Toronto Feature: Gooderham Building | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Toronto Feature: Gooderham Building

This article is from our Toronto Feature series. Features from past programs are not updated.

This content is from a series created in partnership with Museum Services of the City of Toronto and Heritage Toronto. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

William Gooderham
William Gooderham established a small distillery in 1837 to use surplus grain from their flour mill (public domain).
The building's triangular shape results from the confluence of Wellington Street, which follows the traditional Town of York grid, with Front Street, 2012 (photo courtesy James Marsh).
Gooderham Building
In the 1960s (courtesy City of Toronto Archives/Fonds 124, Item 65).

Toronto Feature: Gooderham Building

"Toronto's Very Own 'Flatiron' Building"

The Gooderham Building stands like a ship's bow at the intersection of Church, Wellington and Front streets. It was built in 1891 to house offices belonging to the Gooderham family, who grew wealthy in the distilling and banking industries. Nicknamed the "Flatiron Building" for its resemblance to an old-fashioned clothes-iron, the building's triangular shape results from the meeting of Wellington Street with Front Street and the diagonal route that followed the 19th-century waterfront.

The distinctive building owes its appeal to more than its shape. Its colours, steep copper roof and distinctive tower aptly express the prestige of the Gooderham family and its power in the community. The tromp l'oeil painting on the rear of the building, by Derek Besant, has become an attraction in its own right.

Many people assume that the Gooderham Building is a copy of the better-known and larger Flatiron Building in New York City, but in fact it predates the latter by some 10 years.

A designated Heritage property, the Gooderham Building is still used for office space, complete with a pub in the basement.

See also Distillery Historic District / Gooderham & Worts National Historic Site.