Burwash Hall

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Burwash Hall is the second oldest of the residence buildings at Toronto's Victoria College. Construction began in 1911 and was completed in 1913. It was named after Nathanael Burwash, a former president of Victoria. The building is an extravagant Neo-Gothic work with turrets, gargoyles, and battlements. The architect was Henry Sproatt.

The building is divided between the large dining hall in the northwest and the student residence proper. The residence area is divided into two sections. The Upper Houses, built in 1913, consist of four houses: North House, Middle House, Gate House, and South House. The Lower Houses were built in 1931 and were originally intended to house theology students at Emmanuel College, whose current building was opened the same year. Ryerson House, Nelles House, Caven House, Bowles-Gandier House are now mostly home to undergraduate arts and science students. The latter two are mostly reserved for students in the new Vic One Programme.

Famous residents of Burwash include Vincent Massey, Lester B. Pearson, Don Harron, and Donald Sutherland. The upper houses were gutted and renovated in 1995. The lower houses have only been partially upgraded. Before the renovations the entire building was all male, but now every house is co-ed.

Each Upper House consists of three floors. The lower floor contains a common room equipped with kitchen facilities, couches and a television. The upper floors each have their own kitchen and dining area. All except North House have a very high bathroom ratio, with Gate House being the best with nine washrooms for its twenty-eight residents. Upper Houses are divided between double rooms and singles, with about sixty percent of the population being in doubles.

The Lower Houses each have four floors, but are much narrower with each level having only four rooms. Each level also has its own kitchen, but these are much smaller than in the Upper Houses. The Lower Houses do have far larger and better fitted common rooms that are similar to the one's the Upper Houses had before the renovations. The rooms in the Lower Houses are also considered more luxurious with hardwood floors and large sizes. Rooms in the Lower Houses are more expensive, however. Until 2003 the Lower Houses were restricted to upper year students but with the double cohort of graduates from Ontario schools many of the rooms were transformed into doubles and now hold first years.

To the west the Upper Houses look out on the Vic Quad and the main Victoria College building across it. West of the Lower Houses is the new Lester B. Pearson Garden of Peace and International Understanding and the E.J. Pratt Library beyond it. From the eastern side of the building, the Upper Houses look out at Rowell Jackman Hall and the Lower Houses see the St. Michael's College residence of Elmsley. The only exception is the view from Gate House's tower that looks down St. Mary's Street.

The dining hall is perhaps the best known part of the building to outsiders. It is the University of Toronto's largest holding some 250 students and sixteen large tables. Hanging on the western wall is Queen Victoria's burial flag, given to the college soon after her death. Under the flag is the high table where the professors and college administration lunch. Historically, the Upper Houses each had their own table. Gate sat in the southwest corner, Middle sat in the far northeast, South sat in the table to the west of Middle, while North sat to the west of the southeast corner. The only lower house to have had a designated table was Caven, in the northwest corner beside the Alumni table. (Note that prior to the 1995 renovations, some of these houses, particularly North and Caven, 'traditionally' sat elsewhere)

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