circling Don Mills

Posted: January 29, 2021 in general Toronto
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This post grew out of the last walk that I took with my mother.  It fit the criteria of being close to her house, had a route where we didn’t double back, and was somewhere that neither of us had walked recently.   Our route was The Donway, the circular road that encompasses the intersection of Don Mills Road & Lawrence Ave.  We drive through it or past it frequently but as you know, the world looks different when you get out of your car.

Painted sign tht says Don Mills, in front of Don Mills Sceondary school. Each letter is a different colour with decorations on them (pictures) painted by students

Developed between 1952 and 1965, the suburb of Don Mills was very much a “planned community”. The history of its development is online so I am not going to dwell on that aspect.  I was more interested in what it looks like now – what changes are happening there?  What looks just like it did 60 years ago?

We started at the library.  [As an aside, this where I had my first job.  I was 15; I hated it; I lasted two months.  My apologies to all librarians. ]

below: Don Mills Library.  In 1956 the land was purchased at Lawrence and Donway West for a new library.  It was opened in 1961 and renovated in 1994.  A few years later it was added to the inventory of North York’s Modernist Architecture.  You can download the brochure that lists, with pictures, the more than 200 buildings on this inventory from an ERA Architects website(but be patient!)

part of Don Mills library, built in the late 1950s

below: The old and the new.

Donway West, older low rise apartments on the right, taller and newer condos on the left

below: A new playground in front of construction where the Don Mills Arena once stood.

playground in the front, construction behind that, and Scarborough skyline in the distance

The original Don Mills plan called for higher density inside the Donway Circle with lower density & single family homes outside the circle.  These condos are withing the circle, adjacent to the “Shops at Don Mills”.

construction site

orange construction cone beside a fence with a green construction cloth covering over it

below: The old post office (postal station) building is gone too.

now vacant lot beside Shops of Don Mills where old post office building was demolished

three storey red brick apartment building on the corner of Don Mills and the Donway with traffic light

low rise apartment building with trees and grassy space beside it

front of apartment building

1960s Don Mills residences, red brick

 These new townhouses sit outside the north east quadrant of the circle.

new grey townhouses being built on the Donway in Don Mills

I don’t think that anyone is going to claim that the original architecture in the area was “pretty” but these grey things are unsightly if not stupendously ugly.

new townhouses being built in Don Mills

below: Each of the quadrants of The Donway has a church.  In the NE is Donway Baptist Church (also in the inventory of NY Modernist Architeture).   The new townhouses seem to dwarf the church.

Donway Baptist church, built in the late 1960s, brick building

below: Don Mills Covenant United Church in the NW portion of The Donway.

front of Don Mills United Church

below: The front of Don Mills Secondary school where many small trees have been planted.  There’s at least one apple tree and one cherry tree .

front of Don Mills Secondary School, many new trees have been planted in front of the school

a few locks, rusted, on the chainlink fence around Don Mills Secondary school, playing fields and basketball hoops in the background

below:  This style of bungalow must have been very popular as tens of thousands of them were built, not just in Toronto, but in other towns and cities as well.

Don Mills bungalow with stairs up to center entrance

below: The car port, another Don Mills feature that helped make housing affordable at the time.

A-line roof bungalow with car port

below: A family of raccoons has found a home in Don Mills too!

a tree trunk, about 6 feet high, with a section carved out and a raccoon family painted on it.

a white (dry) bird bath or fountain with a statue of a girl and fairy, girl is holding a Canadian flag.

My apologies if the greyness of the photos makes you think that Don Mills is a grey kind of place.  Blame the weather – there hasn’t been a lot of sun this January.

Comments
  1. Todd says:

    That’s not far from where we live (Thorncliffe Park). As the pandemic ramped up I spent more time exploring on my bicycle and only just started looking around The Donway – and Don Mills in general. I’m a huge fan of modernist architecture and luckily we’re blessed with a lot of it.

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