Ontario: The Red Lion Inn, Yonge Street, Toronto

redlionto1886Came across this image of the Red Lion Inn in Toronto at the Archives of Ontario. The photo is from 1886 and shows a building well into its eighth decade according to this blog post of just a few months ago. Built in what was then the country, it was the first stage coach destination on the western route out of the capital, then named York, located around what is now Yonge and Bloor. It would have been about 2 miles to the NNW of the slightly older Playter’s Tavern.

What I like about the photo is how it likely displays three or four additions to what Roberts describes as the original Upper Canadian government approved standard layout Georgian wooden frame structure with the front door centered between two main floor windows and beneath the center window on the second floor. There would have been a chimney at each end of the building, though in the photo the one farther from the photographer could have been rebuilt when the next taller extension was built. The announcement of its opening was set out in a notice in the Gazette of June 13, 1808:

Beefsteak and Beer House. — The subscriber informs his friends and the public that he has opened a house of entertainment next door to Mr. Hunt’s, where his friends will be served with victualing in good order, on the shortest notice, and at a cheap rate. He will furnish the best strong beer at 8d. New York currency per gallon if drank in his house, and 2 s. 6d. New York currency taken out. As he intends to keep a constant supply of racked beer, with a view not to injure the health of his customers, and for which he will have to pay cash, the very small profits at which he offers to sell, will put it out of his power to give credit, and he hopes none will be asked. N.B. He will immediately have entertainment for man and horse. Daniel Tiers. York, 12th January, 1808.

Not sure what entertainment for the horse suggested. I expect the original tavern would have looked a lot like the brick-built Fryfogel’s Tavern near New Hamburg in Perth County, under 100 miles but a couple of decades of settlement to the west. Like Fryfogel’s, the Red Lion had a ballroom and also served government administrative purposes as a district polling location in elections.