Connaught Gates – History


“These stone and iron gates, a developer’s folly, were placed here in 1913 by The British and Colonial Land and Securities Co. Ltd., a creation of Sir Henry Pellatt, the lord of Casa Loma. The gates were to be a grand entrance to an immense subdivision named Cedar Vale, that was to stretch from Vaughan Road to Eglinton Avenue, and about half as far west. This boulevard, to be named Connaught Drive after the Governor General of the day, was to progress majestically to a rather ornate circle, then veer right to cross Cedarvale Ravine and march proudly all the way to Eglinton Avenue. Large lots, expensive homes, parks, public squares and civic buildings were part of the company’s ambitious plans.

Like much of Sir Henry’s life, things didn’t work out that way. There was a recession on, and too many subdivisions like this on sale around the city. Then, in 1914, war broke out. People invested their money in war bonds rather than in real estate and for many years not much happened in this part of town. Finally the Home Bank went bankrupt, and with it most of Sir Henry’s investments. He gave his home, Casa Loma, to the city and moved into the carriage house. He died in 1939, a poorer man, but still immensely popular.
Some houses were built here through the twenties and thirties but much of the area north of the ravine was not fully developed until the 1950s. One of the reasons for this delay was the fact that the paving on Bathurst Street ended just a block north of here. From that point a muddy dirt road slid down the ravine and crossed the Castle Frank Stream on a rickety single lane bridge.
That is what this area was like in 1923 when Ernest Hemingway rented an apartment just up the street from here. He first came to Toronto in early 1920, hired by the Connable family as a companion for their disabled son while the rest of the family went to Florida for the winter. Ralph Connable, president of F.W.Woolworth Ltd., got Hemingway his first writing assignments with the Toronto Star.
Three years later Hemingway, now working for the Star in Paris, returned to Toronto with his wife Hadley, who was eight months pregnant. They moved to a tiny one-room apartment here, and a month later their son was born. However, unhappy with both the city and his job at the Star, the Hemingways returned to Paris just four months later.
It wasn’t until 1927 that the first high level bridge was built, carrying the (Bathurst) street smoothly across the ravine. Only then did building begin in earnest on the lands north of here. The neighbourhood that evolved here is a far cry from the plan Sir Henry had in mind in 1913, and perhaps we can be grateful. What we have today is more varied, more spontaneous, and probably more livable because the developer’s plan was forgotten.”
Terry McAuliffe
Local Historian

April 24, 1998




Connaught Gates – Restoration
In the summer of 1999, Terry McAuliffe, a local resident and historian, approached Councillor Joe Mihevc with the idea of restoring the Gates, which had suffered from decades of neglect. Over the ensuing two years, Joe was able to convince the City to restore the Gates themselves. Sandblasting, tuck-pointing and wrought iron repairs were completed in 2002, at a cost of over $25,000.
Terry approached the Connaught-Lonsmount Area Ratepayers Association (CLARA) at CLARA’s first annual Victoria Day Barbecue, with the idea of restoring the Connaught Gate lanterns. The lanterns, which had sat proudly atop the Gates when they were built, had long since disappeared; the only photo which could be found showing them were in a copy of the 1913 “Cedar Vale” promotional book, which was in Terry’s possession.
The idea of fully restoring the gates by replacing the lost lanterns was compelling to many members of the community, and a committee of volunteers formed to bring Terry’s vision to life. The first meeting of the CLARA “Connaught Gates Committee” took place on September 10, 2002. Shortly thereafter, Terry was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Unfortunately, he died in July 2003 before seeing the restoration completed.


The committee, chaired by Stewart Miller, worked through many difficult issues, from creating a suitable lantern design, to getting electric power to the Gates, to raising the significant funds necessary to construct and install the lanterns. In December 2003, Heritage Toronto accepted the Connaught Gates Restoration Project as one of their designated funds, enabling supporters to receive a tax receipt for their donations.
The firm of Lighting Nelson and Garrett is now building the new lanterns; John Garrett penned the beautiful design. The lanterns are very large: each lantern is approximately 1.5m (4 feet) tall. With the scrolled base, the lanterns are over 1.6m (5'3") tall.


The Poster

The idea for this commemorative poster came from Stewart Miller, local neighbour and co-owner of the Ideal Printing Company. Stewart was responsible for spearheading this effort as well as for printing the posters. The design is by Martin Finesilver, a well-known graphic artist and friend of Stewart. Martin’s design superimposes the restored Gates on top of a background scanned from the title page of Henry Pellatt’s original “Cedar Vale” promotional brochure.
The foreground element showing the Connaught Gates with the restored lanterns is from a watercolour painted by Jon Soules, an esteemed architect and the Vice-President of CLARA. The watercolour is based on a scale CAD drawing, which Jon also created; Jon even climbed a ladder one fine January day to take the needed measurements of the Gates!

The Gates

Lantern construction began in February 2004. Here are some pictures showing the construction.





The lanterns were installed on Friday, May 21, and turned on for the first time on Victoria Day, May 24, 2004.


In this picture, Margaret McCaffery, Gordon Ciglen and Howard Katz are shown next to one of the lanterns as it is being prepared to be craned onto the gates.


Here are the gates as they appear today.




We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the following organizations and individuals for their contributions which made this project successful.

Lighting Nelson and GarrettFor the design and constuction of the lanterns. An authentic and beautiful design, and and absolutely first class fabrication. We will forever be grateful.
Stewart Miller and The Ideal Printing CompanyFor developing and printing the commemorative posters.
Jon SoulesFor his superb drawing and watercolor of the gates with the new lanterns. This was the first "real" look at what we were working towards, and was instrumental in inspiring us all.
Martin FinesilverFor the design of our commemorative poster.
Councillor Joe MihevcFor his tireless support, and assistance in negotiating with the City to make this a reality.
Shell CanadaFor their generous donation of $5,000 towards constuction of the lanterns.
Howard KatzFor fundraising, managing the construction and installation, and general cheerleading through a very long process