Thursday Doors: LAMPS

I took a very deep dive into my photo archives to find today’s Thursday Door.

The photos are from 2016 and I don’t remember this day at all – except I must have been in a hurry because I didn’t even bother to cross the street to capture the entire building.

I finally took some time to research the building’s history and what I discovered, surprised me.

The building in question is St George’s Hall in downtown Toronto. It was built in 1891 and declared a National Historic Site in 2007.

It was originally built by the St George’s Society of Toronto which is one of the oldest philanthropic organizations in Canada, however the building has been occupied by the Arts & Letters Club since 1920.

This is a private club devoted to the LAMPS disciplines – literature, architecture, music, painting (now including all visual arts), and stage (now including all aspects of acting).

To make up for my lack of a photo of the entire building, I found this archival photo from 1919. It was, and still is, a handsome structure.

Today, however, that building is dwarfed by high-rise towers all around it.

Photo from

My surprise came when I discovered that the famous Canadian Group of Seven painters were all members of the Arts & Letters Club, where they apparently met regularly.

The Group of Seven existed from 1920 to 1933 and actually grew to 10 members before they disbanded. They are famous for their paintings of Canadian landscapes, however, what I didn’t know was that they are also credited for inspiring a Canadian art movement.

“Mountain Forms” (1926) by original Group of Seven painter, Lawren Harris, sold in Nov 2016 for $11.2 million (including commission). This makes it the most expensive Canadian painting sold in auction.

Their influence became so widespread that they disbanded in 1933 to allow a new association of painters to emerge. The new Canadian Group of Painters included most of the leading Canadian artists up until it disbanded in 1969.

From a couple of old photos sitting in my photo library – to a journey down a rabbit hole researching a club with a prestigious history, and a handful of its famous members … sometimes a post takes me to a place I wasn’t expecting.


This post is part of Thursday Doors – a weekly photo challenge hosted by Norm Frampton from Norm 2.0.


  1. I am a huge fan of the Group of Seven and I look to them for inspiration for my art. I have a beautiful coffee table art book that, in addition to excellent photos of the art, also includes a good history of the group’s formation and their effect on the art world. Emily Carr, our famous BC artist, exhibited with the Group of Seven. But travel from BC to eastern Canada was arduous in those days, and Carr lived in poverty, so even shipping her paintings east was a big expense for her. In her later life, she ran a boarding house to make ends meet.



    • Thanks for the background on Emily Carr. I knew she was often associated with the Group of Seven, but I didn’t know why she was included within their group. It makes sense that distance was a huge limiter.


    • I learned so much about the Group of Seven that I didn’t know. I always thought that these artists were dubbed with that name “after the fact”. I didn’t realize it was really ‘a thing’.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If you are interested in seeing inside they are often on the “Doors Open Toronto” list. I’ve been there a couple of times and it’s surprising how big it is on the inside and really interesting@


  3. What a neat share! That’s a kind of place that makes me nostalgic for a time and place I never knew. Fabulous doors of interest. Also, I wish I had a door for every door I didn’t take the whole shot of πŸ˜‰


  4. I think some of your best posts, Joanne, are from photos you’ve forgotten about. Maybe a new challenge should be “Forgotten Photos on our Phones.” πŸ™‚ Interesting story about the Group of Seven; and I’m glad to see that there was at least one woman involved, albeit not officially one of the actual seven. – Marty


  5. Actually I really do like the combination of the arch with the doors behind it.

    I am a huge fan of the “Group of Seven” ~ years back when we visited family in Toronto we made a special trip to go and see the museum outside the city, which houses many of their small works. i love their plein air paintings of trees. I even bought their book and enjoy those paintings very often of the trees at various times of the years. So this was interesting to read about for me… Truly a remarkable group of artists.



    • Thanks Peta! I was afraid no one (except Canadians) would have a clue who the Group of Seven were. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m willing to bet a lot of Canadians don’t know the Group of Seven.

      A few years ago, I had a cousin from the Netherlands come to visit – her first time in Canada. She was totally unimpressed with Canadian art which is called all rocks and trees. I couldn’t help but laugh. The work of creative people reflects what they know. We know rocks and trees πŸ˜†


  6. What an interesting club. Plus those three doors are something else. I don’t know that I like them as much as I appreciate them for the history they represent. Your archives are a fascinating place.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This building so looks like it should have a wonderful past–and it does. Good gosh, I read the membership qualifications… So we poor schmucks who might have talent but cannot cough up the $1300 can’t join? Their loss, I say, Joanne. Let’s take our money and go shopping! πŸ˜€


    • I hope you don’t mind me butting in? I have been a member of the Arts and Letters Club for 26 years and was reading your comments. The club is a private club and is self financing.

      We do however have reduced rates for students. As a member you have access to the club and its events.

      You can visit our website which will give you a good idea of what is happening. The club is usually open to the public during ‘Doors Open.’ so you might like to drop in and see the club and meet our members while that is on.. .We also have a website the is open to non-members that can give you a good idea of what is happening


      • Thank you so much for your comment! What a coincidence that I was just thinking about the Arts and Letters Club after attending the McMichael video tour for the 100th anniversary of the Group of Seven’s first exhibit as a group.

        I miss this year’s Open Doors event but will certainly keep this in mind for next year.


  8. Joanne, I live just up the street from this building on Elm. I always admire it as I walk by it and hope that one day I will be able to see the inside


  9. Beautiful doors, though they look like they could use some refinishing. I can understand why creative types would want to congregate in a building with such artistic architecture.


  10. Pretty cool doors. The building looks familiar though I’m not sure if I’ve seen it in person before or perhaps I’m remembering it from some report or documentary I saw. Certainly with the group of seven as club members there’s a ton of history in this place.
    Once again, yeah archives!


    • I am surprised. Until I started paying attention to doors, my eyes tended to glaze over details. In the downtown core full of glass and concrete towers, it’s easy to overlook the old treasures commingled among the giants. This is one of those buildings I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t noticed the door.

      I like the archival photo. I think the building looks magnificent all by itself.


  11. 11.2 million – whew – that is some price for the painting – and love when posts do this wonderful spirals with interesting tidbits.
    And the doors with cool lighting on that stucture – well it “is And was handsome” – you are right – πŸ˜‰


    • I was thinking about that price tag.

      I just can’t imagine having so much money that spending millions on a painting would make sense to me.
      … and I’m guessing these are the same people who whine they pay too much in taxes 😑

      Sorry – I’m in a bit of a snit this morning over the gap between haves and have nots.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well you are right that they would often be the ones to complain. And the reason I am
        Not too perturbed about the haves and have nots is because I know those with all that money are not any happier.
        I have spent too much time immersed in research and too many hours counseling folks from all walks of life- just because their bank accounts are huge only means they have different money problems. And I actually feel sorry for some of the “haves” as the money can “funk” you up! And collecting million dollar paintings is a small part of it. The ego can get out of hand and then”I am important” mindset messes with adjustment –
        Doesn’t phase me at all but maybe I am not really getting it – like maybe I have no idea what it would be like to have my own jet waiting – maybe paying 60$ for a cleaning lady feels like being rich – lol
        But I always say don’t feel
        Sorry for folks who don’t have millions cos we are not necessarily walking around all wanting and needy. Nah…. we often have so much joy (great sex lives- food appreciation – hobbies – laughter a lot )- and well-it is just different and in my view – better!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow! Great doors, Joanne. I love the photo you shared from 1919, too. I wonder what that old car would think of our driver-less cars? I’d rather hitch a ride in the car in the photo. Thanks for sharing!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s