Back to School

When I go on an excursion to look-up Toronto’s heritage buildings, I take one of two approaches.  It is either planned as a precision military-like operation with a map of addresses strategically laid out, … or I wing it.

Today’s featured building was found while utilizing method #2 as I strolled down random streets that looked like they might be interesting.  I had no idea what I might find and this building – without any signage – was a complete mystery.  I eventually had to ask.

Welcome to Central Technical High School.

Central Tech - 1913

Completed in 1915, this is the main building of a campus that is now one of the largest high school complexes in the country.  This was a time when Canada’s industrial base was growing and there was increasing need for skilled technicians in all the trades.

This is still a very busy school with a student population of almost 1,600.

Central Tech - 1913 (3)

The third floor was originally reserved for women and in keeping with the segregation of the sexes at the time, certain doors and staircases were designated for females only.

The crest over the main doors is the City of Toronto Coat of Arms and this is the only school which has that privilege since it was built entirely with city funds.

The ribbon under the crest has the words “Industry, Intelligence, Integrity” which I thought was the school motto.  I later discovered that it’s actually “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield“.  That’s a motto I could really relate to!

Central Tech - 1913 (4)

The two gnomes gracing the tops of the columns represent both the academic and technical components of the school.  The gnome on the left is dressed as an academic writing in a book, while his partner on the right is dressed as a journeyman with a hammer and chisel.

Central Tech - 1913 (5)

The doors look a little battered, but I was happy to discover that they hadn’t been replaced by plain utilitarian doors.

… and I couldn’t help but smile at the energy-efficient light bulb in the large light fixture over the door.  I’m glad they didn’t replace that either.

This post is part of Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors weekly photo feature.



  1. I chuckled at your varied approach my friend. I’m often a planner but winging it can be fun. I’m pushing myself to be more flexible that way. I think the City of Toronto should hire you since you are putting together so many great explorations.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love that light bulb! I’ve been thinking about you Joanne, over Easter I painted four internal doors and four wardrobe doors back and front. All a lovely shade of ‘Vivid White’. I also went running around Launceston and looked at the old buildings hoping to find an awesome door photograph and I couldn’t find one that I thought was worth sharing with you – you find the most awesome doors ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry you’ve been in door hell 😉
      It’s not exactly stimulating work, is it?
      The thing is … a new coat of paint looks amazing anywhere 🙂

      I’m so glad you enjoy my doors. It’s starting to become somewhat of an addiction!


  3. Hi Joanne, lovely post and pictures. I have taken a couple of evening courses at this school and never got to see it in such good light. So it just felt imposing and dark. I think they used to have a sign on the Bathurst St side on the field – a long time ago. Unless I imagined it. I was trying to locate the school for a yoga class for my Mom. That is some really good information to know! Have you been inside? It is labyrinthine!!! Trying to get to a washroom from class was an exercise in itself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, I didn’t go inside. Schools frown on strangers off the street walking into the building … especially during school hours. I’m picturing it with high ceilings and I guess I’m not surprised you are describing it as a maze.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Awww – that’s sad when a beautiful old building gets demolished. What’s a Circus Circus?
      There were 2 old iconic schools in my hometown which were demolished. I had heard the problem was asbestos and mold … both of which are troublesome to get rid of.


  4. What a building for a high school. It looks like a castle. I couldn’t help but notice that energy saving bulb, it looks so out of place but in the interests of lowering the carbon footprint I can see the practicality of it.


  5. So rare these days to see a beautiful old building like this high school, still being used as a school. I too, went to an old high school, built in 1930. There have been a few additions to the building but the original parts remains in tact.


    • It is a beauty of a building. I would have happily gone to a school like that one.
      I think additions became the norm during the 60s and 70s as all we boomers started hitting school age.
      The opposite appears to be happening now as schools are rationalized and closed.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Although I am admittedly and over-planner, I love your #2 approach to finding interesting old buildings and doors. Love the door and the history!


    • Ugh – slow wifi!! Thank you for your patience to load a fat packet full of photos!!
      The gnomes are quite unusual, aren’t they? Apparently they were added by the stonemasons as their *contribution* to the school. Can you imagine a freebie like that being done today?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lots of old schools were beautifully built like this and I’m glad many of them are still around. Hopefully they all have new or updated electrical systems for all technology of today. I’m with you; I’m glad they didn’t replace the doors and other “decorations.”



    • That’s one of the thoughts I had too, Janet … the upgrades to make a very old building habitable.
      I remember a couple of very old buildings on campus when I went to university. They were lovely to look at, but brutal to have classes in … unbearably hot in warm weather, and freezing in winter.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great building, Joanne. One of the things I like about old architecture, besides the beauty, is the symbolism – like the gnomes. Can you imagine a city building something like this these days? I can’t. 🙂


  9. Wonderful photos! And it’s too bad they can’t make those energy efficient bulbs any uglier — we could all send them all to Washington, D.C. I won’t use the damned things. Others here do, but I’m not paying that big a price for ugly. I’m paying that big a price for real light bulbs, though, lol.


  10. What a wonderful building; especially grand for a high school. Here’s to winging it 🙂
    I noticed the CFL light bulb too and I like that the original doors are still in use.
    Great post!


  11. Winging it–my most favorite thing to do! This building is beautiful, Joanne. But it makes me wonder why the student population at this school flourishes while at the other school you posted, it does not.


  12. Haha that light bulb didn’t escape my attention either! And I agree – I’m glad they didn’t replace the light fixture!
    And I’m with you on “winging it” – the process of discovery makes it all more fun 😀
    Can’t believe this is a high school though! Jeez it’s impressive for a school


    • There’s a lot to be said for both methods and both work 🙂 Sometimes not knowing what I’ve found is part of the fun.

      It explains why all the kids I saw walking on the streets looked so young!! I assumed they were all from the nearby university and that I was suffering from old-age-itis 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  13. A nice find. I have not sought out Central Tech, or any Toronto schools on my door quest. I may have to start. It’s so nice to see that original doors have not been replaced. I’ve seen several old schools forgo esthetics in favour of modern aluminum or steel doors, which seem so sterile and uninviting.


    • I can understand why they would want to do it though. I’m faced with the same dilemma with an old wooden door on my garage. In the winter, the inside of the door is crusted with frost.
      I’m afraid it will be going in the direction of sterile and uninviting 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  14. What a great find, and a magnificent building. At that time, I would have loved attending school here and learning a trade, Even when I was in high school, I took a lot of “shop” and I was tempted by our technical schools. “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield“ seems like a motto you could work with.

    I love the grans entrance and those large, well-worn doors. One can only imagine how many boys and girls have passed through them over time. Thanks for great doors and a nice bit of history.


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