Constructed in 1833, this wharf was the eighth to be built on the original city’s shoreline, and the third wharf built by the military. Its name in history varies from “The New Wharf” to “The King’s Wharf” and finally “The Queen’s Wharf”. It was a pier 12 feet wide and 42 feet long extending out into water 15 feet in depth. At that time, the shoreline was weedy and muddy, and Garrison Creek, which ran along the east side of the old fort, emptied into the lake on the east side of the pier. In 1837 it was extended, and by the 1870s had been substantially enlarged and a wide platform had been increased at the south or lake side.
The Queen’s Wharf is the third and largest of the military-built wharves and had many uses including connection to the railways. It was a busy industrial dock used by tall ships, schooners and steamers connecting the flow of goods from the Great Lakes waterways to the trains of the Toronto Grey and Bruce Railways. It is a symbol of the naval importance of Fort York and New Fort and of the importance of controlling access to Toronto Harbour.
The wharf was buried in 1917 when the Toronto Harbour Commission decided to begin closing the Western Gap of the harbour. That year, infilling of the shoreline began in this area. The old lighthouse, built in 1855, was moved and is now marooned on a boulevard amidst a tangle of fast-moving city traffic.
In the summer of 2006, construction crews at the foot of Toronto’s Bathurst Street unearthed a significant part of Toronto’s early waterfront. While digging the base of the Malibu Condo Project an immense interlocking pier was revealed, hinting at Toronto’s original waterfront. They had excavated the original Queen’s Wharf.
Wood timbers reclaimed from this wharf have unique textures and deeper colour tones generated over the years on the waterfront followed by years buried in Toronto soil. Antique wood flooring made from these wharf woods (elm, pine, hemlock and tamarack) produce unique floors that whisper their history into a room.