The Dominion Public Building is located at 1 Front St W (between Bay St and Yonge St) in Toronto’s Financial District.
The Architecture of the Iconic Landmark
Built in two phases, the centre and east pavilions were constructed between 1929 and 1931, while the west pavilion was built from 1934 to 1935. This was the city’s third Customs House. Designed by architect Thomas W Fuller, the curved and imposing Beaux-Arts Classicism style building rises five stories on Front St W while extending six storeys in the back due to the change in grade.
This Federal Government building served as the Customs House in Toronto for inspection, taxation, administration, and storage of imported and exported goods. Its location was close to Toronto’s railway corridor and harbour. The landmark later became a multi-use federal building and home to Canada Customs and the Canada Revenue Agency, to name a few.
The monumental structure’s exterior features limestone cladding, stone and metal detailing, a centre pavilion with three round-arch main entrances, bronze doors, and metal beavers under six freestanding Ionic columns, along with east and west pavilions. Some interior features include marble-clad lobbies, a two-storey Long Room with marble floors and brass wickets.
The Dominion Public Building Today
In 2017, the heritage-protected building was purchased by Larco Investments. The proposal includes two mixed-use towers for residential, office, hotel and retail space, which will soar over the existing Dominion Public Building.
The building was registered in Toronto’s first heritage inventory in 1973 and was later listed on the Canadian Register in 2011. This grand streetscape is one of Canada’s most important examples of Beaux-Arts architecture, as the Dominion Public Building complements the equally colossal Union Station.