Leaning against a convenient light pole, Greg Clark and Jim Frise, the two heroes of “Which We Did” observed Charles F. Comfort’s frieze on the Bay St. facade of the new Toronto Stock Exchange building.
“Look,” said Mr. Clark. “The large man in the plug hat has his hand in the pocket of the toiling workman.”
“By golly,” agreed Mr. Frise. “So he has!”
“The financier’s hand is not in the workman’s pocket” Mr. Comfort insisted to a Star Weekly reporter who asked him about it. Nor was the hand, he added, out of proportion. Everything was carefully drawn to scale. It was merely “formalized”, he said.
“I was careful to include nothing of a comic or moral nature,” Mr. Comfort declared. “There is no significance in the fact that a group of laborers heads the whole parade.
“That Is not the fascist salute some of the figures are giving. They merely point the directional line.
“Some people have asked me why they are all walking down Bay St. toward the lake. To that one there just isn’t any answer. It doesn’t mean a thing.”
“The whole thing was carried out to the complete satisfaction of the architects, the owners, and myself.” continued Mr. Comfort. “Among people whose opinions I appreciate, feeling is that we have set — well I won’t say a high standard, but certainly a new one, in applied decoration in Canadian building.”
Formalized design is static, Mr. Comfort explained, and he had felt, he said, that to create a design to symbolize the stock exchange, something of a dynamic character is needed.
This is why he had used the angular lines, and the forward thrusting figures, which he said were meant to convey impression of the industrialized civilization of to-day, even the human element being reduced to an automaton-like common denominator.
“We used a three dimensional treatment,” he continued, “but it is not a modelled relief. It is a sharp relief. And we adopted an attitude of no compromise with prettiness. There is no small petty prettiness in it. Industry is an active force in our lives.”
Editor’s Note: This story appeared in 1937, just as the new Toronto Stock Exchange building opened. It was vacated in 1983 and the facade was incorporated into the Toronto-Dominion Centre. A photo of the current site can be seen here.
“Which We Did” is a book of published Greg-Jim stories from 1936.