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.
Currently ClosedHours This Week:
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesday: 12:00 – 5:00 PM
- Wednesday: 12:00 – 5:00 PM
- Thursday: 12:00 – 5:00 PM
- Friday: 12:00 – 5:00 PM
- Saturday: 12:00 – 5:00 PM
- Sunday: 12:00 – 5:00 PM
Address: 285 Spadina Rd, Toronto, ON M5R 2V5, Canada
Phone: (416) 392-6910
Official Website: 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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Ratedout of 5
This is a museum of quite manageable size. Our guide was very knowledgeable and was able to give us a real feel for what life was like for the family in this house
N Salgo - 1 month ago
$9 entry and very good tour. Lovely house and older than Casa Loma.
Elizabeth MacLeod - 1 month ago
Never know that there was such a building until I visited. The guided tour was very detailed. Although it is located in the city, I managed to park for free in the street, legally. Otherwise, it would have costed me at least $10
James Pang - 1 month ago
Don't go on Mondays. ..it's closed. It's beautiful on the outside lol. Very helpful staff...even off shift.lol Looking foward to going when open. Looks beautiful through the windows looking in. I have been before, and it's wonderful, just wanted to take the kids this time.
Mark Hurlburt - 2 months ago
This more modest yet still grand dwelling, placed in the shadow of the palatial Casa Loma, is a wonderful place to visit on a beautiful day when the gardens are in full bloom. The interior is also worth a visit, but there is a fee to enter. It is fun to see how people lived in the recent past, with the interior reflecting the era of the early 1900's. They seem to have some fun events periodically as well. The gardens are breathtaking (and free on the day we were there, although I think you can also pay for tours of the grounds) to wander around, with flowers and a vegetable garden. So beautiful! Great for photographers!
Laurel McBrine - 3 months ago