Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vanished Toronto - the Trinity College

To follow the previous post on Trinity Bellwoods...

I think it could be interesting to cover buildings and heritage from Toronto that are no more standing in our city. I will call this "Vanished Toronto". I know, very original!

So, back on the Trinity College, here a picture on the top showing the school as it was in 1929. Nowadays, the tennis court of the Trinity Bellwoods are were the foundation are... deep in the ground. I saw somwehre that there is A LOT remaining of the base of the school, because they had to fill the creek  to make it equal with Queen St.

Back to the origins of its story...

The old Garrison Creek emptied into Lake Ontario at the site of Fort York, and the land north and west of the fort was set aside as a military reserve. As the town of York grew around the fort, the military reserve was gradually sold off in lots to retiring British officers and friends of the military command. British Army Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Smith is said to have bought 1000 acres (4 km²) of land here in 1801, which he called Gore Vale after Lieutenant-Governor Francis Gore; the Vale in the name referring to Garrison Creek ravine.

Much of the current park land was originally purchased from a Mrs. Cameron of Gore Vale in 1851 by Scottish-Canadian Bishop John Strachan, an influential Anglican deacon who wanted Toronto to have a private school with strong Anglican ties, partly in opposition to the recently secularized University of Toronto. Buildings were soon constructed and students began attending Trinity College in 1852. After federation with the University of Toronto in 1904 and completion of the downtown Trinity campus in 1925, the school left this location. The original buildings were then sold to the City of Toronto and most were demolished in the early 1950s. Of the college itself, only the stone and iron gates now remain, at the Queen Street park entrance facing south on Strachan Avenue, although the former St. Hilda's College building, (the women's residence of Trinity College) still overlooks the northern half of the park on the western edge. It is now a seniors' residence, John Gibson House.

In the 1950s Garrison Creek was entirely buried and the creek ravine backfilled around the Crawford Street Bridge, raising the surface of the northern end of the park to almost the height of Dundas Street. The steep drop from this upper level to the lower part of the park has become a popular local toboggan run in winter. Picnic tables and small barbecues are also provided here for summertime use, and public washroom facilities.


  1. It looks almost identical to one of the buildings on U of T. I will need to go look at the remaining 'womens residence', and see what it looks like now. Very interesting story....

  2. That's because they copied the Trinity College when they were merged. They really wanted to have a building that would include the identity of the Trinity.

    I think it was a pretty good idea!

  3. This is the copy...the orginal Trinty had a chapel on the east side which is not seen in this photo from 1929 meaning that this is the present building at UofT.

    The present building got a chapel around the late 50's as a gift and it was built on the west side but to a new design...