Toronto Through My Lens

Jarvis Street Heritage

I’ve been working on this post for months, off and on. Originally I had entitled it Jarvis Street Mansions and thought I’d focus exclusively on the remaining mansions from Jarvis Street’s so-called golden era. As I walked up and down Jarvis Street capturing shots for this post, I encountered a fair number of buildings that, while not necessarily “mansions”, are heritage buildings with historical significance. Doing a little research I could find the history/background on many of these Jarvis Street structures; conversely some seem to have left no legacy at all.

There have been hundreds of articles written on how Jarvis Street looked about 120 years ago or more – it must have been exquisite. These days if you stand outside one of the surviving mansions and mentally dismiss the solar panels, traffic lights, garbage cans, bike stands, crosswalks, electric skateboards, honking horns and other trappings of the 21st century, you can imagine how it must have looked in a different era.

View of Jarvis Street, 1915

A Walk Up Jarvis Street

The Corner of Jarvis Street and King Street East

Except for the St. Lawrence Market there’s not many – if any – historical buildings on Jarvis Street south of King Street East, so this little tour of Jarvis Street will begin at this corner and work north to Bloor Street.

At 44 Jarvis Street resides the Canadian Bank of Commerce building, which was home to the York Council Chambers from 1907 to 1950.

144 King Street East
Around the corner from 44 Jarvis Street. Canadian Bank of Commerce building.
157 King Street East
Southwest corner of Jarvis Street and King Street East
150 King Street West
Northeast corner of Jarvis Street and King Street East. The Daniel Brooke Building.

This building was first constructed in 1833 for owner Daniel Brooke, a prominent merchant in the town of York. It was substantially rebuilt between 1848-1849 prior to the great fire of April 1849 which started in a nearby stable. While much of the business district was destroyed, this building escaped major damage.

It housed a variety of commercial enterprises over the years, including the prosperous wholesale grocery business of James Austin and Patrick Foy in the 1840s. Austin went on to become a president of the Consumers Gas Company and of the Dominion Bank. His home, Spadina, became a museum in 1984. During the mid-19th century, the Daniel Brooke building contained the offices of The Patriot, an influential conservative newspaper.

The block is a rare example of Georgian architecture in Toronto.


55-57-61-65-73 Jarvis Street

A string of retail shops occupy these buildings

99 Jarvis Street

99 Jarvis Street is an historic heritage building conceived in 1898 by renowned Toronto-based Architect Fredrick Henry Herbert, a prolific architect at the time. Along with E.J. Lennox, Herbert was the architect of choice for wealthy Torontonians building mansions on Jarvis Street, Rosedale and the Annex. The building is currently the showroom for the contemporary kitchen and furniture retailer Poliform.

If you’re interested in reading more about this building, there’s a fascinating and in depth history of it here.


107 Jarvis Street

Currently home to the Salvation Army Gateway. The Gateway is a 120 bed emergency shelter and drop-in for individuals experiencing homelessness and marginalization in Toronto. Their goal is to meet people in their experience of homelessness and help them find their way out.


207-209-211-213 Jarvis Street

207 Jarvis Street is hidden behind the “Skygrid” hoarding on right. 207 Jarvis is the project office for Mango Hotels, Hyatt Place Residences, which is going up next door at 203 Jarvis, corner of Shuter Street.

207-213 Jarvis Street is a residential rowhouse built in 1879 by Builder John Small in the Second Empire style.

Property speculator Charles Chamberlain and builder John Smith acquired the property at the corner of Jarvis and Shuter Streets in the late 1870s. Chamberlain was responsible for developing a number of terrace housing in the 1870s, including 165-179 Carlton Street (1878); 181-183 Carlton Street (1878); 187-189 Carlton Street (1878); and 568-582 Parliament Street (1876). All exhibit the same architectural design.


