Do you remember Speaker’s Corner? Originally known as the Wesley Building, today 299 Queen St W (and John St) in Toronto is home to Bell Media.
The Architecture & The Methodist Book and Publishing Company
Designed in 1913 by the architectural firm Burke, Horwood & White, the Neo-Gothic landmark was constructed between 1914 and 1915. The Wesley Building was named after John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in the Church of England. The elegant five-storey structure was the head office of the Methodist Church of Canada and Methodist Book and Publishing Company (which later became Ryerson Press).
Modern for the time, the building is constructed of a steel frame. Three of its main facades are clad in white terracotta tiles with a Gothic motif. The ornate arched main entrance features decorative pilasters and parapets. Along with the top second-storey band are grotesque scribes and readers. There are also recessed spandrel panels, ogee arches, crocketed pinnacles, book motifs and trefoils on the piers. The many large windows allow for abundant light. The coffered plaster ceiling inside the main entrance off Queen St W is another character-defining element.
In 1925, the Methodist Church became part of the United Church of Canada. The building was renamed United Church Publishing where they printed, published, bound and sold books. Until 1959, the magnificent building was also the church’s national headquarters. The landmark received heritage status in 1973.
The CHUM-City Building
In 1987, the picturesque building was purchased and became the CHUM-City Building. The interior was altered and became the world’s first TV production centre without formal studios. The building itself became famous and was home to MuchMusic and CityTV with the CityPulse LiveEye truck smashing through the wall on the building’s east side.
The Wesley Building Today
In the mid 2000s, CHUM Limited assets were purchased by what is known today as Bell Media. The iconic Wesley Building is the company’s headquarters and downtown studios.
Wesley Building Photos
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 299 Queen St W
- Ontario Heritage Trust: 299 Queen St W
- Historic Places: Wesley Building
- Taylor On History: Toronto’s Ryerson Press Building – Bell Media
- Toronto Architecture: A City Guide by Patricia McHugh
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives & Toronto Public Library