Posts Tagged ‘redevelopment’

It’s not as purple as it used to be. Over the years it’s faded a bit. It wasn’t in good shape when I first saw it years ago; now it’s in even rougher condition. The ground floor storefronts are boarded up but whether or not the upper floors are unoccupied is questionable.

pale purple brick building boarded up, plywood on windows, yard overgrown,

The whole block (1423 to 1437, Perth to Sterling) has now been acquired by a development company but so far there has been no proposal for the site.

below: There can be delightful lines and colours in old things.

old window with metal bars painted over but rusting, board over window,

below: A bit of a squeeze. Plywood over a window, a shovel ready for winter (or left behind?), and a doorway hidden on the right.

very narrow entranceway between two buildings

below: Pasteups by some familiar names, Feelings Boi, Urban Ninja Squadron, and Sketchrat

paper paste ups on a plywood board covering a window beside door on abandoned building, Closed sign still on door

peeling posters on plywood on window of old building

below: The back has been turned into a storage place for cars.

used cars parked behind two empty buildings

cars without licence plates parked behind an old building, alley,

Today’s post features two new murals near Yonge and Sheppard

below: Looking towards the tall buildings southwest corner of Yonge & Sheppard including the green Emerald condos with their curled tops.

Emrald condos and development at the southwest corner of Yonge and Shephard

below: Backside of the Sheppard bus station which is where I found….

back of outside part of Shephard Subway station with a bus waiting by building, and an out of service bus parked towards the side, tall buildings of Yonge and Shephard area in the background

“Flock Together” by KJ BIT Collective

mallard duck in water and woodpecker on tree, part of Flock Together, a mural by Jieun June Kim and Erica James

These colourful birds were painted by Jieun June Kim and Erica James with the support of StreetARToronto and the city.

two birds in a mural by K J Bit Collective

part of a mural by K J Bit Collective, mallard duck in water, goldfinch, and a cardinal in front of a pink building

below: The older two storey storefronts on the west side of Yonge street reflected in the new windows of the updated Yonge Sheppard Centre on the east side.

reflections in the window of Winners store at Yonge and Shephard, shows low rise older brick storefronts on the other (west) sideof Yonge

below: Continuing northwards, there is this large hole in the ground on Yonge at Spring Garden.

a large hole in the ground, construction at Yonge and Spring Garden, old Legion building in the right, tall North York buildings in the background

below: And here we find another new mural (painted earlier in September I think) also painted by two artists.

two murals on the side of a building in a small alley in North York

below: On the righthand side, the artist was @rowellsoller

part of a mural of a black man with wavy white hair, blue text graffiti, and a yellow circle

below:  “Make me smile” with a ‘free flowing water queen’ with pink curls by @rowdyradrat aka Ian Gabriel is the other half of the mural.

words, make me smile, and a Japanese looking face on a mural in an alley

I like the camera part but I’m willing to prove the “no fun” part wrong.  The other day I went meandering with a friend.  We started near Christie station (at a coffee shop of course) with no particular destination in mind.  Generally south was the consensus… and with a pinch of playfulness (forget that no fun nonsense!) and a dash of distraction that’s more or less what we did.

sticker on a yellow pole, camera with legs and arms, also a sticker below it that says no fun

below: As you may know, Bloor Street east of Christie is Koreatown with lots of Korean restauants and tea shops.

below: … including cheese tea.  This seems to be a new trend, or at least new to me!  Apparently it is black or green tea with a foamy topping made from cream cheese, sugar, and whipping cream (or variations thereof).  Next time I may indulge.

below: “Imagine your Korea” mural on the side of P.A.T. Central, a large Korean store.

below: A fire breathing dragon and many scared people trying to run away. It’s a pity about the garbage though.

large mural on the side of abuilding, a large green dragon is breathing fire and scaring people out of their homes and stores and into the streets,

below: By Bathurst street the Korean restaurants have disappeared.  Once upon a time (it seems so long ago!) Honest Ed’s dominated the SW corner of Bloor and Bathurst.  Now there is just hole there, and a very big hole at that.

below: This picture is just a small part of “Utopic Isles, Neon Nights, a Flowery Future”, which consists of three panels of images by grade 11 and 12 visual arts students from Central Tech high school.  They are part of the hoardings around the construction site here.

