Gladstone House – The Grand Hotel Presiding Over Parkdale Since 1890

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Circa 1901 - Postcard of the Gladstone Hotel located on the northeast corner of Queen St W and Gladstone Ave in Toronto. Originally a railroad hotel, the neighbourhood landmark has been perched near the edge of Parkdale since around 1890
Circa 1901 – Postcard of the Gladstone Hotel located on the northeast corner of Queen St W and Gladstone Ave in Toronto (Toronto Public Library PC_4468)

The Gladstone Hotel is located at 1214 Queen St W and Gladstone Ave (on the northeast corner) in the Queen Street West Art and Design District of Toronto. While the Gladstone is not located directly in Parkdale, the hotel and its 5-storey tower have been highly visible from the area for over 130 years.

The Previous Gladstone Hotel

Before the Gladstone building we know today, there was another hotel at the site dating back to around 1879. One of its early owners was Nixon Robinson, a hotelier and brewer. In July of 1880, after purchasing the Gladstone Hotel property, Mr Robinson suddenly passed away, leaving his wife Susanna and thirteen children.

Mrs Robinson continued to operate the business, advertising the hotel as a “$1 a day house.” Later that decade, Susanna commissioned architect George Martell Miller to draw up a proposal for a new hotel. The building permit valued the new structure at $30,000.

The Gladstone House – A Railroad Hotel

Built between 1889 and 1890, the Gladstone House was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Its exterior is made of rough-cut stone and red brick. Architectural highlights include beautiful arched windows, gargoyles that gaze down at passersby, ornately carved stonework, the words “GLADSTONE HOUSE” over the Queen St W entrance arch, wrought-iron balconies, lion head keystones and a corner observation tower that, until about the 1940s, was topped with a wooden cupola. A decorative marquis once protected the main entrance.

Circa 1910 - Postcard of the rotunda or main lobby in the Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St W
Circa 1910 – Postcard of the rotunda or main lobby in the Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St W (Toronto Public Library PC_4476)

Inside the 58-room hotel were dining areas, parlours, a bar, a ballroom, a wood staircase and floors, and spacious corridors.

Back then, the hotel was near two train depots – the Parkdale Station was right across the street, and the C.P.R. Station was near the southeast corner of Queen St W and Dufferin St. Plus, the hotel was about a 10-minute walk to Exhibition grounds. The Gladstone House was clean and affordable, providing accommodation for commercial travellers doing business with the nearby factories, CNE exhibitors, and long-term guests such as railway employees. The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair recognized the hotel as “the only safe place for one’s great aunt to stay alone.”

From about 1896 until 1908, the hotel’s proprietor was a Scotsman named Turnbull Smith, and in 1907, during his ownership, a hand-operated Victorian elevator was installed. Then, for a few years, it was operated by Victor Gianelli, who sold it for $110,000 in 1912 to the newly formed Gladstone Hotel Company.

In the 1950s, much of the hotel’s first-floor exterior was clad with a lighter colour material. Over the years, the area’s factories gradually closed, and the hotel went into decline. In 1989, the Appelby family, who had owned the hotel since the mid-1960s, made some restorations to the tired building, which included cleaning the exterior.

New Ownership & A Major Restoration

2021 – On the tower at the Gladstone House are two curved windows that feature ornately carved stonework details and gargoyles at the base of the window
2021 – On the tower at the Gladstone House are two curved windows that feature ornately carved stonework details and gargoyles at the base of the window

In 2000, the Tippin and Zeidler families purchased the Gladstone for $2.3 million. Many retired people called the hotel home – it was about $156 a week for a room without a private bathroom or $201 with. But after decades of neglect, the hotel needed a lot of work. While there were assurances that no one would be evicted, the repairs required were so extensive that there was no choice but to relocate the 50 or so residents. In 2004, staff of the Gladstone helped many of them find a new home, with some moving into the Parkdale Arms.

Christina Zeidler, an artist and designer, along with her father, Eberhard (whose architectural firm designed the Eaton Centre), created the plans for the updates while ensuring the preservation of the building’s rich history.

Artist-Designed Room Project

As a part of Gladstone’s rejuvenation, local artists were asked to submit designs for the hotel’s guestrooms, which have 14 ft ceilings and were mostly around 200 sq ft. The submissions went through a formal juried process, and winning designs were selected based on their individuality and objectives while considering guests’ comfort. After each room underwent a general overhaul, which included wiring, plumbing, wood flooring, and a fully updated bathroom, the selected artists then had the freedom to design the artfully inspired rooms that were the result.

