How many Toronto apartment houses have file folders thick with their own history? Or can boast a resident on par with Confederation-era poet Sir Charles G. D. Roberts (in 1935, The Globe and Mail wrote that his work was of “incalculable significance” to Canada)? How many look so handsome on their 100th birthday? Or can lay claim to one or more ghosts?
A few, perhaps. But none have stewards the likes of Peggy Bleecker and Mary Jankulak, who, on a recent sunny morning, invited me into the lower-level offices of the Ernescliffe, a storied and glorious six-storey, brick-faced and timber-framed trio of apartment buildings – registered as a non-profit co-operative since 1995 – solidly anchored at the corner of Sherbourne and Wellesley streets.
And, like a good captain and first mate of a ship, the two helped me get my sea legs by doling out Ernescliffe’s history in small portions.
First, I’m treated to the document that started it all: the building permit, filed in 1913. The architects were London, Ont.’s George Denman Redmond and Irish immigrant Neil George Beggs, who met while working as draftsmen for the City of Toronto. While their partnership lasted just two years, they designed many of the city’s early multistorey apartment buildings, including Kingsley Mansions at 149 Jameson Ave. (at King), and the York Apartments at 2 Spadina Rd. (at Bloor). […]