Mingling Old With The New

Sorry for two posts in as many days.  I don’t normally do that, but this door post was written several days ago.  I suppose I COULD hold onto it for another week, but …. nah.

I’ve moaned and groaned more than a few times about my city’s tendency to run roughshod over heritage buildings in an effort to build one more critically important tower of concrete and glass after another (sarcasm intended).

In fairness, there have been notable exceptions and one of them resides hidden downtown within the massive 2 tower complex called Brookfield Place.

The back end of the rebuilt former Merchants’ Bank.

Situated within the Allan Lambert Galleria is the former Midland Commercial Bank, built in 1845, and later bought by Merchants’ Bank in the late 1800s.

This was one of a dozen buildings that survived a massive downtown fire in 1904 and the waves of demolition that followed.  The facade of the Merchants’ Bank building was later dismantled from its original location and reassembled here.

The reassembled facade of the former Merchants’ Bank within Brookfield Place

The Galleria itself is 6 stories high and this tall expanse of glass and light was given the nickname ‘Crystal Cathedral of Commerce’.  However, for me, it is not the towering glass ceiling, but the juxtapositioning of the old and new together, that makes this galleria so uniquely attractive.

I was enamored with this building-within-a-building from the first time I saw it many years ago.


In my research, I found a couple of pre-1904 photos of the old Merchants’ Bank.

In this first photo, I was thrilled to notice that the door on the far right is the same door that’s on the re-assembled building.

From Eric Arthur’s book:  Toronto – No Mean City

Another photo was found in a retrospective piece written to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Brookfield Place.  This “before” and “after” shows the original building at a very different angle, but the missing street lamps in the first photo are clear in this version.

The former Merchants’ Bank is on the very far left.

As a child, I used to love those school exercises where you had to compare 2 pictures and find what’s different about them.  In fact, I still love doing that.

The most obvious difference I noted from these old photos was that the original building had a basement with windows visible behind the iron railing.  Those windows are now missing. Whether or not there is still a basement in the rebuilt bank is unknown.

I think this door would look lovely on my house.  Now, how to sneak it past the security guards …?

To my surprise, I discovered that the former Merchants’ Bank is only one of twelve heritage buildings contained with Brookfield Place. It seems that I will have several more reasons to revisit this massive complex.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.


  1. I just love “old” things and one of the things that simply crushes me is seeing an old building torn down and replace with an Urban Renewal building…in an area that still possesses a majority of the old. I don’t think I can appreciate the beauty you see in this juxtapositioning. 😦


  2. I also love this building and often make a point of entering Brookfield Place when I go to St Lawrence Market just so I can walk past it.

    It shows that old and new can work side by side and I wish developers and city hall in Toronto would make more of an effort to make it happen.


  3. I worked right next door at Commerce Court so I’ve walked through Brookfield for many years – but that part of the building never fails to fascinate and I love to watch visitors to the city discover it – there is always someone taking a photo and commenting on what a surprise it is.
    I walked through yesterday on my way to the Market and it is all decorated for Christmas. It is well worth a visit once it’s gone dark to see the way it is lit up for the holidays – just amazing with lights falling from the “cathedral arch”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know about everyone else, but I was actually hoping your enforced downtime for recovery purposes would generate MANY posts from you. I’m very glad to see a second post so soon and I’m sure you can see from the comments that I’m not the only one! Your doors, as always, as unique and filled with history as you…..this brings me to a new query about whether the doors you are drawn to and photograph are evenmore a door into the psyche of the person? Hmm…..an interesting idea, yes?

    Liked by 1 person

    • HA! I think of my psyche as a Pandora’s Box. Best not to explore it 😉

      What would you make of me waking up this morning in a bit of a panic because I was dreaming my former employer was trying to have me killed for corporate espionage? On a positive note, I was a pilot of a fighter jet 😉
      Just call me Indiana Jo.

      …. And this is why I don’t deep too deeply 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh my….what a dream…..yes, perhaps we shan’t delves further….however …..you do seem to have a most creative bent even in sleep so now with your enforced downtime I’m thinking you need to crank out a book!!! You’ve already got your title, Indiana Jo, and your setting, and some of the plot worked out….yep I’m seeing it…
        Indiana Jo, a hero for all girls!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The door…I’m sure if you just act as though you own the door and are supposed to be carrying it out to your car…no one will question you!!
    I agree with you on the love of the combination of old and new…beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In Melbourne we have an old shot tower which has been encased in a glass and steel cone. I walked past it yesterday. It was absolutely bubbling with people; mainly shoppers. I’m not sure what I prefer. Today’s craziness, or the mid-city peace I experienced while walking past this old tower in the mid 70s on my way to uni. I guess it would no longer be there if not for this development. I have blog post on it somewhere but I couldn’t find it. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Two posts in a row?? Seriously Joanne…do you really expect me to read these both???!!! Ha, ha, always a pleasure to hear from you and some beautiful and interesting scenery here for sure. A building within a building…you don’t say!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s a good way to preserve a bit of history. And, you’ve given me an idea. I know that one of our tall buildings in Hartford, includes the facade of Mechanic’s Savings Bank. I have to check that out at some point.

    This was a great post. (I love comparing old and new photos, too) and there’s always room for a door’s post on Thursday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I already know what it’s going to be and it doesn’t fill me with joy – the Hockey Hall of Fame.
      I passionately dislike the game and my status as a Canadian is always in peril when I make that confession :/


  9. The incredible and respected honor of keeping, preserving the old Merchants Bank within this new and glorious structure is a grand tribute, Joanne!
    I loved the gorgeous evergreen colored door! The golden brass lion and door knob are worthy of a “heist” but with your 2016 “luck” we would be gathering funds to “post your bond” here on the Thursday’s Doors community!! 😉
    Hope you have a lovely weekend! I can imagine people on my blog probably wish I would cut back on my posts!! Your two in a row doesn’t bother me a bit, as long as you don’t mind my delayed reading. . . xo

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent post Joanne. I’ll have to check this place out the next time I’m there.
    I know I’ve mentioned before that there’s no bail money in the ThursdayDoors fund for traffic violations but FYI, this applies to doors thieves too – so just make sure you behave out there 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I was a little blasé about these pictures of door posts initially but this, and one or two others, have converted me. And not just because I thought last Thursday was Friday. Won’t be making that mistake again! Thanks Joanne, a top post and two in two days is a treat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Someone should have warned you that doors are highly contagious.

      You might just be watching from the sidelines now, but before you know it, you’re going to be seeing cool and funky doors everywhere. By then it will be too late. Soon, you too will be going out specifically to find them!!

      You’ve been warned.

      Liked by 1 person

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