Canadian General Electric Company Building – A Beaux-Arts Gem

2020 - Canadian General Electric Company Building
2020 – Canadian General Electric Company Building

The Canadian General Electric Company Building is located at ‪212 King St W‬ (at Simcoe St on the northwest corner) in the Entertainment District of Toronto.

CGE was founded in the late 1800s. The company manufactured electrical equipment when electrical power was first generated for use in homes and businesses.

Built in 1907, the architect team of Darling & Pearson designed CGE’s Head Office. The Beaux-Arts Classical-style gem is also known as the Union Building. The classically adorned Canadian General Electric Company Building helped set the standard for warehouses along King St W as the area was transitioning from an institutional to an industrial setting (more on that below).

Architectural & Heritage Highlights

  • The 5-storey building is clad with brick and features accents of white glazed terra cotta, stone, metal and wood.
  • At the raised entrance, there’s a stone portico with paired columns along with an elaborate cartouche.
  • The 1st floor features banded brickwork, two round-arch window openings with hood moulds and keystones.
  • Marking the 5th floor roofline is an extended metal cornice with brackets and terra cotta (note the 6th storey mansard roof is an addition).
  • There’s a remaining pier on the north side, on Pearl St.

The Union Building which received heritage status in 1973, adjoins two warehouses at 214 and 220 King St W, also constructed for CGE and its subsidiaries.

1908 - Upper Canada College
1908 – Upper Canada College

Once the Site of Upper Canada College

Prior to the Union Building, the area was home to Upper Canada College from 1829 to 1891. Bounded by King, John, Adelaide and Simcoe Sts, the block was called Russell Square. A plaque commemorating the school was added on the building’s east side in 1929. The school moved to the present Deer Park/Forest Hill site.

Today, the architectural treasure is home to businesses and restaurants including the British-style pub Elephant & Castle and to the Texas BBQ smokehouse Meat & Pie Co.

Canadian General Electric Company Building Photos

1980 - Canadian General Electric Company Building from the Lord Simcoe Hotel, 16th Floor
1980 – A view of the Canadian General Electric Company Building taken from the former Lord Simcoe Hotel which was once located on the northeast corner of University Ave and King St W
2020 - Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W‬ and Simcoe St on the northwest corner
2020 – Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W‬ and Simcoe St on the northwest corner
2020 - Canadian General Electric Company Building entrance
2020 – Canadian General Electric Company Building entrance
2020 - Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W‬ and Simcoe St on the northwest corner
2020 – Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W‬ and Simcoe St on the northwest corner
1975 - Simcoe St at King St West looking north - Canadian General Electric Company Building on the northwest corner
1975 – Simcoe St at King St West looking north – Canadian General Electric Company Building on the northwest corner
1972 - Shakespeare's Dining Room in Canadian General Electric Company Building
1972 – Shakespeare’s Dining Room in Canadian General Electric Company Building
1972 - Corner of University Ave & Pearl St looking west to Canadian General Electric Company Building
1972 – Corner of University Ave & Pearl St looking west to Canadian General Electric Company Building
1929 - A ceremony commemorating the site which was once home to Upper Canada College - the plaque is located on the east side of the Canadian General Electric Company Building
1929 – A ceremony commemorating the site which was once home to Upper Canada College – the plaque is located on the east side of the Canadian General Electric Company Building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 17936)
1927 - King St West at Simcoe St, looking west - notice Canadian General Electric Company Building on right, behind the police officer
1927 – King St West at Simcoe St, looking west – notice Canadian General Electric Company Building on right, behind the police officer
1908 - The area bounded by King, John, Adelaide and Simcoe Sts, which includes the site of the Canadian General Electric Company Building, was once home to Upper Canada College from 1829 to 1891
1908 – The area bounded by King, John, Adelaide and Simcoe Sts, which includes the site of the Canadian General Electric Company Building, was once home to Upper Canada College from 1829 to 1891
2020 - A remaining pier with the Canadian General Electric insignia - located on the northwest corner of the building, on Pearl St
2020 – A remaining pier with the Canadian General Electric insignia – located on the northwest corner of the building, on Pearl St
2021 - Canadian General Electric Company Building heritage plaque
2021 – Canadian General Electric Company Building heritage plaque
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