In Toronto there is an outstanding museum that totally gives one the feeling that time is standing still in the era of the 1920s and 30s when things were simpler in one way and harder in another — a time when neighbours knew, trusted and helped one another. While lesser known than its larger neighbour Casa Loma, Spadina Museum Historic House and Gardens are equally and perhaps even more worthy of your time.
Spadina House has a long and interesting history. In 1866 James Austin, founder and president of the Dominion Bank and Consumers Gas, and his wife Susan had purchased the 80 acre property for $14,000 at an auction. They built the current mansion on the foundations of the pre-existing Baldwin home that was named Spadina and kept the same name for their new home. The name Spadina comes from a native word espadinong meaning hill.
During 1887-1892 he subdivided and sold parcels of his sought after land making around $200,000 a very abundant profit.
Amid the 19th and early 20th century this desired area became the home to many of Toronto's wealthiest families living on huge estates making it the richest neighbourhood in all of Toronto.
After James Austin passed away in 1897 his son Albert inherited the estate with 20 acres of land. Albert and his wife Mary greatly expanded the house adding a number of new rooms and altering it significantly with many renovations, including a grand third floor addition. They also updated and increased the beauty of the gardens with many new structures such as a greenhouse, a stucco garage and circular driveway. They left the mid-nineteenth century wooden stable which was later used for the gardeners until the late 1920s. This is the oldest building on the grounds.
In 1913 Albert Austin sold a big portion of his property to the city of Toronto for the development of the St. Clair Reservoir.
In 1978 Anna Kathleen Thompson (granddaughter of James and Susan Austin) partially sold and partially donated the mansion jointly to the city of Ontario and the Ontario Heritage Foundation. The transfer included furnishings, archives, family portraits, about 6 acres of gorgeous gardens in a park-like setting, and even the kitchen oven. These prized family possesions were given to the museum to honour her parents Albert and Mary.
The Spadina Museum first opened to the public in 1984 after two years of extensive safety updates and electrical rewiring were completed.
Twenty-five years later, after all the wear and tear from visitors who came to see the museum, it was once again closed for renovations. These renos which were made to the interior took 10 months to complete. Samples of leftover fabrics, wallpaper and other contents from the Austin family made it possible to create a vision of the way the house looked in the 1920s as well as educating guests about the social, economical and political lives of those living in that era.
Spadina House Museum has several guided tours of the historic 1866 restored mansion and beautiful gardens. There is a gift shop and it is fully accessible for those with special needs.
Facts For Your VisitFee: Yes there is a small admission fee which includes a tour when available.
285 Spadina Road
Toronto, ON M5R 2V5
Phone: +1 416-392-6910
April Y. Aug-11-2020
The highlight of my trip to Toronto. Very informative and interesting look into the 1920s. I was debating on going on the tour since I had just visited Casa... Read More
Brandon C. Jan-11-2014
The Spadina House Museum is a Toronto treasure. Located a short walk from Casa Loma, the Spadina House is an exercise in contrasts to its neighbouring... Read More
Grace P. Dec-31-2015
For $32 all inclusive was a great night where we were given a video tutorial on facinator hats, then an unlimited supply of materials to create your own... Read More
Accommodations near Spadina House:
|TTC Subway Line||Nearest Station||Walking Time|
|Yonge-University-Spadina||Dupont Station||8-10 MInutes|
How to get to Spadina House by TTC Subway
No bus needed. From Dupont Station walk 2 blocks north on Spadina Road to Davenport Road then follow the Baldwin stairs (110 steps) up the hill directly ahead of you. Spadina House is located right next door to Casa Loma.
If you prefer not to use the stairs you can proceed west on Davenport Road; right on Wallace Road and right again on Austin Terrace.
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