Wesley Building – The Iconic Landmark at Queen St W & John St

Posted:

2020 - The Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios, is located at 299 Queen St W in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto. It is named after John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in the Church of England
2020 – The Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios, is located at 299 Queen St W in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto. It is named after John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in the Church of England

The Wesley Building, today Bell Media Studios, is located at 299 Queen St W (and John St on the southeast corner) in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto.

The Methodist Book & Publishing Company

In the early 1910s, the architectural firm Burke, Horwood & White was commissioned to design a building to house the head office of the Methodist Church of Canada and the Methodist Book & Publishing Company. The publishing house, which produced a religious journal, Sunday school papers, and textbooks and undertook other printing jobs (deemed appropriate by the church), needed more space, so the property on John St between Queen St W and Richmond St W was purchased.

The Architecture of the Wesley Building

1919 - Looking southeast towards the Methodist Book & Publishing Company in the Wesley Building at Queen St W and John St in Toronto
1919 – Looking southeast towards the Methodist Book & Publishing Company in the Wesley Building at Queen St W and John St in Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 761)

In 1914, construction began on the five-storey Neo-Gothic landmark and was completed the following year. The Wesley Building was modern for its time. It’s constructed of a steel frame, concrete and tile. Three of its facades are clad with cream matt glazed terra cotta that features Gothic details.

A few architectural highlights include the ornate arched main entrance, book motifs and trefoils on the piers, a most interesting band of grotesque scribes and readers along the top of the second storey and crocketed pinnacles on the roofline. There are many large windows which allow for abundant light. The coffered plaster ceiling inside the main entrance off of Queen St W is another character-defining element.

Along with the Methodist Book Room on the ground floor and church offices on the top floor, the building also housed the composing room, presses, binding room, mailing room, the library and wholesale departments, offices, boardrooms, and proofreading rooms. Plus, a vault runs the entire width of the building under the Richmond St W sidewalk.

The 125,000 sq ft building was named after John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in the Church of England. Behind the highly decorative façade of 299 Queen St W was everything needed for the successful operation of a large industrial organization. The Methodist Book & Publishing Company was considered one of the most modern publishing houses on the continent.

Ryerson Press

In 1919, Ryerson Press became the general trade publishing division for the Methodist Book & Publishing House, producing educational, Canadian history, and literary titles. Ryerson Press was named after Rev Egerton Ryerson, who first published The Christian Guardian, a newspaper sponsored by the Methodist Church of Canada, in 1829. He also founded the Methodist Book Room.

United Church Publishing House

In 1925, when Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational churches joined to establish the United Church of Canada, the publishing company was renamed the United Church Publishing House. The Wesley Building was the church’s national headquarters until 1959. United Church Publishing House ran into financial difficulties, and in 1970, Ryerson Press was sold to McGraw-Hill, an educational publishing company.

The Wesley Building was one of the 490 buildings on Heritage Toronto’s initial induction list in June 1973.

The CHUM-City Building

Between 1988 and 1991- Looking southeast towards the CHUM-City Building at 299 Queen St W. Notice Speaker's Corner, the video booth on the John St side. A $1 donation gave anyone two minutes to share their thoughts on any subject. Some of those thoughts were aired on the station
Between 1988 and 1991- Looking southeast towards the CHUM-City Building at 299 Queen St W. Notice Speaker’s Corner, the video booth on the John St side (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 418, Item 21)

In 1984, CHUM purchased the historic building. The communications company was known for its innovative ideas, and this was a bold move since it built its appeal toward younger viewers. Renamed the CHUM-City Building, the interior was altered, becoming the world’s first TV production centre without formal studios.

The first broadcast in the new studio was in 1987 by MuchMusic VJ Erica Ehm. It was also home to CITY-TV and the video booth, Speaker’s Corner, where a $1 donation (which went to charity) gave you two minutes to express your point of view. Some of those thoughts were aired on the station. The building itself became famous with the CityPulse LiveEye truck smashing through the wall on its east side.

Bell Media Studios & the Building Today

In the mid-2000s, CHUM Limited assets were purchased by Bell Media, and today, the iconic Wesley Building is the company’s studio.

