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Canadian Connection
Toronto's Architectual Renaissance

For a relatively young city, Toronto has a tremendous variety of architecture. What is astonishing is the compatibility among the city's old architecture and the new. There are many restored buildings in Toronto along side the new developments. It is a significant achievement, and it works. Indeed, the city is on the verge of an architectural renaissance that will forever change the way we think about it. Toronto has emerged as an architectural hotspot with major projects by noted 'starchitects' Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Norman Foster, and Will Alsop.

By the time the construction dust settles, Toronto’s cultural infrastructure will have been entirely remade. Some of the city’s grandest and most venerable institutions have been and continue to be transformed into 21st-century landmarks. Though most of these projects are additions or expansions to existing buildings, some are brand new, designed and built from the ground up.

Here are a few notable Toronto architectural designs:


St. James Cathedral is the oldest congregation in the city. Established in 1797, the current structure was completed in 1844 and was one of the largest buildings in the city. The church is listed as an Ontario Heritage Property and a National Historic Site and is the seat of the Anglican Church of Canada's diocese in Toronto. At 305 ft. the Cathedral is the second tallest church in Canada, behind Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal in Montreal. It was designed by Frederick Cumberland as a prime example of Early English Gothic architecture. It opened for services in 1853, the clocktower being finished in 1874, with the clock being installed a year later. At the turn of the 19th century St. James Cathedral was the tallest building in Toronto, and was often the first thing immigrants noticed when they stepped off the train at Union station.

St. Lawrence Hall is a meeting hall in Toronto, Canada next to the St. Lawrence Market. It was built, alongside the new city hall, in 1850 after a fire destroyed much of the market. The Renaissance Revival style building was designed by William Thomas. It was created to be Toronto's public meeting hall for public gatherings, concerts, and exhibitions. Its main feature was a thousand seat amphitheater. For decades the hall was the centre of Toronto's social life. By the 1870s the growing city had a number of larger and more suitable performance venues and the Hall entered a long decline. It continued to serve a number of roles, including several years as the home of the National Ballet of Canada. It was fully restored in 1967 as the city of Toronto's project to mark Canada's centennial.

Designed in 1885-86 to replace a building that was not yet 30 years old, because it was not grand enough for the aspirations of the Bank of Montreal, and was the head office of the bank in Toronto. It continued in business until 1982, when it closed, and now houses the Hockey Hall of Fame. The building has two fine monumental pedimented facades with a chamfered entrance bay between them. Architects: Darling & Curry
The building was commissioned by George Gooderham to house the head offices of his Gooderham & Worts distilling company. Wedged into the confluence of Wellington and Front Street East, Toronto's "Flatiron Building" pre-dates New York's more famous Flatiron Building by a decade. Architects: David Roberts Jr.

Defining the Toronto skyline, the CN Tower is Canada's most recognizable and celebrated icon. At a height of 553.33m, it is the World's Tallest Building, an important telecommunications hub, and the centre of tourism in Toronto. Each year, approximately 2 million people visit the CN Tower. The CN Tower was built in 1976 by Canadian National (CN) who wanted to demonstrate the strength of Canadian industry by building a tower taller than any other in the world. In 1995, the CN Tower became a public company and ownership of the Tower was transferred to Canada Lands Company, a federal Crown corporation. The construction boom in Toronto in the 1960's transformed the skyline characterized by relatively low buildings into one dotted with skyscrapers. These new buildings caused serious communication problems. With its microwave receptors at 338 m and 553.33m antenna, the CN Tower swiftly solved the communication problems with room to spare.
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