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.
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.