Web exhibits

The photographs of Armstrong, Beere & Hime


Although the precise history of the original four sets of photographs is not known, it is certain that the pictures were intended to accompany Toronto's submission to the Colonial Office to promote its selection as the capital of the Province of Canada. However, all this effort was for naught, as Queen Victoria likely never saw the photographs or maps included with the submissions, and in the end it was decided that Ottawa should be Canada's capital.

Regardless, it is fortunate for us that at least two of the sets of photographs taken by Armstrong, Beere and Hime have survived. All of the pictures are fascinating, but the images that were taken from the roof of the Rossin House Hotel will be particularly interesting to those reading Michael Redhill's novel Consolation. Readers will recall that the photographer in the novel, Jem Hallem, also took his panoramic views of Toronto from the very same roof.

Rossin House Hotel, King Street West and York Street
Rossin House Hotel: south-east corner of King and York streets
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 12

The photographs taken from the Rossin House roof are arranged as a four-part panorama, a five-part panorama and a three-part panorama, and there is one image that is on its own. When viewed all together, the panoramas show an almost 360° vista of Toronto. The other twelve photographs were were taken from other vantage points and show individual views of downtown streets and buildings.

The four-part panorama shows downtown Toronto from King Street West to York Street looking north.

Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Items 13-16

King Street west looking west
Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking west along King Street West
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 13

Lookng north-west from roof of Rossin House Hotel

Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking north-west
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 14

Looking north-west from roof of Rossin HOuse Hotel

Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking north-west
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 15

York Street looking north

Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking north along York Street
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 16

The five-part panorama shows a view from York Street east to Bay Street.

Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Items 17-21

Looking north from roof of Rossin HOuse Hotel
Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking north
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 17

Looking north-west from roof of Rossin House Hotel
Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking north-east
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 18

Looking north-west from roof of Rossin House Hotel
Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking north-east
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 19

King Street East looking east
Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking east along King Street East
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 20

Looking south-east from roof of Rossin House Hotel
Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking east along King Street East
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 21

The three-part panorama shows the view south toward Toronto harbour and the railway tracks.

Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Items 22-24

Lookng south-east from roof of Rossin House Hotel
Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking south-east
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 22

Looking south from the roof of the Rossin House Hotel
Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking south
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 23

Looking south-west from the roof of the Rossin House Hotel
Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking south
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 24

This final image taken from the roof of the Rossin House was not part of the panoramas, but instead was taken on its own to show the view looking south-west.

Looking south-west from the roof of the Rossin House Hotel
Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel: looking south-west
[1856 or 1857]
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1498, Item 25

This 1857 map of Toronto highlights the important landmarks of the era, including those buildings that were photographed by Armstrong, Beere and Hime between November 1856 and February 1857.

1857 map of Toronto between Dufferin, Bloor, and the Don River
Plan of the City of Toronto, Canada West 1857
1857
J. Ellis, Lithographer and Fleming, Rideout and Schreiber, Publishers
City of Toronto Archives
Series 88, Item 13

The earliest known photographs of Toronto 
Toronto's bid to be the capital of Canada
The photographs of Armstrong, Beere and Hime
Who were the photographers?
Hiding in plain sight


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