UrbanToronto has partnered with Heritage Toronto to capture a moment in Toronto's past. On a weekly basis, we will both be highlighting a historic photo of the city's people, places and events, and will be telling the stories behind them. Many thanks to both Gary Switzer of MOD Developements and Maya Bilbao for putting together the photos and research.  This week's photo:

Berkeley House, Toronto, 1908Berkeley House, 1908

Captured in this 1908 photograph is the home of Major John Small. Born in England in 1746, Small emigrated to Upper Canada and was appointed clerk of the Executive Council of Upper Canada in*1792. Small was described by Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe as “a Gentleman who possesses and is entitled to my highest confidence.” Small took on several other posts including Justiceship on the Peace in York, Lieutenant-Colonelcy of the York militia in 1798, and Office of Clerk of the Crown and Pleas from 1806 to 1825. Small was perhaps most famous for participating in an historic duel in January 1800 where he fatally wounded the Attorney General of Upper Canada, John White. Small was acquitted on a charge of murder after a brief trial. In 1795, Small purchased an existing log house at the southwest corner of today's Berkeley and King Streets that was one of the first domestic buildings erected in the Town of York. The hewn log building was described by preeminent historian and author Henry Scadding in 1873 as “one of the usual low looking domiciles of the country with central portion and two gable wings, somewhat after the fashion of many an old country manor house in England.” Small and later his son Charles expanded the home. At one point the exterior was stuccoed and renovated with the addition of Gothic style fenestration. Berkeley House was located on a one acre property surrounded by a yard and garden described as “one of the great social centres and few indeed are the members of the old aristocracy who have not danced or dined beneath its roof.” By the 20th century Berkeley House was past its prime and was demolished in 1926. Today's Berkeley Street is said to be named after the small estate owned by Major John Small.

Sources Toronto No Mean City, p.21-25


Toronto of Old by Henry Scadding, passim


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