215-217-219 Jarvis Street

In 1864 a terrace house with three-units was erected on Lot 22 at 215-219 Jarvis Street. A speculative venture, the builder Thomas Snarr acquired the land to develop the three-storey brick houses, leasing them to middle-class merchants and professionals.

The grand proportions of this terrace housing speak to the middle-class occupants that builder Thomas Snarr was hoping to attract to his speculative development. Built of red brick, the three-storeys on a raised basement served as fairly gracious residences until they were subdivided into rooming houses in the mid-
twentieth century.


280 Jarvis Street

280 Jarvis Street is a beautiful old building desperately in need of a reno and some TLC. It was built in 1891 in the Richardson Romanesque style, and is now a Heritage property. There is, however, currently a proposal to build a 25-storey mixed-use rental and condominium building on this site. This current building on the site will be incorporated into the structure, and the project will be designed by Giannone Petricone Associates for Antorisa Investments Ltd. It will be joined with 290 Jarvis Street (more below).

The proposal for the site looks something like this:


287 Jarvis Street

Built in 1890, 287 Jarvis Street is on the Toronto heritage list of buildings. It is currently part of a housing organization called Homes First Society, Jarvis House.

Jarvis House consists of 6 apartments each containing 4 units. These are home to 24 single men aged 45 and over. A renovated historical building, Jarvis House is owned by the Toronto Housing Company and managed by Homes First.


290 Jarvis Street

A neglected, beautiful old building in need of rejuvenation

The building at 290 Jarvis was built in 1891 in a style known as Richardsonian Romanesque. The style appeared for only about 20 years and is attributed to an architect named Henry Richardson. This building is known as the William Carlyle House and is a mirror image of the home at 280 Jarvis Street – also from 1891 – which also sits empty and boarded up. The two buildings have historical designations and are intended to be incorporated into a new 25 story condo development.

280 and 290 Jarvis Street from the east side of Jarvis Street
Builder’s proposal of how 280 and 290 Jarvis Street will be joined

295 Jarvis Street

The Inglewood Arms rooming house. Not everything on Jarvis Street is beautiful.

The building’s days are numbered though; on this site there is a proposed 60-storey condominium building designed by IBI Group for CentreCourt. The proposed building looks something like this:


314 Jarvis Street

Future home of JAC condos

The house at 314 Jarvis Street was built in 1865 and is known as the Sheard House. The house was in the family for decades with some prominent members of the community living here. Joseph Sheard was the mayor of Toronto from 1871 to 1872. In 1901 his son Dr. Charles Sheard renovated the house. Dr. Sheard was Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and was an MP from 1917-1925.

During WW2 the home was divided into apartments and eventually it was sold to developers. The building was gutted by a fire in January 2016. After years of alternating neglect and abuse, the transformation is under way – the building’s facade will be incorporated into the JAC condos currently being built on the site and will look something like this:


337 Jarvis Street

The house at 337 Jarvis Street was built in 1849 for Samuel Platt. Samuel had made his fortune as a brewer until he went into politics in 1845 as a city Councillor. In 1872 he became involved in planning the young city waterworks before being elected as an independent MP for Toronto East, a position he held until 1882. His house now serves as the Toronto Baptist Seminary, also known as Church House to the pastors who visit there.


336/338/340 Jarvis Street

These three buildings are a legal Triplex. Currently on the market, for sale together as a package, they’re going for a cool $10 million.

336 Jarvis Street
The artist Frederick Bell-Smith lived in this house at 336 Jarvis Street
338 Jarvis Street
Originally in the Georgian Revival style, the residence was completed in 1871 and remodelled in 1882 with Second Empire detailing
340 Jarvis Street
This used to be the location of “The Fireplace Restaurant”, but is now a residence. Like 338 Jarvis beside it, the building was originally built in the Georgian Revival style, completed in 1871 and remodelled in 1882 with Second Empire detailing.

342/344 Jarvis Street

342 Jarvis Street
344 Jarvis Street

I couldn’t find much on these two connected buildings except that they are currently rented as townhouses. Designed in the Italianate style by architects Langley & Langley, this heritage property was built in 1875.


