Black Horse Hotel – The Last of Old Toronto’s Taverns

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Circa 1885 - Black Horse Hotel was once located at the northeast corner of Front St E and George St in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. The structure was built about 1820 by George Monro as a residence. It became the Black Horse in the early 1840s when William Rolph converted the building into a tavern
Circa 1885 – Black Horse Hotel was once located at the northeast corner of Front St E and George St in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto (Toronto Public Library R-2641)

The Black Horse Hotel was once located at 114-116 Front St E (at George St on the northeast corner) in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Monro Residence

Built in approximately 1820, the structure was originally the grand residence of George Monro, Esquire and his family. The 2-storey home was made from square-hewn (cut) timbers from solid logs and painted white. It had beautiful gardens and a splendid view of Toronto Bay when the shoreline reached Front St E (at the time, this portion of Front St E from Jarvis St to the Don River was known as Palace St). The Scottish-born George Monro was a dry goods merchant who served as an alderman and as Toronto’s 6th mayor from 1841 to 1842.

The Black Horse Inn/Hotel

While retaining ownership of the land and building, when the Monros moved to Wellington St W near John St in the early 1840s, they allowed William Rolph to take over the residence. He turned it into a tavern called the Black Horse Inn. The gardens became stable yards. Farmers would stop at the tavern after trading their goods at the market, where St Lawrence Market stands today.

The inn was renamed the Black Horse Hotel, and it was the place to talk about Muddy York’s politics. Over the years, the look of the building had changed – it was stuccoed, extensions on the north and east were added, and the porch was updated to a verandah. The tavern was at the eastern front of the building.

The hotel had several different operators, including Captain Cox and, by the late 1870s, Alfred Oxford. When Mr Oxford was the proprietor, there were 42 bedrooms, ladies’ and gentlemen’s sitting areas, and seven employees. The hotel attracted those in farming and also American horse buyers as there was stabling for about 300 horses on the property. In 1912, John Chadwick owned the hotel, and it became a temperance (alcohol-free) house.

When the Black Horse was torn down in 1919, the worn and forgotten hotel was amongst the waterfront district’s smoky industrial landscape. It was considered the last of Old Toronto’s taverns.

Known for years as the “Old Black Horse” property, it was not until 1941 that the Monro Estate sold the land, assessed at $16,000 to $17,000.

The Corner After The Hotel

Various businesses and gas stations later occupied the former hotel site, and today, the northeast corner is home to a mixed-use building.

Black Horse Hotel Photos

Sketch of George Monro's residence, later the Black Horse Hotel, that once occupied the northeast corner of Front St E and George S
Sketch of George Monro’s residence, later the Black Horse Hotel, that once occupied the northeast corner of Front St E and George St (Landmarks of Toronto Volume 1 by J Ross Robertson – 1893)
Circa 1885 - Black Horse Hotel was once located at the northeast corner of Front St E and George St in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. The structure was built about 1820 by George Monro as a residence. It became the Black Horse in the early 1840s when William Rolph converted the building into a tavern
Circa 1885 – Black Horse Hotel was once located at the northeast corner of Front St E and George St in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. The structure was built about 1820 by George Monro as a residence. It became the Black Horse in the early 1840s when William Rolph converted the building into a tavern (Toronto Public Library R-2641)
Circa 1890 - An aerial view looking northwest over Toronto from Front St E and George St. Notice St Lawrence Market North, the Cathedral Church of St James, St Lawrence Hall and the Black Horse Hotel
Circa 1890 – An aerial view looking northwest over Toronto from Front St E and George St. Notice St Lawrence Market North, the Cathedral Church of St James, St Lawrence Hall and the Black Horse Hotel (Toronto Public Library 968-12-5666)
1972 – Shell gas station later occupied the site of the former Black Horse Hotel on the northeast corner of Front St E and George St
1972 – Shell gas station later occupied the site of the former Black Horse Hotel on the northeast corner of Front St E and George St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 20, Item 13)
2023 - The northeast corner of Front St E and George St in Toronto’s Old Town neighbourhood is home to a mixed-use building. It was once the site of the Black Horse Hotel
2023 – The northeast corner of Front St E and George St in Toronto’s Old Town neighbourhood is home to a mixed-use building. It was once the site of the Black Horse Hotel
1843 to 1844 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address and proprietor William Rolph of the Black Horse Inn. At the time, this portion of Front St E from Jarvis St to the Don River was known as Palace St
1843 to 1844 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address and proprietor William Rolph of the Black Horse Inn. At the time, this portion of Front St E from Jarvis St to the Don River was known as Palace St (Toronto Public Library)
1867 to 1868 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address and proprietor William Cox of the Black Horse Inn
1867 to 1868 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address and proprietor William Cox of the Black Horse Inn (Toronto Public Library)
1883 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Black Horse Hotel
1883 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Black Horse Hotel (Toronto Public Library)
1911 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address and proprietor John Chadwick of the Black Horse Hotel
1911 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address and proprietor John Chadwick of the Black Horse Hotel (Toronto Public Library)
1899 - Goads Map showing the location of the Black Horse Hotel
1899 – Goads Map showing the location of the Black Horse Hotel (Toronto Public Library)
SOURCE
  • The Toronto Daily Star Newspaper Archives: Feb 28, 1919, pg 2
  • The Toronto Daily Star Newspaper Archives: Mar 31, 1941, pg 25
  • Historical and Commercial Sketches of Toronto by Industries of Canada by MG Bixby & Co (1886), pg 157
  • Landmarks of Toronto: Volume 1 by J Ross Robertson (1894), pgs 364-366
  • Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives & Toronto Public Library
  • Toronto City Directory by Might Directories Ltd 1867-68, 1883 & 1911 courtesy of Toronto Public Library
  • Vintage Map: Atlas of the City of Toronto 1899 by Chas E Goad courtesy of Toronto Public Library

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