Windsor Court Apartments

One of the buildings in Windsor I haven’t featured before, but recieve many questions about is the Windsor Court Apartments located on Ouelltte Avenue at Hanna.

Designed in 1926 by the Toronto Architectural Firm of Craig & Madill. Craig & Madill were active from about 1912 through the 1950’s and this is the only example of their work in the area. Most of the work was done in the Toronto area. Among their works in Toronto was the late Varsity Stadium on Bloor Street, not far from the Royal Ontario Museum. They also designed the York Regional Hospital in Newmarket, Ontario where yours truly was brought into the world.

It is truly a grand building, and when it opened in 1927, it was a very exclusive address.

The crest with “1927” is located high above the main entrance.

The building is still in pretty good shape overall, and was the first apartment building built in Windsor with a parking garage in the basement.

The brick walls are broken up by decorative elements, and feature different brick patterns.

There is an urban legend about the building that is once house Queen Elizabeth on the 1939 tour. I have never come across any proof of this fact, and I suspect it to be a good story, but nothing more… If anyone out there has any proof of it, I would love to see it, but I won’t hold my breath…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

One of the features I like is that it is shaped like a #, this was done to maximize the amount of windows in each apartment, and to allow for better airflow.

From the October 1, 1927 issue of the Border Cities Star:

This view of the Windsor Court Apartments, the Border Cities’ new 118-family residential building, show that section of the structure which fronts Ouellette Avenue. The main entrance is shown here, but there are also four side entrances, two leading from Hanna avenue, one from Dufferin place at the rear, and the other from Ouellette. The main entrance leads to a well finished foyer, close to which are a tea room – to be known as the “Windsor Room” – a cake shop, a ladies’ rest room, and the two elevators which run from the sub-basement to the top floor.

The building, equipment and grounds are valued at approximatley $750,000. The suites in the building have from two to six rooms, and the five and six room apartments are equipped with electric fireplaces.

Windsor Court Apartments were ready for occupancy today.

$750,000 in 1927 dollars is equivalent to about $4.3 million 2009 dollars.

This ad appeared in the newspaper in 1927, as the owners were selling bonds to help finance the construction. I wonder if these bonds ever matured, or if they crashed with the depression in 1929?

Again from the October 1, 1927 issue of the Border Cities Star, and ad announcing the opening of the building.

The steel work was done by the previously featured Canadian Bridge Company. This long gone local company played a huge part in the building of Windsor in the boom years.

24 Comments on Windsor Court Apartments

  1. Andrew, the story about the Queen has been verified to be false. About a year ago The Star ran a story about and Buckingham Palace was contacted. They came back with a reply that the Quenn never did stay there (they must have extensive records).

    This building is a great addition to Windsor architecture.

  2. I lived in this building for 4 years back in the late 90’s, and still think about it often. I shared a two bedroom unit with a friend, and it was quite roomy. There was an electric fireplace in the living room that never worked for us, but looked awesome – no idea if it was original to the place or not. We even had a parking spot in the underground garage, but it sure didn’t fit 40 cars, probably 10 or so (I’m sure that laundry rooms and storage spaces took the original parking spots away). The elevator was pretty scary – it had the gate that you had to pull closed before it would operate – many of my friends and my own mother refused to use it.

  3. That’s interesting about the rumour. I also heard Queen Elizabeth stayed there for a day while it was called the Windsor Court Hotel and she planted a tree in Jackson Park the following day. And, later on, the building was converted into an apartment building and that’s why the bachelors I saw on the right side of the building were so tiny and why the building used to have a large cafeteria in the basement (I’ve never actually seen pictures of the size of this dining room/hall/cafeteria). It made sense to me at the time when the super of Windsor Court told me that a couple years ago. But, the original bond advertisement made no mention of the building ever being a hotel. And, if it was never a hotel, why would Queen Elizabeth have stayed there for a day?

