It may be Toronto’s best kept secret that the real ‘Old City Hall’ here is actually the South St. Lawrence Market. That’s right – the first official City Hall in Toronto was right in our neighbourhood in what is now our favourite place to buy groceries. Want to know more?
In 1834 when the town of York was officially renamed Toronto, the city council wanted a place to congregate and temporarily moved into a space in the building on King Street East. Within a decade, the population of Toronto had tripled and it was decided that we deserved our own City Hall. Henry Bowyer Lane, who also happened to design part of Osgoode Hall here in Toronto, was commissioned to design the building.
The new City Hall was built in 1845. It was made entirely of brick and had a ton of office space, a council chamber, and even access to the farmers’ market in the building behind it. This City Hall was in use for just over 50 years, until 1899 when what is now called Old City Hall at Queen and Bay was built.
A few years after the City of Toronto council had moved out of the building, it was turned into what we know today as the South Market. Since the move, the building has been restored and added to, but when you’re standing at the main entrance at Front and Lower Jarvis you can still clearly see the original facade of the old City Hall (look for the white bricks).
Something to think about next time you’re heading to pick up dinner!