Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Thursday, May 23, 2013

No Gothic whimsy

left wing
I spent a lovely afternoon recently in the eye of the hurricane that is Queen Street, west of Nathan Philips Square. The peaceful idyll was achieved by navigating the 'cow gates' into the lawn of the imposing Osgoode Hall. The 'cow gates' (I thank Eric Arthur for the term, discovered in 'No Mean City') and the lovely iron palisades were cast in 1866 in a Toronto foundry, from moulds imported from Scotland. The intricate 'kissing gate' variation was necessary to prevent free-range downtown cattle from destroying the august lawns and solemn dignity of the place.

right wing

 Arthur expands with all sorts of architectural grumbling about the place, which I do not intend to let colour my first impressions. Cold. Classical. Imposing. Not at all eclectic and amusing like much Victorian architecture.

The bit to the right was built first. Arthur quotes someone as saying the ends (brick with stone porticoes) look English, the centre, French (a bit of Versailles transplanted to muddy York)
centre bit - Versailles inspired
roof bits
 Though I'm not especially fond of Classically inspired architecture (the OHT plaque describes Osgoode as "one of the finest examples of Victorian Classical architecture in Canada" ...specifically Georgian Palladian and Neoclassical styles), it is a feast for the eye. And a nice spot to step away from the chaos of downtown Toronto.

What is Osgoode Hall? I thought it was a law school, but they left the building in 1969. Still likely to run into a lawyer - the National Historic Site houses the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Ontario Court of Appeal, and the Superior Court of Justice. Any free legal advice going?

front door

nice porch
the 'hood

1 comment:

  1. The iron fence was reconstructed in the 1970s, some parts were recast and the vertical poles were replaced with dark stainless steel. The repairs cost $1.5 million.