Toronto Sights


Hart House

Hart House Review

A neo-Gothic student center built in 1911–19, Hart House represents the single largest gift to the University of Toronto. Vincent Massey, a student here at the turn of the 20th century, regretted the absence of a meeting place and gym for students and convinced his father to build one. It was named for Vincent's grandfather, Hart, the founder of Massey-Ferguson, once the world's leading supplier of farm equipment. Originally restricted to male students, Hart House has been open to women since 1972.

Keep your eyes peeled for artwork scattered throughout the building, including a revolving collection of works by famed Canadians like Emily Carr and evocative landscape paintings by the Group of Seven. Hart House founder Vincent Massey filled the walls of the house with artwork so that the students would "consciously or unconsciously...develop an interest in it." The project to build a permanent collection, which holds more than 600 important works by both emerging and established Canadian artists, began in 1922 with the purchase of the painting Georgian Bay, November, by Group of Seven member A. Y. Jackson. Two hundred works are on display throughout the building, most of which can be viewed by anyone willing to wander in and out of the rooms. Each year a new piece is added, carefully chosen by a committee made up of mainly students, and today the collection is reported to be worth close to C$17 million. The Justina Barnicke Gallery (416/978–8398 Mon.–Fri. noon–5, Sat. 1–5) comprises two rooms of mixed-media art showcasing homegrown talent. The stained-glass windows and vaulted ceiling in the Great Hall are impressive, but so is chef Suzanne Baby's cuisine at the resident Gallery Grill (416/978–2445 Sept.–June, weekdays 11:30–2:30, Sun. 11–2). Try one of the grilled fish dishes, a juicy steak, or a creative vegetarian torte while enjoying the elegant surroundings.

Updated: 09-12-2013

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