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The Gladstone Hotel

The Gladstone Hotel was built in 1889 and named after Gladstone Avenue, next to the hotel. The Parkdale area hotel is a west Toronto landmark designed by local architect G.M. Miller in the Romanesque Revival style.



The Gladstone Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto. It was originally built in 1889 as a stylish hostelry across from the then existing Parkdale railroad station which serviced the Grand Trunk, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), and the Canadian National Railway (CNR) companies.

The location of the Gladstone Hotel, just east of Dufferin on Queen Street West, was once considered the western edge of Toronto and it provided accommodations to travelers from the Parkdale train station as well as visitors and exhibitors at the Canadian National Exhibition.

The original owner Susanna Robinson was a widow who operated and lived at the hotel with her 13 children. In fact, the hotel as always been operated as a family enterprise and continues to do so today under current ownership of the Zeidler family.

The Gladstone was named for Gladstone Avenue, which was named after British prime minister William Gladstone. The hotel's monthly newsletter, the Gladstone Bag, is named for the suitcase style, also named for William Gladstone.

The Gladstone was one of the first ten hotels in Ontario to receive permission to allow patrons to drink and play shuffleboard in a licensed alcoholic area. At one time the Gladstone Hotel was the last place to obtain hard liquor before reaching Hamilton.


The hotel was designed by George Miller, the architect of the Lillian Massey building of the University of Toronto, many other public buildings in the city, as well as a large number of formerly grand residential buildings in the Parkdale neighbourhood. The building permit was issued in September 1889 for a value of $30,000.

The Hotel was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style - in the period a popular style for public buildings such as train depots, churches, and libraries. The architectural style of the Gladstone is characterized by the rough cut stone and brick and by the dramatic arches over the windows and porch entrances. The Hotel tower is also characteristic of the style. The cupola was removed in 1930 due to disrepair.

The Gladstone is a fine example of a Victorian Hotel with intact plaster moldings in the grand hallways. The two restored pillars in the hotel's Melody Bar are unique in Toronto in that their faux marble finish was rendered in true European fresco technique. No other architectural pillars such as these exist in Toronto. The meticulously restored Victorian elevator is one of the last hand-operated elevators in Toronto

Zeidler Partnership and Eb Zeidler were the architects for the historic restoration of the hotel.

Recent social history

The Gladstone Hotel is currently owned by the Zeidler family. Their historic restoration of the property reflects the hotel's architectural and community history.

The Zeidler family was concerned about the well-being of the existing residents of the hotel and took an interest in supporting them and helping them find new homes in the community prior to beginning the restoration project. The family provided financial support and the employees at the hotel worked to find homes for the most elderly and at risk. Some of the former residents now live at the Parkview Arms Hotel, down Queen Street beside Trinity Bellwoods Park.

The Gladstone kept its bar and event venue spaces open and operating throughout the restoration process in order to maintain community and neighbourhood connections.


An independent documentary film was shot over the course of several years during the hotel's renovation process.

From Last Call Productions: In 2000, developers purchase the crumbling, century-old Gladstone hotel to turn it from skid row flophouse to arts and music hotspot. They think it's empty... until they meet Marilyn, the chambermaid with a heart of gold; Shirley Ann, the cynical front desk clerk; and a motley crew of residents, including Maryanne, a sweet ex-bag lady who has turned her room into a toxic zone. Staff and residents—some who have been there for over 30 years—worry they'll be squeezed out during the hotel's imminent revitalization.

The developers' plan— a gradual restoration with staff and residents remaining upstairs, while downstairs the bar serves designer drinks to new, affluent clientele—doesn't work. When experimental film-maker, Christina Zeidler inherits the mess and forms a "business model that includes social change," the hotel has the last word. City inspectors demand complete rewiring, the boiler blows up leaving the hotel without heat, ceilings leak, walls are crumbling and Zeidler now has to decide what to do.

Shot over five years in a cinema direct style, Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel is an intimate portrait of the effects of urban renewal on the poor—a compelling tale of urban conflict put under the lens of class, money and social consciousness, chronicling a heart breaking clash of cultures between down at the heels hotel residents, artists and developers. More than a story about haves versus have-nots, this film exposes a pattern of displacement repeated in cities worldwide, and reveals the unintentional roles we often play in the process of gentrification.

External links

Coordinates: 43°38′34″N 79°25′37″W / 43.642683°N 79.427°W / 43.642683; -79.427



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