From its origin as commercial hub and high society gathering spot to its later incarnation as host to not quite so high society, The Broadview Hotel has played a colourful role in shaping Toronto’s east end.
The Broadview Hotel was built in 1891 by wealthy serial entrepreneur Archibald Dingman. Having amassed a considerable fortune in the soap trade, Archibald was searching for a sound investment for his money. In the late 1880s, Toronto’s east end was humming. The city had just annexed what's now known as Riverside and was marching eastward at a furious rate. Queen and Broadview sat right in its path. Archibald, wily businessman that he was, recognized a golden real estate opportunity and decided to erect an edifice in his name.
Dingman Hall cost him $25,000 to build. Designed as a commercial centre, it was the tallest building east of the Don River. Its grand, imposing Romanesque-style architecture and glamorous upper assembly halls made it an instant iconic landmark, and it became a prominent social gathering spot for an astonishing array of Torontonians, from politicians to athletic clubs to the Canadian Order of Odd Fellows among others.
In 1902, the ever restless Mr. Dingman, having managed one of Toronto’s first electric streetcar companies, turned his sights west and moved to Alberta, where he financed the first commercial oil well. In 1907, he sold Dingman Hall to T.J. Edwards, who turned it into The New Broadview Hotel, renting rooms for $1.50 a night.
Over the years, The Broadview Hotel changed many hands and names. During the 30s it was called Lincoln Hotel. By the 40s it had assumed its original name and by the 70s, it had become a boarding house with a strip club housed on the ground floor. This was Jilly’s, which served as the east end’s most notorious landmark for almost three decades. Stories and myths abound, including one starring a live tiger that shared centre stage with one of the dancers.
Over time, the east end’s gritty, working class roots have given way to gourmet food shops, restaurants, and stylish boutiques. In May 2014, Streetcar Developments purchased the hotel and the rest, as they say, is history.