Wesley Building Photos

2023 - Looking southeast towards the Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios, at 299 Queen St W in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto. The building originally housed the head office of the Methodist Church of Canada and the Methodist Book & Publishing Company
2023 – Looking southeast towards the Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios, at 299 Queen St W in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto. The building originally housed the head office of the Methodist Church of Canada and the Methodist Book & Publishing Company
Circa 1916 - Looking southeast towards the Wesley Building, home to the Methodist Book & Publishing Company at 299 Queen St W in downtown Toronto. The building was designed by the architectural firm Burke, Horwood & White and constructed between 1914 and 1915
Circa 1916 – Looking southeast towards the Wesley Building, home to the Methodist Book & Publishing Company at 299 Queen St W in downtown Toronto. The building was designed by the architectural firm Burke, Horwood & White and constructed between 1914 and 1915 (Construction Journal)
1919 - The five-storey Wesley Building at the southeast corner of Queen St W and John St was home to the Methodist Book & Publishing Company. The publishing house produced a religious journal, Sunday school papers, and textbooks and undertook other printing jobs which were deemed appropriate by the church
1919 – The five-storey Wesley Building at the southeast corner of Queen St W and John St was home to the Methodist Book & Publishing Company. The publishing house produced a religious journal, Sunday school papers, and textbooks and undertook other printing jobs which were deemed appropriate by the church (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 761)
2020 – The ornate arched main entrance to Bell Media Studios at 299 Queen St W in downtown Toronto
2020 – The ornate arched main entrance to Bell Media Studios at 299 Queen St W in downtown Toronto
May 12, 2024 – The exterior apron of the Queen St W entrance is decorated with a mosaic tile pattern which bears the name "Wesley Buildings"
May 12, 2024 – The exterior apron of the Queen St W entrance is decorated with a mosaic tile pattern which bears the name “Wesley Buildings”
Circa 1916 - The main entrance of the Wesley Building at 299 Queen St W was originally protected by a cast bronze marquis
Circa 1916 – The main entrance of the Wesley Building at 299 Queen St W was originally protected by a cast bronze marquis (Construction Journal)
2023 - Looking south towards the front door of Bell Media Studios at 299 Queen St W in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto. Originally known as the Wesley Building, it was constructed between 1914 and 1915 and once housed the Methodist Book & Publishing Company
2023 – Looking south towards the front door of Bell Media Studios at 299 Queen St W in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto. Originally known as the Wesley Building, it was constructed between 1914 and 1915 and once housed the Methodist Book & Publishing Company
Circa 1916 - The main entrance hall in the Wesley Building at 299 Queen St W featured a marble tile floor, mahogany trim, cast bronze light fixtures, Italian marble wainscot, and an ornamental plaster ceiling
Circa 1916 – The main entrance hall in the Wesley Building at 299 Queen St W featured a marble tile floor, mahogany trim, cast bronze light fixtures, Italian marble wainscot, and an ornamental plaster ceiling (Construction Journal)
2023 - Looking south towards the former Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios at 299 Queen St W. In 1914, construction began on the five-storey Neo-Gothic landmark and was completed the following year. It originally housed the Methodist Book & Publishing Company, later becoming Ryerson Press
2023 – Looking south towards the former Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios at 299 Queen St W. In 1914, construction began on the five-storey Neo-Gothic landmark and was completed the following year. It originally housed the Methodist Book & Publishing Company, later becoming Ryerson Press
Between 1988 and 1991- Looking southeast towards the CHUM-City Building at 299 Queen St W. Notice Speaker's Corner, the video booth on the John St side. A $1 donation gave anyone two minutes to share their thoughts on any subject. Some of those thoughts were aired on the station
Between 1988 and 1991- Looking southeast towards the CHUM-City Building at 299 Queen St W. Notice Speaker’s Corner, the video booth on the John St side. A $1 donation gave anyone two minutes to share their thoughts on any subject. Some of those thoughts were aired on the station (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 418, Item 21)
July 22, 1983 – Looking south down John St from Queen St W towards the Wesley Building and CN Tower
July 22, 1983 – Looking south down John St from Queen St W towards the Wesley Building and CN Tower (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 47, Item 98)
Between 1988 and 1991- Looking along the south side of Queen St W from John St towards the CHUM-City Building. Today it's home to Bell Media Studios
Between 1988 and 1991- Looking along the south side of Queen St W from John St towards the CHUM-City Building. Today it’s home to Bell Media Studios (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 418, Item 7)
Between 1988 and 1991 - A view of the Queen St W entrance to the CHUM-City Building, once home to CITY-TV and MuchMusic
Between 1988 and 1991 – A view of the Queen St W entrance to the CHUM-City Building, once home to CITY-TV and MuchMusic (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 418, Item 16)
2023 - The ornamental details of the Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios, at 299 Queen St W
2023 – The ornamental details of the Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios, at 299 Queen St W
Between 1988 and 1991- Looking southwest towards the CHUM-City Building at 299 Queen St W and John St. In 1984, CHUM purchased the historic building. The interior was altered, becoming the world’s first TV production centre without formal studios. The first broadcast in the new studio was in 1987
