I went to the Ontario Collage of Art and Design (OCAD) from 2002 until 2006. The university is located at the corner of McCaul and Dundas Street West beside the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). I would often take walks in the park located beside the university and marvel at this old home known as “The Grange”. This building holds the title as the oldest stone building in Toronto as it was built in 1817, and it gets extra points for being in the location it was built. The property ran from Lot Street (Queen Street) until Bloor, in between Beverly and McCaul. It boggles the mind that people used to own so much property. I guess this is also why the city feels like it is cut in half at Bloor. The Grange was built for D’Arcy Boulton Jr. and his wife Sarah Anne. The would end up having eight kids and one of which would be William Boulton who ended up being the mayor of Toronto four times during the 1840’s. D’Arcy left the house to Sarah Anne, who then left it to her daughter in law Harriette. She married Goldwin Smith and they lived in the house until their death. The back end of their land was sold to friends so they could build a collage, which would eventually become the University of Toronto. The house got improved upon over the years and when the Smith’s died (1909-10) they left the house to the Ontario Society of Artist which turned the house into an art gallery and school.
Now here is where it gets interesting. The Boulton’s were a part of a group called “The Family Compact”. Charles Dickens called them a group prone to rabid Toryism, a society that were conservative, traditionalist and loyal to keeping the Church of England as the model for society. The Family Compact or “Tories” were based out of York (Toronto) and led by Bishop John Strachan. They controlled the government, which in turn meant that they controlled who got the land. They built churches which reflected their ideals and tried to restrict the building of Catholic, Presbyterian and Methodist buildings. The government would allot farms and tracks of land to the members of the Family Compact in the best parts of the city, while allocating difficult tracks of land and almost isolating farms to people who were not a part of this elite group. This is why the Boulton’s got such a large section of land in the city. This fight for land would eventually lead to the Upper Canada Rebellion.
Looking at the pictures we can see the expansion of the house with the additions made by the collage to the east, as well as the new Frank O’Gehry addition to the AGO. Personally I do not like the blue paneling; it makes it look like it is still under construction and clashes with the Grange beneath. We can see that most of the original trees have been replaced and the ivy growing on the house has been removed. This park looks…. pretty nice in the summer time when the leaves have reappeared, so do not let the drab weather sway your opinion too much. I think my favorite image is the one with the people visiting the house. I wonder if it was for Smith’s Funeral or because people were visiting the new site for the art gallery. I love their hats and dresses; you really get a feel for the time when there are people in the image setting the tone. All in all I am very happy that this site is around for people to visit. It is a treasure that I am glad is being preserved for future generations.