Posts Tagged ‘Don Mills’

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.

Exploring new places often leads to interesting finds.  I’m not sure if you think demolition/redevelopment sites are interesting, but I came across this one when I went to Moccasin Trail (next blog, scroll up).

An empty building.  The grey hoardings completely block the view of whatever is inside.

grey plywood fence in front of a three storey brick rental apartment building that is empty and will be torn down in a residential neighbourhood

I tried walking the perimeter, but there is no access or viewpoint.  There are actually two buildings.  Apparently one of the buildings was damaged by fire (arson) in 2008.  The buildings have been empty since 2011.

a tall tree, winter time, stands in front of a grey plywood fence in front of a three storey brick rental apartment building that is empty and will be torn down

The old sign still stands beside the fence. It is faded enough that I can’t read it, even with some manipulation in photoshop.  The building in the background is also part of the redevelopment plan.

old faded sign on grass side yard beside grey plywood fence around building about to be demolished. Across the street is another building from the 1950s or 1960s.

The year on the development proposal sign is 2013.  It also states that three buildings will replace the ones being torn down, one of 10 storeys and two of 4 storeys.  That was six years ago.   In March 2017 a plan was approved by city council for an 8 storey condo and a 4 storey rental replacement building.

Development proposal sign in front of a three storey brick apartment building.

When I saw the state of the building above, I started taking some pictures.  I thought the building was empty.  But then I heard music coming from one apartment.  Then a woman came out on to a balcony to hang up a blanket.

40 moccasin trail building, three storey apartment

Two years ago, back in March of 2017, 12 of the 34 units were occupied.   I am not sure how many people are living there now.   When it was first built, it was probably quite nice – very suburban, very Don Mills.  Now the building is in very poor condition but I’m sure that’s because the landlord is waiting to be able to demolish the building.

papered over window and old white door on apartment, overgrown saplings in front

crooked metal railings beside a concrete set of stairs, brown and white building behind.

concrete steps, side of a brick building

overgrown trees in front of an apartment

City of Toronto report on this site (May 2017)

two low rise apartment buildings, grass between them and a large tree

On the southeast corner of Don Mills and Sheppard (across Sheppard Ave East from Fairview Mall) some striped poles have sprouted.  Running southwest, at a 45 degree angle from the streets, are 4 tall striped poles with pointy tops; they look like tall skinny cylinders.  They are part of Douglas Coupland’s latest public art installation in the city, ‘Four Seasons’.

below:  Looking southeast, the four poles representing the four seasons rise up in the public space between buildings.  Autumn, of which you can only see a little, is in the foreground, and is followed by summer, spring, and in the distance, winter.

Four tall striped poles designed by Douglas Coupland as a public art installation.  The pole in the foreground, spring, can only be partially seen.  The winter pole is in the distance.

If you have seen the Douglas Coupland exhibit either at MOCCA or at the ROM, you will realize that bright coloured stripes seem to be part of his trademark.  The first time that I saw these poles I thought of Douglas Coupland and I wasn’t surprised to find that he in fact was the artist who designed them.

below:  Also part of the art installation are three poles that stand next to the new condo development along Don Mills Road.

Looking across the street (Don Mills Rd) at a new condo development.  Three tall striped poles are beside one of the buildings as part of an art installation.  The building closest to the poles is low rise (2 or 3 storeys) but the building behind is a much taller structure.

below: The ‘winter’ pole is mostly white stripes.
It is the farthest from the intersection of Don Mills and Sheppard.

Very tall striped cylindrical pole with mostly white stripes with a few greys and only one or two pale colours.   Looking up from the base of it towards the tip, two tall condos, one on either side, are in the photo too.

It was a damp grey day when I took the photo below.  The result is a grey photo of a grey intersection.  It is also an example of Toronto suburban planning, or the lack thereof.

Over looking a major city intersection, Don Mills Road and Sheppard Ave East.  Lots of traffic.  Some taller apartment buildings from the sixties and seventies are in the background.  One of the tall cyllindrical poles of Douglas Coupland's art installation is in the foreground.

A brightly coloured striped cylindrical shaped pole in front of a tall condo building.