Between 1988 and 1991- Looking southwest towards the CHUM-City Building at 299 Queen St W and John St. In 1984, CHUM purchased the historic building. The interior was altered, becoming the world’s first TV production centre without formal studios. The first broadcast in the new studio was in 1987 (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 418, Item 17)
1972 – Looking southeast towards a Toronto Dominion Bank branch in the Wesley Building at the corner of John St and Queen St W
1972 – Looking southeast towards a Toronto Dominion Bank branch in the Wesley Building at the corner of John St and Queen St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 41, Item 14)
2020 - Looking southwest towards the Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios, at 299 Queen St W in Toronto. With the exception of the east side (with the CP24 Live Eye truck crashing through it), the building's facades are clad with cream matt glazed terra cotta
2020 – Looking southwest towards the Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios, at 299 Queen St W in Toronto. With the exception of the east side (with the CP24 Live Eye truck crashing through it), the building’s facades are clad with cream matt glazed terra cotta
2020 – The CP24 Live Eye Truck crashing through the east wall of the Wesley Building at 299 Queen St W
2020 – The CP24 Live Eye Truck crashing through the east wall of the Wesley Building at 299 Queen St W
March 29, 2024 – Looking southwest towards the Wesley Building
March 29, 2024 – Looking southwest towards the Wesley Building
2020 - The cream matt glazed terra cotta on the Wesley Building features intricate carvings, including readers and scribes, along with Gothic motifs along the top of the second storey
2020 – The cream matt glazed terra cotta on the Wesley Building features intricate carvings, including readers and scribes, along with Gothic motifs along the top of the second storey
2021 - Looking northeast from Richmond St W and John St towards Bell Media Studios in the Wesley Building. The structure received heritage status from the city in 1973
2021 – Looking northeast from Richmond St W and John St towards Bell Media Studios in the Wesley Building. The structure received heritage status from the city in 1973
2023 – Stone carvings on the Wesley Building at 299 Queen St W hint at the building's original use. Along the top of the second storey are readers, scribes and books
2023 – Stone carvings on the Wesley Building at 299 Queen St W hint at the building’s original use. Along the top of the second storey are readers, scribes and books
2020 - The Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios, is located at 299 Queen St W in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto. It is named after John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in the Church of England
2020 – The Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios, is located at 299 Queen St W in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto. It is named after John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in the Church of England
2021 - Looking southeast from Queen St W, west of John St, with the Wesley Building in the background
2021 – Looking southeast from Queen St W, west of John St, with the Wesley Building in the background
1954 – Looking southeast from Queen St W, west of John St in downtown Toronto. Notice the former Fire Hall No. 6 along with the Wesley Building in the background
1954 – Looking southeast from Queen St W, west of John St in downtown Toronto. Notice the former Fire Hall No. 6 along with the Wesley Building in the background (Toronto Public Library R-371)
2023 - Looking southwest towards the Wesley Building, home to Bell Media Studios, at Queen St W and John St in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto
2023 – Looking southwest towards the Wesley Building, home to Bell Media Studios, at Queen St W and John St in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto
2023 - The mural located on the building at 279 Queen St W, in the parking lot of Bell Media Studios in downtown Toronto, was completed in 2018. The artwork was designed in-house by the Bell Media Agency. It celebrates the famous architecture and places around the city, including Massey Hall, Sam the Record Man, Royal Ontario Museum, St Lawrence Market, the Gooderham Building, Toronto City Hall, Honest Ed's, The Princes' Gates, El Mocambo, the CN Tower, and the Horseshoe Tavern
2023 – The mural located on the building at 279 Queen St W, in the parking lot of Bell Media Studios in downtown Toronto, was completed in 2018. The artwork was designed in-house by the Bell Media Agency. It celebrates the famous architecture and places around the city, including Massey Hall, Sam the Record Man, Royal Ontario Museum, St Lawrence Market, the Gooderham Building, Toronto City Hall, Honest Ed’s, The Princes’ Gates, El Mocambo, the CN Tower, and the Horseshoe Tavern
2023 - Looking southeast from Queen St W towards the Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios at the corner of John St from Queen St W in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto
2023 – Looking southeast from Queen St W towards the Wesley Building, today home to Bell Media Studios at the corner of John St from Queen St W in the Wellington Place and Entertainment District neighbourhoods of Toronto
March 29, 2024 – Looking southeast towards the Wesley Building
March 29, 2024 – Looking southeast towards the Wesley Building
SOURCE
  • City of Toronto Heritage Register: 299 Queen St W
  • Ontario Heritage Trust: 299 Queen St W
  • Historic Places: Wesley Building
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Nov 3, 1970, pg 3
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Sep 4, 1954, pg 10
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Nov 3, 1970, pg 3
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Jul 13, 1984, pg B20
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Sep 18, 1984, pg B6
  • Toronto Star Newspaper Archives: Mar 30, 1987, pg B1
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Mar 9, 1991, pg 8
  • Construction: Jan 1916, Volume 9, Issue 1, pgs 8-14
  • Toronto Architecture: A City Guide by Patricia McHugh and Alex Bozikovic (2017), pg 174
  • The United Church of Canada Archives: Methodist Book & Publishing House & The Christian Guardian
  • Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives & Toronto Public Library

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

24,816FollowersFollow
103FollowersFollow
8,850FollowersFollow