Well this room is the Upper Barristers’
Lounge. It’s built in the wing of Osgoode Hall that was built in 1891. And this was
built as an addition for Osgoode Hall Law School when it was in downtown Toronto at
Osgoode Hall. Originally this wing had classrooms and common
rooms for the students, and this was just kind of a crawlspace — it was just an attic
that was not used. And in 1915 the Law Society decided to ask the firm of Darling & Pearson,
which was one of the most active firms in Canada at that time — they actually went
to design the Central Block of Parliament in Ottawa after they rebuilt it after the
fire — and they asked them to come here and transform this crawlspace into a library
for students. So what they did at the time is that they raised the roof and they introduced
some windows so it would be a usable space. This is quite an amazing space. It’s very
neo-Gothic in feel, and that impression is reinforced by the sculptures that you see
— the grotesques that are in the room. They’re wood sculptures and you have plaster medallions
in between them. Pearson was the person who drew the figures,
and they were sculpted by a man called Walter Allen. Both of them seemed to have a good
working relationship, because afterwards when Pearson went to work on the Parliament buildings,
Walter Allen followed and he became the supervisor of the carving workshop at the Parliament
buildings. So if you see a resemblance between these sculptures and the sculptures at the
Parliament buildings, you’ll understand why.
Now we don’t know who these people are. When you look at them you can see that they’re
from the legal world — some of them are from the legal world, others from the church.
But if you go back in history far enough you’ll see there’s quite a bit of connection between
law and the church. So obviously there’s a legal theme to the room. But one of the
workers who’d worked on the project at the time said that these were not specific people.
And even if they were, all the evidence of that was destroyed when the offices of the
architects burned down in 1941. So all the drawings and files and all that… They’re
all gone. What’s really interesting, though, about
these sculptures is that even though they were done in 1915, they look very much, some
of them look awfully like 20th century Canadian politicians. And most of these people would
not have been born. When you go through the room you’ll see
that there’s a Mike Harris, then the next one is Kim Campbell. Then there’s a John
Diefenbaker — even the eyebrows are very accurate. Then if you know about Quebec politics,
there’s Claude Ryan. The next one is Ed Broadbent, then we have Wilfrid Laurier. The
next one, I have no idea — I have to work on that one. Then there’s a John Turner,
and then we have an angelic Pierre Elliot Trudeau. It’s quite…. Maybe Pearson had
a little bit of psychic powers.