This small log cabin, later named Scadding Cabin, is Toronto’s oldest known surviving house. It was constructed for John Scadding in 1794 during the first years of British settlement in Upper Canada. John Scadding came to Canada in 1792 with the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. Scadding was a government clerk and close friend of Simcoe. The cabin stood on the east side of the Don River on a 253 acre land grant that stretched north from Lake Ontario to present-day Danforth Avenue. In 1796 Lieutenant Governor Simcoe returned to England and John Scadding followed suit. When John Scadding returned to Toronto in 1818, he sold the cabin and its property to a farmer named William Smith. In 1879, the Smith family offered the cabin to the York Pioneers Association. John Scadding’s son Henry, a prominent Toronto historian, was one of the association’s founding members.
In the summer of 1879, the York Pioneers dismantled the cabin and reconstructed it at the west end of the grounds of Exhibition Place. The move was part of the celebrations marking the inauguration of the Toronto Industrial Exhibition, now the Canadian National Exhibition.
The York Pioneer and Historical Society have owned and maintained Scadding Cabin since its relocation to Exhibition Place in 1879. The cabin was opened as a museum and furnished with artifacts donated by the Pioneers and descendants of other local families. The York Pioneer and Historical Society organized special programs and demonstrations during the annual fair that illustrated skills and crafts that settlers in early Toronto would have utilized.
In 1989, the City of Toronto designated Scadding Cabin as a heritage building under the Ontario Heritage Act. The City of Toronto cited the following reasons for heritage designation: “The property at 2 Strachan Avenue (Scadding Cabin) is designated on architectural and historical grounds. The simple, small log cabin with carefully dovetailed corners was built by John Scadding, a friend and employee of Governor John Graves Simcoe. Scadding’s Cabin, now the oldest structure remaining in the City, is representative of the first generation of Toronto buildings, being made of rough-hewn timbers and wooden shingles with a large stone fireplace. The cabin was moved to its present location west of the Fort Rouille monument by the York Pioneer and Historical Society in 1879.”
The cabin has undergone many renovations over the years, both structural and cosmetic. In 1909 the logs of the cabin were whitewashed, both inside and outside. This practice was discontinued in the 1950s, however the interior logs are still painted white. In 1959, the whole building was raised, a cement sub-floor poured, concrete blocks placed for a foundation, and iron grates set in for ventilation. In 1969, the present split rail fence was erected defining the space around the Cabin.
Today, Scadding Cabin is open every day during the Canadian National Exhibition. It is furnished as a pioneer home from the 1830s to the early 1840s. Some of the artefacts displayed include two spinning wheels and a wool winder, equipment for making bread and butter, a candle mold and utensils for cooking on an open hearth. For more information on Scadding Cabin please visit the York Pioneer and Historical Society’s website: www.yorkpioneers.com.
Avigdor, Jeanine C. John Scadding’s Cabin, The York Pioneer, 1988, p. 2 – 8
Reed, T. A. The Scadding Log Cabin Toronto’s Oldest House, York Pioneer and Historical Society
Scadding Cabin Condition Assessment, prepared by E.R.A Architects Inc., Toronto, January 11, 2013
York Pioneer and Historical Society’s website: www.yorkpioneers.com
The Gooderham Fountain, constructed in 1911, was a monument to the wealthy industrialist William Gooderham who, along with his brother-in-law James Worts, established the Gooderham and Worts distillery in Toronto in 1837. The fountain was constructed on what was called the "Grand Plaza of Exhibition City," between the Horticulture Building, the Graphic Arts Building and the Administrative Building (Press Building). It became a favourite place for fair-goers to meet with friends and family. In 1957 the CNE Board of Directors sought to either renovate the Gooderham Fountain or replace it entirely. City of Toronto Council approved the construction of a new fountain and the CNE allocated a budget of $70,000 to cover the costs.
The Princess Margaret Fountain was built approximately 100 feet south of where the Gooderham Fountain was situated. It is set in a prominent location directly across from the Queen Elizabeth Building, at the intersection of Princes’ Boulevard, Manitoba Drive and PEI Crescent. The fountain was designed by the Toronto based exhibit-display firm Design Craft and installed in 1958. It consists of tiers of three progressively larger circular basins constructed of steel and reinforced concrete clad in terrazzo. This triple bowl design allows the water to cascade over the edges of the fountain. The fountain was designed to have a 16 colour-changing light show when operated at night. The original lighting design had 89 lights for the lower pool, 29 lights for the center bowl and 13 lights for the upper bowl. These lights were controlled by a colour changing apparatus that would light the fan jets.
The new fountain was dedicated by its namesake, Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II, when she visited Exhibition Place on July 31st during her Canadian tour in 1958. The Princess pushed the button of the fountain that started the jets and colour show. 20,000 visitors packed the Grandstand as Princess Margaret stopped to greet guests and take in a 2,000,000 bloom flower show in her honour.
Source: The Telegram, Toronto, August 1, 1958
The Princess Margaret Fountain is still a favourite meeting spot for members of the public attending events at the west end of the grounds of Exhibition Place. The fountain operates starting at the beginning of summer and the colours change on a timed delay.