Toronto's Historical Plaques
Learn a little of Toronto's history as told through its plaques
St. Hilda's College
Photos by Alan L Brown - Posted August, 2007
This former college building is located in the northwest corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park just east of Crawford Street. Three plaques are attached to the building on the east side of the entrance. Here's what the 1988 Toronto Historical Board plaque says:
Plaque coordinates: 43.648401 -79.415585
St. Hilda's was founded in 1888 as a women's college affiliated with the University of Trinity College. Opportunities at that time for a higher education for women in Canada were few. Located first on Euclid Avenue and then Shaw Street, St. Hilda's moved in 1899 to this building designed by Eden Smith on the Trinity campus. Initially St. Hilda's students took separate pass lectures, but in 1894 all Trinity classes were opened to women. St. Hilda's nevertheless continued to maintain its own distinct traditions and activities. The University of Trinity College federated with the University of Toronto in 1904, and in 1925 Trinity and St. Hilda's moved to the Queen's Park campus. This building then became a residence for the elderly known as Strachan House. Since 1983 it has served as the Church of the Good Samaritan, a home for men.
Photo by Alan L Brown - Posted August, 2007
Here's what the second plaque, called "The Church of the Good Samaritan", says:
A home for men founded in 1926 by the Rev. John Elias Rogers Gibson and originally known as the Church of the Ascension. In 1958 it was given by him to the Anglican Diocese of Toronto and in 1960 dedicated and renamed the Church of the Good Samaritan.
Photo by Alan L Brown - Posted August, 2007
A third plaque called "John Gibson House" has this to say:
Originally founded as St. Hilda's College, this building later became a retirement residence known as Strachan House. Since 1983, it has been a home for men. Formerly known as Church of the Good Samaritan, in 1993 it was renamed John Gibson House in honour of its founder, The Rev. John Elias Gibson.
> Posted June 4, 2013
What a wonderful resource Gibson House appears to be. Grandad (John Elias Gibson) was a tough father and a rather better grandfather, but he had vision and compassion, and enjoyed working with older men who were 'down and out'. To think that an individual can leave a lasting legacy is a lesson to us all.
Eile Gibson, Grand daughter of Rev Jack Gibson
> Posted April 12, 2012
Dear Eilee, My father, Canon Ted Tucker, was a great friend of your grandfather. "Mr. Gibson" is very much part of my early Easter memories. He attended the 8:30 Communion service at St. Mark's, my father's parish each Easter and then came to the rectory for breakfast. This was in the '40's and early '50's.
Monica Snow (firstname.lastname@example.org)
> Posted February 7, 2012
My grandfather was John Elias Gibson, and I remember well going with him on his morning walks to 180 Simcoe Street in the early 1950s, which was the original 'mens' home as we called it. Later Simcoe Street (which would originally have been a large grand house - possible a rectory) was sold, and the men's home was transferred to what is now Gibson House. I believe that my grandfather became interested in helping homeless men during the depression. They included both young and older men, some who had emigrated to Canada from overseas - some had drink problems, some had depression. He and my grandmother also opened up their house to take in the homeless - again, I can remember being very young when there was a gentleman who had a bed in the cellar of my grandparents house on Beverly street. Spotlessly tidy. Whether Simcoe Street was full and couldn't take him, or whether it was temporary I don't know.
> Posted December 18, 2011
It seems even the Toronto Historical Society has the information wrong. "St. Hilda's was founded in 1888 as a women's college affiliated with the University of Trinity College." According to Trinity College St. Hilda's was set up by Trinity College for women. It was not independent. It was basically organized to provided classes to female Trinity students, and had a residence for the female students. I think back then any organization within a school/ university was given the name "college".
> Posted June 18, 2009
I remember when it was a retirement home. I grew up very near it and the people who lived there where very nice. It went downhill when it became Gibson House. The people that are there now are not so nice. Its very unfortunate it couldn't remain a retirement home but such is life in Toronto, one of the reasons I don't live there anymore.
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