Toronto’s Very Own “Flatiron Building”


49 Wellington St. E.

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The Gooderham Building stands like a ship’s bow at the intersection of Church, Wellington and Front streets. It was built to house offices belonging to the Gooderham family, who grew wealthy in the distilling and banking industries. Nicknamed the “Flatiron Building” for its resemblance to an old-fashioned clothes-iron, the building's triangular shape results from the meeting of Wellington Street with Front Street and the diagonal route that followed the 19th-century waterfront.

William Gooderham established a small distillery in 1837 to use surplus grain from their flour mill (public domain).

The distinctive building owes its appeal to more than its shape. Its colours, steep copper roof and distinctive tower aptly express the prestige of the Gooderham family and its power in the community. The tromp l’oeil painting on the rear of the building, by Derek Besant, has become an attraction in its own right.

Many people assume that the Gooderham Building is a copy of the better-known and larger Flatiron Building in New York City, but in fact it predates the latter by some ten years.

A designated Heritage property, the Gooderham Building is still used for office space, complete with a pub in the basement.

By James Marsh

Visit The Canadian Encyclopedia for more on the Distillery District and Gooderham & Worts National Historic Site.

The building's triangular shape results from the confluence of Wellington Street, which follows the traditional Town of York grid, with Front Street, 2012 (photo © by James Marsh). View the image gallery