picture on construction hoardings on Bloor St near Bathurst, an owl in a tree, a cat sitting below the tree, trees are weird shapes

below: Another section of hoardings feature collages of old pictures of Honest Eds – a project by Jessica Thalmann called “To Dwell is to Leave Traces”

hoardings on Bloor Street near Bathurst, a series of collages featuring old pictures of Honest Eds and the area, in many colours, by Jessica Thalmann

below: To try gluing pictures on hoardings is also to leave traces!  Its’ another “no fun” find.   All rather cool until you learn that no fun is a branding thingy.  Stickers as promos for businesses are now very common, posters like this on, not so much.

two posters that were glued to construction hoardings but that have been largely torn off

below: Construction makes room for the two buildings on Bathurst that refused to sell to the developers.  You can still see the ghost sign on one of the buildings – baby carriages repaired

below: Looking west from Bathurst Street across the big hole to the backs of the houses on Markham Street that are empty and boarded up.  Some of them will be retained in the new development.

below: A concrete lovebot hides in the corner.  He’s missing an arm and has three bricks instead of a leg.

an old concrete lovebot with an arm and a leg missing. on two bricks instead of the leg, in a pile of leaves, beside a rust coloured wall

below: Near lovebot is another ghost sign – Coca Cola, sold everywhere (Bathurst Street)

large ghost sign on a brick wall, coca cola sold everywhere, Bathurst Street

below: This frog has four points on his crown and lips made of plaster.   Looks like he’s found a home on top of the garbage pin.

below: ‘Keep hustlin!”  Don’t linger and watch out for cars.  I was going to make some comment about Toronto becoming increasingly dangerous for pedestrians but I decided that I needed some documentation to back me up.  I learned the acronym KSI (killed or seriously injured).  Toronto has the research on the KSI stats for 2005-2018 as part of their Vision Zero plan and the results are “mixed”, i.e. the trend isn’t upwards.  In fact, I don’t think there is a trend of any sort.

below: [Can we stand two social issues in a row?  LOL.]  What I didn’t realize was there was a “worldwide “Nobody Pays” call to action on November 29 for fare evasions” (source).  Chile in the poster is a reference to Chilean high school students protesting transit fare increases with a series of mass evasions starting on the 7th of October.    I don’t recommend burning your Presto card just yet.

below: The very small print at the bottom of the poster gives references to two documents (from 2012 and 2014) that outline the funding of the TTC and where the money comes from.

below: Well it is December after all…..

Christmas decorations in a store window, little tree ornaments of Santa, one with him holding onto a little parachute and one with him on a bike

below: Well it is December after all…..

a sticker of a black faceless man in grey suit, black tie, and black gloves, with arms raised with two hands in peace symbol, words that say destruction, despair, death

blue outline simple drawing of a persons head and shoulders

looking down a path between houses, green chainlink fence with sagging wood fence immediately behind it

below: Conversation on a garage door.

a garage door with the words, are you happy?

a car parked in a backyard of a house that has been gutted and is now being rebuilt

empty backyard of an older two storey building, with brick buildings on either side of it, seen from the laneway

an old car is parked under a tree and beside a house with graffiti on it

below: Sometimes Mother Nature endures.  There was no stopping this tree and it seems to have thrived even with the metal of the fence embedded in it.

a tree has grown up around a chainlink fence so the fence is embedded in the tree

below: The omnipotent metal fence strikes again.  This time flamingos in love and an Al Runt mural are in danger.

chain link construction fence in front of a mural of dancing pink flamingoes

below: Continuation of the mural by Al Runt around the corner of the building

part of a mural by al runt on a wall and on a metal fence

below: This mural has suffered a different fate, that of the creeping billboard posters.  As much fun as “procaffeinating” is fun to read about, I’ve seen more than enough of them around the city.  I’m not sure that it was someone’s sense of humour that resulted in Holt Renfrew posters being displayed beside those for  Pathways to Education that play on poverty and lack of education.

poster put up on a wall covering a mural that was there

below: But….  [one day I will do a post where only the words in the photos do the talking.  There are some great stories out there]

below: I especially like this one, Just Keep Going.

below: A white horse in an alley

splotch of white spray paint on a rusty part of a garage in a laneway looks a bit like a horse

below: As well as two little astronauts.

green garage door with a white square, on the square are two black stencils of an astronaut

below: Blood and bandages barber shop. Wonderful name!

blood and bandages barber shop from the outside, lights in window, bike parked outside

