“New ideas must use old buildings.” – Jane Jacobs
Participate in Toronto’s culture. As the city’s oldest continually operating hotel and the only B-Corp certified hotel in Canada, the Gladstone Hotel boasts the highest standards in environmental performance, social responsibility and innovation through the arts, local food and drink and forward-thinking service and hospitality.
Perfectly positioned between two of Toronto’s most creative neighbourhoods West Queen West and Parkdale, the Gladstone is a meeting place for local creatives and travellers. A destination in itself, our boutique art hotel will pull you into an arts, culture and dining adventure as soon as you walk through our historic Victorian doors.
Explore and interact with the living culture of artist life in Toronto. Sleep in a room designed by a local artist. Eat and drink artistically crafted food and libations. Get inspired by thought-provoking art exhibitions. Rage at one of our legendary queer parties. Hit a high note at our weekly karaoke nights. Do it all under the one roof.
The Gladstone fosters and supports a healthy local micro economy which in turn drives healthy development, small business, light industry, cultural work and good times! The hotel strives to maintain a broad community-based clientele and showcases a diverse array of events. It’s a place where local artists exhibit their work, perform and most importantly, is a place where artists and neighbourhood patrons come just to hang out.
More than just a place to stay overnight, the Gladstone is an ongoing experiment in cultural entrepreneurship and urban development. Gladstone Hotel President Christina Zeidler leads the entrepreneurial vision and business philosophy of the hotel to embrace creativity and invites collaboration and innovation. The Gladstone’s business renewal and building renovation that was completed in 2008 is largely inspired by urban planning visionary Jane Jacobs. Preserving both the essence of the building’s architectural and community history while opening access to an important Toronto landmark, Christina Zeidler was beyond successful in this restoration. Successfully facilitating new ideas, creative expression, collaboration, and new ways of experiencing art, culture and community, Christina’s management philosophy and the Gladstone reflect a new wave of positive urban and social development in Toronto.
“There’s an inherent sense of community and consideration in the renovation.” Fiona Harkin, WGSN —world global style network 27.04.06
The idea is to create a model of stewardship in development. The building itself is an architectural backdrop for creative passions to play out. The project is constantly pushing the boundaries of commerce, culture, and community. The Gladstone is engaged in an on-going push/pull between promoting Toronto’s creative community and protecting and preserving the creative community’s place in a neighbourhood that is becoming increasingly gentrified.
Christina’s mandate for the Gladstone is to facilitate other people’s ideas. Her business model values all who participate in events at the Gladstone as important contributors to shaping and creating the future of the hotel. The building itself is an architectural backdrop for creative passions to play out.
“Christina runs the Gladstone not as a hotel but as a social and cultural incubator, and in a very short time has turned (it) into a treasured institution.” Lloyd Alter, Treehugger.com 12.08.06
The Gladstone is committed to environmental leadership in its community. As such the business is striving to be an environmentally conscious —citizen— and to promote —green— practices such as recycling and incorporating environmental considerations into purchasing. The Gladstone Hotel is a member of the Green Tourism Association and purchases shares in a local CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) farm.
Other Zeidler Projects
Check-In, Don’t Checkout
From the tops of our green roofs to the fields of our local food-providers, we want you to know just how seriously we take environmental policies and initiatives to make sure you can enjoy the luxury of the Gladstone Hotel experience without having to check your values at the door.
The Gladstone Hotel aims to be an industry leader in sustainable hotel practices, creating a new norm for environmental hotel practices through commitment to using sustainable products, dramatically reducing consumption, recycling and composting our waste. In 2019 the Gladstone Hotel partnered with Bullfrog Power to commit to 100% renewable energy throughout our entire operation!
Daily Green Practices + Initiatives
The Gladstone Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto, originally built in 1889 there’s a lot of interesting history behind these walls. Click on the red menus below to read more about the different aspects of our past.
- The Gladstone was originally built in 1889 as a stylish hostelry across from the then existing Parkdale railroad station which serviced the Grand Trunk, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), and the Canadian National Railway (CNR) companies.
