old Parkhurst windows

Posted: March 5, 2020 in old buildings, windows and walls
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Until a few years ago this was part of Parkhurst Knitwear but today it sits empty. Today when I passed by the lighting was good for taking pictures of the south exterior wall.  There is a fence between the street and the building but there is ample room for photography.   I am now on many surveillance videos (if the warning signs were for real).

20 Research Road in Leaside, the Parkhurst factory, previously Dorothea Knitting Mills, built in 1942

This building started its life as Radio Stores Building No. 16.  It was constructed in 1942 and the chimney was added in 1946.  Building No. 16 was part of a complex of buildings occupying 55 acres of land east of Laird Drive and south of Eglinton that was owned by Research Enterprises Ltd. (REL).  During WW1 this land was an aerodrome.

horizontal window in a brick building made of rows of small rectangular panes of glass

In 1940 REL was incorporated in response to the outbreak of World War II; it was a Crown Corporation created through the Munitions and Supply Act of Parliament in September 1939.

looking along the exterior wall of two storey brick building with long horizontal ribbons of window panes, many glass pieces are broken or cracked and then fixed with tape

REL’s mandate was the production of technology equipment such as optical instruments and radio and radar equipment to assist with pilots with night flight.  During its 6 years of operation, REL employed 7,500 people.

broken and patched panes of glass in a larger horizontal window

After the war, this building was sold to Dorothea Knitting Mills (1947).  Dorothea ultimately became part of Parkhurst Knitwear.

smokestack at east end of old Parkhurst knitting mill building, now abandoned

This building is part of a larger story – the slow disappearance of industries in Leaside as commercial and residential developments proliferate. Prior to 2010, the area was zoned industrial but developers fought for, and won, changes to the zoning in the area.

south wall of Parkhurst knitting mills, empty and abandoned, many glass panes cracked or broken, old curtains in the window

I can’t remember how long this building has been empty. If was still a functioning knitting mill in 2013.  In 2019 the city of Toronto moved to have the building listed as a Heritage site.  Last year there was a large sign on the building advertising the fact that it was soon to be a self-storage facility.  Is that still its fate?

old brown pipe inside, looking through old window


  1. markdsegal says:

    Hi Mary – The Mayor and various city Councillors keep making nice sounding statements about the need to alleviate the affordable housing crisis in this city. Doesn’t this site seem to be a prime piece of real estate that could be dedicated to this purpose instead of declaring this eyesore a “heritage” building and confining it to self-storage? Is the heritage puffery and the safekeeping of inanimate objects more important than peoples’ health and welfare? This is a good use of photography to stimulate thinking about where our priorities should be. Cheers, Mark

    • Mary C says:

      Now there’s a comment that could be argued by both sides, with both sides having very legitimate opinions. One could argue that it’s an eyesore only because it needs some TLC, one could point to the large number of townhouses/condos very close by to suggest that some of the area is being developed for housing, one could point to the industrial nature of the area and the attempts to hold onto light industry and the jobs that they bring …. etc

      • markdsegal says:

        Hi Mary, yes lots of room for discussion about this topic. The problem with heritage designation is that it intentionally severely restricts what one can do with a property, whether to repurpose it for housing or refurbish it for light industry. It adds constraints and costs which discourage redevelopment. I think one needs to use heritage designation conservatively to protect properties of non-replaceable artistic or historic value, and that are not thereby relegated to remaining as eyesores. But yes, room for argument about what that too means……Cheers, Mark

      • Mary C says:

        We could go around in circles. In the meantime, stay healthy!

      • markdsegal says:

        You too Mary. Cheers, Mark

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