By MPP Toby Barrett
To The Haldimand Press
Well before the construction of Ontario’s present Queen’s Park Legislative Building, Ontario was governed as the British colony of Upper Canada.
After its formation in 1791, Upper Canada’s elected Legislature first met on September 17, 1792. As no permanent structure was built to house the Legislature in Newark, now Niagara-on-the Lake, meetings took place in a variety of locations, including Navy Hall, which also served as a residence for our first Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe. The first legislators were also reputed to have met in Butler’s Barracks and under a large oak tree.
In 1793, a site at York, now Toronto, was chosen as the new location for Upper Canada’s capital.
Lieutenant Governor Simcoe initiated plans for the construction of the colony’s first purpose-built Legislative Building. Completed in 1797, the “Palace of Government”, as it was known, was located near the present-day intersection of Front and Parliament Streets. Consisting of two small structures connected by a covered walkway, they were the first in York to be made of brick.