Mackenzie House was the last home of Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, and is located downtown just steps from theatres, the Eaton Centre and Yonge-Dundas Square. The museum interprets urban Victorian life of the 1860s and the evolution of democratic institutions through the lens of Mackenzie as a writer, publisher, politician and rebel.
The site includes the original three-storey brick, Greek Revival row house (originally the centre of three row houses, built circa 1858), and a one-storey addition which houses a narrow gallery space, a recreated print shop and reception/gift shop that was added by the City in 1967.
Visit Mackenzie House and view the changing character of the neighbourhood from Victorian row houses to modern condominiums at the heart of Canada’s largest city.
Please note: the interior of Mackenzie House can be seen by self-guided or guided tour. Please refer to the open hours below or call for more information.
Seniors (65+): $7
Youth (13-18 years): $7
Children (5-12 years): $5
Children (4 and under): Free
Hours of Operation
Group bookings are accepted seven days a week; morning, afternoon, and evening, year-round.
January to April
Saturday & Sunday: Noon – 5 p.m.
Monday to Friday: Noon – 4 p.m.
Saturday to Sunday: Noon – 5 p.m.
May to Labour Day
Tuesday to Sunday: Noon – 5 p.m.
September to December
Tuesday to Friday: Noon – 4 p.m.
Saturday to Sunday: Noon – 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays, Thanksgiving, Good Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
- Parking: commercial lots nearby
- Public washrooms
- Special needs: Partial accessibility
- Please call 416-392-6915 for specific accessibility questions
- Gift shop
Take the Yonge/University subway line to Dundas subway station, exit to surface and walk two blocks east to Bond Street. Or, take either the Dundas or Queen streetcar to Bond Street and walk south from Dundas Street East or north from Queen Street East. For specific TTC route and schedule information call 416-393-4636 (INFO) or visit the TTC website.
This restored 1857 townhouse was the final home of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor and leader of the 1837 Rebellion. The site features furniture from the nineteenth century, an 1845 printing press and artifacts from its former print shop.
In 1936 when William Lyon Mackenzie King, Mackenzie’s grandson, was Prime Minister, the house was saved from demolition when its neighbouring row houses were destroyed.
Description of Historic Place
Mackenzie House is a late-Georgian Greek Revival row-house located at 82 Bond Street in downtown Toronto. The house is significant for its connection to William Lyon Mackenzie, the city’s first mayor and a radical journalist and political reformer. The Bond Street residence was purchased by Mackenzie’s friends and supporters, and presented to him in 1859. Mackenzie lived at Bond Street until his death in 1861, and his family continued to reside in the house until 1871. The building was occupied by various tenants until the 1930s when it was purchased by businessman T. Wilbur Best, who established the William Lyon Mackenzie Homestead Foundation to preserve and operate the house as a public museum. In 1960 the property was deeded to the City of Toronto, and its management was transferred to the newly formed Toronto Historical Board (THB).
Mackenzie House has been renovated and restored to its original nineteenth-century appearance and is operated by the City of Toronto’s Cultural Services.
Statement of Heritage Value
- William Lyon Mackenzie House is located at 82 Bond Street in Municipal Ward 27. The house was listed in the Toronto Heritage Properties Inventory by City Council on June 20, 1973. William Lyon Mackenzie was designated as a National Historic Person by Parks Canada in 1949, and a plaque commemorating this designation was installed at Mackenzie House in 1951 by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Parks Canada replaced this marker, and installed a new plaque in 1984.
- Mackenzie House is historically significant as the last home of the city’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, who is associated with Toronto’s incorporation in 1834 and the wider political history of Upper Canada. 82 Bond Street was Mackenzie’s final residence, and it is the only Mackenzie home that has survived to the present day.
- Mackenzie House is a remnant of the Georgian terraces, once common in this downtown neighbourhood, that were replaced by later construction and modern development. The building retains a number of architectural elements that are characteristic of the Greek-Revival style.
- Mackenzie House is situated within a radically altered historic landscape. The building survived a number of major urban developments that transformed Toronto in the late-nineteenth and twentieth century, and is one of the last original structures still standing in the Bond Street district.
Character Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage value of this site include:
- William Lyon Mackenzie (1795 – 1861) immigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1820, and was joined by his mother, son, and future wife, Isabel Baxter (1805 – 1873) two years later. Mackenzie became active in local politics soon after his arrival in Upper Canada. William was first and foremost a newspaper editor and writer; he had been employed as a writer for a local newspaper in Scotland, and he continued to express his social and political philosophies in this medium throughout the course of his life. In 1824 Mackenzie began to publish the Colonial Advocate, a political newspaper that he used as a platform to criticize his opponents and outline his concerns about the lack of responsible government in the colony. In later years William launched new publications, including The Constitution, Mackenzie’s Gazette, and Mackenzie’s Weekly Message, and also worked as a writer and editor for additional newspapers both in Canada and the United States. In 1828 he was elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly, a position he held a number of different times over the next twenty years. The town of York was incorporated as the City of Toronto in 1834; in the same year Mackenzie was elected as an alderman to the Toronto City Council, and was chosen by the Council as the city’s first mayor.
- William Mackenzie was the first mayor in the province of Ontario, and one of its most controversial political figures. He was deeply critical of the colonial government, and led the Upper Canada Rebellion in December 1837. The Rebellion was intended as a show of force in favour of political reform. After the Rebellion’s failure Mackenzie was forced to escape to the United States, where he was joined by Isabel and their children. The Mackenzies lived in exile for the next twelve years until the Government granted a General Amnesty to all participants of the Rebellion in 1849. The family returned to Toronto in 1850, and in 1851 William was re-elected to the Assembly. Mackenzie worked as a politician for another seven years, and he continued to publish his own newspaper until 1860.
