John Ewart


John Ewart: Architect for a New World

Canada's First Architect in York and London

Janet Ewart FitzGerald with Harry van Bommel

Biography written by Ewart's great, great granddaughter. Ewart built such famous Toronto and London landmarks as their Courthouses and Jails, and Toronto's Osgoode Hall, the original Catholic and Presbyterian churches, Toronto General Hospital, and Upper Canada College.

Another hard-working Scottish immigrant making his way in the small town of York in the early 19th century? Hardly.

Until now, John Ewart's talent and endless energy were well-kept secrets from many. Yet, they have earned him the title of Toronto's first architect, overcoming extreme heat, cold, roads and primitive resources that would have discouraged even the most dedicated architects of our time.

His work on key civic, religious and educational buildings in York between 1819-1834 transformed it into the City of Toronto by 1834. Upper Canada College and Osgoode Hall (East Wing) and York General Hospital form just a part of his legacy.

Further west, in London, Ontario, he laid the legal foundation for the region in the midst of uninhabited forest with the creation of the London Courthouse and Jail.

His story is told by Ewart's descendant, Janet Ewart FitzGerald, who brings her great-great grandfather's achievements into print for the first time. Writer and researcher Harry van Bommel assists FitzGerald in weaving Ewart's life together with the history of Upper Canada so that his tenacity and the legacy he set in stone will remain available for the benefit of generations of Ontarians. We see how a relatively unknown figure makes his mark among the colony's elite and becomes father-in-law to Ontario's longest serving premier, Sir Oliver Mowat.

Along with those who have architectural interests, this story will intrigue anyone whose forebears were also present while Canada took its first steps towards nationhood.

240 pages with photographs and illustrations and extensive Index, 6 x 9 inches, ISBN 1-55307-015-1, $20 ebook, $25 paperback

John Ewart's Legacy - 1788-1856

London, Ontario

Workers' Residence, 1826

Old Log Courthouse

London Court House and Jail (1827-1830)


Civic & Legal:

Second Courthouse and Jail (1823-24)

Third Parliament Buildings (1829-1832)

Osgoode Hall (East Block) (1829-1832)


York General Hospital (1820-24)

Emigrants' Asylum (1830)

Provincial Lunatic Asylum (1846-1850)


Upper Canada College (1829-1831)


St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church (1823)

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (1831)

St. James' Church (3rd version rebuilt) (1839)

Commercial & Financial:

Bank of Upper Canada (1825-27)

Coffin Block (1826-1830)

Ewart Wharf (1829-1831)

Wholesaler Grocers Store (1833)


Hazelburn (1822)

Moss Park (1827-29) Bank of Upper Canada's owner


Potters Field (Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries) 1825

Mechanics' Institute (forerunner to Public Library system) 1830

St. Andrew's Society (1836)

City of Toronto and Lake Huron Railwood Company (1836)

Great West Railway Company (1845)

Table of Contents


1: The Early Years (1788-1818)

Ewart's Early History

Origins and Early History of the Town of York

Physical Layout of the Town

Ewart's New Neighbours

The Town in 1818-1819

2: Foundations of a New Life in Upper Canada (1819-1824)

1820 York General Hospital

1822 Hazelburn

1823 St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church

1823-24 Second Courthouse and Jail in York

3: Building upon a Respected Reputation (1825-1829)

1825 Founding Trustee of Strangers' Burial Ground ("Potters Field")

1825-27 Bank of Upper Canada

1826 Workers' Residence in London, Upper Canada

1827-30 London Courthouse and Jail

1827-29 Moss Park

1828-1830 Coffin Block

4: Constructing a New City (1829-1833)

1829-31 Upper Canada College

1829-1832 Third Parliament Buildings

1829-32 Osgoode Hall

1829-31 Ewart Wharf

1830 Emigrants' Asylum

1830 Mechanics' Institute (forerunner of Toronto Public Library)

1831 St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

1833 Wholesale Grocer's Store

5: A New Era for the Growing City (1834-1856)

Ewart's Politics

Life in the New Toronto

St. Andrew's Society of Toronto (1836)

City of Toronto and Lake Huron Railroad Company (1836)

St. James' Church/Cathedral (Rebuilding after the Fire of 1839)

Great West Railway Company (1845)

Ewart's Positions on Boards of Directors and Commissions

Provincial Lunatic Asylum (1846-1850)

Ewart's Diverse Interests

Family Life

John Ewart's Death (1856)


1 Ewart Family Tree

2 Historical Time Line

3 John Ewart's Buildings

4 York/Toronto Street Names

5 Members of the Family Compact



Paperback Edition Available