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In the matter of the Ontario Heritage Act
R.S.O. 1990 Chapter 0.18
City of Toronto, Province of Ontario

Notice of intention to designate

101 Mason Boulevard (Loretto Abbey)
Take notice that Toronto City Council intends to designate the lands and buildings known municipally as 101 Mason Boulevard (Loretto Abbey), under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act.

The property at 101 Mason Boulevard is worthy of designation under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act for its cultural heritage value, and meets the criteria for municipal designation prescribed by the Province of Ontario under the three categories of design, associative and contextual values. Located in the neighbourhood southwest of Yonge Street and Wilson Avenue, Loretto Abbey (1928, with the addition to the north wing and the chapel completed in 1952) is an institutional complex designed for the convent of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loretto Sisters) and a Roman Catholic girls' school. The site is included on the City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties.

Statement of Cultural Heritage Value
The property at 101 Mason Boulevard is associated historically with the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loretto Sisters), a religious order founded in 17th-century Europe that arrived in Toronto in 1847 to provide young women with religious instruction in the Roman Catholic faith. As the first English-speaking nuns in Canada, for a century and a half the Loretto Sisters operated girls' schools in Toronto. In 1928, Loretto Abbey was relocated from downtown Toronto to North York where a purpose-built complex incorporated the convent and school and, in the early 1950s, a new chapel and accommodation for the novitiate.

Loretto Abbey is a rare example in Toronto of Neo-Gothic architecture, also known as Collegiate Gothic applied to an institutional complex combining a convent and a girls' school. The Neo-Gothic style was the most popular for educational buildings in the post-World War I era, and it is exemplified at Loretto Abbey in the stone cladding and detailing, the landmark tower with a turret, the pointed-arched entrances, the medieval-inspired fenestration, buttresses and gabled frontispieces, and the decoration that includes the detailing in the entrance hall, the ground-floor corridors in the west wing, and the chapel.

The design of Loretto Abbey reflects the career of the Niagara Falls, Ontario, architectural firm of Findlay and Foulis, and remains an uncommon example of their work in Toronto. The monumental stained glass window in the chapel was executed by Yvonne Williams, who was among the best-known glass artisans in Canada in the second half of the 20th century.

Contextually, with its scale and prominent site on a hilltop overlooking York Mills, Loretto Abbey is a local landmark in the North York community.

Heritage Attributes
The heritage attributes of the property at 101 Mason Boulevard are:

  • Exterior attributes
    • The scale, form and massing of the institutional complex
    • The E-shaped plan, with the 3½-storey convent wing (west), the 2½-storey school wing above a raised base (south), the service wing (north) with the chimney and the third-storey addition, and the chapel (east)
    • The materials, with stone cladding and stone, wood, metal, glass and slate trim
    • The gable roof with slate cladding, hipped dormer windows, and stone wall dormers
    • On the principal (west) façade, the square tower with a flat roof and turret
    • At the base of the tower, the main (west) entrance with the pointed-arch stone surround that is flanked and surmounted by medieval motifs and contains paired wood doors with glazed inserts
    • On the extended west and south façades, the secondary entrances that are placed at the base of gabled frontispieces
    • On all walls, the fenestration that combines flat-headed, pointed-arched and lancet openings in stone surrounds, many containing casement windows
    • The two-storey bay windows with stained glass transoms on the west facade, and the stained glass windows on the chapel, including the monumental "Holy Family" window on the east wall
    • The decorative detailing, with crosses, quoins, buttresses and medieval motifs
    • The landscaped setting, with the complex set back from Mason Boulevard behind a curved drive and, at the east end of the site overlooking the ravine, the grotto

  • Interior attributes
    • Inside the main (west) entrance, the two-storey entrance hall with the stone cladding, the cross-vaulted ceiling (lower floor), the panelled ceiling with plaster mouldings (upper floor), the balcony with the classically-detailed openings and wood and metal handrails, the pointed-arched openings with panelled wood doors with glazing, the stone decoration and the terrazzo flooring
    • East of the entrance hall, the pointed-arched stone-trimmed openings with panelled wood doors, sidelights and transoms with glazing and stained glass, which provide access to the chapel and the north and south corridors on the ground floor of the west wing
    • In the ground-floor corridors (north and south) of the west wing, the vaulted ceilings with detailed plaster mouldings and the terrazzo flooring
    • Above the entry to the Chapel of the Holy Family, the stone detailing that incorporates a crucifix and a descriptive passage
    • In the chapel, the volume of the interior that rises the equivalent of four stories under a gable roof with a wood hammerbeam ceiling, and the pointed-arched and ogee-shaped openings that have stone, wood or painted detailing
    • At the west end of the chapel, the two-storey openings incorporating a gallery and a choir loft with wood and metal railings and, in the upper storey, the opening to the organ loft with the wood detailing
    • At the east end of the chapel, the apse with the vaulted ceiling and, on either side, the Chapels of Our Lady and St. Joseph

The detached garage (1928) and, at the north end of the property where it adjoins the north wing, the Infirmary (1989) are not included in the Reasons for Designation.

Further information respecting the proposed designation is available for viewing from the City Clerk's Department.

Notice of an objection to the proposed designation may be served on the City Clerk, Attention: Francine Adamo, Administrator, North York Community Council, North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M2N 5V7, within thirty days of the 2nd day of November, 2011, which is December 2, 2011. The notice must set out the reason(s) for the objection, and all relevant facts.

Dated at Toronto this 2nd day of November, 2011.

Ulli S. Watkiss
City Clerk


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