Friday, September 24, 2010

College and Spadina in 1902

College and Spadina in 1902

Yeesh. I keep trying to just quickly post these photos without spending much time on them, but every time I do, I accidentally discover a crapload of interesting history related to them and end up getting dragged into more research. Here, for instance, are some workers doing some construction on Spadina Avenue in 1902. The photo is looking north from College toward that old U of T building in the distance (which is still there today in the middle of the roundabout). So I figured I should probably do a  quick check to see what the building is called and make sure there was nothing I should tell you about it. Mistake.

It's called 1 Spadina Crescent and it was built in 1875 as Knox College, a Presbyterian theology school, which soon became part of U of T. When the college moved out at the beginning of the First World War, the building became the Spadina Military Hopsital, where injured soldiers were treated. And, as it turns out, a young Amelia Earhart worked there as a nurses aide—which is the first I've heard about her living in Toronto and is a story which is clearly going to need its own post someday soon.

Then the building continued on as a military hospital until the 1940s, when it was turned into a medical research laboratory. It soon became one of Canada's main hubs for the development of new drugs, including vitally important contributions to Jonas Salk's polio vaccine. I get the feeling there's a whole post in that story, too. 

Then, in the '70s, the lab moved and the university turned 1 Spadina Crescent into an academic building. That sounds boring and you'd think it would be the end of all the interesting stories. Except that a professor was murdered there in 2001; the crime is unsolved and his ghost is said to haunt the building. And then, last year, someone searching for his ghost fell from the roof and died. Oh, and as if that weren't enough, it's also home to the Ontario division of the Eye Bank of Canada, which is exactly what it sounds like: the place they keep dead people's eyes until they're transplanted.

Seriously. All I wanted to do was post a  pretty picture.

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