45 Cross Street and 26 Ontario Street

Lens Mill

Bylaw: (2003)-17098 amended by (2003)-17144

Legal description: Lot 62, Plan 113, Lots 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74 and 75, Plan 113, designated as Parts 1 and 2, Reference Plan 61R-1626

Designated portions

The portions of the exterior to be designated are:

The designation applies to:

  • The brick walls of Sections 1, 2, and 4 (Figure 1), including the arched lintels, the pilasters added to Sections 1 and 4 in 1920, the corbelled cornices on two facades and the corbelled end walls with their capstones at both ends of Section 4. Excepted from this provision are 19 sections of the brick wall where window or doorway openings are planned to be altered or introduced, as well as wall sections where 13 original windows are planned to be re-opened at the time of designation.
  • The gable roof on the 1920 3rd-floor addition (Section 4).
  • The restoration of window openings to their original proportions as well as installation of facsimiles of the original window sills in Sections 1, 2, and 4. Basement windows are not included in the designation.
  • The tapered, brick “Powerhouse Chimney”.
  • The exterior of the former “Bleach House”, including its brick walls, its gable roof form, its original window openings and original windows and doors, where they occur.

It is intended that any non-original features may be returned to their documented original form without requiring City Council permission for an alteration to the designation.

Property history

The factory at 45 Cross St. (mainly along Arthur St. frontage) was built for the Guelph Worsted and Spinning Co. beginning in 1902. It is an example of the rapid growth of major industries in St. Patrick’s Ward during the early 20th Century. Separate sections of the complex display the skills of two of Guelph’s best-known, turn-of-the-century architects, W. Frye Colwill (Carnegie Library, Torrance School) and Wm. A. Mahoney (Tytler School). The masons’ craftsmanship is evident especially in the arched lintels and corbelled brick cornices. For these reasons, it is now appropriate to designate portions of the exterior of the structure as it is being prepared to be adaptively re-used for residential purposes (2003).

W. Frye Colwill was the designer of the first section, on Queen St. East (now Arthur St. South), opposite Alice St. (Section 1, Schedule 1). It was built in 1902 as a two-storey, timber-framed, brick structure with a low-slope gable roof. A flat-roofed, timber-framed, three-storey brick addition filled in the Queen St. frontage, all the way to Cross Street, in 1907 (Section 2, Schedule 1). Some brickwork details, identical to the 1902 section, suggest that the 1907 addition was probably also designed by W. Frye Colwill.

In 1920, a third major three-storey section was added, fronting on Cross Street, from plans prepared by Mahoney & Austin (Section 3, Schedule 1). It has a reinforced concrete framework for its ground floor and for its exterior walls which originally contained large, multi-paned windows atop brick spandrels. The rest of the internal framework combines timber posts and beams with steel trusses. Section 3 is not part of the designation. At the same time, Mahoney & Austin placed a brick and steel third storey on top of the 1902 two-storey portion, noticeably wider than the original and featuring a gable roof (Section 4, Schedule 1). Many other accessory structures have been part of the complex but of these only the “Powerhouse Chimney” and the gable- roofed “Bleach House” in the southerly yard are part of this designation (see Schedule 1).

The mill continued to turn out worsteds, yarns, and/or carpet fibres until 1975, operated by Guelph Worsted Spinning, Guelph Carpet & Worsted Spinning Mills, Guelph Yarns, Newlands-Harding Yarns and Dobbie Industries. It has been used for a combination of commercial and industrial uses since 1978, most notably by Len’s Mill Store.