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Heritage Conservation District
(The St Lawrence Historic District)

Study proposed and started

Sept 2005
Summer 2013

1st Public Consultation on Study

October 2013

2nd Public Consultation on Study

April 2014
Study approved

May 2014
Plan Starts

Sept 2014

1st Public Consultation on Plan

March 2015
2nd Public Consultation on Plan

October 2015

Council Approval

December 2015

The HCD Plan for the St Lawrence Historic District was approved by the Toronto Preservation Board on 5 November, 2015, by the Toronto & East York Community Council on 10 Novermber 2015 and, slightly amended, by City Council in December 2015.

In addition to approving the Plan for the St Lawrence Historic District, TEYCC and Council asked City Staff to look into prioritising the creation of the HCD Plan for the "St Lawrence Residential District", which was recommended in the Study.

The PLAN as revised by Council IS AVAILABLE HERE Note: Very large pdf

See: City of Toronto By-Law 1328-2015

Among the planning tools that are useful in ensuring that new developments in an area are not overwhelming and that they respect a neighbourhood's history and heritage is having a Heritage Conservation District Plan.

The creation of a Heritage Conservation District Plan is a two-stage process:

Stage 1 is the preparation of an HCD Study and, if that is approved

Stage 2 is the writing and approval of an HCD Plan

City Heritage staff have a blog with additional information on all current HCD Studies at: http://hcdtoronto.wordpress.com

The objective of an HCD Study is “... to prepare research regarding the history, context, themes, development and character defining attributes of the area, to survey and assess all built form and landscape resources, to analyze the cultural heritage significance to make recommendations regarding the cultural heritage value of the area to determine if the study area has sufficient cultural heritage value to warrant the creation of HCD plan(s) and designation.”

The SLNA had been pressing for an HCD in our area for many years and as soon as the City's new HCD policy was approved in 2012 the St Lawrence Area was selected by City staff as a potential Heritage Conservation District (or Districts) and completing an HCD Study of this area was made a high priority.

Though the boundaries can vary as the Study proceeds, it is clearly necessary to set initial boundaries for the Study. For the St Lawrence Area Study the City's Heritage Staff suggested (and Council approved) that the Area should be   "...  inclusive of the area located east of Yonge Street (including the buildings on the west side of the street), south of Adelaide Street (including all buildings on the north side of the street), west of Parliament Street (including all buildings on the east side of the street) and north of the railway corridor."  

To conduct the Study the City hired the experienced heritage architects Fournier Gersovitz Moss Drolet et Associés Architectes (FGMDA) http://fgmda.com/en/ . During the Study Phase, to keep residents and property owners informed, two community consultation meetings were held:

The Presentation from the First Community Consultation on the Study is HERE

The Presentation from the Second Community Consultation on the Study is HERE

After these consultations a Staff Report was presented to the Toronto Preservation Board and the HCD Study Report for St Lawrence (Very large pdf file!) was approved.

This HCD Study Report recommended the creation of TWO HCD PLANS in St Lawrence. It was recommended that one of these HCD Plans (for the St Lawrence Historic District) should be created as soon as possible, the second (for the St Lawrence Residential Neighbourhood) at a later date.

As noted in the Report, the St. Lawrence Historic District is recommended for the immediate development of an HCD Plan. This area is under considerable development pressure, and a number of the currently proposed projects have the potential to significantly alter the character of the neighbourhood. The area’s importance lies in its historical value as the original footprint of the Town of York, now Toronto, capital of Upper Canada; its physical character, which includes a great concentration of 19th century buildings; and the contextual, social and community importance of its institutions and landmarks, such as the St. Lawrence Market and Hall, St. James’ Cathedral, and its numerous theaters.

On the other hand, the Study, noted, the residential area around David Crombie Park should be considered for the development of an HCD Plan at a future date. This is an important designed district that was developed in the 1980s as a result of a City initiative to promote mixed-income and socially diverse communities. With the exception of small scale modifications to individual residences, the overall neighbourhood character has not changed since its construction. This area is not, however, under any immediate development threat.

The boundary of the proposed St Lawrence Historic District runs, at the southern edge, along Front Street and includes buildings on both side of the street; at the east, along Parliament Street up to King Street, including the police station on the east side of the street, and then up Berkeley Street; to the north, along Adelaide Street encompassing both sides of the street; and to the west, down Victoria Street towards Berczy Park, then along Wellington Street to Yonge Street.

FGMDA, the consultants who carried out the HCD Study, were hired by the City to create the HCD Plan and it is currently being developed.

As with the Study phase, there are COMMUNITY CONSULTATIONS:

The FIRST COMMUNITY CONSULTATION on the PLAN was held in March 2015. (Presentation HERE)

The SECOND COMMUNITY CONSULTATION on the PLAN was held on Tuesday October 6th 2015

After this second Community Consultation FGMDA and City Heritage Preservation Services staff reviewed the public comments, revised the draft Plan as necessary and then reported to the Toronto Preservation Board, to the Toronto and East York Community Council and to Toronto City Council.

