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Gouinlock Buildings / Early Exhibition Buildings National Historic Site of Canada

Toronto, Ontario, M6K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/06/23

General view of the Press Building on the left (1994) and the Music Building on the right (1993).; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, B. Morin, 1994; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, B, Morin, 1993.
General view
General view of the Government Building on the top (1994) and the Fire Hall/Police Station on the bottom(1996).; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, B. Morin, 1994; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, B. Morin, 1996;
General view
General view of the Horticulture Building, 1996.; Agence Parks Canada/ Parks Canada Agency, B. Morin, 1996.
General view

Other Name(s)

Gouinlock Buildings / Early Exhibition Buildings National Historic Site of Canada
Gouinlock Buildings / Early Exhibition Buildings
Édifices Gouinlock

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1904/01/01 to 1912/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/11/05

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Gouinlock Buildings/Early Exhibition Buildings National Historic Site of Canada is a group of five buildings built in the early 20th century as part of Toronto's permanent exhibition grounds. They include the Press Building (1904, formerly known as the Administrative Building), the Music Building (1907, formerly known as the Railways Building, the Hydro Building, and the Career Building), the Horticulture Building (1907), the Government Building (1912, sometimes known as the Arts Crafts & Hobbies Building) and the Fire Hall/Police Station (1912). While the first four buildings were built in the Beaux-Arts Baroque style, the Fire Hall/Police Station is more eclectic in design. The buildings are clustered in a rough semi-circle at the western end of the Canadian National Exhibition, grounds, close to Toronto's waterfront. They are surrounded by more recent exhibition buildings of varying sizes and styles. The formal recognition refers to the five buildings on their footprints.

Heritage Value

The Gouinlock Buildings/Early Exhibition Buildings were designated a national historic site of Canada in 1988 because these five buildings are the largest and finest group of early 20th century exhibition buildings in Canada.

The Gouinlock Buildings/Early Exhibition Buildings are the only surviving examples of a group of fifteen exhibition buildings designed by Toronto architect George W. Gouinlock as part of a comprehensive plan for the Industrial Exhibition of Toronto. Erected between 1902 and 1912 in the Beaux-Arts Baroque style, the buildings are integrated within a carefully planned and articulated site, that emphasizes the entrance to each building as well as the physical relationships between them. These characteristics were influenced by the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition of Chicago. The Horticulture Building (1907), surrounded by attractively landscaped open spaces at the front and rear of the building, formed the focal point of Gouinlock's plan. The Government Building was built to house federal government exhibits. The Press Building, originally known as the Administrative Building, was built to emulate formal public buildings of the time. The Music Building (1907), originally known as the Railways Building, was built as an exhibition pavilion for the Canadian Pacific and Grand Trunk railway companies

Prompted by the federal government's plan to sponsor a major exhibition at the site in 1903, and inspired by the Chicago exposition, the Toronto City Council decided to rebuild the exhibition site. The building campaign transformed the Industrial Exhibition of Toronto, as it was then known, from a makeshift collection of temporary buildings into a sophisticated complex of elaborately designed, permanent exhibition pavilions set in an attractively landscaped site. The building project reflected the development of the Toronto exhibition from a 19th-century municipal fair into a nationally recognized exhibition of industrial, manufacturing and agricultural development. At the conclusion of the building campaign, the name was officially changed to the Canadian National Exhibition.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1988.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Gouinlock Buildings/Early Exhibition Buildings as a group include:
-the permanent nature of their construction, including the use of fireproof materials;
-the relationship between the five buildings, including their physical proximity, their similar style and materials, and viewscapes between the buildings.

Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Government Building include:
-its Baroque classical style, evident in its form, composition and detailing;
-its E-shaped plan and one-storey height;
-its formal, symmetrical composition;
-its large, central, glazed dome and flanking towers;
-its structural steel construction and red-brick exterior;
-its decorative detailing, executed in white stone using a classical vocabulary.

Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Horticulture Building include:
-its Baroque classical style, evident in its form, composition and detailing;
-its E-shaped plan and one-storey height;
-its formal, symmetrical composition;
-its large, central, glazed dome;
-its decorative detailing, executed in white stone using a classical vocabulary;
-its relationship to its site, including: its orientation facing the lake; and the open landscaped plaza to the south of the building;
-its role as the principal landmark of the western end of the exhibition grounds.

Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Press Building include:
-its Baroque classical style, evident in its form, composition and detailing;
-its rectangular plan and two storey height;
-formal, symmetrical composition and regularly placed openings;
-its brick exterior and artificial stone trim;
-its fanciful, classically inspired detailing.

Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Music Building include:
-its Baroque classical style, evident in: the massing of the domes; and the decorative detailing;
-its trefoil plan, comprised of three equal-sized octagons, each topped by a glazed octagonal drum, and surmounted by a shallow dome;
-its structural design, comprised of eight, thick, steel ribs springing from the angles of the drums and carrying the weight of the dome, and eight buttresses radiating from each drum to counterbalance the lateral thrust;
-the functional use of window openings to maximize exhibition space and provide abundant natural light, achieved through: the placement of windows at the upper level of the walls, and the placement of windows in the octagonal drums;
-its three wide entranceways, allowing access to the building on all sides;
-its construction of structural steel, artificial stone and red brick.

Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Fire Hall/Police Station include:
-its eclectic, Arts-and-Crafts-inspired design;
-its rectilinear clock tower;
-its brick exterior, detailed with contrasting colours and textures;
-its Tudor detailing, executed in wood and stucco;
-its wide entranceways, allowing easy access to the building for people and vehicles.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1988/06/23

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Leisure
Exhibition Centre

Architect / Designer

George W. Gouinlock

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Québec.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

540

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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