1859 University of Toronto Campus / Queen’s Park [Plan of the University Park]

The University of Toronto / King’s College / University College
‘The university land had been little developed since its purchase in 1829 [by Bishop Strachan]. King’s College ['The Asylum', lower right] had been built in 1842, but was later used as a lunatic asylum. In 1854 the eastern part of the site (now Queen’s Park) was proposed as the location for new provincial parliament buildings [but nothing was built until 1886; see 2nd map below. -N.].

University College was opened in 1859 and some of the curving drives were added in that year. Taddle Creek, prominently shown in the middle, was polluted with sewage from Yorkville by the 1870s and remained a bone of contention between city and university until it was covered over in the 1880s.’

- Isobel Ganton & Joan Winearls, MAPPING TORONTO'S FIRST CENTURY 1787-1884

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Campus Map of area bounded by College, St. George, Bloor and Surrey Place [Plan of the University Park], c. 1859
Map courtesy of: University of Toronto Archives, 2003-42-3f [A1965-0001(20)]
Winearls, MUC no. 2103 (2)

Queen’s Park
In 1854 the eastern portion of the university lands was the proposed location for the new legislature buildings, as reflected in this earlier map by John Stoughton Dennis (see next) showing nearby lots for sale from the Denison estate. It was then hoped that Toronto would be chosen by Queen Victoria as the permanent capital of the Province of Canada. Due to a lack of funds (and Toronto being passed over in favour of Ottawa), the depicted plan by Cumberland and Ridout for the Parliament Buildings “about to be erected” was never built.

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Plan of Part of the City of Toronto Shewing the Town Lots on Bellevue For Sale by the Trustees for the Denison Estate March 1854
John Stoughton Dennis P.L.S. Maclear & Co. Lith. Toronto
Map courtesy of Toronto Public Library: T1854/4Msm
Winearls, MUC no. 2105

In 1859 the University leased 49 acres—an area encompassing the present day Ontario Legislature, parts of the modern day university campus, and portions of College Street and University Avenue—to the City of Toronto for a period of 999 years, to create a public park. Queen’s Park was officially opened by the Prince of Wales on September 11, 1860.

It would take decades to revive the notion of erecting legislature buildings on the site [see next map]. In 1880, the southern portion of the Park was turned over to the Province of Ontario for construction. Observe how the former King's College building, used as the 'University Lunatic Asylum' until 1869, is now merely labelled 'Old Building to be Removed'.

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Site of the proposed parliament buildings, Ontario. Queen's Park.
Department of Public Works, Ontario. Toronto, April 7, 1880
Map courtesy of Toronto Public Library: T1880/4Mlrg

Supplementary Photos — View from University College
I came across this set of four remarkable photos taken in 1859 by William Notman, from the top of University College. The views they depict correspond to a large section of the 1859 map of the campus.

Looking east from University College to King’s College/
the University Lunatic Asylum

Looking south east to the Moss Hall (the Medical Building).
The closer structure is the residence of George Kingston,
the Director of the Observatory.

Looking south to the Magnetic Observatory (in its original location)

Looking north towards Yorkville

Reference: see E 9-277 and E 9-278. Note: I only confirmed the provenance for these two photos, but am inclined to believe that the other two are also Notman’s. Please let me know if there is evidence to the contrary!

Bonus Map — 1852 Exhibition Grounds
The following map shows the Exhibition Grounds in 1852,  located that year a little south of Queen’s Park along the west side of College Avenue (a.k.a. University).


Sketch of the Exhibition Grounds, Toronto
Lithograph by S.A.F. in Canadian Journal v.1, no.3 (October 1852) facing p. 49.
Map courtesy of Toronto Public Library: JRR 3539

Further reading on Queen’s Park:
Queen’s Park - Via Ontario Heritage Trust.

Please ‘Like’ and Share these maps with other Toronto history enthusiasts! (+1s are also welcome!)