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).
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.
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.