Sir Casimir Gzowski's The Hall

The Hall was the Victorian Gothic mansion built by Sir Casimir Gzowski in 1858 on the western edge of Toronto. His seven acre property, at the south-east corner of modern Bathurst and Dundas Streets, is now a park and a community centre. This brick house was surrounded by lawns and large flower gardens. There were duck ponds on the property. Casimir was a lover of flowers and liked to tend his rose. The house was spacious inside with ornate furnishings and was maintained by a large staff. The Gzowskis were at the centre of social life in Toronto. There were lawn parties, balls, musical soirees and lavish dinners.

Gzowski, born in 1813, fell afoul of Czarist authorities for his part in the Polish revolt of 1832, and emigrated first to The United States and then to Canada. While he was the son of a Polish count and trained in civil engineering, when he arrived on this continent he survived by teaching fencing, violin, and languages, while he built up skill in English. Eventually he was hired as an engineer to help in the construction of the New York and Erie Railway, and was sent to Canada. Here he contacted Lord Sydenham, whom he had known in Europe. Lord Sydenham helped him to get an engineering contract for the improvement of Yonge Street. He did well in engineering successes and in 1853, working with David Macpherson, he made his fortune building the Grand Trunk Railway. In 1890, Gzowski was knighted for his engineering accomplishments and philanthropic work. See also Toronto Rolling Mills.

After he died in 1898, Lady Gzowski continued living at the Hall with her son. In 1904, the son sold the property a portion going to the city for a park and the house was demolished.

This information on Sir Casimir Gzowski and his Victorian Gothic mansion, The Hall, came from “The Estates of Old Toronto” by Liz Lundell, which is recommended as a source of interesting information on early Toronto.