354 Jarvis Street

These days, this building is known as the Margaret McCain Academic Building, belonging to Canada’s National Ballet School.

The Heritage property was completed in 1894. From that year until 1945 The Havergal Ladies College was situated here. Also known as the Radio Building, it was later occupied by CBC Radio and was the main radio studios. Occasionally it was also referred to as the CBL FM Studios. In 1992, the CBC Radio Studios moved to its current location – the Canadian Broadcasting Centre – at 250 Front Street West.

In 2005 the building was re-opened as part of the National Ballet School, and in 2006 the building won two awards: the Ontario Association of Architects Award, and the Architectural Excellence Awards – Institutional B – Award of Excellence.


400 Jarvis Street

Lozinski House

This was originally the 1856 home of Sir Oliver Mowat, the longest-serving Premier of Ontario, a Father of Confederation, and later Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor. The mansion, originally named Norfield House, was renamed Lozinski House and now houses the National Ballet School’s artistic and administrative offices.

In 2000, 400 Jarvis Street was acquired from the CBC for one dollar. The existing buildings on the site were restored and redesigned by Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects (GBCA). Three new buildings, dubbed Project Grand Jete, were planned and built by GBCA, along with Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB). Construction began in 2003, and in 2005 the school relocated here. The major expansion to the school was completed in 2007 at a cost of $100 million.


404 Jarvis Street

This is currently the Betty Oliphant Theatre. Completed in 1863 it also goes by the alternate name of The Blaikie/Alexander House, originally built for J. Blaikie and W. Alexander. In 1988-89 the building was extensively renovated and a theatre added to the rear portion of the historic house.


406 Jarvis Street

Currently home to The Shoe Room, a store belonging to the National Ballet School, the building was completed in 1900 for Jennie H. Irish. Created by the architect Charles John Gibson.


410 Jarvis Street

This building is also known as the John N. Lake House, and was completed in 1905.

410 Jarvis Street has now been acquired by the National Ballet School. In the short-term, the building offers flexible administrative office space. According to the Ballet School’s website:

The long-term goals for the building include an expansive vision for our Toronto campus, further driving the professional ballet training programs to new heights; making dance and ballet more accessible and relevant; providing platforms and spaces for a plurality of artistic voices; and offering new creative hubs for multi-sectoral engagement and arts-driven social enterprise.


412 and 414 Jarvis Street

412 Jarvis Street (left) is a condo building; 414 Jarvis Street (right) is a rental complex

441 Jarvis Street

Currently the office of lawyer firm Johnstone & Cowling. Historically, the building is known as the A.J. Mason House. It was completed in 1881, with the porch added in 1902. Built in the Gothic Revival style, the architects for this building were Bond & Smith. The structure is now a Heritage property.


449 Jarvis Street
The Blake House

Currently known as the very popular The Blake House restaurant, this building was completed in 1891 for the original owner Edward Blake and known, not surprisingly, as the Blake House. The architects were Knox & Elliot. Before the Blake House was the The Blake House restaurant, it was the Red Lion, a storied old-school British pub.

The building has heritage status for being one of the last structures in Toronto to mix Victorian and Second Empire architecture.


467 & 469 Jarvis Street

467 Jarvis Street
469 Jarvis Street

Known as the Samuel R. Briggs House, the joined building at 467-469 Jarvis Street was completed in 1872. Around the time of the construction of this house, Samuel R. Briggs was a lumber merchant and the President of the Canada Organ and Piano Company. Created by the architects Langley, Langley & Burke, the house has a designated Heritage status under the Part IV Ontario Heritage Act.


471 Jarvis Street

The house at 471 Jarvis Street was built for Thomas Thompson in 1874. The house goes by the name Elderslie and was owned at one time by Alexander Morris who served as a Conservative for Toronto East. He was in opposition to the government of Oliver Mowat who lived at 372 Jarvis Street.

