Old City Hall inToronto

Unlocking the Secrets of Toronto’s Old City Hall: A Free Historical Adventure

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Step into a world of architectural grandeur and rich history with a complimentary visit to Toronto’s Old City Hall. This iconic landmark, a masterpiece of Richardsonian Romanesque style, offers a unique glimpse into the city’s past. Marvel at the intricate stone carvings, the majestic clock tower, and the stunning interior that narrates stories from a bygone era. Perfect for history enthusiasts and casual explorers alike, this free activity is a must-see for anyone looking to experience Toronto’s cultural heritage.


  • Design Competition: The City of Toronto held an international competition in 1885 to design a courthouse, won by Edward James Lennox.
  • Construction: Began in 1889, combining the functions of a city hall and courthouse.
  • Architectural Style: Richardsonian Romanesque, influenced by Henry Hobson Richardson.
  • Completion: The building was completed in 1899 after various challenges, including cost overruns and scandals.

Exterior Features:

  • Materials: Sandstone from Credit Valley and New Brunswick.
  • Design Elements: A clock tower with gargoyles, a central courtyard, triple-arched entrance, and steeply pitched copper roofs.
  • Carvings: Intricate stone carvings, including caricatures of councillors who opposed Lennox.

Interior Highlights:

  • Staircase: A divided staircase with marble treads and bronze and iron detailing.
  • Stained-Glass Window: An allegorical window by Robert McCausland.
  • Council Chamber: Features a stunning gallery.
  • Other Elements: Mosaic floor, city crest doorknobs, wrought-iron grotesques, and painted murals.

Interesting Facts:

  • Cost: The final cost was $2.5 million.
  • Preservation: Saved from demolition in the 1960s by “Friends of Old City Hall.”
  • Heritage Status: Received heritage status in 1973 and became a National Historic Site in 1984.
  • Current Use: Serves as a courthouse for the Ontario Court of Justice.

Haunted Tales:

  • Courtroom 33: Rumored to be haunted by the spirits of the last two men sentenced to capital punishment in Canada in 1962.
  • Other Paranormal Activities: Reports of footsteps, tugging on judges’ robes, and moans in the cellars.

Did You Know?

  • First City Hall: The first City Hall was a market building at King St E and Jarvis St.
  • Second City Hall: Located at Front and Jarvis Sts, now the site of St Lawrence Market South.
  • EJ Lennox’s Legacy: Known as “the Builder of Toronto,” Lennox designed many heritage buildings including Casa Loma and King Edward Hotel.

This visit offers a blend of architectural admiration, historical exploration, and a touch of paranormal intrigue, making it a fascinating and free activity in Toronto.

For more information: Old City Hall – One of Toronto’s Finest & Most Majestic Buildings (torontojourney416.com)

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