Rossin House Hotel

Rossin House Hotel was a mid-19th Century hotel located at the southeast corner of King Street and York Street in Toronto. The original structure was built in 1856 and was destroyed by a fire and re-built in 1863. It was one of the city's pre-eminent hotels, with one 1866 guide claiming: "What the Fifth Avenue Hotel is to New York, and the Windsor is to Montreal, so the celebrated Rossin House is to Toronto."[1]

The five-storey hotel was renamed the Prince George Hotel in 1909 after the future British monarch. It was demolished in 1969 to make way for architect Mies van der Rohe's Toronto-Dominion Centre, with the corner being further developed in 1984 for The Standard Life Centre.[2]


While it is always difficult to define what exactly constitutes "upscale", in the case of the Rossin House Hotel, we are lucky enough to have a surviving dinner menu from Friday, April 9, 1869: the wine list alone provides valuable insight and is striking when we consider that only 50 years earlier, Toronto was a muddy imperial backwater [The link to the menu is gone.].

The list includes a selection of very posh Bordeaux "claret" wines, such as a "Barton & Gestier Château Margaux 1847" [3] for what was then, $3 a bottle - a bargain when calculated in today's dollars, being approx $80.[4] Champagne's included Moët et Chandon's "Green Seal" (aka "Grand Imperial") for $2.50,[5] and while "Green Seal" is no longer produced, it was considered an example of "the best of the best";[6] for comparison, Moët et Chandon currently produces the famous (and premium) Dom Pérignon Champagne (retail 2008 approx $220 cdn).


The famous 1856–57 panorama photos of Toronto by Armstrong, Beere & Hime – some of the earliest known photos of the city – were taken from the roof of the Rossin House. These photos include views of Toronto's harbour, its early railways, Osgoode Hall, its street and typical architecture of the day – a must-see for those curious about Toronto's history.[7]


  1. Industries of Canada: Historical and Commercial Sketches of Toronto and Environs., M.G. Bixby & Co., 1866. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
  2. Standard Life Centre Building Info
  3. The weight of the evidence is in the actual Château's favour. Château Margaux was entirely negociant bottled in 1847 - and B & G has been confirmed by the Château as being one such agent for the 1847 vintage:
    "Regarding your question, in 1847 the Château Margaux wines were not bottled at the estate, the wines were indeed sold in barrels to our several French wine merchants. They were responsible for bottling the wines and then selling and distributing them throughout the world. At that time, Chateau Margaux was confiding one part of its production to Barton and Guestier among other negociants"
    Marie Guillard - Chateau Margaux, December 2008.
  5. Toronto Reference Library Exhibit "Local Flavour" 2008
  6. The Perfect Gentleman, Or, Etiquette and Eloquence 1860
  7. Toronto Archives

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