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
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.
The Clock Tower of the Fire Hall and Police Station is currently undergoing restoration.