Ten of Toronto's Unique Heritage Achievements

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Ten of Toronto’s Unique Heritage Achievements

Past Heritage Toronto Awards winners who've worked to restore buildings, preserve nature, and foster knowledge of our city's history.

The University of Toronto’s University College. Photo by yedman, from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

Torontoist is pleased to be the media sponsor for the 40th annual Heritage Toronto Awards and William Kilbourn Memorial Lecture. In celebration of the 40th annual Heritage Toronto Awards coming up on October 21, we’re highlighting 40 of Toronto’s more unique achievements in heritage.

The last four decades of the Heritage Toronto Awards have seen a host of impressive books, short publications, media projects, individuals, community organizations, and architectural endeavours that have made significant efforts to recognize, preserve, and promote the city’s rich history.

From now until October 16, each Friday we’ll feature 10 past Heritage Toronto Awards winners in celebration of the event’s 40th anniversary.


B. Napier Simpson, Jr.— Award of Merit, 1979

Plaque located outside B. Napier Simpson, Jr.’s home. Photo courtesy of torontoplaques.com.

Toronto restoration architect B. Napier Simpson, Jr. was involved in several high-profile projects, including the rehabilitations of Mackenzie House, Colborne Lodge, and the buildings at Fort York. He was instrumental in the establishment of Black Creek Pioneer Village and for many years served as a member of the Toronto Historical Board, the precursor to Heritage Toronto. Sadly, this recognition was awarded posthumously after Simpson’s death in a plane crash in 1978.


The Church–Isabella Residents Co-operative — Award of Merit, 1983

Photo courtesy of TOBuilt.

In 1975, tenants in the stretch of townhouses from 589 to 595 Church Street banded together to stop the demolition of their homes. They formed the Church–Isabella Residents Co-operative so as to have greater negotiating power with their landlord. Today, the four houses stand as a testament to the group’s activism and dedication to heritage preservation.


Vera Ke-Plawuszczak — Award of Merit, 1984

Ukrainian-Canadian writer and humourist Vera Ke-Plawuszczak worked to promote positive relationships between Toronto’s many cultural communities. As a columnist and archivist for the Canadian Ethnic Journalists’ and Writers’ Club, she helped to build a better understanding and recognition of multiculturalism in Toronto.


St. Andrew-by-the-Lake Church — Award of Merit, 1985

Photo courtesy of St. Andrew-by-the-Lake.

In 1984, the Metropolitan Toronto Parks and Property Department undertook the restoration of the St. Andrew-by-the-Lake Anglican Church in recognition of its centennial celebration. Located on the Toronto Island, it continues to host the island community for weekly services today.


A Not Unsightly Building: University College and Its History — Award of Merit (Publication), 1992

Photo courtesy of the University of Toronto.

Douglas Scott Richardson’s history of the University of Toronto’s founding college examines the political and social contexts of Upper Canada in the years leading up to the school’s establishment. He also discusses the building’s architectural significance in 1850s Toronto at length. Richardson’s book is considered to be a major contribution to the study of Toronto’s architectural history.


Save the Rouge Valley System — Community Heritage Award (Scarborough Community Council Area), 2001

Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Rouge.

Since its founding in 1975, the “Save the Rouge Valley System” (SRVS) lobby worked hard to preserve this significant aspect of Toronto’s natural heritage. Originally formed to protect the Rouge Valley ecosystems against urban sprawl, the SRVS group drummed up enough public and governmental support to achieve a major victory in 1990 with the establishment of Rouge Park. This award recognized its members’ service in protecting natural heritage in the Scarborough community.


North Toronto Railway Station — Award of Excellence (Architectural Conservation and Craftsmanship), 2004

Photo courtesy of Woodcliffe Landmark Properties.

Woodcliffe Landmark Properties and Goldsmith Borgal & Company Architects received this award for the restoration of the old railway station located on Yonge Street just south of Summerhill TTC station. After closing officially in 1930, the building sat empty and mostly unused for over 70 years and became increasingly dilapidated. The restoration saw the station rehabilitated to its original grandeur and made ready for modern-day use; today it houses a Timothy’s cafe and the largest LCBO location in the province.


Building Blocks: Queen Street West, 1847-1890 — Award of Merit (Media), 2007

Photo courtesy of Toronto Architectural Conservancy.

The credit for this exhibit on the history of Queen Street West goes to Alec Keefer and Mary Anne Neville who, in partnership with the Toronto Architectural Conservancy and the Market Gallery, ran a comprehensive exhibit on the architecture, social life, and urban transformation that happened along Queen Street West in the second half of the 19th century. Through plans, maps, drawings, and historical and modern photography, the exhibit effectively told the story of Toronto’s changing urban landscape as it became the city we know today.


Hubbard Park Apartments — Honourable Mention (William Greer Architectural Conservation and Craftsmanship), 2012

Photo courtesy of Toronto Community Housing Corporation.

The apartment building at 42 Hubbard Boulevard, dating back to 1928, was restored by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) in partnership with Van Elslander Carter Architects. The restoration maintained the building’s original structure and stained-glass windows, while modifying the interior so as to modernize the apartments and meet current environmental and accessibility standards. The TCHC deserves recognition for its use of built heritage in the service of a public need such as social housing. In this way, it’s helped extend accessibility to our city’s architectural heritage beyond the barriers of affordability, making this heritage a point of pride for all who live here.


HerstoriesCafé — Community Heritage Award (Toronto & East York Community Council Area), 2012

Photo courtesy of HerstoriesCafé.

HerstoriesCafé brings together those who are interested in Canadian women’s history through free café talks in the Toronto area. Talks are generally held at a historic location, oftentimes at places specifically connected to the evening’s topic. Topics explored by the group include the history of women teachers’ unions, the experience of black women in nineteenth-century Toronto, Inuit women and their artwork, the history of the Women’s Law Association of Ontario, and the women who were part of William Lyon Mackenzie’s life.

For more information about the 40th Annual Heritage Toronto Awards and William Kilbourn Memorial Lecture and to purchase tickets, click here.

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