Thursday I set out to visit MacKenzie House and arrived there at 11:00 and to my consternation and also because I should have checked they didn't open until noon.
What to do? Skip it and come back another day or wait it out. Even though I'm retired I still work on a imaginary schedule and this would put me an hour behind. I took some photos outside in case I decided to come back another time.
Mackenzie House is a late-Georgian Greek Revival row-house located at 82 Bond Street in downtown Toronto. The house is significant for its connection to William Lyon Mackenzie, the city’s first mayor and a radical journalist and political reformer. The Bond Street residence was purchased by Mackenzie’s friends and supporters, and presented to him in 1859. Mackenzie lived at Bond Street until his death in 1861, and his family continued to reside in the house until 1871.
Mackenzie House was part of a three-house Georgian terrace built between 1856 and 1858 whose design is attributed to the architect William Rogers. The building has undergone a number of major renovations over time, although the house has retained many of its original exterior features. These include the tall rectangular façade, the Greek key frieze, a Flemish bond brick front, a garden front, and an “acanthus leaf” patterned iron gate. The entrance doorway is also original, and comprises nine-foot-tall single panel doors trimmed with egg and dart wood moulding and a large transom window.
So I decided to walk around the neighbourhood as I don't know it very well.
Down by St. MIchael's on the hope it would be open, nope, it is under heavy, huge renovations.
This yellow-brick building at 200 Church Street, a short distance north of Shuter Street, is one of the oldest residences in the city. The building is often referred to as “The Bishop’s Palace” or “St Michael’s Palace, but it is actually the rectory for St. Michael’s Cathedral on Bond Street. The rectory was erected in 1845, the same year that construction began on the Cathedral, and was built as the residence for the Catholic Bishops and Archbishops of Toronto. The architect was William Thomas (1799-1860), one of Toronto’s finest architects. He designed the Don Jail and the St. Lawrence Hall. In Niagara-on-the-Lake, he was the architect of the Court House, which now houses one of the theatres of the Shaw Festival. Thomas also designed the Brock Monument at Queenston Heights.
We'll see William Thomas' home in a few moments.
NOW is a free alternative newspaper in Toronto.
I had spotted a building on my way to the House so walked up to see what it was and found myself on the campus of Ryerson University. I knew a few of their buildings along Dundas such as this one which I featured in a walk last year.
I didn't realize many of its buildings were located east of Yonge St. and housed in historic old homes like this one.
It was designed by architect William Thomas (mentioned above) as his own residence and office and completed in 1848.
Today it is the middle of and owned by Ryerson University. The upper level consists of a cafe used by students and faculty, while the lower level is home to a student pub.
Ryerson University, Canada's leading centre of applied, professional education, was founded in 1948 as Ryerson Institute of Technology.
Adolphus Egerton Ryerson was born on March 24, 1803 into a prominent loyalist family in Charlotteville, Norfolk County, in what is now southwestern Ontario. His father, Joseph Ryerson, served on the British side in the American Revolutionary War and also participated, along with his three eldest sons, in the War of 1812. Egerton’s youth prevented him from following in their footsteps and he concentrated instead on his studies –he was an avid reader of the classics– and on a deeply religious training fostered by his father’s Anglican conservatism and his mother’s Methodist radicalism. Forced to chose between the two, he converted to Methodism (much to his father’s chagrin) and left the family homestead at the age of 18.
To say that Egerton Ryerson was an important figure in the development of Methodism and the promotion of religious freedom in nineteenth-century Canada would be a severe understatement. Ryerson started out as a saddle-bag preacher and itinerant minister who rode daily, on horse-back, throughout the Church’s Niagara circuit, delivering countless sermons and even living and working with the Ojibway Indians of the Credit River settlement as a missionary. In 1829, as an increasingly vocal proponent of the rights of Methodists and other non-conformist religious groups, he helped found the influential newspaper, the Christian Guardian, and served as its intermittent editor for eleven years.
As politics and religion were inextricably linked in the 19th Century, it is not surprising that Egerton Ryerson played an equally significant and active role on the Canadian political scene, especially with regard to the Clergy Reserves, which had been set aside by the Constitutional Act of 1791 and were then in the exclusive and powerful hands of the Church of England. Ryerson fought for the secularization of the Reserves and for other reforms, alongside such figures as William Lyon Mackenzie. He opposed Mackenzie’s radical philosophy and violent methods, however, and emerged as a lifelong moderate and non-partisan voice in the struggle for equality of opportunity within the confines of the law.
Interesting that I set out to see MacKenzie's house today and he is mentioned here.
It is named after Egerton Ryerson, the founder of public education in Ontario, and is located on the site of the first Normal School in Ontario.Ryerson Community Park includes a landscaped quadrangle, a reflecting pond that becomes a skating rink in winter, and several green spaces that provide welcome relief from the urban setting.
A lovely park accessed through this arch.
