March 31, 1972, brought an unusual sight to downtown Toronto. An 1822 house, originally the home of Sir William Campbell, sixth Chief Justice of Upper Canada, moved from Adelaide and Frederick Streets in the old Town of York to its current site at Queen and University. It was the Town’s oldest remaining building. (Although The Grange behind the Art Gallery on Dundas Street dates from 1817, it was built out in the countryside, far from the few blocks of the original town.) Campbell House sat in an area now booming with condo development and rejuvenated warehouses, but then a run-down district where an old house just got in the way of a parking lot expansion.
As I write this, we are celebrating Victoria Day weekend. Victoria herself was only 3 when Campbell House was built.
Moving the house was quite a challenge as the following photographs show.
Campbell House sits on its original site, but already it has been jacked up from its foundation onto a set of dollies and rotated so that it is ready to begin its journey out onto Adelaide Street. The “Bon Voyage” card on the wall is from Hallmark Cards, owners of the site, who wanted to expand their parking lot.
The house moves out onto Adelaide Street.
Campbell House almost looks at home here on Adelaide Street just west of Jarvis. The building to its left will be familiar to readers of the new book Full Frontal T.O. by Patrick Cummins and Shawn Micallef. In 1972, the signs advertised “TYPEWRITERS” and, in smaller letters “Adding Machines”. By 1989, in the first of Cummins photos, “Computers” have replaced the adding machines. In 1998, computers took main billing.
Cambpell House made its way across Church Street with the TTC’s overhead crew removing wires as necessary for its passage. Along Adelaide, the street lights were rotated 90° on their poles to give the house enough room to pass.
Looking north on Toronto Street from King. 10 Toronto Street, originally a Post Office, stands on the west side. It is about 30 years younger than the house.
Campbell House crosses Yonge Street. The subway stopped running as the house rolled above lest the combination of vibrations and the weight of the building led to disaster for the subway or the house.
Looking southeast to York and Adelaide. From the angle of the shadows, you can see that we have progressed from early morning to midday.
Campbell House turns north on University Avenue from Adelaide.
Looking down on Campbell House at Richmond Street.
Campbell House cleared Queen Street and streetcar service immediately resumed. The hoarding around Osgoode Hall was for a renovation then in progress. The house spent Saturday evening sitting just east of its final site and the move to its new foundation was left for Sunday, April 1.
Here Campbell House is part way down the slope to its new (and current) location.
Looking back at these pictures, I was amazed at how close the crowd following the move was to the building. In these days of Health & Safety Officers (with liability lawyers in close pursuit), the crowd would be kept back for blocks.