cool! Art Deco isn’t a style that stood out to me before, but I’m starting to appreciate it through your eyes. And I love the owls, too. Actually, I think my favourite so far is the bus station.

  4. Pingback: My Toronto Art Deco Trip – part 2 | Natalie Servant Designs

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