From the moment the Normal School at St. James Square opened, it never stopped growing and transforming. Maintenance to the school’s infrastructure was frequent from the 1860s and on. Changes were also made to the east front of the building in 1882 to accommodate the Ontario School of Art and Design and an iron fence was added to the property ten years later. By 1896, a third storey was added to the South block of the Normal School which provided spacious halls with archways and allowed for its use as art and picture galleries. The new storey also allowed space for an auditorium.
As it looked.
The year 1941 marked the Normal and Model Schools buildings’ end as such and the government of Ontario offered the buildings for a federal-provincial war training centre – Dominion-Provincial War Emergency Training Program – in support of the Second World War. Also on site was the No. 6 Initial Training Centre of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Prefabricated buildings also were built.
The Normal and Model schools were relocated to the Earl Kitchener Public School in East York for the remainder of the war. Without discussion, the change was made and the Normal School was eventually renamed Toronto Teachers College.
After the war, the building was renamed yet again and it became the Toronto Training and Re-establishment Institute for people who had served in the war. The program ceased in 1948 and the institute became the Ryerson Institute of Technology with Howard Kerr as its founder. The building once known as the Normal School became Ryerson Hall in memory of Egerton Ryerson.
The façade of the Normal School reminds us of our school’s journey from a normal and model school to a polytechnic institute to a university. It remains as a beautiful mark of architecture and is still in use as the entrance to the Ryerson University Recreation and Athletics Centre.
Around the park.
Now to the original purpose of my outing!
Quick overview of William Lyon Mackenzie
William Lyon Mackenzie, journalist, politician (born 12 March 1795 in Dundee, Scotland; died 28 August 1861 in Toronto, ON). A journalist, Member of the Legislative Assembly, first mayor of Toronto and a leader of the Rebellions of 1837, Mackenzie was a central figure in pre-Confederation political life.
An interesting addition to the grounds are the side panels of the Memorial Arch that once stood at the foot of the Honeymoon Bridge in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Built in 1930s, the arch was demolished in 1960s and the panels stored until it was moved to Toronto in 1974. It is installed in an area next to the historic home.
A recreated printing shop was added in 1967. Replications of his various newspapers can be found here. You can also get a chance to typeset your name and print a document with it.
The man above would be the tour guide, extremely knowledgeable but oh how he liked to talk!!!
It would take ninety minutes to cover the house which is not very big.
The first three floors are divided into two major rooms as well as an additional small room in the basement and on the second floor.
The first floor are for receiving company, a dining room and a sitting room.
None of the furniture down here is original to the Mackenzie family. But it has been furnished with the correct pieces of its time. They knew, for example, from his papers that this was the type of piano he rented for his daughters to learn to play.
William Lyon Mackenzie (1795 – 1861) immigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1820, and was joined by his mother, son, and future wife, Isabel Baxter (1805 - 1873) two years later. Mackenzie became active in local politics soon after his arrival in Upper Canada. William was first and foremost a newspaper editor and writer; he had been employed as a writer for a local newspaper in Scotland, and he continued to express his social and political philosophies in this medium throughout the course of his life. In 1824 Mackenzie began to publish the Colonial Advocate, a political newspaper that he used as a platform to criticize his opponents and outline his concerns about the lack of responsible government in the colony. In later years William launched new publications, including The Constitution, Mackenzie’s Gazette, and Mackenzie’s Weekly Message, and also worked as a writer and editor for additional newspapers both in Canada and the United States. In 1828 he was elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly, a position he held a number of different times over the next twenty years.
William Mackenzie was the first mayor in the province of Ontario, and one of its most controversial political figures. He was deeply critical of the colonial government, and led the Upper Canada Rebellion in December 1837. The Rebellion was intended as a show of force in favour of political reform. After the Rebellion’s failure Mackenzie was forced to escape to the United States, where he was joined by Isabel and their children. The Mackenzies lived in exile for the next twelve years until the Government granted a General Amnesty to all participants of the Rebellion in 1849. The family returned to Toronto in 1850, and in 1851 William was re-elected to the Assembly. Mackenzie worked as a politician for another seven years, and he continued to publish his own newspaper until 1860.
This very low chair was likely used in a nursery for a mother to watch her crawling babies. It would be easy to sit modestly and still be able to reach down.
This was all hand embroidered by his daughter Janet.
The girls' bedroom.
An example of the hoops worn at the time.
A petticoat to go over the hoop.
The raised English basement was built partially underground, with full-sized windows that provide a great deal of natural light. The house was supplied with piped gas, and gas lighting was originally installed in the parlours, the hallway, the main staircase, and the bedrooms.
They employed one irish Catholic servant Catherine Byrns who attended St. Michael's Cathedral. She was married there and her children were christened there as well.
The gas-lights were extended to the basement dayroom and kitchen during twentieth-century restorations, and all areas of the historic house now have functioning gasoliers. Here is the guide demonstrating how to turn the gas on.