In recent years the main floor of the building was a Macs variety store. Later it became home to the offices of Lifford Wine, then Vielight, who specialize in photobiomodulation technology.


504 Jarvis Street
G.H. Gooderham House

This Richardsonian Romanesque house was built in 1889 for George H. Gooderham.  The Gooderham family owned the Gooderham and Worts distillery which dominated the waterfront, today known as the Distillery District.  At least half a dozen family members owned mansions within a few minutes walk of George Gooderham’s new mansion.

The conical tower on one side is paired with a bald gable on the other end.  Accents are cut from Credit Valley stone.


506 Jarvis Street

The building is known as the J.H. McKinnon House. Built in 1888 in the Queen Anne Revival style, the house is now a heritage property. It was designed by architects Langley & Burke, who created several other impressive Toronto residences back in the late 1880s.


510 Jarvis Street

Thomas B. Taylor had the house at 510 Jarvis built in 1888.  Taylor had been involved in three paper mills along the Don River including one at Todmorden Mills. The building now consists of luxury apartments (rentals).


512 Jarvis Street
The Gallows House

The Edward Gallow House was built in 1889-90 by E.J. Lennox, the renowned architect who designed Old City Hall and Casa Loma.

When researching this building I was very surprised to learn that the Victorian mansion is now a shelter providing refuge for homeless women. Entitled Mary Sheffield House, it was transformed to a shelter via a joint effort by Fred Victor, a social services organization for homeless and low-income people in Toronto, and the owners of the property, Mike and Giulia Ahmadi. The building is named after Mary Sheffield, who founded a downtown mission to help the poor and destitute, and battled the social problems that plagued Toronto in the late 19th Century.

Prior to its incarnation as the Mary Sheffield House, the building was inhabited by sixteen Jesuit priests for 20 years.


514 Jarvis Street
The Rundle House

The Rundle House was built in 1889-90 also by E.J. Lennox. Built in the Queen Anne Revival style and named after Charles Rundle, one of its owners, The Rundle House has been described by Heritage Canada as one of the most important historical properties in the country. It’s currently used as a residence. The building is the end unit of one of the few intact sections of 19th century Jarvis Street.

The Rundle House was derelict by the 1970s, unheated and deserted. The city took it over in the 1980s. Then it was purchased by Virgin Records and they used it as a sort of haven for musicians who could lodge there and use it as rehearsal space.

While researching this building, I found the following interesting bit on the real estate site loopnet.com:

The three storey, 7,567 square foot building consists of 12 guest rooms, a kitchen/dining area, a living room, a recording studio and a small coach house at the rear of the property. Interior finishes are modernized while retaining historic features. The landscaped corner site of rectangular shape has frontages of 75.2 feet on the west side of Jarvis Street and of 150 feet on the south side of Gloucester Street.


515 Jarvis Street
The Keg Mansion aka Euclid Hall

Designed by architect William Young in the Gothic Revival style, the building was completed in 1868 for businessman William McMaster. In 1882, it was purchased by Hart Massey of the prominent Massey family who built the agricultural equipment firm Massey Ferguson.

In 1915 the home was bequeathed to the University of Toronto’s Victoria College. It was an art gallery in the 1920s, then a restaurant named Julie’s Mansion, with the Bombay Bicycle Club on the top floor.

The mansion, also known as Euclid Hall, was designated as a heritage property in 1973. The building is rumoured to be one of the most haunted in Toronto.


519 Jarvis Street
Chester D. Massey House aka Massey Mansion

519 Jarvis Street is a Toronto heritage building known as the Chester D. Massey House, or alternately, The Massey Mansion. Erected in 1887 by architect E.J. Lennox and renovated most recently in 1907, this official heritage structure stands as the picture of historical elegance along Jarvis Street. The Massey Mansion has an elegant stone arch and entryway, paired with an attractive red brick exterior.

