The House of Refuge

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Many pictures of STAR taken since 1967 feature the prominent landmarks of Harbour Towers  and Marina Towers in the background.  At 22 stories and 19 stories respectively, their maximum height of 76 metres is three quarters as high as the Niagara Escarpment.    

When STAR moved to its current location in 1943, a much shorter but no less imposing presence loomed at the top of the hill.  In the 1830s, Nathaniel Ferguson, after whom Ferguson Avenue is named, built a three-story hotel on the east side of John Street at Guise, overlooking the harbour below.  The hotel did not flourish and, in 1853, the building was purchased by the city and served as The City Hospital till 1882 when the new General Hospital was built at the corner of Barton Street and Victoria Avenue. The building became the House of Refuge, a work house for the indigent and elderly.  It was said that the conditions were so bad that many would contrive to spend the winters in jail rather than resort to the House of Refuge!

The House of Refuge 1881

The old building was replaced in 1895 while the names changed over the years to Home for the Elderly, the Home for the Aged and Infirm and finally Macassa Lodge, taking its name from the original name for the bay which it overlooked.  By 1954, the building was in a state of disrepair and a new Macassa Lodge was built on Upper Sherman Avenue on Hamilton Mountain. In July of 1956, the building at John and Guise was demolished, to be replaced eleven years later by the apartment towers.

The rear of RCSCC LION in 1948 with The House of Refuge visible on the hill behind.