AHS 2016 Speaker Series: Spadina House Recap


On July 28th 2016, our Speaker Series continued with Karen Edwards, Museum Administrator for Spadina Historic House and Gardens.

Karen began her talk by providing a background of the ownership of Spadina House. The property was originally owned by Dr. William Warren Baldwin. In 1818 he built a two store wooden house. He named the property and house Spadina (pronounced Spa-deena), which derives from the Ojibwa word meaning “hill” or “sudden rise of land”

When James Austin, the President of Consumer’s Gas and the Dominion Bank (now known as TD bank) bought the house and the property from the Baldwin family in 1866, he demolished the existing house and built his own on the original foundations. When James died, his son Albert took over ownership of the house, and took over for his father in business. The last owner of Spadina House was Albert’s daughter, Anna Kathleen Thompson. She transferred ownership of the house and grounds to the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario in 1978.
Spadina Museum Exterior 6_RC
Karen then went on to described the process in which house was restored not once, but twice. Spadina House opened under its first interpretation in 1984. Later, Spadina underwent another restoration to depict how the Austin family lived in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This interpretation became open to the public in 2010.