It was a chilly, gray day when I took the subway to a Toronto neighbourhood called The Annex (sounds like the beginning of a bad novel, doesn’t it?).
The Annex is a former suburb of early Toronto, now an upscale neighbourhood in the heart of the city, located just north of the university.
I was on a quest to find two particular heritage buildings – the former residences of Dr Frederick Banting, and Lester B. Pearson.
Even if you aren’t Canadian, the name of Dr. Banting is likely one you recognize, especially if you are diabetic. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his research in isolating insulin in a usable form for treating diabetes in humans.
Dr. Banting, along with a medical student, Charles Best, conducted their research at the University of Toronto, and the house I was looking for was said to be his residence during this time.
What I found instead was a playground.
I searched around for a while looking for a plaque or some other kind of memorial, but I came up empty-handed. Either my intel was incorrect, or this now non-existent building simply didn’t make the heritage list.
However, not all was lost. I found many random buildings with heritage plaques on them like this one below. Sadly, none of the plaques say *why* the building was considered significant.
This door may not be spectacular compared to many, and should likely lose points for still having Christmas decorations in March …
… but all is forgiven because of the wonderful house it was attached to. It gets bonus points from me for the stacked verandah.
I had more luck finding the former residence of Lester Pearson. You may recognize this name if you’ve ever flown through Toronto, since our International Airport was named for him.
Pearson was Prime Minister of Canada in the 1960s and earned his place in history by winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 while he was Minister of External Affairs.
His Peace Prize was related to the Suez Crisis of 1956 when Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, which triggered an invasion by Israel, Great Britain and France. Egypt appealed to the Soviet Union for support and the world was once again on the brink of war.
Don’t countries remind you of children sometimes? The lessons we learned in kindergarten just seem to give so many leaders a difficult time … share, play nicely, don’t be a jerk …
If you’ve ever wondered where Canada got its reputation as peacekeepers, this is it. Pearson proposed the first United Nations peacekeeping force. The resulting multi-country force was large enough to secure the Suez area while political solutions could be negotiated.
I’m guessing Pearson lived in this area of Toronto while attending the university and while I can’t be sure of what it looked like at the time, this old home is a beauty today.
Perhaps I should have paid more attention to its front door, but frankly those little turret shapes were a distraction.
That’s my excuse. I’m sticking with it.
Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton from Montreal. There are always plenty of interesting doors and buildings on display at Norm’s place. Drop in for a visit.