Monday, February 20, 2012

More decorated Toronto schools

Harbord Collegiate Institute and Jarvis C.I., both by school-board architect C. E. Cyril Dyson in the 1920s and 1930s, have figures so similar in style that they must have been designed by the same person.

Flanking the main entrance to each building is an academic figure (the Jarvis scholar above - an apparent math phobe, and the Harbord scholar below),

and another pointing to a spherical object that may be a globe — or a ball. (The Jarvis figure is above, and the Harbord fellow is below).

The latter would suggest that the figures illustrate the mens sana in corpore sano philosophy— healthy mind, healthy body. (However, similar figures appear inside Northern Secondary School, where it is more apparent that the spheres are globes and not sport balls.)

Outside the third-storey art-studio window at Jarvis are more student figures, including a reader and a writer.

Central Technical School's scholar and journeyman

Of the four ornamented secondary schools in central Toronto, only Central Technical School has information available about its building’s carved faces — despite publication of individual histories of two of the other schools, and a book devoted to art (including sculpture) in Toronto public schools.

(The original school building was constructed in 1915, designed by architectural firm Ross & Macdonald.)

As described on Central Tech’s web site, at the top of each column supporting the main entrance arch is a “gnome”—a scholar in cap and gown, busily scribbling in a book, and a journeyman with hammer and chisel, representing the two sides of the school’s curriculum. (The tradesman’s hammer has broken and disappeared over the years.)