Canadian General Electric Company Building – A Beaux-Arts Gem

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2022 - Looking northwest towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W and Simcoe St
2022 – Looking northwest towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W and Simcoe St

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 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).

1975 – Looking north from King St W and Simcoe St towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W
1975 – Looking north from King St W and Simcoe St towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 62, Item 125)

Architectural & Heritage Highlights

  • The 5-storey building is clad with brick and features accents of white glazed terra cotta, stone, metal and wood.
  • There’s a stone portico with paired columns and an elaborate cartouche at the raised entrance.
  • 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.

1929 - A ceremony commemorating the site once home to Upper Canada College. The plaque is located on the east side of the Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W and Simcoe St
1929 – A ceremony commemorating the site once home to Upper Canada College. The plaque is located on the east side of the Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W and Simcoe St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 17936)

Once the Site of Upper Canada College

Before 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 the Texas BBQ smokehouse Meat & Pie Co.

Canadian General Electric Company Building Photos

1980 – Looking west towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building at ‪212 King St W from the former Lord Simcoe Hotel, which was once located on the northeast corner of University Ave and King St W
1980 – Looking west towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building at ‪212 King St W from the former Lord Simcoe Hotel, which was once located on the northeast corner of University Ave and King St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 62, Item 126)
2022 - Looking northwest towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W and Simcoe St
2022 – Looking northwest towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W and Simcoe St
1975 – Looking northwest from King St W and Simcoe St towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building
1975 – Looking northwest from King St W and Simcoe St towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 62, Item 125)
2020 - The raised entrance, paired columns, elaborate cartouche and stone portico at the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W and Simcoe St
2020 – The raised entrance, paired columns, elaborate cartouche and stone portico at the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W and Simcoe St
2020 - The south facade of the Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W and Simcoe St, on the northwest corner
2020 – The south facade of the Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W and Simcoe St, on the northwest corner
1972 – Shakespeare's Dining Room was once located at the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W and Simcoe St
1972 – Shakespeare’s Dining Room was once located at the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W and Simcoe St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 44, Item 1)
2021 - Elephant & Castle is located at 212 King St W and Simcoe St in the Canadian General Electric Company Building
2021 – Elephant & Castle is located at 212 King St W and Simcoe St in the Canadian General Electric Company Building
1972 - Looking west from the corner of University Ave and Pearl St towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W
1972 – Looking west from the corner of University Ave and Pearl St towards the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 67, Item 13)
1929 - A ceremony commemorating the site once home to Upper Canada College. The plaque is located on the east side of the Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W and Simcoe St
1929 – A ceremony commemorating the site once home to Upper Canada College. The plaque is located on the east side of the Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W and Simcoe St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 17936)
2021 - A plaque commemorating the block bound by King St W, Simcoe St, Adelaide St W, and John St was once home to Upper Canada College. The plaque is located on the east side of the Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W and Simcoe St
2021 – A plaque commemorating the block bound by King St W, Simcoe St, Adelaide St W, and John St was once home to Upper Canada College. The plaque is located on the east side of the Canadian General Electric Company Building at King St W and Simcoe St
1927 – Looking west from King St W and Simcoe St. Notice the Canadian General Electric Company Building on the right, behind the police officer and Royal Alexandra Theatre in the background
1927 – Looking west from King St W and Simcoe St. Notice the Canadian General Electric Company Building on the right, behind the police officer and Royal Alexandra Theatre in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 2165)
1930 – Looking east from King St W just west of Simcoe St. Notice the entrance of the Canadian General Electric Company Building on the left, the former Toronto Star Building on the centre-left, the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building on the centre-right and St Andrew's Church on the right
1930 – Looking east from King St W just west of Simcoe St. Notice the entrance of the Canadian General Electric Company Building on the left, the former Toronto Star Building on the centre-left, the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building on the centre-right and St Andrew’s Church on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 7365)
2021 - Looking east from King St W just west of Simcoe St. Notice the front entrance of the Canadian General Electric Company Building on the left
2021 – Looking east from King St W just west of Simcoe St. Notice the front entrance of the Canadian General Electric Company Building on the left
Between 1929 and 1930 – Looking west from King St W and Simcoe St towards the front entrance of the Canadian General Electric Company Building on the right and the Royal Alexandra Theatre in the background
Between 1929 and 1930 – Looking west from King St W and Simcoe St towards the front entrance of the Canadian General Electric Company Building on the right and the Royal Alexandra Theatre in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1230, Item 3562)
1912 – Looking north from Simcoe St towards King St W. Notice the Canadian General Electric Company Building in the centre-left and St Andrew Church on the right
1912 – Looking north from Simcoe St towards King St W. Notice the Canadian General Electric Company Building in the centre-left and St Andrew Church on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 58, Item 110)
2022 - Looking north from Simcoe St towards King St W. Notice Roy Thomson Hall on the left, the Canadian General Electric Company Building in the centre-left and St Andrew Church on the right
2022 – Looking north from Simcoe St towards King St W. Notice Roy Thomson Hall on the left, the Canadian General Electric Company Building in the centre-left and St Andrew Church on the right
2020 - A remaining pier at the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W. Notice the company's initials, CGE, at the top of the pier, which is located on the northwest corner of the building on Pearl St
2020 – A remaining pier at the Canadian General Electric Company Building at 212 King St W. Notice the company’s initials, CGE, at the top of the pier, which is located on the northwest corner of the building on Pearl St
2021 - The heritage plaque reads:

Canadian General Electric Company Building 1908

"Originally the head office of the Canadian General Electric Company, this building was designed in the Beaux-Arts Classical style by the noted Toronto architecture firm of Darling and Pearson. It was the first of three adjacent buildings constructed for the company, a nationwide manufacturer of various electrical products. Distinguishing features include white glazed terra cotta trim and the stone portico with paired columns. The classical metal cornice marks the original roofline below the sixth-floor addition." 

Heritage Toronto 2012
2021 – The heritage plaque reads:

Canadian General Electric Company Building 1908

“Originally the head office of the Canadian General Electric Company, this building was designed in the Beaux-Arts Classical style by the noted Toronto architecture firm of Darling and Pearson. It was the first of three adjacent buildings constructed for the company, a nationwide manufacturer of various electrical products. Distinguishing features include white glazed terra cotta trim and the stone portico with paired columns. The classical metal cornice marks the original roofline below the sixth-floor addition.”

Heritage Toronto 2012
1910 - Goads Map showing the location of the Canadian General
1910 – Goads Map showing the location of the Canadian General Electric Company Building (Toronto Public Library)
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 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 300)
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