518 Church Street was constructed as a wood frame residential structure circa. 1858; underwent ground-floor commercial modifications during the 1870s; had a brick addition added to the rear in the 1880s; and was fully converted to a brick structure between 1903 and 1913. An 1870 ad for 518 Church Street references the house originally having 8 bedrooms; a kitchen; a dining room; and parlours with folding doors. In 1870, it was for rent for $200 plus taxes.
518 Church Street was originally part of a row of houses spanning from 508 Church Street to 518 Church Street. 512-516 Church Street were demolished in the mid-1960s to construct a parking lot.
The first known occupants of 518 Church Street were Frederick Augustus Whitney (1819-1867) and family. Frederick Augustus Whitney ran F. A. Whitney & Co. - which was a Toronto-based company that dealt in flour and wheat products and also offered commission merchant services. F. A. Whitney & Co. was additionally the sole Canadian manufacturer (and perhaps the first Canadian manufacturer) of self-raising (self rising) flour in the 1850s. Frederick Augustus Whitney was on the Toronto Board of Trade in the late 1850s until his death in 1867. By the mid-1860s, Whitney was also the manager of the Toronto Linseed Oil Mills. Interestingly, Whitney only lived at 518 Church Street until 1860. In 1861, the Whitney family briefly moved to Wilmot (near Waterloo) to operate a mill. By 1862, the Whitney family had moved back to Toronto and was living at 7 Maitland Street.
The property had several turnover of tenants during the mid-to-late 19th century. Former occupants include:
George Boswell - a salesman - who lived here between 1861 and 1863.
Reverend William Alexander - who lived here in 1866.
Elizabeth Denham - who operated a Ladies School / Ladies Seminary from the property in 1867.
John Ross - who was a florist based at the property in 1871.
Note: this list of former occupants is not comprehensive.
Between 1879 and 1931, 518 Church Street was home to a grocery store with upstairs residential units. During this period, there were multiple turnovers of grocers. The residential units appear to have been extant through the early 1960s.
During World War I, one of the upstairs units was home to the family of Sergeant William Henry Haynes. Sergeant Haynes was a Police Constable who enrolled with Toronto's 180th Battalion. He was killed in action at Vimy Ridge in April 1917.
On the morning of 12 January 1923, there was a fire in a second floor apartment. The fire was caused by a malfunctioning fireplace chimney. Tenants Ann J. Haisley and Emily Carter poured water on the fire while waiting for the fire department to arrive.
Between 1933 and 1936, 518 Church Street was home to J. Hackim - a confectionery shop.
Since 1938, 518 Church Street has been home to various neighbourhood bars and restaurants.
LGBTQ venues associated with 518 Church Street include: Pints (circa. late 1980s or early 1990s to approximately 1997); Wilde Oscars (approximately 1997 to May 2004); and O’Grady’s on Church (2004 to present day) and The Lodge (2014 to present day, upstairs at O’Grady’s on Church).
Please see the attached Heritage Property Nomination for further information about the history of 518 Church Street, Toronto.