BuildingHistories

This section of our database includes information on various buildings on campus, including architectural details, stories that give character to the buildings, and information on many of the buildings’ namesakes. As students ourselves we found that we were often unaware of who many of the buildings on campus are named after; Sid Smith, for example, was once the President of the University. We hope that you find the biographies in this section enlightening and entertaining, and that the anecdotes recounted provide character to the concrete, brick, wood, and steel that makes up this campus.

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315 Bloor (Dominion Meteorological Building)

Completed Construction in 1909

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Annesley Hall

Completed Construction in 1903

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Faculty of Music

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Hart House Gym

Completed Construction in 1893

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Lillian Massey Building

Completed Construction in 1913

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Sidney Smith Hall

Completed Construction in 1961

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Soldiers' Tower

Completed Construction in 1924

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Varsity Stadium

Completed Construction in 1898

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315 Bloor (Dominion Meteorological Building)

Composed by Sienna Pandya-James
Style of Architecture
Romanesque Revival
Biography

On the corner of Bloor Street West and Devonshire Place sits a building with unique architectural features and a storied past. What is now 315 Bloor, a part of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, served as the Dominion Meteorological Building until the latter half of the twentieth century. The building played an instrumental role in the academic study and application of meteorology in Canada.

The University’s affiliation with meteorology began when the British government built its first Royal Magnetic and Metrological Observatory near Convocation Hall on King’s College Circle in 1840. It was likely modelled after the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. By 1855, the Canadian government took over its operations.

The move to 315 Bloor occurred for a variety of reasons, but it was spurred by the feeling the original observatory on King’s College Circle was no longer favourable. For one, the iron from newly built campus buildings and the 1892 introduction of the streetcars on nearby College Street interfered with magnetic equipment at the observatory. There was also the new presence of the famous meteorologist and professor, George Templeman Kingston who prompted further progress in the field. Often called the “father of Canadian meteorology,” Kingston was given further federal resources to advance operations. This led to the daily exchange of weather data with the United States and later, daily weather forecasts to eastern cities.

With all the changes that occurred, the University agreed to move the old observatory to its current spot on Hart House Circle, while granting a new meteorological headquarters on campus.

Originally constructed in 1909, the Dominion Meteorological Building was designed by the firm Burke and Horwood. It employed the popular characteristics of Romanesque Revival with the common features of a meteorological observation centre. It featured a circular tower made to house a 6-inch Clark telescope, and a dome and core to stabilize the heavy telescope. In the small transit house to the west of the main building, a meridian telescope was utilized to time the passing of reference stars.

The building also played an interesting role in the Second World War. By the 1930s, the Meteorological Service established a 24-hour weather service. It was influential in the training of pilots, as it assisted them with identifying weather patterns.

After the war, the Dominion Meteorological Building continued its operations until the 1970s. In 1973, it was recognized by the City of Toronto’s Heritage Property Inventory. The University’s Admissions and Awards Office took over the building in 1975 and occupied the space until 2010. Today, the newly renovated and restored space is occupied by the Munk School, and stands as a celebration of Canada’s great meteorological development.

Works Cited

Morley, Thomas K. “A Brief History of Meteorological Services in Canada Part 1: 1839-1930.” In Atmosphere 9, no. 1 (1971).

Morley, Thomas K. “George Templeman Kingston.” Last modified July 24, 2015. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/george-templeman-kingston

“Heritage of 315 Bloor.” Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy online. https://munkschool.utoronto.ca/at-the-observatory/


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