- The location of the Gladstone Hotel, just east of Dufferin on Queen Street West, was once considered the western edge of Toronto and it provided accommodations to travellers from the Parkdale train station as well as visitors and exhibitors at the Canadian National Exhibition.
- The building permit was issued in September 1889 for a value of $30,000.00
- The original owner, Susanna Robinson, was a widow who operated and lived at the hotel with her 13 children. Susanna and her husband Nixon, a Toronto brewer, had previously operated the Red Lion Hotel in Kleinberg. Mr. Robinson died prior to completed construction of the Gladstone Hotel. In fact, the hotel has always been operated as a family enterprise and continues to do so today under current ownership of the Zeidler family.
- Gladstone Hotel has a long history of providing respite for artists and performers. In its early days, it was the “last stop” on the edge of Toronto’s city limits before heading west (usually by train). Many artists stayed here after performances at Massey Hall before heading out of town. It was also a favorite spot for vaudeville performers during the CNE.
- The hotel was famous for its cuisine and service. Visitors typically booked accommodations for a week’s time.
- The Gladstone was named for the street that was named after English politician William Gladstone 1809-1898. Gladstone held several important government positions including Prime Minister. He was elected Prime Minister four times. (The first in 1868).
- The hotel’s monthly electronic newsletter, the Gladstone Bag, is named for the popular suitcase style – also named for William Gladstone – which was developed during this period and utilized no doubt by many of the Gladstone Hotel guests.
- As of 1890, the streetcar connected guests to downtown and the shopping emporia of the Arcade, Eatons and the Robert Simpson stores.
- The hotel accepted reservations by telephone as early as 1898. An early, but not original, telephone switchboard still exists in the hotel.
- The Gladstone underwent significant interior renovations around 1913 under the management of new owner Victor Gianelli, son of the Italian Consul General for Canada. In the 1950’s the exterior was “updated” with metal sheathing and glass block and a second exterior facelift happened in the late 1980’s under Herb and Allen Appleby who owned the hotel from 1964 on. The recent restoration brought the ground level façade back to resemble more closely the original; including reinstalling the detailed, arched wooden windows.
- The Zeidler family bought the hotel in 2000
- In 2003, Christina Zeidler began work to restore the hotel and enliven the business, maintaining the old staff and patrons while bringing in new communities.
- In 2004 it became clear that the building, so badly slum land-lorded for 40 years, needed a more through renovation. Christina enlisted the help of her father, Eb Zeidler of Zeidler Partnership, to be the architect on a deep restoration of the hotel which was completed in 2005
- Christina’s development philosophy was to bring back the “bones” of the architecture and then allow contemporary elements of arts and events to shine within the space
- This was the thinking behind the Artist Designed Room Project: each of the 37 hotel rooms are designed by a different local artist. The rooms are beautiful and represent the talent that Toronto has to offer the world.
- Many trades were enlisted to help with the massive amounts of restoration that was needed to restore this building. Some of those artisans are from Toronto and actually have their studios nearby the Gladstone.
- John Wilcox heritage glazier, specializes in heritage glass and glass restoration and restored all the heritage glass, mainly on the south and west windows, including the bent glass on the second floor bay windows.
- Douglas Roberts heritage woodwork specialist, specializes in the restoration and recreation of heritage woodwork. Doug was instrumental in the restoration of many of the wood surfaces including the windows, heritage doors, the elevator and most significantly reconstructing from photographs and historic drawings, the south façade of the building.
- Ray Karu specializes in the restoration of interior woodwork as well as faux finishes, especially wood graining. Ray’s work brought a rich texture to all the wood surfaces on the interior of the hotel as well as the south façade.
- The hotel was designed by George Miller, the architect of the Lillian Massey building of the University of Toronto, many other public buildings in the city, as well as a large number of formerly grand residential buildings in the Parkdale neighbourhood. George Miller also designed Parkdale Collegiate in the same year as the Gladstone
- The Hotel was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style a popular Victorian style for public buildings such as train depots, churches, and libraries. The original proposed drawings show designs more in the Italianate style. These plans were altered in favour of the Romanesque style.