During the restoration, events from concerts to karaoke continued at the hotel. Reconstruction crews would work by day, and hotel staff would move the protective plastic coverings and tables at night for entertainment.

In late 2005, the revitalized and reinvented Gladstone Hotel reopened. A few of the other improvements included restoring the warm and spacious lobby as well as the restaurant, bars, ballroom, hotel corridors, wood floors, exposed brick walls, painted faux marble support columns and the historic hand-operated elevator, which is one of the last in existence in Toronto.

The Gladstone House Today

2021 – Looking northwest towards the Gladstone House at 1214 Queen St W in Toronto's Art and Design District. Architect George Martell Miller designed the grand, 4-storey, red brick hotel
2021 – Looking northwest towards the Gladstone House at 1214 Queen St W in Toronto’s Art and Design District. Architect George Martell Miller designed the grand, 4-storey, red brick hotel

In 2020, the Gladstone was bought by the team behind the Broadview Hotel. The following year, the hotel was renamed the Gladstone House, and the guestrooms were fully renovated with a neutral colour palate and unique, locally crafted artwork.

The charming 55-room hotel also features the Bistro + Bar, the Melody Bar, the Robinson Room, and the Ballroom. It is available to host weddings, meetings, celebrations, films and photo shoots, corporate events and more.

Did You Know?

  • The Gladstone is Toronto’s oldest operating hotel.
  • Gladstone Ave is named after William Ewart Gladstone, who served four times as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1868 to 1874, 1880 to 1885, 1886 to 1886, and 1892 to 1894.
  • In architect George Miller’s late 1880s proposal drawings for the new hotel, it was going to be called “New Robson House.” Mr Miller was also the designer of Parkdale Collegiate.
  • The hotel was part of Heritage Toronto’s initial induction list in June 1973.
  • The Gladstone House was one of ten Toronto hotels featured in the 2022 Michelin Guide.