- The Mackenzie family faced constant financial pressures that were exacerbated by William’s tumultuous political career. The house at Bond Street was purchased through a public fundraising campaign by William’s friends and political allies, and presented to him in 1859 after his retirement from political office. William and Isabel Mackenzie had thirteen children, five of whom lived to adulthood; the Bond Street household consisted of Mackenzie, Isabel, three of their daughters, and a live-in domestic servant named Catherine Byrns. The family continued to live in the house for another ten years after William’s death in 1861. In 1871 Isabel and her three unmarried daughters moved to Charlotte Street, and the Bond Street property was occupied by a series of tenants until the early twentieth century.
- Most of the houses on the Bond Street row were demolished or converted to other purposes by the 1930s. Mackenzie House was also threatened with demolition, but was saved by businessman T. Wilbur Best who established the Mackenzie Homestead Foundation. After a number of renovations, the Foundation opened the building as a Historical Library and Museum on May 9, 1950. Mackenzie was declared a National Historic Person in 1949, and in 1951 the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada installed a plaque at the house in his honour. This plaque has since been replaced by a more modern version that is located in the garden at the front of the Museum. In 1960 the Mackenzie Homestead Foundation turned the building over to the Toronto Historical Board that had been established in July of the same year. The THB carried out further restorations and added a modern wing with a gallery, gift shop, and reconstructed nineteenth-century print shop as part of their National Centennial Project in 1967.
- Mackenzie House possesses an on-site library that contains documents associated with the history of the Mackenzie family and Toronto, as well as materials relating to the Museum’s restoration and management. William Lyon Mackenzie’s diaries, account books, and correspondence have provided details that have assisted in the Museum’s restoration projects. These materials and some related collections are available at the City of Toronto Archives, The Baldwin Room at the Toronto Reference Library, the Archives of Ontario, and the National Archives of Canada.
- Mackenzie House contains artefacts that are connected to or contemporary with the Mackenzie family, and are representative of the lives of middle class families in mid-nineteenth century Toronto. The period pieces feature a small number of artefacts that are associated with the Mackenzies themselves, including the embroidered slipper chair in the parlour, the Empire style dresser and sampler in the master bedroom, and the portraits of William and Isabel painted in 1834.
- Mackenzie House was part of a three-house Georgian terrace built between 1856 and 1858 whose design is attributed to the architect William Rogers. The building has undergone a number of major renovations over time, although the house has retained many of its original exterior features. These include the tall rectangular façade, the Greek key frieze, a Flemish bond brick front, a garden front, and an “acanthus leaf” patterned iron gate. The entrance doorway is also original, and comprises nine-foot-tall single panel doors trimmed with egg and dart wood moulding and a large transom window.
- The house’s internal layout follows a standard nineteenth-century plan; the building has four floors, including two main floors, a basement, and an attic. The first three floors are divided into two major rooms as well as an additional small room in the basement and on the second floor. The characteristic rectangular façade is produced by the elevated ceilings in the basement and main floor rooms. The raised English basement was built partially underground, with full-sized windows that provide a great deal of natural light. The house was supplied with piped gas, and gas lighting was originally installed in the parlours, the hallway, the main staircase, and the bedrooms. The gas-lights were extended to the basement dayroom and kitchen during twentieth-century restorations, and all areas of the historic house now have functioning gasoliers. There is no evidence that the house received municipal water during the Mackenzie family’s occupancy, although there was most likely a well in the back yard.
- Original interior details include the transom and sidelights of the inner doorway, the support arch with decorative corbels in the front hall, and the sliding pocket doors that are typical of the Greek Revival style. The ornamental ceiling mouldings and decorative plaster medallions installed at the base of the gasoliers were removed in the twentieth century.
- The Toronto Historical Board undertook major repairs and a full restoration of the property in 1961 under the leadership of the THB curator June Biggar, the Upper Canada Village Curator of Furnishings, Jeanne Minhinnick, and the restoration architect B. Napier Simpson Jr. The house was restored to reflect the Mackenzie family’s lifestyle in the 1860s with reference to various historical documents and comparisons with similar contemporary buildings. The third floor has not been restored, and now houses administrative spaces.
- In 1967, the National Centennial year, the THB built a modern extension at the back of the house that contains programming space, the recreated print shop, and an exhibit gallery. The THB also acquired one part of Lot 20 to the north of the house; this small addition allowed for the creation of a small courtyard garden near the main entrance. Later renovations included the installation of a new sprinkler system and reproduced wallpaper in 1994 and 1999. A Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque was installed in 1951 to commemorate William Lyon Mackenzie’s designation as a National Historic Person in 1949. This plaque was replaced by Parks Canada in 1984, and is located on the path leading to the Museum entrance.
- To date no major archaeological finds have been made at Mackenzie House. All site planning related to the Museum should be undertaken with reference to potential undiscovered archaeological features, in conjunction with the City of Toronto’s Master Plan for Archaeological Resources.
- 82 Bond Street is a significant Toronto landmark. It is located near the city’s historic centre a few blocks away from the Yonge and Dundas Street intersection, and is in close proximity to other important heritage buildings such as Old City Hall and Osgoode Hall on Queen Street. Mackenzie House survived the transformation of Toronto’s urban landscape, and is one of the few remaining examples of Georgian architecture in the downtown core.