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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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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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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Annesley Hall

Style of Architecture
Queen Anne Revival
Biography

Annesley Hall, the first all-female residence in Canada, is located at 95 Queens Park in the Victoria University campus, a college under the University of Toronto. It is named after Susanna Annesley, mother of John Wesley, who is considered to be the father of Methodism, a perfect patron for the Methodist college (Sissons 225). The building is of great architectural and historical significance, as it was built in the Queen Anne revival style and was recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990 (“Annesley Hall National Historic Site of Canada”). This title protects the building from ever being torn down. Since its erection in 1903, it has housed some of the brightest female minds of the twentieth century and has seen immense cultural changes. It is a monument to Canadian history and the education of women. Making a female residence a reality at the University of Toronto was a long process and could not have been achieved without the hard work and determination of the female students and faculty at Victoria University. Hart A. Massey, a businessman and philanthropist from Upper Canada, left $50,000 in his will to the school to build a female residence, which became accessible with his death in 1896 (Sissons 224). However, the University of Toronto trustees did not want the money to go towards a female residence. Instead they wanted it for more “pressing” matters, such as building a faculty residence (Sissons 224). Their resistance slowed down the building process. Despite this setback, the land was bought in 1901; 290 by 608 feet for the full $50,000 for the purpose of building the female residence (Sissons 225). The architect, George M. Miller, envisioned a three story building made in the “English style” with an exterior resembling more of a college and less a home. However, the interior was made spacious and homelike. The building would have red brick, gray stone trimmings, and other decorative features. The cornerstone was laid on April 29th, 1902 (“Laying of the Cornerstone”). Even with Massey’s generous donation, money was scarce and furniture was needed. A year prior to Massey’s death, Margaret Addison and Mrs. Burwash collaborated to create the Barbara Heck Memorial Association, which they later renamed to the Women’s Residence and Educational Association. The money for furnishing the residence came out of this club’s pocket, which the female staff and students raised themselves. The Hall was move-in ready by 1903 (Sissons 241). Margaret Addison became the first dean of the Hall (Sissons 225). She was very religious due to her father being a Methodist Minister, which transferred into her duties. However, she had a certain flexibility that made her more capable for this job than any of her colleagues (Sissons 225). Margaret proved to be a capable dean; she constantly took interest in the well-being of the women and stood up for them. In one of her many correspondences to her mother, she wrote about a “Miss Clark” who had a “new set of scales” and would examine the girls and help Addison “rope them all in” to exercise at the gym (Margaret Addison Correspondences and Diaries). When the Chancellor wrote to Addison about his dissatisfaction with the discipline of women in Annesley Hall, which he based on rumor, Addison invited investigation to show how well-behaved the girls actually were. An investigation took place and the Chancellor found that Addison was running a tight ship and the girls were commendable in their behaviour (Sissons 243). However, it was a constant fight for Addison and the women to gain the trust and respect of the men, who did not believe they should be free to run the residency without any male supervision. In 1906, the Annesley Student Government Association was formed and collaborated with Addison to make the rules of conduct for the Hall (Sissons 241). These rules included male chaperones for the students that wished to attend public events outside of the school, male chaperones for first and second year students attending evening church services, and specified hours when the women could receive “gentlemen callers,” which were only from seven to ten on Friday nights and after church to ten at night on Sundays. Third and fourth year students had more freedom than first and second year students (Sissons 241). The current residents at Annesley Hall, which remains an all-female building, probably could not relate to earlier residents in many ways. For instance, a “house party” at the Hall around 1931 was a weekend long event that concluded with church on Sunday (Student Correspondences and Diaries). However, some current habits stem from years and years of cultural practice, such as the senior female residents as well as Margaret herself referring to the first year students as “Freshies” (Margaret Addison Correspondences and Diaries). Annesley Hall residents today enjoy much more freedom in terms of religion and independence, which is thanks to the path paved by the first female students and staff to walk the corridors of this great historical building.


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University of Toronto History Society