Gladstone House Hotel Photos

Circa 1901 - Postcard of the Gladstone Hotel located on the northeast corner of Queen St W and Gladstone Ave in Toronto. Originally a railroad hotel, the neighbourhood landmark has been perched near the edge of Parkdale since around 1890
Circa 1901 – Postcard of the Gladstone Hotel located on the northeast corner of Queen St W and Gladstone Ave in Toronto. Originally a railroad hotel, the neighbourhood landmark has been perched near the edge of Parkdale since around 1890 (Toronto Public Library PC_4468)
2021 – Looking northwest towards the Gladstone House at 1214 Queen St W in Toronto's Art and Design District. Architect George Martell Miller designed the grand, 4-storey, red brick hotel
2021 – Looking northwest towards the Gladstone House at 1214 Queen St W in Toronto’s Art and Design District. Architect George Martell Miller designed the grand, 4-storey, red brick hotel
November 17, 1897 - Looking east along Queen St W towards the construction of the Queen St railway subway and the Gladstone Hotel. The Gladstone was about seven years old at the time of this photo. Notice the hotel's tower was originally topped with a cupola. It was removed circa 1940 due to deterioration
November 17, 1897 – Looking east along Queen St W towards the construction of the Queen St railway subway and the Gladstone Hotel. The Gladstone was about seven years old at the time of this photo. Notice the hotel’s tower was originally topped with a cupola. It was removed circa 1940 due to deterioration (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 376, File 2, Item 8)
1898 - Looking east along Queen St W from Gwynne Ave towards the recently completed railway subway and the Gladstone Hotel with its 5-storey tower in the distance
1898 – Looking east along Queen St W from Gwynne Ave towards the recently completed railway subway and the Gladstone Hotel with its 5-storey tower in the distance (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 376, File 2, Item 12)
Circa 1905 - Postcard of Queen St W looking east from just west of Gwynne Ave in the Parkdale neighbourhood. Notice the Queen St W railway subway and, in the distance, the Gladstone Hotel. The hotel was across the street from two railway stations, the Parkdale Station and the C.P.R. Station
Circa 1905 – Postcard of Queen St W looking east from just west of Gwynne Ave in the Parkdale neighbourhood. Notice the Queen St W railway subway and, in the distance, the Gladstone Hotel. The hotel was across the street from two railway stations, the Parkdale Station and the C.P.R. Station (Toronto Public Library PC_4468)
Circa 1908 - Postcard of the Gladstone Hotel looking northeast from Queen St W and Gladstone Ave. The top floor of the tower was a public observation area. The cupola was removed around the 1940s due to deterioration
Circa 1908 – Postcard of the Gladstone Hotel looking northeast from Queen St W and Gladstone Ave. The top floor of the tower was a public observation area. The cupola was removed around the 1940s due to deterioration (Toronto Public Library PC_4480)
2023 – Looking northeast towards the Gladstone Hotel at the corner of Queen St W and Gladstone Ave in the Queen Street West Art and Design District of Toronto
2023 – Looking northeast towards the Gladstone Hotel at the corner of Queen St W and Gladstone Ave in the Queen Street West Art and Design District of Toronto
Circa 1910 - Postcard of the rotunda or main lobby in the Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St W
Circa 1910 – Postcard of the rotunda or main lobby in the Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St W (Toronto Public Library PC_4476)
Circa 1910 - Postcard of the buffet in the Gladstone Hotel. The railroad hotel was across the street from the Parkdale Station, and the C.P.R. Station was just down the street at the southeast corner of Queen St W and Dufferin St
Circa 1910 – Postcard of the buffet in the Gladstone Hotel. The railroad hotel was across the street from the Parkdale Station, and the C.P.R. Station was just down the street at the southeast corner of Queen St W and Dufferin St (Toronto Public Library PC_4477)
Circa 1914 - Sepia-toned postcard depicting a photo of railway yards with the caption, "North Parkdale Railway Stations, Toronto, Canada". Notice a portion of the Gladstone Hotel visible on the far left. For decades, the Gladstone was a "railroad hotel" due to its proximity to the railway stations
Circa 1914 – Sepia-toned postcard depicting a photo of railway yards with the caption, “North Parkdale Railway Stations, Toronto, Canada”. Notice a portion of the Gladstone Hotel visible on the far left. For decades, the Gladstone was a “railroad hotel” due to its proximity to the railway stations (Toronto Public Library PC_4482)
Circa 1915 - Looking northeast along Queen St W from Gladstone Ave. Notice the Gladstone House Hotel, on the left, once had a decorative marquis over the main entrance
Circa 1915 – Looking northeast along Queen St W from Gladstone Ave. Notice the Gladstone House Hotel, on the left, once had a decorative marquis over the main entrance (Toronto Public Library PC_4479)
April 22, 1915 - Looking east along Queen St W from east of Dufferin St towards the railway subway. In the distance, notice the Gladstone Hotel on the left and the train station on the right
April 22, 1915 – Looking east along Queen St W from east of Dufferin St towards the railway subway. In the distance, notice the Gladstone Hotel on the left and the train station on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1409)
1952 – Looking northeast from Queen St W and Gladstone Ave towards the Gladstone Hotel. Notice the hotel's tower no longer has the cupola, the entrance has an overhang and the Melody Room sign on the building's southeast corner
1952 – Looking northeast from Queen St W and Gladstone Ave towards the Gladstone Hotel. Notice the hotel’s tower no longer has the cupola, the entrance has an overhang and the Melody Room sign on the building’s southeast corner (Toronto Public Library R-6083)
March 23, 1949 – Looking north up Gladstone Ave from Queen St W. The Gladstone Hotel is in the foreground on the right
March 23, 1949 – Looking north up Gladstone Ave from Queen St W. The Gladstone Hotel is in the foreground on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 58, Item 1881)
2023 – Looking north up Gladstone Ave from Queen St W in the Queen Street West Art and Design District of Toronto. The Gladstone Hotel is in the foreground on the right
2023 – Looking north up Gladstone Ave from Queen St W in the Queen Street West Art and Design District of Toronto. The Gladstone Hotel is in the foreground on the right
December 1987 - Looking north towards the Gladstone Hotel. In the 1950s, much of the hotel’s first-floor exterior was clad with a lighter colour material, which is shown in the photo. The cladding has since been removed. Notice the Melody Lounge on the hotel's first floor, east side
December 1987 – Looking north towards the Gladstone Hotel. In the 1950s, much of the hotel’s first-floor exterior was clad with a lighter colour material, which is shown in the photo. The cladding has since been removed. Notice the Melody Lounge on the hotel’s first floor, east side (Toronto Public Library 2021-25-13-4, Peter MacCallum – photographer)
December 1987 - Looking east towards the Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St E. The hotel's sign reads: "THIS WEEK PYRAMID - $6 NEW YEARS BASH! - COLOUR TV PRIZE"
December 1987 – Looking east towards the Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St E. The hotel’s sign reads: “THIS WEEK PYRAMID – $6 NEW YEARS BASH! – COLOUR TV PRIZE” (Toronto Public Library 2021-25-13-3, Peter MacCallum – photographer)
2019 - Toronto's last hand-operated elevator is located inside the Gladstone Hotel. While the hotel was built in 1889/90, the elevator was not installed until 1907
2019 – Toronto’s last hand-operated elevator is located inside the Gladstone Hotel. While the hotel was built in 1889/90, the elevator was not installed until 1907
2019 -  Looking northeast towards the Gladstone Hotel at Queen St W and Gladstone Ave in the Art and Design District. The hotel was built in 1889/90, and for decades, it was known as a "railroad hotel" because it was close to two train stations, which no longer exist. Back in the day, the Gladstone provided accommodation for commercial travellers doing business with the nearby factories, CNE exhibitors, and long-term guests such as railway employees
2019 – Looking northeast towards the Gladstone Hotel at Queen St W and Gladstone Ave in the Art and Design District. The hotel was built in 1889/90, and for decades, it was known as a “railroad hotel” because it was close to two train stations, which no longer exist. Back in the day, the Gladstone provided accommodation for commercial travellers doing business with the nearby factories, CNE exhibitors, and long-term guests such as railway employees
2019 - The heritage plaque reads: Gladstone Hotel 1889 “The Gladstone Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto. Architect G. M. Miller designed the building in the Richardson Romanesque style. It features arches over the windows and porch entrances, in addition to curvilinear and animal ornamentation in stone and terracotta. The hotel was a highly visible Parkdale landmark, with its three-storey tower and a cupola (removed in the 1940s). Across the street from two railway stations (since demolished), the Gladstone Hotel frequently hosted commercial travellers, as well as exhibitioners from the nearby Canadian National Exhibition. It also once accommodated long-term guests, particularly railway employees and workers in nearby factories. The hotel has been given new life by its owners over the years.” Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 2005 - Heritage Toronto 2014
2019 -   The heritage plaque reads: 

