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Torrance Public School

151, Waterloo Avenue, City of Guelph, Ontario, N1H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1998/08/04

Of note is the side entrance and columns.; Mary Tivy, 2008.
Facade and East Elevation, Torrance Public School,
Featured is one of the three large pilasters on the frontispiece.; Mary Tivy, 2008.
Detailed View, Torrance Public School, 2008
Of note is the centre pediment, topping the two-bay frontispiece.; Mary Tivy, 2008.
Facade, Torrance Public School, 2008

Other Name(s)

Torrance Public School
St. James Ward School
151-161 Waterloo Avenue

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/09/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Torrance Public School is located at 151-161 Waterloo Avenue, on the north side of the street, west of Yorkshire Street South, in the City of Guelph. The two-and-a-half-storey pressed red-brick school was constructed in 1910.

The property was designated, by the City of Guelph, in 1998, for its heritage value, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, By-law (1998) – 15835.

Heritage Value

Torrance Public School is recognized as an important landmark, in the central part of the City of Guelph, by virtue of its age, its distinct style and its historic associations.

Torrance Public school is associated with prominent Guelph architect W. Frye Colwill. He was involved in the design and construction of numerous local buildings, but is best known for the elegant Beaux Arts Carnegie Library, in Guelph, which was demolished in 1964. Torrance School and the Carnegie Library are both excellent examples of Colwill's aesthetically stylish and original work, which distinguished him from the general trend toward restrained Edwardian Classical designs, in the bulk of early 20th century buildings. Torrance Public School was his last major commission.

The school was originally named St. James Ward School, but was renamed to honour Reverend Doctor Robert Torrance, who was Wellington County School Inspector, the Inspector of Public Schools, in Guelph, and served as secretary of the Guelph Board of Education for over 30 years.

Constructed in 1910, Torrance Public School is an excellent example of a Beaux Arts style school building. Typical of this style is the pressed red-brick construction with ornamental cast concrete. The school features a strong two-bay frontispiece accentuated by three large pilasters topped by a classical pediment. The matched side entrances are accentuated by columns which bear ionic capitals. The roof top is a shallow dome. At the time of its construction, the building was considered one of the finest public buildings in Guelph because of its distinctive style and street presence.

Source: City of Guelph, By-law (1998) – 15835).

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Torrance Public School include its:
- two-and-a-half storey red-brick construction
- cast concrete ornaments
- projecting two-bay frontispiece
- three pilasters on the frontispiece, topped by a pediment
- matched side entrances
- columns with ionic capitols on the side entrances
- shallow dome roof
- prominent location on Waterloo Avenue, in the central part, of the City of Guelph




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type


Primary or Secondary School


Architect / Designer

W. Frye Colwill



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Guelph Community Design and Development Services 1 Carden Street Guelph, ON

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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