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Royal Conservatory of Music National Historic Site of Canada

273 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/07/06

General view of Royal Conservatory of Music, showing its richly ornamented, eclectic, late-Victorian design constructed of stone, brick and slate, 2011.; Royal Conservatory of Music, B Sutherland, May 2011.
General view
General view of Royal Conservatory of Music, showing the balanced, four-storey massing and detailing that exhibits High Victorian Gothic Revival, Queen Anne Revival and Romanesque elements, 2010.; Royal Conservatory of Music, Joseph A, August 2010.
General view
General view of Royal Conservatory of Music, showing the projecting bays, arched windows, pronounced stringcourses and lively roofline, 2011.; Royal Conservatory of Music, Canuckistan, May 2011.
General view

Other Name(s)

Royal Conservatory of Music National Historic Site of Canada
Royal Conservatory of Music
Royal Conservatory of Music
Toronto Conservatory of Music (1886-1947)
Conservatoire de musique de Toronto (1886-1947)
McMaster Hall
McMaster Hall

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1880/01/01 to 1881/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/04/09

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Royal Conservatory of Music National Historic Site of Canada faces a busy street in downtown Toronto. Since 1963, this influential and distinguished school of music has resided in a large, richly ornamented four-storey building of eclectic late-Victorian design. This older building forms the central element amongst a cluster of later, large additions that now form a small complex. Its symmetrically disposed façade features boldly handled detailing including rock-faced masonry, decorative brickwork, projecting bays, stringcourses and a lively, complex roofline that contrasts with the materials and treatment. Official recognition refers to the building on its footprint at the time of designation (1995).

Heritage Value

The Royal Conservatory of Music was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1995 because of:
- its influence on the musical life of Canada over the last century;
- its graduates included some of the most prominent musicians and music teachers in Canada;
- it has a far-reaching influence on music education in Canada because of its system of graded examinations which are taken by music teachers across the country;
- the systems of music education, which it pioneered in Canada.

Founded in 1886, the Royal Conservatory of Music is a rare survivor of the many conservatories founded in Canada in the 19th century. Its longevity may be partly ascribed to the excellence of its instruction, the caliber of its graduates, its adherence to high standards and its sound administration. From its inception it was a large-scale enterprise, with a large number of students and substantial funding. Remarkable growth in the early years resulted in a purpose-built structure with the later addition of further facilities and the opening of branches in residential areas. The current building, McMaster Hall, formerly the Toronto Baptist College, was purchased by the University of Toronto from the government in 1936, and has served as the main teaching and rehearsal facility for the Royal Conservatory of Music since 1963. Affiliated with the University of Toronto until 1991, the Royal Conservatory of Music is now an independent institution.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1974.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- its prominent location in Toronto;
- its design, purpose-built as an educational establishment, also, the essential elements of the exterior and interior plans, and the various adaptations and extensions, constructed in stages, which continue to facilitate and enhance the Conservatory’s operational requirements regarding performance, rehearsal and administrative needs and which speak to the Conservatory’s important ongoing role in the development of a system music education in Canada.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1963/01/01 to 1963/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts

Function - Category and Type


Post-Secondary Institution


Special or Training School

Architect / Designer

Langley, Langley and Burke



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

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

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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