Justice Elmsley’s house, with its high white walls …      - Consolation

Government House



Government House & Grounds, Toronto C.W. on the Queen's Birth-day, 1854. Lithograph by Lucius O’Brien, 1854. From Toronto Public Library, Toronto Reference Library, Special Collections (T 11870)

Roy Thomson Hall. Photograph, 2008. © Toronto Public Library

Government House, originally the home of Chief Justice John Elmsley (who lived there from 1798 until 1802), was purchased in 1815 for the residence of the province's governor. Located near the southwest corner of King and Simcoe streets, in the 1850s the frame house was surrounded by a wooded area that extended south to Wellington Street. As this picture attests, Torontonians in the 1850s (overwhelmingly of British origin) were intensely loyal to the British monarchy.

Roy Thomson Hall occupies 2.5 acres of the former site of two Government Houses. The first, originally Elmsley House, stood from 1798 until being destroyed by fire on January 10, 1862 (see left). The second, a three-storey red brick house completed in 1870, was sold in 1912 to the Canadian Pacific Railway, which replaced it with a large freight and express building; the railway remained at this location until the early 1970s. In September 1978, construction began on a new concert hall, which opened four years later. It was named for Roy Thomson (1894-1976), the Canadian media mogul, whose family contributed $4.5 million towards the $57 million facility.