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Enoch Turner Schoolhouse

106, Trinity, Toronto, Ontario, M5A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2008/03/26

Enoch Turner Schoolhouse east façade, 2007; OHT, 2007
Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, 2007
Enoch Turner Schoolhouse north elevation of the 1869 addition, 2007; OHT, 2007
Enoch Turner Schoolhouse 1869 addition, 2007
The west hall set up for Sunday School for the children of Little Trinity Parish, 1910; Anglican Diocese of Toronto Archives
Sunday School Room (the west hall), 1910

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1848/01/01 to 1849/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2014/03/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Enoch Turner Schoolhouse is situated on Trinity Street south of King Street East in the Corktown neighbourhood in the City of Toronto. The design of the one-storey Gothic Revival style brick building is attributed to architect Henry Bowyer Lane and was constructed in 1848. The 1869 addition (also red brick and one-storey, but formerly topped with a ventilator lantern) expanded the building to the west and more than doubled its floor plate. An addition c. 1900 extended the east façade by one bay to the south. An Ontario Heritage Trust Provincial Plaque titled “The Enoch Turner School 1848” was erected on the site in 1970. The property is designated by the City of Toronto under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (Bylaw 180-00).

Heritage Value

Historic Value:
Enoch Turner Schoolhouse is significant for its association with the introduction of free schools in the province and its connection to Enoch Turner (1792-1866), a wealthy brewer and philanthropist. The Schoolhouse was the first free school in Toronto; parents were not required to pay a fee to send their children to this school. When the Province introduced the Common School Act of 1847, municipalities were given the power to raise funds for public education via taxation. City aldermen were unwilling to introduce public taxes for education, and as a result all of the schools that benefited from any kind of public support were closed for a year. This motivated Enoch Turner to fund the first entirely free school in Toronto. The Schoolhouse was designed with the intent of educating children from the neighbourhood near Turner's brewery. The Schoolhouse was known as the Ward School. Little Trinity Church donated the land for the Schoolhouse, and in 1849 the Schoolhouse opened with space for 240 pupils. In 1850 school trustees were elected to oversee educational funding, and free public education officially began in Toronto in 1851. When the school was transferred to the City, it was renamed Trinity Street School. In 1859 the school and property were given back to Little Trinity parish and from the 1860s to the 1960s the Schoolhouse served as a parish hall and Sunday school for Little Trinity Church. The Schoolhouse was saved from demolition in the early 1970s and was restored for use as a living history site and conference centre.

Architectural Value:
Enoch Turner Schoolhouse is significant as an early example of Gothic Revival architecture in the City of Toronto. The Schoolhouse has a church-like appearance, and the design is attributed to architect Henry Bowyer Lane, who also designed Little Trinity Church (1843). The Schoolhouse is rectangular in plan, one storey high with a gable roof and brick parapet on the east façade. The Schoolhouse is clad in red brick and trimmed with buff brick, stone and wood. The east (main) entrance has a shallow porch with a gable roof. The tongue and groove door at the front entrance is accentuated by a stone pointed arch with voussoirs and a wood transom with a carved trefoil pattern. The entrance also incorporates lancet windows with pointed wood hood moulds and lug sills. There is a date stone over the door that reads “SCHOOL HOUSE ERECTED BY ENOCH TURNER, A.D. 1848.” The attic has a very small lancet window with stone trim in the pediment. The north wall contains five bays divided by buff-brick pilasters, and in the centre a segmental-arched opening has a pair of reproduction tongue and groove doors with reproduction hinges. The west wing of the Schoolhouse was added in 1869, and designed by architects Gundry and Langley to provide space for the Sunday school. The west wing features a hip roof with cross gables. Originally a ventilator lantern with a steeple and finial were on the roof, but now only its base remains. The west wing's exterior walls feature lancet windows at different heights with sandstone sills. The interior of the west wing features a square web of exposed timber trusses each in the shape of a shallow arch supported on four cast iron columns. This exposed structure is painted dark green. C. 1900, the south wall was removed from the original schoolhouse and widened by one bay. Both the 1869 and c. 1900 additions are complimentary in design to the original 1848 schoolhouse.

Contextual Value:
The Enoch Turner Schoolhouse is situated on the west side of Trinity Street, south of King Street East in the historic Corktown neighbourhood. The two adjacent mid-19th century brick buildings associated with the Schoolhouse (including Little Trinity Church and the Little Trinity Rectory) along with the open space surrounding them, form a unique urban composition of brick buildings, green space and mature trees.

Source: OHT Property files

Character-Defining Elements

Elements that contribute to the historical value of the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse include:
-Connection to the Common Schools Act of 1846 & 1847
-Association with wealthy brewer and philanthropist Enoch Turner
-Existence as the first entirely free school in Toronto and one of the earliest in the province

Exterior features that contribute to the architectural value of the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse include:
-Church-like appearance, scale and detailing
-The brick parapet on the east façade
-Projecting eave on the north façade
-The lancet-shaped windows openings
-Date stone over the entrance door “SCHOOL HOUSE ERECTED BY ENOCH TURNER, A.D. 1848.”
-Wood window hoods
-Stone window sills
-Buff-brick voussoirs above the entrance
-Remnants of the ventilator lantern base
-Roof lines with a moderate slope of approximately 4/12
-Buff-brick and red-brick dichromatic brickwork
-1869 and c. 1900 additions, complimentary to the design of the original schoolhouse

Interior features that contribute to the architectural value of the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse include:
-The exposed wood framing in the west hall
-The cast iron columns in the west hall
-Open volume of the schoolroom and west hall
-King-post truss roof framing in the attic

Characteristics that contribute to the contextual value of the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse include:
-Setting adjacent Little Trinity Church, and the Rectory which collectively form greenspace known as the church commons
-The collection of mature trees in the immediate area
-Slight setback off of Trinity Street (i.e. front lawn)
-Location in the historic neighbourhood of Corktown




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1841/01/01 to 1847/01/01
1849/01/01 to 1849/01/01
1851/01/01 to 1851/01/01
1970/01/01 to 1970/01/01
1972/01/01 to 1972/01/01
2000/01/01 to 2000/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


One-Room School

Architect / Designer

Henry Bower Lane



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Ontario Heritage Trust Property Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario The Anglican Diocese of Toronto Archives 135 Adelaide Street East Toronto, ON M5C 1L8 Anglican Diocese of Toronto Archives

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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