Heliconian Hall, originally the Congregational Church, is located at 35 Hazelton Ave (north of Scollard St on the east side) in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto.
Yorkville’s Congregational Church
In 1868, to help Yorkville’s needy children, a mission Sunday school was organized in an old Methodist chapel that was once on the site of the Yorkville Fire Hall. Worship services soon began, and this was the start of the Olivet congregation. At the time, Yorkville was a quiet village outside the City of Toronto and home to middle and working-class residents.
In 1875, the property on the northeast corner of Hazelton Ave and Scollard St was acquired at the cost of $4,500. The following year, Yorkville’s 270-seat Congregational church and schoolhouse opened. The buildings cost $5,000 to construct.
The Church & Its Charming Architecture
The rectangular wooden frame structure is built in Carpenter’s Gothic Revival style and has a board-and-batten exterior. It’s painted light grey and has white trim and blue doors. A few architectural highlights of its façade include two steeply gabled entrance porches, triangle-headed lancet windows, a Victorian rose window with drip mouldings, circular louvred vents, elaborately carved bargeboard in the steeply gabled roof and a square flat-roofed tower. The front yard is enclosed with a wrought iron fence.
The church was commonly referred to as the Hazelton Avenue Congregational Church. It was very well attended, and a larger church was needed before long. The structure was moved directly north to 35 Hazelton Ave, and in 1890, construction began on the new building at 33 Hazelton Ave. The new church was called Olivet Congregational Church, and its first service was held in 1891. The original structure became the church’s hall and Sunday school.
The Heliconian Club & Hall
The organization was founded in 1909 to give women in the Arts, including music, literature, humanities, visual art, dance and drama, an opportunity to meet, exchange and express ideas, expand their talents and enjoy social events together.
In 1923, The Heliconian Club purchased the former church building for $8,000 and named it Heliconian Hall.
The main interior space features a stage, pews and benches around the perimeter, an oak and brick wood-burning fireplace, wrought iron light fixtures, curved rafters, a vaulted ceiling and wonderful acoustics.
The Club Today
The respected Toronto Heliconian Club continues today as “women supporting, championing and providing inspiration in the arts.” The organization actively participates in broader community outreach programs. Activities for its members, guests and the public include art exhibitions, workshops, literary lectures, talks, life drawing and sketch groups, concerts, luncheons celebrating members’ professional lives and much more.
The intimate hall can be rented for concerts, performances, literary readings and non-artistic purposes such as weddings and corporate events.
Did You Know?
- Hazelton Ave is thought to be named by George White, who owned land in this section. He named it in honour of his wife’s family’s name, Hazelton.
- For a brief time, before being purchased by The Heliconian Club, the hall at 35 Hazelton Ave served as the headquarters for the Painters’ Union.
- What is the meaning of Heliconian? The club’s name is derived from the Boeotian mountain Helicon, a mythical place the ancient Greeks thought to be the residence of Apollo and the Muses.
- The Toronto Heliconian Club is the oldest association of its kind in the country.
- The structure received heritage status from the City of Toronto in 1973 and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2008.
Heliconian Hall Photos
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 35 Hazelton Ave
- Ontario Heritage Trust: 35 Hazelton Ave
- National Historic Site of Canada: Heliconian Hall
- The Globe Newspaper Archives: Sep 28, 1875, pg 4
- The Globe Newspaper Archives: Feb 22, 1890, pg 11
- Landmarks of Toronto: Volume 1 by J Ross Robertson (1894), pg 521
- Landmarks of Toronto: Volume 4 by J Ross Robertson (1904), pgs 486-488
- The Heliconian Club: About
- Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416