The Plan (slightly amended for clarity) was approved by Council in December 2015 - it can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.



As the task of surveying and photographing every building in the Study Area was massive, the SLNA organised a team of neighbourhood volunteers to work with FGMDA.

To assist these SLNA volunteers in completing the individual Building Survey Forms and add information to the building database that FGMDA was creating the SLNA prepared a listing of useful sources of heritage building information with particular emphasis on St Lawrence. Though the Study has now been completed we continue to list it below as it may be of interest to others. (If you have additional resources to suggest please send suggestions to webmaster@slna.ca)

Though many significant buildings in Toronto are neither listed nor designated, the City's Heritage Preservation Services maintains an online inventory of about 8000 designated buildings which have been assessed and are"listed" or "designated". This City inventory can be searched at:

There are two ‘levels’ of protection for buildings in the inventory:

"Listed" describes properties for which City Council has adopted a recommendation that it be included on the Inventory. These recommendations are based on criteria that relate to architecture, history, and neighbourhood context. Listing and inclusion on the Inventory is a clear statement that the City would like to see the heritage attributes of these properties preserved.

A higher level of protection exists for approximately 4500 of the properties on the Inventory that have been individually "designated" under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, or are located within a Heritage Conservation District designated under Part V.  Designated properties are identified by a by-law number.

A list of online historic maps of Toronto prepared by Nathan Ng is available at

There is an interesting article explaining the background of this very useful website at:

A separate listing of online Goad's Fire Atlases - from the same compiler - is available at:

A website about the original Park Lots - with many maps - is available at: http://wendysmithtoronto.com/parklotproject/

The Toronto's Historical Plaques website has photographs and the text of almost all the historic plaques in our area
It is available at: http://torontoplaques.com/

A listing of online Toronto City Directories (up to 1922) is available at:

The current official City Map shows exact current civic addresses and property boundaries if you expand it to cover a small area and click off the correct boxes. See: http://map.toronto.ca/maps/map.jsp?app=TorontoMaps_v2

The Toronto City Archives have a useful page on researching the history of your house at this link.

The Toronto Public Library has a very useful page on St Lawrence - their area is a bit larger than both the SLNA area and the HCD area but it contains links to maps, web sites, photographs and books.

Canada’s Historic Places database is at: http://historicplaces.ca/en/home-accueil.aspx

The University of Waterloo has produced a very useful guide to architectural styles, the "Ontario Architectural Style Guide" at:

Alberta Heritage has information on typical Canadian building styles and other heritage information HERE

The Ontario Architecture website also has a lot of information on building types: http://www.ontarioarchitecture.com/

The Historic Places information on building styles is at: http://historicplaces.ca/media/7173/buildingsofcanada.pdf

The Historic Places links to buildings etc are at: http://historicplaces.ca/en/pages/resources-ressources.aspx

Bruce Bell writes a ‘historical column’ in the Bulletin and many of his columns are available on the Bulletin site at:
http://thebulletin.ca A compilation of his columns, Amazing Tales of St Lawrence Neighbourhood, was published in 2001. It can be purchased from Canada's First Post Office at 260 Adelaide Street East and borrowed from the St Lawrence branch of the Toronto Public Library.

The City Archives have a large (and constantly expanding) collection of digitised photographs that can be searched online at:
http://www.toronto.ca/archives/   (Limit your search to digitised photographs.)

The Archives of Ontario also have many documents and photographs, many digitised at:

The “What Was There?” website is an interesting resource with lots of photographs and you can upload your own finds to it as well. It is available at:  http://www.whatwasthere.com/

UrbanToronto has several threads with historic photographs in their "City photos and videos" section - the best two probably being Miscellany Toronto Photographs: Then and Now See: HERE and Evocative Images of Lost Toronto. See: HERE

The Town of York Historical Society has a library. It can be consulted at Canada's First Post Office on Adelaide Street East. See:  http://www.townofyork.com/

On the Town of York Historical Society web page there is a map (based on the 1837 model of the town) with links to information about many historic buildings in our area.

There are also some local history books in the St Lawrence Branch of the Toronto Public Library (171 Front Street East) and, of course, at the Toronto Reference Library.

TO Built has information on quite a few of the buildings in St Lawrence at:

The compilation, Robertson's Landmarks of Toronto: a collection of historical sketches of the old town of York, from 1792 until 1837, and of Toronto from 1834 to 1908 was published in 1908. It has information on many of our older buildings. It is freely available online at: http://archive.org/details/landmarkstoronto05robeuoft

Revised by Webmaster: 15 December 2015