The History of the Hutchinson Stone, Part 2

Earlier this month, we shared the story of the Hutchinson stone, a 1300 lb stone that has marked the outside of 79 East Don Roadway since 1946. Streetcar readers met Jos Diening, whose great grandfather, William James Hutchinson, had a long history with not only the building but also the city. Hutchinson was an entrepreneur and businessman who started the first auto body shop in Toronto.

Hutchison Auto Body

Hutchinson worked at 79 East Don Roadway as a wood craftsman when the building housed a carriage company. After a decade, he turned his focus towards cars. “Hutchinson correctly guessed there was more future in horseless carriages than the horse-drawn ones,” reads his obituary (below). Eventually, his venture grew from what we’d call a startup today to a 60,000 square-foot, 125-employee business that expanded its offerings to include manufacturing, repairing, finishing and refinishing. He then bought back the very building where his career started and installed the stone bearing his name.

79 E. DON ROADWAY HORSE TANK WAGON 001

WJH  1887 - 1976  OBITUARY 001When plans for Riverside Square were announced, Diening contacted Streetcar asking to please preserve the stone, since it symbolizes not only his history but also the great spirit of entrepreneurship that runs throughout his family. “I’m hoping we can retrieve the stone to avoid it being sent to the junk yard” Diening wrote in an email to us last year.

This week, we’re happy to report that the stone has been safely returned to the descendants of Willian James Hutchinson. On Friday, Diening, his family, and some former employees of Hutchinson Auto Body met with members of the Streetcar team for a small ceremony of sorts. Streetcar transferred ownership of the stone to the linage of the Hutchinson family. We had hot drinks on the scene to match the warmth of the moment.

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Streetcar is proud to have partnered with the Hutchinson family to help preserve this important piece of not only their family’s past but also of Riverside history. We look forward to writing the next chapter for 79 East Don Roadway.