Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve been snap-happy with my camera as I enjoy a slow return to ‘normal’. I’m been busy spending time cruising the streets of “Old Town” Toronto in the cold, continuing to trace the city’s history by its old buildings.
One of my favourite recent finds is a former fire station. I was immediately captivated by the unusual design.
Apparently, the tower was used to hang the hoses to dry. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never given any thought to fire hoses having to be dried after they’ve been used, which led me down a rabbit hole researching what’s done today.
Guess what? …. hose towers are still being used!!! Who knew that those clock towers that are often seen with older firehalls aren’t just decorative? However, hanging hoses in a tower isn’t the only method of drying hose … drier racks are now commonly in use.
Not only do hoses need to be dried after use, but they also need to be cleaned first. In my research, I even found fire hose cleaning procedures. Is there anything that can’t be found online?
This particular fire station was built in 1905 and – as was common for old buildings in this city in the 1970s – was targeted for demolition. The building was ultimately saved and re-invented as a small theatre. The large windows in the front have replaced the doors formerly used by the fire trucks.
The story of the Alumnae Theatre is, in itself, an interesting piece of history. It is the oldest theatre society still in operation in Toronto. It was founded in 1919 by women graduates from the University of Toronto.
In an interesting twist of reversed roles, all the actors in their performances, regardless of the part, were women. In the 1920s they began to allow male actors in their performances, but even as of today, the society is still lead entirely by women.
It’s not very often I encounter a piece of history which features women as the protagonists … finally allowing men to join them … but still maintaining control after all these decades.
It’s an interesting building, an interesting theatre group, and a great combination together.