Introduction

Foreword

Osgoode Hall has always attracted attention. The city directory published two years after the first wing of the building was completed in 1832 listed Osgoode Hall nine times. The building appeared as a “splendid hall” in a list of the city’s public institutions. It was used as a landmark to locate streets and neighbourhoods. It was listed not only under Lot (now Queen) Street but also in the listings for York, King and Front Streets - “in crossing here you have a fine view to the right of Osgoode Hall...”

Everything about Osgoode Hall made it stand out: the scale of the building and the property in a district of single-family homes, its business and public purpose in a residential neighbourhood, its professional occupants in a working class area, its “waspishness” in what became the city’s main reception area for new immigrants, and its wealth in “The Ward,” once one of the city’s worst slums. Even today, surrounded by skyscrapers and pavement, Osgoode Hall affirms its distinctiveness.

This photograph exhibition deliberately shifts the focus from Osgoode Hall to its neighbours. It looks at the evolution of the area from its beginnings as the home of tradesmen and their families, to that of target for social reformers, to the commercial and civic centre it has become.

How to Visit

Neighbours is organized by broad periods of the district’s history. If you start at the first photo and finish at the last, you will get a good overview of the evolution of the neighbourhood. If you just want to look at the photos or if the story is already familiar to you, the index can take you where you want to go.

The photos in the gallery are rollovers. Put your cursor over the image to see the location where the photo was taken.