  4. I don’t know if every apartment had a dumbwaiter – mine did. The manager told me that, at one time you could order your meals and have them delivered to your apartment via this system.

  5. Terry – interesting… Early room service. :)

    David – Back in the 20’s these types of building were known as apartment hotels. All it meant was that it had services like laundry, dining rooms, etc… that were commonly found in hotels. So even though some people referred to them as “hotels” they actually weren’t.

  6. Andrew.. i always thought this building was designed by the great Albert Kahn !! guess i was wrong. interesting.

  7. So where did Queen Elizabeth stay then when she planted the tree in Jackson Park? The Prince Edward Hotel?

  8. David, no idea?

    I think when they came in 1939 they arrived by private train, and in 1957(maybe 58?) they arrived by private yacht. I doubt they slept anywhere that wasn’t private and free of common folk ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. i remember as a young boy delivering the Globe & Mail to this building as well as the viscount .the things i remember the most is the manual elevator that i had to hold the button to get it to move and also had to draw shut a heavy steel expanding door shut before it would move .
    i also recall the the most different types of people it would house.the front door was heavy hardwood with large glass with brass finishing .

  10. I had a bachelor’s apt. in Windsor Court in the early 80s. When I moved in, rent was $189/month and increased $10/yr thereafer. It had red carpet in the common areas, big, beautiful dark wood doors and great windows that caught breezes. I was in the building a few years ago and dismayed to see the wood replaced by ugly steel doors. It wasn’t maintained very well at either time, unfortunately.

  11. I went through the building to views a couple of apartments 15 years ago. I found this a very interesting building. The apartments I saw had hardwood floors, original bathrooms with subway tile. I think the kitchens had glass cupboard doors on the upper cabinets and the archways in the between rooms,

    One interesting feature I remembered was the closets that originally accommodated Murphy beds; these were built into the bachelor apartments. I was shocked how small one of the bachelor apartments was (about 200 sq. ft.) This was one large room with a closet and a bathroom; there was about 7 feet of cabinet on one wall for a kitchen.

    I think it would be interesting to see if a developer would remodel the building, while keeping as many of the original features and turn the building into condoโ€™s or upper end apartments. I think some of the smaller apartments could be joined together to make a larger apartment (e.g. Bachelor and small one bedroom). Many other cities have seen revitalization of old building like this one.

  12. I had a buddy who lived in Windsor Court for a couple of years. Totally awful place. My buddy ended up leaving after it became drug infested and the noise and filth were too much. I remember the place smelled awful and lots of bums hanging around the place.

  13. I lived there for a year, this building was so badly infested with mice that I am surprised it hasn’t been closed down and ripped off of Ouelette for good. The building was filled with drunks who would bang on your door at 2 in the morning looking for a party. When I lived there, our security guard sat in a ripped apart lounge chair at the front door smoking joints. I had friends over to my apartment relatively frequently and they can attest to all of these claims. I spent hundreds of dollars on mouse poison and traps and the “Kill Tally” by the time I moved out was around 82 mice.
    This building only looks good from the outside, the state inside (circa 2001) was a nightmare. I hope for the sake of the retirees and students who can’t afford to move from there, that this building has been cleaned up.

  14. When first moving to Windsor in 1952, I lived with my god-mother in the Windsor Court. What a grand old lady she was then. We were in a batchelor apartment with one of those Murphy beds mentioned. Down the hall were friends of my god-mother in a 2 bedroom apartment. Beautiful all around. As to the elevator even then I used the stairs thank you. Oh yes, even the small apartment had two windows due to the design of the building, allowing for cross ventilation in those days before A/C. The main entry way was kept in great condition. So sad to see it deteriorate.

  15. Yes, Neelie, it is sad.
    I’m amazed at how investors buy up these places, chop them up and run them into the ground. This isn’t true is all cases I’m thinking “slumlords” that are so consumed with $ and invest very little to maximize their profit. As well, tenants with the mindset that it’s not mine, I don’t have to take care of it, keep it clean, respect it…but you live in it.