- The architectural style of the Gladstone is characterized by the rough cut stone and brick and by the dramatic arches over the windows and porch entrances. The Hotel tower is also characteristic of the style. The wooden cupola was removed in 1930 due to disrepair.
- The tower originally was not part of a suite. It functioned simply as a public observation area.
- Exterior details such as the ornate carved pillar capitals and Gladstone House lettering precede art nouveau.
- At the northwest at corner street level are what remains of the carved Port Credit sandstone foundation that was largely smashed off of the building in the 1950’s to accommodate exterior “improvements and updates”
- On the west side of the building at street level you can also see evidence of numerous windows which originally provided light into the basement.
- Exterior cornice moldings are original and are made of molded sheet metal.
- South façade was originally mainly windows with ornate wooden trims and moldings. The restoration of the south street level façade was undertaken by Douglas Roberts, who also worked on much of the interior restoration.
- Original canopy hung much lower than the one recently removed and was crowned by a series of ornate arched openings.
- Original entrance was framed with stone pilasters which you can see evidence of on the brickwork. There is also evidence of a central pillar which would have separated the two front doors.
- On either side of the entrance exterior were decorative terra cotta panels detailing ornate birds and flowers and even possibly the profiles of Victoria and Albert.
- Original configuration of the lobby area is unclear.
- The meticulously restored Victorian elevator is one of the last hand-operated elevators in Toronto
- The elevator was likely installed just after the electrification of the city in 1904.
- The wrought iron cage would have floated in the stairwell with no structural enclosure.
- It is likely that the lobby flooring was originally wooden with carpets over top. No evidence exists to suggest that there were ever marble or stone floors.
Ballroom and Melody Bar
- The main floor would have originally featured several “great rooms”. It is no longer clearly evident what the original configuration of rooms and their functions would have been.
- The hotel kitchen was very likely originally located where the auxiliary bar is now located in the ballroom. The building’s exterior reveals where the original windows and fireplace would have been located.
- The Gladstone’s dining room was once famous for its Sunday roast beef dinners.
- There are a few remaining original armchairs with a large “G” carved on the back. These, along with some other original antiques, are being incorporated into the refurbished guest accommodations.
- The two restored pillars in the hotel’s Melody Bar are unique in the city of Toronto in that their faux marble finish was rendered in true European Fresco technique. No other architectural pillars such as these exist in the city! The current ballroom space also shows evidence of ornate capitals.
- The Gladstone was one of the first ten hotels in Ontario to receive permission to allow patrons to drink and play shuffleboard in a licensed alcoholic area.
- At one time the Gladstone Hotel was the last place to obtain hard liquor before reaching The City of Hamilton
- Until 1964 all beverage rooms had to close between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The Gladstone had a lounge license so that it could open certain rooms for liquor and beer during those hours. The Hotel hired two doormen to control the crowd during these times.
- The Gladstone is a fine example of a Victorian Hotel with intact plaster moldings in the grand hallways.
- The second floor was originally the first class floor of the hotel boasting larger rooms, 14’ ceilings, graceful arches with beautiful details and larger public space. These rooms no longer function as hotel rooms. The floor is now rented for receptions, exhibitions, conferences, meetings and artist studios.
- The second floor originally featured a luxurious lounge or drawing room, possibly the gentleman’s smoking room in the southwest corner room. This room originally had a fireplace which was removed sometime in the 1920’s.
- First class guests also had access to the ornate balcony which has been carefully restored by Douglas Roberts.
Third and Fourth Floors
- The third floor still boasts stunning tin ceilings as well as a small detail of some original wallpaper that was revealed during the renovation.
- Take note of the changes in ceiling height as you go up. Heights range from 14’ on the first class floor to 12’ on the third floor, to 10’ on the fourth floor.
