John Lang Blaikie, a well-known 19th century Toronto businessman, built Hollydene, the imposing red brick mansion on the north-east corner of Elm Avenue and Bridge Street (now Mount Pleasant Road). He had immigrated from Scotland in 1858, at the age of 35, and became very successful, holding several significant posts including: President of the
Canada Landed Credit Company, President of Consumers Gas, Vice President of the North American Life Assurance Company and Director of the Northern Railway. He was one of the first to purchase property in south Rosedale. Two lots cost him $4,300. in 1876.
“Hollydene” is a massive three-story red brick mansion of High Victorian design, combining several styles popular in the 1880s, the Queen Anne style, with its fantastic flourishes, the Romanesque style and a Tudor influence in the gables and dormers. The home is an asymmetric centre hall plan with a large portico (added ssome time after the house was completed). A conservatory was located on the right side and a large two-storey cutout bay marks the west side of the house. Most window have simple stone lintels except for the front second-floor windows, which are topped with intricate arched brickwork.
The Blaikies did not live in the house for long. In 1886, “Hollydene” was sold for $26,000 to Hugh Ryan, a wealthy railway contractor. It was sold again in 1912 to Branksome Hall School and remains part of the school campus today. More can be found about Hollydene, other Rosedale houses and their owners in “Rosedale” by Bess Crawford.