by Kyle Gonyou

London Doorways are found on homes all of shapes and sizes. As detailed research is undertaken on, interesting clues have potentially connecting seemingly different London Doorways. 

John Salter (1802-1881) was an important early Londoner. He served as apothecary and surgeon to the British Garrison during the Upper Canada Rebellion, was London’s first dentist, and established a pharmacy on Ridout Street opposite the Court House. During his lifetime, John Salter acquired a large real estate portfolio including his homestead in East Woodfield, Salter’s Grove, and various other real estate holdings. 

As directed in his will, John Salter’s trustees began to sell his real estate holdings as “they may deem best” following his passing on April 6, 1881. This included land for the Dr. Alexander Hotson House, adjacent to the homestead of John Salter, as well as land for a more modest home on Pall Mall Street. 

Land Registry Records indicate that Thomas D. Smith purchased Lot 2, Plan 207(E) on Pall Mall Street from the Executors of the estate of John Salter in 1888. Interestingly, Thomas D. Smith first appears listed for the house on Pall Mall Street in 1883 City Directory. This variance suggests, as not uncommon for the time, the vendor held a mortgage for the newly constructed home until it could be paid off by the purchaser.

Image 1: The London Doorway of the Smith house. The door itself has been replaced, but the London Doorway retains its iconic triple arched motif.

Thomas D. Smith (born 1856) was a machinist at E. Leonard & Sons, a foundry and manufacturer of agricultural implements. Thomas D. Smith lived on Pall Mall Street with his wife, Ellen (born 1860), and son, William from 1883 until 1912. Thomas and Ellen Smith emigrated from England. Their son, William, was born around the time of the home’s construction in 1883.

Image 2: Details of the Smith family from the 1891 Census. Courtesy Library and Archives Canada.

The London Doorway on Pall Mall Street, while part of a modest home in comparison to the Dr. Alexander Hotson House, retains fine ruby coloured etched glass in the spandrels. These remnants give clues to the elegant original details of the London Doorway and connections to other London Doorways, including ruby coloured etched glass spandrel and transoms in the Blackfriars/Petersville Heritage Conservation District and SoHo area.

Image 3: While not the Smith house, this glowing example of the ruby coloured etched glass can be found only in a handful of London Doorways. Photo credit: MJ Idzerda.

The research is on-going. Are there other London Doorways associated with the estate of the late John Salter? Did the London Doorway of the Dr. Alexander Hotson House originally feature ruby coloured glass? Are there any clues in the etched detailing of the spandrel and transom? 


  • Brock, D. Fragments from the Forks. 2011.
  • City Directory.
  • Cooper, John. “Portrait of Dr. John Salter.” London Room Photograph Archives – PG E147. Courtesy Ivey Family Room, London Public Library, London, Ontario, Canada.
    Land Registry Office.
  • Library and Archives Canada.
  • London Doorways research files.