This estate was the childhood home of brothers Raymond and Vincent Massey of the Massey Ferguson farm machinery family. Raymond (1896-1983) grew up to be a movie star, best known for playing Abraham Lincoln on stage and screen. He lived here in this family mansion from 1865 to 1915. Vincent Massey was the first Canadian Minister to the United States, the first Canadian-born Governor General of Canada and the founder of the Canada Council.


571 Jarvis Street
The William R. Johnston House

Now Casey House, this building was designed by the architecture firm Langley, Langley & Burke in 1875 for William R. Johnston, a prominent Toronto clothing merchant. At the time, Jarvis Street was lined with large homes owned by the city’s wealthiest residents. The house remained in the Johnston family until 1941 when it became the national headquarters of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).

In 2001, the HIV/AIDS hospice Casey House bought the property. Casey House was the first independent HIV/AIDS hospice in Canada – and one of the first in the world – when it opened in 1988 on nearby Huntley Street. It provided compassionate, specialized care at a time when many people with HIV/AIDS faced isolation and discrimination. Casey House‘s services evolved and it became an HIV/AIDS hospital in 2016. in 2017, it moved to the renovated and expanded William R. Johnston House. The addition at the rear was designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects with ERA Architects, greatly expanding the capacity of Casey House.

This building is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 2002.


Having worked our way almost to Bloor Street East, our tour of historic Jarvis Street buildings comes to a close. If you’re still reading this rather lengthy post, I thank you for sticking with it to the end!

If you’d like to read more about some of the buildings I’ve mentioned, check out this link to The Mansions of Jarvis Street, which I’ve used as reference for some of the buildings listed in my post.

7 Comments

  1. Vince

    Fascinating stuff! Toronto’s history is a vastly neglected subject, and the city really needs its own Toronto History Museum.

  2. David

    I love the mansions and various other building on Jarvis. Like you, I would love to have down and up this street in the 1800’s. You really did a good job on this Marvin. It takes alot of time to research this stuff and you gave just the right amount of background and history .
    Well done.

  3. Michal

    I totally concur with both Vince and David. While I already have an interest in both local history and architecture, I have a special interest in this topic, having attended Jarvis C.I. from 1980 – 1983. Also, my step-sister, Kathleen, worked at the Fireplace Restaurant during that time, when it operated at 340 Jarvis St. I agree with Vince that we need a comprehensive Toronto History Museum, but at last we have them brought together online at Toronto History Museums (I’ve signed up for their newsletter): https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/history-art-culture/museums/. Also, the Market Gallery does at least provide exhibition space (https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/history-art-culture/museums/market-gallery/). As well, the City of Toronto Archives and Toronto Public Library (in particular Toronto Reference Library) both provide access to historic photos and other records (and occasional exhibition space, too). Posts like this one help to fill a serious gap in our knowledge. Thanks, Marvin!

  4. Kristine Morris

    Thank you for linking to my blog article about 99 Jarvis Street. I did a similar top to bottom survey of the buildings on Sherbourne Street a few years back (for a TMU course on architecture). I’m thinking that it might make a good blog post. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Marvin Job

      Hi Kristine. Thank you so much for your wonderful post on 99 Jarvis Street, and thanks for not minding that I linked to it. Your 99 Jarvis Street post is absolutely engrossing and fascinating. Well done!

  5. Despina Kyraleos

    Wow Marvin, you did so much work on this, and rightfully so, there’s so much to know about our fair city.
    I hear the Spadina museum is very good, and I have yet to get there.

  6. Condo Services

    This comprehensive exploration of Jarvis Street’s rich architectural history offers a fascinating glimpse into Toronto’s past. The detailed descriptions and historical anecdotes provide valuable insights into the cultural significance of these buildings, ranging from grand mansions to heritage sites. It’s intriguing to learn about the diverse range of occupants and uses these structures have seen over the years, from prominent families to social service organizations. This article serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving our architectural heritage and honoring the stories embedded within these historic landmarks.

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