61Opposite: King Street, south side, looking east in 1856. Churchstreet intersects at upper left. Photographer: Armstrong, Beereand Hime. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1498, Item 2. Below: One of Toronto's must stunning views. At left, a squareportion of Toronto's first City Hall is encased by the later St. Lawrence Market building. Photo by Gary Miedema.
62to the early 1840s and still on their original foundations, havea look at the houses built for blacksmith and landlord PaulBishop on the southeast corner of Sherbourne and AdelaideStreets. How about a Georgian commercial streetscape fromthe 1830s? Walk along the south side of King Street betweenJarvis and George Streets. Up on Adelaide Street, betweenGeorge and Frederick, are two early landmarks --the Bank ofUpper Canada (1827) and Toronto's First Post Office (1833),the latter a lovely functioning post office and museum withfree admission to the public and well worth a visit.Though constructed roughly a decade after Dickens' visit, thebeautiful St. Lawrence Hall and St. James Cathedral gracethe same block on King Street East between Jarvis andChurch. They are heritage landmarks of great importance tothis city. And down on Front Street, the centre portion ofToronto's first purpose-built City Hall remains embedded inthe St. Lawrence Market, itself a destination for everyonevisiting the area. Established in 1803, the Market was ratedearlier this year by National Geographic as the top foodmarket in the world.But that's not where the Old Town story ends. The area'sproximity to shipping along the waterfront, and after the1850s to the railways as well, made the Old Town a primelocation for the growth of industry. Factory and warehousebuildings replaced others, and a good number still stretchalong today's King Street East. Mr. Christie's cookie factory,for example, is now George Brown College. South of Front,much of the area was dominated by Consumers Gas Company.Its remaining buildings have been beautifully renovated into apolice station and homes for the Canadian Stage Companyand the Canadian Opera Company. Only a block away is theDistillery District, the amazingly preserved cluster of 19thcentury industrial buildings that once belonged to Gooderhamand Worts.Toronto's Old Town continues to evolve. New condominiumshave risen behind and among the heritage buildings, and shopfronts now house numerous restaurants and high design storesfor the home. For the duration of the 200th anniversary of theWar of 1812, the Ontario Heritage Trust has created a War of1812 Visitors Centre at Berkeley and Front Streets, on the siteof Ontario's first purpose-built Parliament Buildings whichwere burned by the Americans in 1813.Today, perhaps more than ever, Toronto's Old Town is "full oflife and motion, bustle, business and improvement." Best ofall, its treasures, stretched out over two centuries, all liewithin the distance of a few city blocks.Gary Miedema is Chief Historian and Associate Director of Heritage Toronto. On October 9, 2012,Heritage Toronto's William Kilbourn Memorial Lecture will be presented by Chief Bryan LaForme ofthe Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation on the Mississaugas' relationship to Toronto fromthe War of 1812 to the present. The lecture is presented with the Heritage Toronto Awards. For ticketinformation, visit www.heritagetoronto.org or call the Koerner Hall Box Office at 416 408 0208.On King Street, rows of attached brick shopfronts emerged. For much of the 19th century,the main street of Toronto was King Street East.Top: A row of King Street shops, circa 1830s-1840s.Bottom: Inside St. Lawrence Market, with the rear wall of the former City Hall above.Photos by Gary Miedema.