Moss Park

Queen & Sherbourne Streets, Toronto, Ontario

Built in 1827, for The Hon. William Allan (1772-1853) and his wife, Leah Tyrer Gamble (1790-1858). Allan came to Canada from Scotland and within ten years had made a fortune sufficient to build this house at a reputed cost of £3,248 before spending roughly the same again furnishing it. He named his new home for the farm - Moss Farm - on which he was born and brought up near Huntly in Aberdeenshire. At that time in Toronto (when the city was still called York), Moss Park was rivalled only in size and grandeur, by the likes of The Grange.... 

This house is best associated with...

William Allan

The Hon. William Allan, M.P., of Moss Park, Toronto


Leah (Gamble) Allan

Mrs Leah Tyrer (Gamble) Allan, of Moss Park, Toronto


George William Allan

The Hon. George Allan, P.C., F.R.G.S., Speaker of the Senate of Canada


Adelaide (Schreiber) Allan

Mrs Adelaide Harriet (Schreiber) Allan


Except for the 2-story service wing on the north side of the house, it was a perfect square with each side measuring 50-feet. The Drawing Room measured 19.5-by-26-feet, and the Dining Room was only a fraction smaller, measuring 18-by-24-feet. Despite its beauty, what had been a happy family home became a desolate scene of utter despair during the winter of 1831-32: of the Allan's eleven children, they lost eight over those few months to consumption, whooping cough, scarlet fever, and croup. Mrs Anne Murray Powell conferred to her diary: "lamentable proof of the insufficiency of wealth to promote or rather confer happiness; Allan from a state of indigence is one of the richest men in the community; his house as you know is a Palace; its splendour has become desolation".

Their only child to reach adulthood, The Hon. George William Allan, moved into Moss Park with his second wife after his father's death in 1855. George Allan served as the 11th Mayor of Toronto, Speaker of the Canadian Senate, and was a great traveller who was subsequently elected as a member of the Royal Geographical Society in London. He filled his home with an array of artefacts that he had collected from his travels. After George died in 1901, the grand old house was demolished to make way for urbanisation.  

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 20/10/2018 and last updated on 15/03/2022.


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