  16. Well, I can tell you people that this place is a real dump. The mice, I’ve never seen. But it’s full of bedbugs. It was only a matter of time. The building is so poorly managed. There is no accountability. It’s full of welfare cases, drug addicts, mental patients/schizophrenics and teenagers who never made it through high school and need an apartment of their own now that they can collect welfare. So they party all the time there at all hours. A few weeks ago I was greeted by 6 armed police in the hallway looking for some guy. They thought it might be me, so I was questioned briefly. But what kind of person needs 6 cops to take down? Unreal. The building has been owned by Mrs. Krum or aka Mrs. Linton. Same person. @@@@@@ slumlord who gives @@@@ a bad reputation. If you ever consider living here, DO NOT! It’s managed by MetCap Living Management and since then, they’ve tried to meet their company policy by guaranteeing a certain percentage occupancy to their clients. So they’ve lowered the rents so low now–a bachelor is 299/month now–that all the scum from Windsor want to live there. Unless you want all your clothing and furniture to be forever infested with blood sucking bugs that wait for you at night to go to sleep so they can bite you all night long….don’t rent here.
    This building is so creepy and run down now, it’s a shame. It has great character but has just been trashed too much. The police were there way too often.
    I swear this place is haunted.
    I know for a fact that a man died in a fire on the 3rd floor a few years back. Another man they found dead last year in a first floor apartment. The smell alerted the management. After, they were trying to get rid of his furniture summer 2008. There were probably other murders or deaths there. It’s just got such a bad, nasty vibe there now. If you want to conjur Satan then this is your place to do it. The screen in my bedroom flew off the window twice by itself. So do the math. It was locked in place.
    The laundry rooms are disgusting with a broken ceiling and water dripping down in a puddle from a sewage drainage pipe. Lovely. If you have a problem with the machines you are told to call a 1 800 number and that it’s not managements problem. The heating works great however, but if you like pipes banging all night when it gets too hot and you want to turn it off….
    Drive by in winter and you’ll see why everyone has their windows open.

    All in all, very very very bad place to rent from. This is why they can’t keep the same managers for very long. Right now there’s not too much management, just a leasing agent. The management couple hardly show their faces in the office. They’re afraid, lol.
    Bedbug Demon city is what this place should be called.

  17. wow….that was angry lol.

    recent tenant..i’m a current tenant. i can’t really argue with you about what you’ve said. but i think the conditions you’ve described have alot to do with who you’re neighbour is (bedbugs), and what quarter of the building you’re in. i’ve been there for over a year now and neither me or my wife have had any problems. hearing the douche bags OUTSIDE is a quadrillion times worse then inside. but yeah the sewer pipe LOL!! i came home from work one morning and parked in the garage. well… i was coming down the ramp i see a lot of water with what looks like lumps and little white twisted things in the center of the garage so i stop my car. and i’m thinking what you’re all thinking right now and YUP……t’was poo and paper that fell out of the pipe running thru the garage!!!!
    now as far as the mang couple……some POS kicked their door in for trying to eveict him cause he’d never pay rent and was forever throwing beer bottles out into the street.

    i suppose i’m not defending the place like i ment to….i just feel bad for the ol’ girl. my quarter of the building is incredibly quiet to be honest, my apartment is beautiful, bright and huge for yeah…$500. hell, my bedroom is 2 sq. feet bigger than my old living room for christ sake. i’m not gonna complain. and just cause you’re on welfare (and no, i’m not one of them) doesn’t mean you’re a bad person with a drug addiction or don’t deserve a roof over your head. if the place if full of anything it’s good lookin girls. i would bet 60% of the pop in there is chicks.
    as for the cops being there all the time…that goes for every apartment building. you’re talking about puting the equivilant of 160 homes in one building….it’s gonna happen. just on a city block it’s spred out and you don’t notice. hell i still don’t see them.
    good news…there’s new washers and dryers!
    but the elevator on the east side’s still broke lol
    i didn’t know the guy died in the fire on the 3rd floor….that’s right by my place. i agree though..haunted for sure.

    i will not in anyway say you’re experience there wasn’t hell though, i can absolutly see it. me and my wife however have made a nice little place for ourselves and we feel comfortable.

    i’m stickin with the “it depends what quarter you live in” story. it’s workin for me so far.

