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Wesley Building

299, Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5V, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/08/11

North and west facades of Wesley Building; City of Toronto, 2005
Wesley Building, 2005
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/03/09

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The imposing five-storey terra cotta clad Wesley Building is located on the southeast corner of Queen Street West and John Street and has a three-storey rear (south) wing extending south towards Richmond Street West. Currently know as the CHUM Building, the property is recognized for its cultural heritage value or interest by the City of Toronto, which designated it under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act by By-law #589-86 on August 11, 1986.

Heritage Value

The architectural value of the former Wesley Building is reflected in the 1913 design by the Toronto architectural firm of Burke, Horwood and White. It exhibits an outstanding example of terra cotta cladding, entirely covering its three main facades which constitute a fine sculptural composition in a picturesque Gothic motif. Of particular interest are the main entrance, the ornamented pilasters and parapets and the grotesque readers and scribes along the second horizontal band. The main foyer with its elaborate ceiling is also worthy of note.

Heritage value also lies in its historical association with the social development of the City of Toronto. The Wesley Building was commissioned by the Methodist Church and later transformed into a media centre associated with Toronto’s cultural development. Constructed in 1913, the building originally housed the administrative offices, presses and book rooms of the Methodist Book and Publishing Company. The business was renamed The Ryerson Press in 1919 in honour of Egerton Ryerson, its first editor and the Methodist minister credited with the establishment of Ontario’s public school system. After the founding of the United Church of Canada in 1925 (absorbing the Methodist Church, Canada), the Wesley Building served as its national headquarters until 1959.

Following the church’s sale of the Wesley Building in the early 1970s, the subsequent owners leased the space to artists, artisans and cultural organizations establishing its association with the City’s cultural value. In 1985, Allan Waters acquired the property as the headquarters of CHUM Limited, one of Canada’s leading media companies. The restoration and renaming of the Wesley Building as the CHUM-City Building in 1987 retained the white glazed terra cotta facades while transforming the interior into a broadcasting centre. The successful conversion of the building contributed to the ongoing revitalization of Queen Street West as a cultural destination in downtown Toronto.

This building is unique in the city and is a major landmark on Queen Street West, illustrating its continued sound contextual value to the streetscape and the City of Toronto, where its industrial character and increasingly rare cladding stand out amid the adjoining commercial buildings. This well-designed example of Neo-Gothic architecture with decorative elements associated with the original purpose of the building as a religious publishing house illustrates the successful use of a relatively new building technology.

Sources: City of Toronto By-law #589-86
City of Toronto Heritage Easement Agreement #CT825263 registered Oct 28, 1986

Character-Defining Elements

The key character-defining elements that relate to the distinctive Neo-Gothic style of the Wesley Building include:
- the application of medieval-inspired detailing
- the white glazed terra cotta cladding on three facades with piers
- the recessed spandrel panels
- the roof parapets
- the crocketed pinnacles
- white glazed terra cotta on thee elevations
- ogee arches and foils
- scribes on the moulded band course between the second and third stories-
- roundels with book motifs and trefoils on the piers
- the arched surround on the main entrance on Queen Street West
- the interior coffered plaster ceiling in the entrance foyer off Queen Street West

The key character –defining elements that reflect the contextual values of the building to the Queen Street West streetscape include:
- the five-story terra cotta clad facades of the Wesley Building facing Queen Street West (north), John Street (west) and Richmond Street West (south)
- its industrial character as illustrated by the symetrics and scale of this neo-gothic deign




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

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services

Architect / Designer

Burke, Horwood and White



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Preservation Services, City Planning Division, City of Toronto

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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