Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Silhouettes in the Shade

"Surely a trip to Toronto would have inspired a few posts," hinted regular reader Brenda.
And she's right. A fabulous day in a fabulous city, and not a lot to show for it. As it were.

Perhaps the spat-grey skies inspired a bit less that my usual enthusiasm for the photos I brought home. Perhaps, thanks to my informed and delightful companion, I was more inclined to listen and look, than to take photos. That's best done solo, in my experience.

But on closer examination of some of my files, I have discovered a pattern - shaped gables abound in the older buildings of the University of Toronto, Victoria College.

This polychromatic Victorian pile with heavily Romanesque doorway (abandon hope all ye who enter here is hardly the effect they were going for, I would think), and Medieval turrets is worth a closer look.

 I am especially fond of the grotesque kitty perched in the spandrel of the weighty arch.

Whether silhouetted against a pearl grey sky, or superimposed over the startling contrast of a modern structure, the shaped and ornamented gables show their best profile to anyone who cares to look. Up.

Mr. DeMille?

Another toothsome treat is Annesley Hall, built in 1902/3 as a residence for women students, a role it still plays at Victoria College.

Lots of historical detail, typical of institutional buildings in the Queen Anne Revival style. Love the Flemish shaped gables, and banks of Tudor style windows, asymmetrical roofline, combination of stone and brick, quaint details like the turret with its dome, the chimney rising from the gable, all creating a homey feeling for this home away from home.

The National Historic Site site hints at interior rooms in Tudor Revival styling as well.

According to the NHS plaque inside the fence, "this domestic grandeur was believed proper for young women students in the early twentieth century," Well, we got our feet in the door of higher education at Vic, and what a door that was.


  1. Your photos are proof that a blue sky is not required to find beauty in the middle of a busy city. Love the shapes and period emulation and the atmospheres they conjure up. Just knew you had something more to say as a result of that trip!