When you walk across College Street in this area you can’t help but notice that you’re in Little Italy.

below: As we walked westward along College Street, we saw three of these blue areas painted on the NW corners (of Roxton, Ossington & Dovercourt)

part of a lower storey of a building, as well as part of the sidewalk directly in front of it, are painted bright light blue

These are the Blue Room, by Stanislav Jurkovic and they were supported by the College Promenade BIA.   From the website: “Similar to a 3 dimensional ‘green screen’ in film production, the space becomes stage and canvas.”  It has also won a Toronto Urban Design Award.   Some photos that people have taken of these spaces can be seen on instagram by searching on #blueroomcollege (although the same photos are fed to the Blue Room website that I linked to in the first sentence).

two people waiting in a TTC bus shelter, part of a lower storey of a building, as well as part of the sidewlk directly in front ot it, are painted bright light blue

below:  In the entrance way to a store that sells a lot of things including DVD’s in Little Italy.  The 4 moschettieri – the 4 muskateers! A film from 1962 with Georges Riviere as d’Artagnan (the wonder of Google!).  At the bottom of the photo is the name Salvatore Samperi; I am not sure which film it is for but Samperi  (1943-2009) was an Italian film director & writer.   I find it intriguing that these old posters are still on this wall, torn and discoloured as they are.

wall in a doorway with old posters for Italian movies, some on top of others

below: Same store.  Italian movies on DVD’s for sale.  ‘Maruzzella’ (in English, ‘The Mermaid of Naples’) came out in 1956.  If you are an aficionado of old Italian movies, be quick, as I think this store is having a going out of business sale.

old Italian movies on DVD for sale in a store window

I’ll leave you with an image that I found online, a full copy of the poster that is partially covered up above – for the R rated film Malicious/Malizia in 1973. (photo source)  That’s 40+ years ago.  You see, when you start wandering you start finding all kinds of strange and fascinating things – no fun? indeed not.

copy of an old film poster for the Italian film malizia from the 1970s

 

a gold coloured weather vane with a rooster on it, bright blue sky in the background

Once again, it seems that no matter where in the city you go there will be construction.  There will be the demolition of single family homes to make way for condos or at the minimum, blocks of rowhouses.   The area around Yonge and Finch is no exception.

apartment building in the background, a street of single family dweelings in the foreground, early spring so no leaves on the trees, a few cars parked in driveways

I am not sure if it serves any purpose, perhaps it’s futile, but I’d like to think that documenting what we are removing is worthwhile.   The houses on Finch Avenue East like the one in this picture are small, but the lots on which they sit are large.

small white bungalow with brown roof, on large piece of land, car in driveway

That means that a developer can demolish four houses and turn around and build 17 townhouses in the same space.    That is what is happening near Finch and Willowdale.

three small white bungalows with windows and doors boarded up, small trees overgrown around them.

Although the properties were not fenced off, all access to the houses themselves was blocked, sigh.  It looked like a local garden centre was using the backyards of a couple of the houses.

side door of a white wood house with rickety porch and steps. three trees growing besie it, door is boarded up

below: View to a new development on the other side of Finch Avenue.  This is the type of development that the area is now zoned for.  A lot of these townhouses have been built in the last few years and I suspect that eventually they will replace all of the single family homes.

view looking down a driveway, two empty houses - one on each side of the driveway. Can see across the street to new townhouse development on the other side.

single family homes and large trees on Finch Ave

single family homes and large trees on Finch Ave

Between Willowdale Avenue and Yonge Street, there were a couple of other houses that are boarded up and empty. I am not sure what the plan is for them (there was no development proposal sign posted, instead there was a sign advertising the company that is providing the financing – for what?).

small bungalow with blue door, windows boarded up, large tree in front yard, apartment building behind,

The internet can be a wonderful thing.  In case you are interested, the development is the Ava Luxury Residence and it calls for heights and densities that are vastly over what is zoned for in the area.  For example, at 9 storeys it is 37 metres tall in an area zoned for 11 metres.  The plan was first filed in 2016 but because of the size of the development, it requires a zoning by-law amendment, official plan amendment, and site plan approval to effect the proposal – all which take time.   An OMB appeal pre-hearing was scheduled to occur a few days ago, with a hearing slated for June.  MM170085 is the OMB case number if you want to dive down that rabbit hole.

small bungalow with blue door, windows boarded up, large tree in front yard, sign in front yard advertising financing

This is 50 Finch East.  As you can see, there is a taller building on the other side of Kenneth Avenue.  Kenneth was to be the dividing line – keeping the higher buildings, and denser development, closer to Yonge Street.  I’m not sure what side of the development battle you’re on, but what’s the point of having a plan if the developers (with help from the OMB) keep disregarding it?

small bungalow on a corner lot, with windows and doors boarded up, larger apartment building behind.

