Baldwin Steps – A Monumental Staircase Leading up the Escarpment

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2020 - The Baldwin Steps leading to Casa Loma are located at Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd
2020 – The Baldwin Steps leading to Casa Loma are located at Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd

The Baldwin Steps are located at Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto.

The Baldwin Family, The Staircase & Spadina Houses

William Warren Baldwin was born in Ireland in 1775. He was educated as a doctor and emigrated to Canada in 1799. In 1818, Baldwin built a home on the land near the top of today’s Baldwin Steps and called it Spadina House. When the house was named, it was pronounced “Spadeena,” which comes from the Ojibwe word “ishpadinaa.” It means high hill or ridge.

February 14, 1913 - Looking north up the staircase (Baldwin Steps) from Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd
February 14, 1913 – Looking north up the staircase (Baldwin Steps) from Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub Series 52, Item 4)

When the Baldwin family’s first house was destroyed by fire in 1835, they built a house in the city (at Front and Bay Sts, northwest corner), which became their permanent home. In 1836, Spadina House was rebuilt, and his son Robert lived there. That same year, Dr William Baldwin, who was also an architect, lawyer and politician, laid out Spadina as a grand boulevard from Queen St W to Davenport Rd (the portion of Spadina Ave, south of Queen St W was called Brock St until 1884). To accommodate the steep slope of the escarpment, wooden steps were built from the base at Davenport Rd up to the top of the ridge.

William Baldwin passed away in 1844; however, when his son Robert died in 1858, the Spadina House and land were sold to the Austin family. While they demolished most of the house in 1866, they used the foundation to build the present-day Spadina Museum.

In 1913, the original steps were replaced.

Spadina Expressway

In the 1960s, the Ontario government planned to build the Spadina Expressway through the area. In 1971, after much opposition from citizens, plans for the highway fell through, but not before the land surrounding the steps and several homes had already been expropriated.

Today’s Baldwin Steps

In 1984, the City of Toronto leased the land from the Government of Ontario. The Baldwin Steps we know today were rebuilt and officially opened in 1988. Made of concrete, they rise to a circular landing flanked by retaining walls and pillars and contain a small amphitheatre. With metal railings, the 110-steps zigzag from landing to landing up the steep hill, all surrounded by beautiful trees, plants and flowers.