  18. I was recently looking for a place and this one caught my eye, however, I changed my mind because I have a young son and those low windows frighten me. Anyways the manager told me the story about it once being a hotel and that the Queen had stayed there. He also told me that the Emperor of Japan sent her some Japanese maple trees and she planted them out front. I think it was probably B.S. It was a nice place, and the tenants that I saw didn’t seem so bad. The manager was much creepier, stared at my chest the whole time (yuck). And the elevator was scary. Didnt seem safe at all.

  19. I live in a building in Toronto by the same architects, opened on Sept. 26, 1925. It was rental until the mid-80’s, when all the tenants got together and bought the building as a corporation. So we are a business, and each shareholder gets an apartment for exclusive use. Sort of co-op, but not under that statute. Anyway, the building, and a sister building down the road (both in the St. Clair/Avenue Rd. area) are very much like Windsor’s in style and layout. The announcement in the Globe on Sept 30/25 calls ours “the most modern apartments in Toronto” — there was central refrigeration in the basement to chill freezers/fridges in the kitchens! We still have the elevators, well-maintained and perfectly safe. The elevator repair guy says there’s two just like ours in the Smithsonian in D.C. It’s a special, beautiful building. Such a shame to see the great work of these architects allowed to deteriorate so badly in Windsor.

  20. What horror stories I’ve read here about what once was an elegant place to live………my grandmother lived there fom 1036 ’til 1955 and , even then, it was considered a desireable residence…many of my teachers from Kennedy Collegiate resided there when I was in high school….I have many pleasant memories of spending nights there with Grandma, playing dominos or listening to her regale me about her childhood in Hyde Park (suburb of London, Ont then)….she lived in two different corner apartments…first one on Hanna nearest Ouellette on the ground floor….the second on Hanna and Duffrin, the corner apartment on the first floor…each time I drive by, I can replay these memories in a flash!!!….time has not been kind to this grand old building….my understanding, it was built partly with Windsor Racetrack (Jackson Park) money as were St. Clair Church and Kennedy Collegiate….exquisite architecture on all three sites but secondary quality of building materials….always under repair…..let’s hope the repairs continue and we don’t lose these “gems”!!!

  21. “If you want to conjur Satan then this is your place to do it.”

    I love it! The hallways have a bright red carpet and white walls which would be perfect for some kind of psycho-thriller film. My friend lives there. He has a bachelor and his matress fits nicely in what would be called the (walk-in)closet. He also gets away with rocking out playing guitar and recording songs on his computer. Haven’t met the other tenants yet so I can’t say. His place looks freshly painted and has nice wood floors. I’ll say this, it’s way cleaner than the Paramount up the street! I lived there. Now there’s pure evil!

  22. My mother was the superintendent of Windsor Court Apts in the 80s, while I was a student at Kennedy C.I. I am so sorry to hear this beautiful building has been left to deteriorate. In my mother’s care, it was regularly maintained inside and out. My job was to vacuum those red-carpeted hallways every Saturday (try dragging an industrial vacuum cleaner into the elevator before the gate slams on you!).

    We had a gorgeous 4-bedroom apt on the third floor facing Ouellette, it was two apartments made into one. Many of the tenants were grand elderly ladies, many others were hairdressers, designers, etc. At the time the building was affectionately nicknamed “Homo Haven”, very nice, decent tenants. Of course, there were always some who caused trouble but my mother was tough and got rid of them, something most landlords can’t do easily today.

    Thank you, Andrew Foot, for posting the pictures and documents, and stirring some good memories for a lot of us.

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