Gladstone Hotel 1889 

“The Gladstone Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto. Architect G. M. Miller designed the building in the Richardson Romanesque style. It features arches over the windows and porch entrances, in addition to curvilinear and animal ornamentation in stone and terracotta. The hotel was a highly visible Parkdale landmark, with its three-storey tower and a cupola (removed in the 1940s). Across the street from two railway stations (since demolished), the Gladstone Hotel frequently hosted commercial travellers, as well as exhibitioners from the nearby Canadian National Exhibition. It also once accommodated long-term guests, particularly railway employees and workers in nearby factories. The hotel has been given new life by its owners over the years.” 

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 2005 - Heritage Toronto 2014
2019 – The heritage plaque reads:

Gladstone Hotel 1889

“The Gladstone Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto. Architect G. M. Miller designed the building in the Richardson Romanesque style. It features arches over the windows and porch entrances, in addition to curvilinear and animal ornamentation in stone and terracotta. The hotel was a highly visible Parkdale landmark, with its three-storey tower and a cupola (removed in the 1940s). Across the street from two railway stations (since demolished), the Gladstone Hotel frequently hosted commercial travellers, as well as exhibitioners from the nearby Canadian National Exhibition. It also once accommodated long-term guests, particularly railway employees and workers in nearby factories. The hotel has been given new life by its owners over the years.”

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 2005 – Heritage Toronto 2014
2020 - The words “GLADSTONE HOUSE” are ornately carved in stone and red clay above the arch of the hotel's Queen St W entrance
2020 – The words “GLADSTONE HOUSE” are ornately carved in stone and red clay above the arch of the hotel’s Queen St W entrance
2020 – The Queen St W entrance of the Gladstone House. The grand hotel was designed by George Martell Miller, who was also the architect of Parkdale Collegiate
2020 – The Queen St W entrance of the Gladstone House. The grand hotel was designed by George Martell Miller, who was also the architect of Parkdale Collegiate
2020 – Looking northeast from the Queen St W railway subway towards the Gladstone House in Toronto's Art and Design District
2020 – Looking northeast from the Queen St W railway subway towards the Gladstone House in Toronto’s Art and Design District
2021 -   The plaque reads: 

The Gladstone Hotel  

"Named after British prime minister Wm. E. Gladstone, this 60-room hotel was built in 1889 adjacent to the Parkdale train stations. The original owner Mrs. Susanna Robertson had been left a widow with 13 children. It was designed in a decorative Romanesque style by G. M. Miller, a distinguished Toronto architect. Its three-storey steeple dominated the skyline until the 1940s. Accredited by the Royal Winter Fair, it was considered "the only safe place for one's great aunt to stay alone." It was originally used mostly by commercial travellers based in the heavy industry in the area. The building was restored by the Appleby family in 1989 in memory of their late father."
2021 – The plaque reads:

The Gladstone Hotel

“Named after British prime minister Wm. E. Gladstone, this 60-room hotel was built in 1889 adjacent to the Parkdale train stations. The original owner Mrs. Susanna Robertson had been left a widow with 13 children. It was designed in a decorative Romanesque style by G. M. Miller, a distinguished Toronto architect. Its three-storey steeple dominated the skyline until the 1940s. Accredited by the Royal Winter Fair, it was considered “the only safe place for one’s great aunt to stay alone.” It was originally used mostly by commercial travellers based in the heavy industry in the area. The building was restored by the Appleby family in 1989 in memory of their late father.”
2021 – On the tower at the Gladstone House are two curved windows that feature ornately carved stonework details and gargoyles at the base of the window
2021 – On the tower at the Gladstone House are two curved windows that feature ornately carved stonework details and gargoyles at the base of the window
2021 – Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St W has been a neighbourhood landmark since it was completed in 1890
2021 – Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St W has been a neighbourhood landmark since it was completed in 1890
2021 – Looking north towards the Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St W in Toronto's Art and Design District. The hotel underwent an extensive restoration from 2004 to 2005 and has 55 guestrooms
2021 – Looking north towards the Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St W in Toronto’s Art and Design District. The hotel underwent an extensive restoration from 2004 to 2005 and has 55 guestrooms
2021 – A view of the 5-storey Gladstone Hotel tower at the corner of Queen St W and Gladstone Ave. The grand red brick hotel features arched windows and ornately carved stonework details
2021 – A view of the 5-storey Gladstone Hotel tower at the corner of Queen St W and Gladstone Ave. The grand red brick hotel features arched windows and ornately carved stonework details
2022 – Looking southeast towards the Gladstone House located at the corner of Queen St W and Gladstone Ave. Notice the beautiful "Rise Above" mural on the back of the hotel and the lion's head keystone at the top of the central arch
2022 – Looking southeast towards the Gladstone House located at the corner of Queen St W and Gladstone Ave. Notice the beautiful “Rise Above” mural on the back of the hotel and the lion’s head keystone at the top of the central arch
1917 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Gladstone Hotel
1917 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Gladstone Hotel (Toronto Public Library)
1890 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Gladstone Hotel
1890 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Gladstone Hotel (Toronto Public Library)
1991 and 1992 - The Toronto Yellow Pages showing the address, phone number and details of the Gladstone Hotel, including "reasonably priced rooms, newly restored, phones, colour T.V.'s, maid service..."
1991 and 1992 – The Toronto Yellow Pages showing the address, phone number and details of the Gladstone Hotel, including “reasonably priced rooms, newly restored, phones, colour T.V.’s, maid service…” (Toronto Public Library)
1899 - Goads Map showing the Gladstone Hotel just north of the Parkdale Railway Station and north of the C.P.R. Rail Station
1899 – Goads Map showing the Gladstone Hotel just north of the Parkdale Railway Station and north of the C.P.R. Rail Station (Toronto Public Library)
SOURCE
  • City of Toronto Heritage Register: 1214 Queen St W
  • Ontario Heritage Trust: 1214 Queen St W
  • Heritage Toronto: Gladstone Hotel plaque
  • The Globe Newspaper Archives: Aug 22, 1904, pg 12
  • The Globe Newspaper Archives: Nov 7, 1908, pg 24
  • The Toronto Daily Star Newspaper Archives: Dec 27, 1912, pg 16
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Apr 11, 1985, pg L1
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: May 15, 2001, pg B16
  • Toronto Star Newspaper Archives: Jun 21, 2004, pg A3
  • Toronto Star Newspaper Archives: Dec 3, 2005, pg A20
  • History of Toronto and County of York Ontario by C Blackett Robinson (1885), pg 485
  • The Canadian Album: Men of Canada Volume 4 by William Cochrane and John Castell (1895), pg 459
  • Queens Own Rifles Reunion Semi-Centennial Official Souvenir Program 1910
  • Parkdale in Pictures: Its Development to 1889 by Barbara Myrvold and Margaret Laycock (1991), pg 52
  • Canadian Architect: Sep 2005, pgs 24-29
  • Toronto Life: Jul 2005, Volume 39, Issue 7, pgs 58-62
  • Daily Commercial News and Construction Record, Toronto: Nov 2005, Volume 78, Issue 231, pg 3
  • Archive.org: Gladstone Hotel: About
  • GOV.UK: Past Prim Ministers: William Ewart Gladstone
  • Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
  • Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives, Toronto Public Library & Peter MacCallum
  • Toronto City Directory by Might Directories Ltd 1917 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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