Stately Manor Becomes First Art Museum


317 Dundas St. W.

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The Grange is a magnificent Georgian manor that is now a part of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Once the home of the powerful Boulton family, it was bequeathed to the city as the original Art Museum of Toronto at the death of its most famous —or infamous—resident, Goldwin Smith, the “sage of the Grange.”

Goldwin Smith, the "Sage of the Grange" (courtesy Art Gallery of Ontario).

The manor was built in 1817 for D’Arcy Boulton Jr, who left it to his son, Toronto mayor William Henry Boulton. When William married Harriet Dixon, the house was put in her name as a marriage settlement. William died in 1874 and in 1875 Harriet remarried, this time to Goldwin Smith, scholar and political writer.

Smith became Canada’s pre-eminent man of letters, and he voiced his often-controversial opinions on all manner of subjects in his own publications and in international journals. He called himself a classical liberal, with strong opinions in favour of unfettered capitalism, separation of church and state, and anti-colonialism. He believed in the inherent superiority of the British “race” and its civilization.

He opposed female suffrage and higher education for women, advocated British rule in India despite his anti-colonialism, proposed the union of the United States and Canada, and was a determined anti-Semite although he contributed to the building of Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple.

Smith died in 1910, only a few months after Harriet. As they had agreed, their home became the Art Museum of Toronto.

By Dennis Smith

Visit The Canadian Encyclopedia for more on Goldwin Smith.

The Grange, October 9, 1913 (courtesy City of Toronto Archives/Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 52, Item 168). View the image gallery