Bank of Upper Canada Building

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Bank of Upper Canada Building
View of the front facade of the Bank of Upper Canada Building
The Bank of Upper Canada Building
General information
Architectural styleNeoclassical, Second Empire
Address252 Adelaide Street East
Town or cityToronto, Ontario
Current tenantsMyplanet, Massage Matters, POUT
Construction started1825
Technical details
Floor area7,500 square feet (700 m2) (orig.)
2,500 square feet (230 m2) (1851 addition)
Design and construction
ArchitectWilliam Warren Baldwin
Official nameBank of Upper Canada Building National Historic Site of Canada
DesignatedNovember 26, 1975

The Bank of Upper Canada Building is an 1827 bank building in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and one of the few buildings in Toronto that predates Toronto. It is located at 252 Adelaide Street East (originally 27 Duke Street East), in the Old Town district. Opened in 1827, in what was then York, it housed the Bank of Upper Canada until the bank's collapse in 1866. It was used for school purposes, and various commercial and industrial purposes before being restored in 1982 for commercial office space. It has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada since 1977.[1]


The Bank of Upper Canada Building in 1872. The property was sold to De La Salle Brothers in the previous year.

Completed in 1827, the building is a three-storey limestone building. The building was originally two floors with a flat roof. It is attributed to William Warren Baldwin, but it may have been designed by Francis Hall. The Doric portico, designed by John George Howard was added in 1843.[2] Sometime after 1859, a new roof with dormers was added. In 1876, a third floor in the Second Empire style, was added by De La Salle College.[3] As well, the building has been extended twice to the north, along George Street. Stone Kohn Architects are responsible for the 1982 restoration design. It is adjoined to the next door De La Salle Institute building (1871) and Toronto's first post office (1834) along Adelaide Street.


The bank had opened in 1821 in a nearby store until it constructed the new building, Toronto's first bank building, in 1827, at that time one of few stone buildings in York.[4] During the 1837 rebellion, William Lyon Mackenzie and the Reformers marched down Yonge Street to attack this building and steal the gold stored within - unsuccessfully.[5] In 1851, the bank built an addition to the rear. The bank itself failed in 1866 and was put in receivership.

The property was sold in 1870 to the Christian Brothers. In 1871, a Roman Catholic boys' school, the De La Salle Institute, today's De La Salle College, was built next door at 258 Adelaide Street, adjoining the bank building. In 1874, the school also bought 264 Adelaide, built for the town's postmaster, which dates to 1833–34. The Brothers sold the three buildings to the Catholic School Board in 1884, but used them rent-free after the sale.[6] After the college started offering secondary classes, it took over the bank building as well. The school left the site in 1913.[4]

Condition of block in 1977

The building was used for various uses over most of the 20th century, including a meat processing plant,[5] a recruitment centre during World War I, and industrial uses by Christie, Brown and Company and the United Farmers' Co-Operative Co. (UFC) In 1921, Christie Brown bought the building from the School Board, mostly for the rear yard property. The buildings were rented out to various commercial and industrial tenants including a jeweler, machine shops and the Imperial Oil graphics department, which made Esso signs in the basement. In 1925, the UFC bought the building to use as their head office. The bank building was used for offices, while the De La Salle and Post Office were used for food storage. In 1926, the Co-Operative built a three-storey addition to the north. The UFC sold the building in 1956.[6]

The buildings were leased until 1971, when they were closed up, slated for demolition and redevelopment[2] and fell into decay. In 1978, a fire destroyed much of the roof, but by then the site had been declared a National Historic Site, and an Ontario listed heritage building, and had attracted the attention of lawyer Sheldon J. Godfrey and his wife Judith. The couple purchased the three buildings[2][4] and supervised their restoration to completion in 1982. The building, along with the former college, is used today for commercial office space. As of October 2013, the building is used by tech firm Myplanet among others.[5]

The building is designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, since 1975.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bank of Upper Canada Building National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Bank of Upper Canada and York Post Office". Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  3. ^ "Out of the Ashes" (PDF) (pdf). Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c McHugh 1989, p. 29.
  5. ^ a b c "Bank of Upper Canada Building". Archived from the original on May 23, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "JAMES SCOTT HOWARD: POSTMASTER". Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  7. ^ "Heritage Property Detail". City of Toronto Heritage Registry. Retrieved May 15, 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°39′06.54″N 79°22′15.5″W / 43.6518167°N 79.370972°W / 43.6518167; -79.370972