Fire Hall and Police Station

The Fire Hall and Police Station is one of five remaining buildings designed by architect George W. Gouinlock. Built in 1912 the brick building features a clock tower and Tudor style detailing. Over the years the Fire Hall and Police Station has been home to several groups including Toronto Police Services, Toronto Fire Services and most recently Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. Photo courtesy of the Canadian National Exhibition Archives, 1944

George W. Gouinlock (1861-1932) was born in Paris, Ontario.  Gouinlock began his career in Toronto with the architectural firm of Kennedy and Holland in 1886.  In 1888, he set up a practice with G.W. King, but from 1901 until 1921 Gouinlock practised alone.

In the early 1900s, Gouinlock was approached by Toronto City Council to redesign the west end of the Toronto Industrial Exhibition (later known as the Canadian National Exhibition). Many of the buildings on the site at the time were wooden structures that were not meant to be permanent. Between 1902 and 1912 Gouinlock transformed the western end of the exhibition grounds with fifteen new structures set amidst broad boulevards and an open plaza.  Gouinlock’s architectural plan was heavily influenced by the Beaux-Arts classical design he had encountered at Chicago’s World’s Columbia Exposition in 1893.

Unlike other Exhibition Place buildings by George W. Gouinlock, the Fire Hall and Police Station was not designed in the Beaux-Arts style.  Instead, it has an eclectic architectural design featuring a clock tower, polychrome brick banding and a shallow pitched copper roof.  The Fire Hall and Police Station has Arts and Crafts design elements.  Its red brick exterior is designed in contrasting colours and textures and includes Tudor style detailing executed in wood and stucco.  The building was also designed with wide entranceways, allowing easy access to the building for people and vehicles.

Although the Fire Hall and Police Station has undergone several planned alterations, such as one major restoration in 1981 to bring the building to Ontario Building Code standards as well as having modern, roll-up doors installed, the structure's basic character remains intact.  

The Fire Hall and Police Station is divided into two sections.  A detachment of the Toronto Police Services occupied a portion of the Fire Hall and Police Station year-round for a period of time from 2004 to 2013. In 2012, a detachment of Toronto Fire Services began to occupy the Fire Hall on a full time year round basis.  Prior to 2012, Toronto Fire Services were only on site during the CNE.  During the CNE Toronto Fire Services provide educational programming to visitors.  In 2016, a detachment of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation division took up residence in a portion of the Fire Hall for use as administrative services.

Between fall 2018 and spring 2019, restoration work was undertaken on the Fire Hall clock tower. The work included exterior restoration, clock replacement and limited interior upgrades.