Toronto, the largest city in Canada, is known for its impressive skyline. But have you ever wondered which building started it all? Which towering structure first pierced the sky of this bustling metropolis? Let’s take a journey back in time to discover the first true skyscraper in Toronto.
The Dawn of a New Era
The history of skyscrapers in Toronto began in 1894 with the construction of the Beard Building. This structure is often regarded as the first skyscraper in the city. However, a handful of buildings are typically tossed into the fray, including the Board of Trade Building (seven storeys, 1892), the Beard Building (seven storeys, 1894), and the Temple Building (12 storeys, 1896).
The First True Skyscraper
Following this logic, the first true skyscraper in Toronto was the Trader’s Bank Building at Yonge and Colborne streets. Completed in 1906, at 15 storeys it was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth until the nearby Canadian Pacific Building was completed in 1913.
The Trader’s Bank Building had a dominant presence on the skyline, and its architectural design emphasized its height in a way that previous candidates did not. Designed by Beaux-Arts New York architecture firm Carrere and Hastings, it was immediately recognized as a skyscraper
A Lasting Legacy
The Trader’s Bank Building ushered in an era of oversized buildings in downtown Toronto. Despite concerns from local architectural critics and promises from city officials, this trend continued. In fact, the distinctive top of the building was designed to diminish its imposing nature2.
Unlike other candidates for the crown of first skyscraper, the Trader’s Bank Building still exists today. Although it has been swallowed up by taller buildings and lost its pride of place on the Toronto skyline, there was a period of about a decade when it was very clearly the city’s most dominant building.
The story of Toronto’s first skyscraper is more than just a tale of architectural achievement. It’s a testament to the city’s growth and evolution. From its humble beginnings with the Beard Building to its current skyline dominated by towering structures like First Canadian Place, Toronto’s history is written in its buildings. And at the heart of that history is the Trader’s Bank Building – Toronto’s first true skyscraper.