As I walked back to my car, I chose to walk on a side street instead of on Finch.  As I turned a corner, I happened upon a house being demolished.  Fortuitous.  Serendipity.

a yellow digger loading rubble from a house demolition into a dump truck

It doesn’t take long to reduce a house to rubble and dust.  “Another one bites the dust” springs to mind.

close up of a digger demolishing a house

And so it goes.

street sign for Victoria Park Ave., top part says Wexford Heights

Victoria Park Avenue used to be the boundary between North York and Scarborough back before the boroughs were all amalgamated into the city. As a result, it suffered a bit from being ignored by both. I started my walk at Vic Park and Eglinton in part because I have driven this route a few times but never walked it. In addition, the arrival of the LRT here will probably have an impact on the area so I wanted to see the “before” picture.

below: A blue and white City of Toronto development notice at the NE corner of Eglinton and Victoria Park. This was once the western edge of the “Golden Mile”. In the 1950’s and 1960’s there were numerous factories including a General Motors assembly plant. Commercial developments were attracted to the area such as the Golden Mile Plaza built in 1954 (and visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1959). This notice pertains to the plans to develop a large piece of land between Victoria Park and Pharmacy Avenues with housing, retail, and parks. The new Crosstown LRT will service the area with two stops, one at Vic Park and one at Pharmacy.

blue and white toronto development notice sign on a section of grass by a parking lot, stores in the distance

The only snow on the ground when I walked north from Eglinton were the dirty piles where snow plows had dumped the snow over the winter.

a green street sign for Eglinton Ave lies on the ground, on a pile of dirty snow, a bull dozer is in the background.

below: Looking north from Craigton which is the first street north of Eglinton. There are a lot of lowrise apartment buildings in this area.

back of a TTC bus as it stops at Victoria Park and Craigton, a woman is standing at a bus stop

three lowrise white apartment buildings in the distance, hydro wires, vacant land

below: Community garden on the hydro right of way.

community garden surrounded by orange wire fence, under hydro poles,

hydro poles, utility poles, electricity, and wires

wooden pole with street sign for Elvaston and a no truck sign, in the background, signs from stores in a strip mall

below: Sale only until Dec. 24 so hurry in…. a little late? or too early?

two people walk past a store with a sign in the window that says hurry up because sale ends Dec 28. photo taken in March

below: Commercial development took the form of strip malls when there was lots of space and density was low.

blue wire fence around an empty strip mall

old and empty Prince Cleaners (dry cleaners) in a strip mall that is empty and fenced off and waiting for redevelopment

signs for retail on a strip mall

old no apartments for rent sign outside a brick apartment building

The first settlers in the area were mostly farmers until the late 1940’s.

below: St. Judes Anglican church was built in 1848 by the Rev William Stewart Darling and the Anglican families of the Wexford area; it is the oldest surviving Anglican church in Scarborough. A more modern church was built behind it (just out of the picture) in the mid 1950’s when the population of the neighbourhood boomed. The cemetery began as a private burial plot for the Parkin family – the infant son of Patrick and Ann, Edward, was buried here in 1932.

a small white church in a cemetery, St. Juds Anglican church built in 1848

below: The intersection of Lawrence and Victoria Park. A bit forlorn.

empty parking lot at the intersection of two roads, Victoria Park Ave and Lawrence ave., truck and some other traffic, Damas middle eastern restaurant and a Shell gas station

below: Low rise, flat roofed townhouses. Most of the development on Victoria Park dates from the 1950’s and 1960’s.

