Holwood (now Flavelle House)
78 Queens Park Crescent, Toronto
William Wallace Barrett
Built in 1901 from the plans of Darling and Pearson, architects, on land leased from the University of Toronto, this imposing brick building was the home of Sir Joseph and Lady Flavelle until their deaths, Lady Flavelle in 1932 and Sir Joseph in 1939.
In a sense the size of the building was very much out of character as Sir Joseph shunned anything pretentious. Perhaps he did not understand the scale in the architect s blueprints. The building is very large and its location dominates that part of Queen s Park Crescent just north of Queen s Park.
The building site was never owned by the Flavelles but leased from the University on a 99 year lease. For an individual to have a private home on Queens Park Crescent on University land was unusual and then to have it leased was also unusual but Sir Joseph played such a large part in bringing the various colleges to that area and was so generous in the financial support of the University that such an arrangement was understandable. This arrangement was that the land and buildings were to be used as a residence for the Flavelles and their descendants and the premises were to be returned to the University at the end of the 99 years. As it turned out, none of the children of the Flavelles wanted to live in the home after the surviving Flavelle had died so the premises was returned to the University in 1940. As it also turned out the University was not please to have it back on its hands because of its costly upkeep and limited use.
That was until the University decided to start a law school. York University had already started a law school on it s campus and the pressure was on for the University of Toronto to do the same. The site of Holwood was a natural for the school s location. Additional buildings were added and the name of the residence was changed to Flavelle House. Rod Barrett was a student there.
The home had many happy memories for the grandchildren of Sir Joseph and Lady Flavelle, who regularly attended Sunday lunches, Christmas dinners and other special occasions there. In latter years the three children of the Flavelles entertained their friends at an annual Christmas cocktail party. This was the only time liquor was served on the premises.
Across from the house towards what is now the Edward Johnson Building was a large two story stable for the carriage horses, later used as a garage, with servants quarters upstairs. This building has been demolished.
The rooms on the main floor were large, of which the dining room, the living room and reception room have been restored to their original condition. The reception room still has the original oak table and the fireplace there still has the original inscription carved in the oak mantle. * There was also a conservatory with an adjoining sunroom, which was always filled with flowers when the owners were in residence. Extensive additions have been made to the residence to accommodate the law school requirements.
* The inscription is made up of three lines from a poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon as follows:-
Two things stand like stone,
kindness in another s trouble,
courage in your own.
Editor’s Notes (Flavelle Ballem, Dec-2001):