Toronto City Hall
It was in the middle of the afternoon on a blustery Saturday, so not really expecting to find our illustrious Mayor Ford, but since it seems he does a lot of unexpected things, you never know.
Our walk began off Queen Street at University Avenue where we spotted the old historical Campbell House. The owner of the house, Sir William Campbell was born in 1758 near Caithness Scotland. He fought with the British forces during the American Revolution but was taken prisoner at Yorkton in 1781. Three years later he was practicing law in Nova Scotia where in 1799 he was elected to the House of Assembly. He later moved to Upper Canada in 1811 and accepted a judgeship on the Court of King's Bench. He did this until 1825 when he was made Chief Justice of the Province. Four years later he received the first knight ever awarded a judge in Upper Canada. He built this brick house you see in 1822. It was originally on Adelaide where he lived but was moved in 1972 by the historical society to its present location on University.
Okay so on to the next interesting point of interest. This very ominous shrine stands right in the centre median of traffic going north and south on University. Impossible to miss, and it is in honour of the Canadians who died defending the Empire in the South African War between 1899-1902.
Moving now across the street you can see the opens gates of Osgoode Hall. This is an absolutely stunning property of law and order. It's a popular site for photographing at the 'Doors Open' in Toronto as they have a stunning library that was constructed in the famous Victorian Era.
Osgoode Hall began construction in 1829 and was named after William Osgoode, the Province's first Chief Justice. In here are the Court of Appeals and other legal and judicial offices. Years ago Osgoode Hall provided accommodations for young lawyers and students. It was severely damaged during the six years in which provincial troops were stationed following the Rebellion of 1837. Later in 1844-46 it was remodelled and new wings were constructed.
Today Osgoode Hall remains one of the first examples of Victorian Classical architecture in Canada. I've added a few night shots I took as well which show a little more of the expanse of the building. Walking through here is very nostalgic, at any time of day or night.
Once you leave the property at Osgoode, you can see the skaters off in the distance on the ice rink in the square, known as Nathan Philips Square which utilizes three quarters of the space dedicated to Nathan Phillips, who was credited with the vision to initiate the City Hall project in the first place.
Skating in the winter months has been an annual tradition of Torontonians as long as I can remember. Along with skate rentals, hot chocolate and ice that is always perfect (I still fall down...)There are constantly festivities being held at the square including the festival of lights, and of course bringing in the New Year. It is to Toronto what Times Square is to New Yorkers.
Now at last entering City Hall. There are some interesting pieces of artwork both surrounding the 12 acres of land where City Hall lives. Once you step inside the main saucer-like concourse you will immediately notice the low ceiling and wide expanse of the front foyer. This section features the podium and the council chamber which appears to float above the podium. It sits between 2 crescent shaped office towers. It's hard to believe that City Hall is now almost 50 years old now, as it opened its doors on Sept 13 1965 and instantly became Toronto's identifiable landmark. The building was way ahead of its time looking into modern architecture and was noted for its experiments with 20th century building technologies.
Its unique design was chosen from an international competition held to determine the right choice and saw a multiple of design ideas from over 500 competitors in 42 difference countries. In the end, it was an architect named Viljo Revell (1910-64) of Helsinki, Finland who won.
As of 1991, this was designated as a property of heritage significance under the Ontario Heritage Act, so even if an idea to rebuild does enter the minds of men, this place isn't going anywhere.
Just wanted to also mention Old City Hall, located at Queen at Bay Street. It is still fully functional and used as a court house now. It still has squeaky and noisy floors and hallways that echo which its massive ceilings as you can hear every footstep from your clackity high heels. Edward James Lennox was chosen as the architect. It took him three years to design it and over ten years to build it. It served as both a City Hall and a Courthouse at one time and the cost to build was more than two million dollars. It was completed by the late 1800's and at that time was the largest building in the city.
Now that the quest to find Rob Ford was over, we found plenty of Rob Ford paraphernalia, his office, and lots of photographs of him, but no Rob Ford. Not too surprising, but I think he can't be that bad of a guy: after all his office houses a fish tank in the corner and I've been told he makes a point to feed them everyday.