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ON THE COVER: A forgotten skating venue on Dupont (Dec. 2023)

December 23rd, 2023 · 1 Comment

The image on (on page 1 of our printed edition) was taken in 1923, at the former Toronto Skating Club. Silhouettes of two couples hand in hand on the ice offer a glimpse into the city’s rich figure skating history.

Each person in this image was dressed to the nines, speaking to the glitz and glamour of the 1920s. The men in the photo were dressed in perfectly polished black suits typical of the times. 

This old building occupying 568 Dupont Street now houses the posh Queen’s Club, self described as Toronto’s oldest indoor tennis club, but was once a skating venue. MIA KESKINEN/GLEANER NEWS

The ladies were adorned in alluring garments, and with skirts flying, they swiftly danced across the ice in iridescent black boots for all eyes to see. 

Occasionally, it was possible to catch a glimpse of lustrous, and for the time, valiant, ebony stockings with each pirouette, each sudden movement. 

The tradition of two pairs dancing on the ice together to entertain an audience was originally called Fours. The Fours competition was born in Ottawa and could be considered the first international skating competition. 

Canada joined the International Skating Union in 1894, and in the mid-twenties to early-thirties skaters from the club made history. Cecil Smith was among them. She was the first woman to represent Canada at the Winter Olympics in 1924. Maude Smith and Jack Eastwood skated as a pair and placed second at the national championship in 1929 and 1933. Constance Wilson-Samuel competed in three Olympics and won Canada’s national championship nine times. All these athletes called the Toronto Skating Club home.

Founded in 1895, the club had exclusive rights to the Victoria Arena on Huron Street on Monday evenings and Friday afternoons. 

In 1921 they built their own skating rink at 568 Dupont Street. This facility served as a rehearsal spot for skaters who trained for the popular annual winter carnivals held at the Toronto Skating Club. Beginning in 1912, these carnivals helped the club raise funds to build the facility at 568 Dupont St. 

According to the website Hiking the GTA, an estimated $50,000 was raised in 1921 which enabled the club to finish construction. However, due to the seasonal nature of this sport, the club could only collect revenue throughout six months of the year.


Eventually, through mergers, the club would become the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. It is now located at 141 Wilson Ave. 

The property at 568 Dupont St. (just east of Loblaws at Dupont and Christie) had a historic plaque on the corner, but it was stolen a couple of years ago, only to be replaced recently. The building at 568 Dupont Street stands just two buildings east of Toronto’s original Model T factory (the first mass-produced automobile in history). The Queen’s Club, Toronto’s oldest indoor tennis club, purchased the Dupont Street property in 1957, transforming it into a non-profit indoor tennis club. 

Although people would be far more casually dressed in a modern picture, these trailblazers of figure skating paved the way for the passion for the sport that remains prevalent in Canada. The building at 568 Dupont St. still breathes life, and the history of sportsmanship remains, inspiring present and future generations to include sport in their daily life.

—Mia Keskinen/Gleaner News


Tags: Annex · On the cover

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Dec 24, 2023 at 11:02 am

    Thank you so much for this historical article with the accompanying pictures.

    I have been walking by this building for close to 20 years, and oft wished for more details than the plaque provided.