The History Of The Gooderham Building In 1 Minute

Gooderham Building | © chauhansnjy/Wikicommons
Gooderham Building | © chauhansnjy/Wikicommons
Photo of Culture Trip
6 December 2016

Commonly referred to as ‘Toronto’s Flat Iron’, the Gooderham Building is an iconic and historic structure situated at the intersection of Wellington and Front Street in the heart of downtown Toronto. Associated with the famous Gooderham family and their distillery, this building’s history, like the family, dates back to the 19th century.

The Gooderham family was a prosperous one, investing in other interests outside of the distillery such as banking, woolen mills, retail, the Toronto and Nipissing Railway and lake transportation, and the Gooderham was no different. With great success in all of their endeavors, especially the distillery, William Gooderham (co-founder of the distillery) needed a place to house the headquarters of their empire, and so construction of the Gooderham Building began.

Designed by Toronto architect David Roberts Jr., the building, a triangular-shaped structure, was designed to follow the layout of the streets, which formed a point with the merging of Wellington and Front Street. While Wellington Street follows the Town of York grid, Front Street’s diagonal line is attributed to the 19th-century waterfront. The building, an example of Romanesque Revival and French Gothic architecture, finally finished construction in 1892, taking the place of the Coffin Block Building, which sat on the same site before construction began on the Gooderham in 1891.

Gooderham Building 1890s | Public Domain/Wikicommons | Gooderham Building in Toronto, Ontario | © Jason Baker/Flickr | Gooderham Building - Toronto 2012 | © Anthonyd3ca/Wikicommons

Set on a high foundation, the Gooderham is four-and-a-half stories tall, with a copper roof and arched windows. In 1975, the building was designated as a historic site and has continued to be restored and preserved since. In 1980, the famous mural was painted on the backside of the building using a trompe l’oeil effect – an illusion that the painting’s edges are ‘fluttering’ away. Created by Canadian artist Derek Besant, The Flatiron Mural is the artist’s representation of the Perkins Building across the street.

📅 The Gooderham Building: 24 hours daily