Canadian Architect

News

First parliament site now public


October 16, 2003
by Lydia Dumyn

The City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and the private owner of the site of Upper Canada’s first parliament buildings have reached an accord to restore the important heritage area back into public ownership. In September of this year, the area was slotted for construction of a Porsche dealership franchise after approval of the construction was given to the company by the Ontario Municipal Board in 2002. Located near the intersection of Front Street East and Berkeley Street in the heart of what is known as the Old Town of Toronto, it was not until 2000 that archaeological investigations confirmed the 265 Front Street East property as a principal piece the past. This is not the end of the land acquisition issue. Plans to purchase the adjacent property at Berkley and Front Streets, the site of the second parliament building, are currently in the works. The future of the buildings, which may include hologram replication or rebuilding for educational purposes and tourism, will be decided under the auspices of the Ontario Heritage Foundation. The site not only contained the first parliament but also a War of 1812 blockhouse, a mid-Victorian prison and one of the city’s first gas plants. It may also have contained the remains of Aboriginal campsites due to its proximity to the original waterfront and two watersheds.