Vintage Toronto Ads: An Imperial Construction
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Vintage Toronto Ads: An Imperial Construction

Today’s ad features your stereotypical 1950s architectural professional: trenchcoat, tie, hat (preferably a fedora), and a fistful of building plans. The building this dapper construction supervisor is depicted next to would quickly become one of St. Clair Avenue’s architectural landmarks.
Pigott Construction was based in Hamilton, where company president Joseph Pigott contributed heavily to the community as a president or board member of institutions such as McMaster University and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. His company built one of Hamilton’s first skyscrapers, which still bears his name. Among the buildings Pigott worked on in Toronto are the Royal Ontario Museum and the Toronto-Dominion Centre.
Alex Farquhar would have been putting the finishing touches on the Imperial Oil Building when today’s ad appeared, as the first employees moved in a month later. The building was designed by Mathers and Haldenby, a firm that also contributed to the Canada Permanent Building at 320 Bay Street, the Mowat and Ferguson Blocks around Queen’s Park and the Robarts Library. The design selected by Imperial Oil was intended for Toronto’s new city hall but was rejected in a 1955 plebiscite where the public was asked to approve $18 million for the project.
Artistically, Imperial Oil commissioned York Wilson to create a mural for the lobby. Three years in the making, “Story of Oil” depicts the journey of black gold from prehistory to the mid-20th century.
The building served as the company’s head office until 2005, when operations were moved to Calgary. It is currently vacant, a state of affairs recently lamented by Christopher Hume in the Toronto Star.
Source: The Globe and Mail, March 11, 1957