- The wonderful wooden banisters on the north and east stairwells would have also originally been found on the main centre stairwell, but were removed at the time the elevator was enclosed with plaster.
- Whereas the original design offered the more European experience of shared bathrooms, the current guest rooms have been modernized with washrooms for each suite (thank goodness). Each room has been designed by a different local artist. The Artist Designed Room project has become a very popular reason to stay at the Hotel, again and again!
- The Gladstone Hotel feels a strong sense of appreciation for and responsibility to the existing Parkdale neighbourhood and artistic community. The historic restoration of the property reflects the hotel’s architectural and community history.
- Since taking over the hotel in 2003 there have been deep concerns about the well-being of the existing (some long-term) residents of the hotel and The Gladstone Hotel and Christina Zeidler took a personal interest in supporting them and helping them find new homes in the community prior to beginning the restoration project. The Gladstone Hotel provided financial support and the managers and employees at the hotel worked hard to find places to live for the most elderly and at risk. Some of these former residents had come to the Gladstone off the street and had no identification, health card or social insurance number.
- The Gladstone with the invaluable help of The Parkdale Community Health Centre worked hard to ensure that these people made contact with professionals who properly assessed their needs and found appropriate housing with access to medical attention. These former residents still drop by often.
- The Gladstone made sure that in the transition, none of the existing residents were abandoned. The hotel supported them as necessary and helped to find them places to live.
- The Gladstone kept its bar and event venue spaces open and operating throughout the restoration process in order to maintain vital community and neighbourhood connections.
- Last Call at the Gladstone produced by local documentary filmmakers Neil Graham and Derreck Roemer chronicles the human stories connected with the recent restoration. The documentary recently debuted at Hot Docs 2007 and has aired on TVO’s multi-Gemini Award-winning Canadian series of point-of-view documentaries – The View From Here
- Staff who have worked at the Hotel for many years – one as long as 40 years – still retain their jobs and along with long time “regulars” have worked hard to help the transformation of the place they love. Karaoke with Peter Styles is still a popular attraction every Friday and Saturday night.
In addition to our wheelchair accessible ramp leading into the Queen Street-level Melody Bar and gender neutral washrooms, the Gladstone Hotel is committed to excellence in serving all customers with varying needs of accessibility.
Assistive Devices: We will ensure that our staff is trained and familiar with various assistive devices that may be used by customers with disabilities while accessing our goods or services.
Service Animals: We welcome people with disabilities and their service animals. Service animals are allowed on the parts of our premises that are open to the public.
Support Persons: No fees will be charged to accompanying support persons for admission to The Gladstone Hotel’s premises.
Notice of Temporary Disruption: In the event of a planned or unexpected disruption to services or facilities for customers with disabilities i.e. the accessible washroom, mobility device access ramp, the Gladstone Hotel will notify customers promptly.
Staff Accessibility Training: The Gladstone Hotel will provide training to employees, volunteers and others who deal with the public or other third parties on their behalf. Individuals in the following positions will be trained: “All staff and management of the Gladstone Hotel”. This training will be provided to staff within the first 6 months of hire.
Training Will Include:
• An overview of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and the requirements of the customer service standard
• The Gladstone Hotel’s accessible customer service plan
• How to interact and communicate with people with various types of disabilities
• How to interact with people with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a service animal or a support person
• How to use the mobility device access ramp bell and the location of the accessible washroom
• What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty in accessing The Gladstone Hotel’s goods and services
Staff will also be trained when changes are made to our accessible customer service plan.
Feedback Process: Customers who wish to provide feedback on the way The Gladstone Hotel provides goods and services to people with disabilities can contact management via email, verbally, suggestion box or feedback card. All feedback will be directed to the appropriate department heads. Customers can expect to hear back in 3 days. Complaints will be addressed according to our organization’s regular complaint management procedures.
Modifications to This or Other Policies: Any policy of The Gladstone Hotel that does not respect and promote the dignity and independence of people with disabilities will be modified or removed.
This information is available in hard copy at the front desk. It can be printed in both small and large type formats.