Baldwin Steps Photos

2021 - The Baldwin Steps are located at Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto
2021 – The Baldwin Steps are located at Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto
February 14, 1913 - Looking north up the staircase (Baldwin Steps) from Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd
February 14, 1913 – Looking north up the staircase (Baldwin Steps) from Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub Series 52, Item 4)
2022 - Looking up the Baldwin Steps from Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto
2022 – Looking up the Baldwin Steps from Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto
2020 - Looking south down Spadina Rd from the Baldwin Steps
2020 – Looking south down Spadina Rd from the Baldwin Steps
1907 - Looking south down Spadina Rd from north of Davenport Rd
1907 – Looking south down Spadina Rd from north of Davenport Rd (Toronto Public Library R-1462)
2020 - The Baldwin Steps leading to Casa Loma are located at Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd
2020 – The Baldwin Steps leading to Casa Loma are located at Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd
1990 or 1991 - Looking south down Spadina Rd from the Baldwin Steps
1990 or 1991 – Looking south down Spadina Rd from the Baldwin Steps (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 766, Item 1)
2023 - Looking south from Baldwin Steps towards Spadina Rd with the Toronto skyline and the CN Tower in the background
2023 – Looking south from Baldwin Steps towards Spadina Rd with the Toronto skyline and the CN Tower in the background
2022 - Baldwin Steps in the Casa Loma/Dupont by the Castle neighbourhood of Toronto
2022 – Baldwin Steps in the Casa Loma/Dupont by the Castle neighbourhood of Toronto
Between 1980 and 1987 – Looking north up the Baldwin Steps from Spadina Rd and Davenport Rd
Between 1980 and 1987 – Looking north up the Baldwin Steps from Spadina Rd and Davenport Rd (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 444, Item 10)
2020 - Looking towards the Baldwin Steps from Spadina Rd and Davenport Rd in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto
2020 – Looking towards the Baldwin Steps from Spadina Rd and Davenport Rd in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto
2023 - Looking northwest from Spadina Rd towards Davenport Rd, the Baldwin Steps and Casa Loma
2023 – Looking northwest from Spadina Rd towards Davenport Rd, the Baldwin Steps and Casa Loma
Between 1980 and 1987 – Looking up the Baldwin Steps during construction with the Casa Loma in the background
Between 1980 and 1987 – Looking up the Baldwin Steps during construction with the Casa Loma in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 444, Item 11)
2023 -  Looking northwest from Spadina Rd and Davenport Rd towards the Baldwin Steps and the Casa Loma’s east wall
2023 – Looking northwest from Spadina Rd and Davenport Rd towards the Baldwin Steps and the Casa Loma’s east wall
2022 - Looking south down Spadina Rd from Baldwin Steps in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto. Notice the CN Tower in the background
2022 – Looking south down Spadina Rd from Baldwin Steps in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto. Notice the CN Tower in the background
Circa 1911 - New Baldwin Steps from Davenport Rd to Casa Loma are on the left, and the old ones are on the right
Circa 1911 – New Baldwin Steps from Davenport Rd to Casa Loma are on the left, and the old ones are on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 4139)
January 11, 1907 - Looking north from railway tracks near Walmer Rd with the Baldwin Steps in the background
January 11, 1907 – Looking north from railway tracks near Walmer Rd with the Baldwin Steps in the background (Toronto Public Library R-6783)
1991 – Looking south down Spadina Rd from Baldwin Steps in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto
1991 – Looking south down Spadina Rd from Baldwin Steps in the Casa Loma and Dupont by the Castle neighbourhoods of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 418, Item 33)
2023 - Looking south near the top of Baldwin Steps along Spadina Rd. Notice the CN Tower and the Toronto skyline in the background
2023 – Looking south near the top of Baldwin Steps along Spadina Rd. Notice the CN Tower and the Toronto skyline in the background
Between 1980 and 1987 – A plan of the Baldwin Steps at Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd in the Casa Loma/Dupont by the Castle neighbourhood of Toronto
Between 1980 and 1987 – A plan of the Baldwin Steps at Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd in the Casa Loma/Dupont by the Castle neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 444, Item 9)
2022 – The plaque reads: 

The Baldwin Family 

“Looking south, one can see Spadina Road, laid out by the Baldwin Family as a grand thoroughfare from Queen Street to Davenport Road. William Baldwin (1775-1844), physician, lawyer, politician and architect built the first "Spadina" in 1818 and the second in 1835 after the earlier home was destroyed by fire. After William's death the estate passed to his son Robert Baldwin (1804-1858) one time co-premier of the United Canadas. Both men were leading political figures whose drive for peaceful change brought about major constitutional and administrative reform in government including the implementation of "Responsible Government" initiated by William Baldwin.” 

The Baldwin Steps were opened officially in September 1988 - City of Toronto
2022 – The plaque reads:

The Baldwin Family

“Looking south, one can see Spadina Road, laid out by the Baldwin Family as a grand thoroughfare from Queen Street to Davenport Road. William Baldwin (1775-1844), physician, lawyer, politician and architect built the first “Spadina” in 1818 and the second in 1835 after the earlier home was destroyed by fire. After William’s death the estate passed to his son Robert Baldwin (1804-1858) one time co-premier of the United Canadas. Both men were leading political figures whose drive for peaceful change brought about major constitutional and administrative reform in government including the implementation of “Responsible Government” initiated by William Baldwin.”

The Baldwin Steps were opened officially in September 1988 – City of Toronto
1886 - Baldwin family's home at Front St W and  Bay St, northeast corner
1886 – Baldwin family’s home at Front St W and Bay St, northeast corner (Toronto Public Library R-6754)
2022 - The Spadina Museum located at 285 Spadina Rd
2022 – The Spadina Museum located at 285 Spadina Rd
 Illustration of the Baldwin Family's second Spadina House 1836 to 1866
Illustration of the Baldwin Family’s second Spadina House 1836 to 1866 (Toronto Public Library R-5254)
An illustration of the Baldwin Family's first Spadina House (1818-1835)
An illustration of the Baldwin Family’s first Spadina House (1818-1835) (Toronto Public Library R-5257)
Circa 1830 - The Honourable William Warren Baldwin
Circa 1830 – The Honourable William Warren Baldwin (Toronto Public Library JRR268)
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