History of the O’Connor
House Restoration Project
The Estate is located in Ward 34, Don Valley East, at 60 Rowena Drive off Victoria Park Avenue, south of Ellesmere and north of Lawrence Ave East, not far from the junction of the Don Valley Parkway and Highway 401. Three buildings comprising the last of the O’Connor Estate sit next to the Senator O’Connor College School which opened in 2005. The school has 1,100 pupils and was designed by Kearns Mancini Architects to embrace the historic mansion and retain a vista to the nearby Rowena Park.
In March 2010, the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Greater Toronto Area, announced the Government of Canada’s intention to invest up to $2.1million in funding towards the restoration of historical buildings on the Senator O’Connor Estate in Toronto. “This restoration project is another example of our government’s commitment to create jobs, improve local infrastructure, and enhance quality of life in Canadian communities”, said Mr. Flaherty. This project will increase investment in the community and in Toronto by creating jobs for restoration, construction and conservation while providing an accessible venue for ongoing learning and cultural activities. Surrounding communities will also benefit from the new and improved education and cultural facilities.
The announcement ends a decade of uncertainty over the disposition of the last remnants of Maryvale Farms left by Frank O’Connor for the purpose of education after his untimely death at age 54 in 1939. The City declared its intention to designate the buildings under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2003. This was made official in 2009 thus recognizing the significance of O’Connor to the City and the country.
In June 2010, our group entered into a lease with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, with provision for its renewal at the end of the term, for 21- years, less a day, at rent of $1 per year. As part of the arrangements, the TCDSB contributed $400,000 to the restoration of O’Connor House. Through these funds and commitments of the City of Toronto, as well as our own modest efforts, a total of $750,000 has been verified so far to qualify for matching funds under the Fed Dev Agreement, with the result that $1.5 million is committed immediately (December 2010) for Phase I, to repair the exterior and install utilities.
This is to be followed by Phase II: restoration of the interiors for which we are launching a campaign to raise $1.5 million that in turn will be matched under the Fed Dev Agreement. The entire project will be completed by March 2012.