1960's low rise, flat roofed townhouses in front, with red brick apartment building behind, large trees, winter, no leaves, grassy area in front

below: Some small postwar bungalows line the street, and the side streets on the Scarborough side.

a small bungalow on a side street that faces the main road, Victoria Park Ave

a few cars on the street driving past some small bungalows

below: A railway corridor passes under Victoria Park north of Lawrence.

looking from a bridge onto the train tracks below and downtown in the distance

pine tree growing in front of a brick building

two lowrise apartment buildings side by side on Victoria Park Ave., one in red brick and the other is yellow

below: A wonderful wide W shaped roofline

a wide W shaped roof line on the cover over an entrance to an apartment building

below: H is for Hockey and Hockey Sticks

a teal coloured, large H in front of an arrangement of hockey sticks, artwork on the top of a wood fence

below: No trespassing signs on the bus shelter?

empty building, with fence around it and no trespassing signs

Victoria Park continues north to beyond Steeles Avenue but I didn’t get anywhere near that far! North of Ellesmere and York Mills Road it becomes much more suburban and not as interesting. It’s more of a thoroughfare and less of a city street.

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

…and social decline, and capitalism, and a few more…..
The many dangers that we face.

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to xenophobia

The demolition of older residential buildings in Regent Park continues as that area of the city is redeveloped.

6 storey brick apartment building stands empty, a fence around it as it waits for demolition

Around the demolition site, someone has hung 18 “danger due to” signs, printed with different “causes” of danger, such as industrialization.

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to industrialization

It’s spelled wrong, but you know what it’s trying to say (hypocrisy).

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to hypocrisy (but spelled as hipocrisy)

chainlink fence in front of the entrance of an older brick lowrise apartment building, snow on the ground, dust, dirt and garbage on the ground

Apathy

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to apathy

two trees standin front of a construction site, green bin, fence around building next to be demolished in Regent Park

Over consumption

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to over consumption

workmen spray water as a machine arm pulls apart a building that is in the process of being demolished - sidewalk view

a small black heart drawn on the blue walls of building now being demolished

Political subterfuge

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to political subterfuge

workmen spray water as a machine arm pulls apart a building that is in the process of being demolished

Doug Ford

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to Doug Ford, premier of Ontario

workmen spray water as a machine arm pulls apart a building that is in the process of being demolished

close up of dust and debris as workmen spray water as a machine arm pulls apart a building that is in the process of being demolished

GM food

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to GM food (genetically modified food)

green machinery demolishes a building in Regent Park

Human infestation

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to human infestation

green machinery demolishes a building in Regent Park - one room still has a white fridge in it

Mass surveillance

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to mass surveillance

Misuse of signage

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to misuse of signage

green machinery demolishes a building in Regent Park - 3 storeys remaining

Shrinking resources

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to shrinking resources

partially demolished brick building in front of an empty building waiting to be demolished

Predatory economics

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to predatory economics

Shitty pop music

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to shitty pop music

Capitalism

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to capitalism

Urban decay

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to urban decay

Misinformation

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to misinformation

reflections in a broken window

Social decline

red and white sign, danger due to signs, on a chainlink fence at a construction site in Regent Park, danger due to social decline

While walking on Yonge Street on the day of the Pride Parade, I noticed that the St. Charles tavern clock tower was visible once more.  Also on that day, I heard someone ask the person beside them what the tower was.  The answer was something like, “I don’t know what it is but it looks interesting.”  I went back this weekend to take some pictures – not quite so many people in the way!

below: The St. Charles as it was back in the 1950’s.  It was built by Charles Hemstead who had made his money in real estate and horse breeding.  Hemstead sold it in 1958 but it continued as the St. Charles until 1987.

black and white photo from 1955 of the St. Charles Tavern and it's clock tower on YOnge Street

photo credit: 1955. Photo by James Salmon, originally found  at Toronto Public Library. I found it online at Toronto.com in an excellent article about  the history of the building and its role in the LGBQT community.

I have always associated the tower with the St. Charles Tavern but I now know that the tower pre-dates the St. Charles by many decades. It was built as part of Fire Hall Number 3 in the 1870s. Although the fire hall is long gone (it was replaced by the fire hall on Grosvenor Street in the 1920’s), the clock tower has survived several changes of ownership.  It is also going to survive the next change which, of course, is the building of a large glass and steel condo on the southwest corner of Yonge & Grosvenor.

below: The site has been cleared.  Looking south from Grosvenor.

construction site, downtown Toronto, clock tower of St. Charles tavern, tall condos, construction equipment

below: Looking north up Yonge Street towards Grosvenor.  The yellow scaffolding is holding up the brick facade of 480 and 482 Yonge Street.  It too will be incorporated into the new development.  Can you count how many new condos there are? Did you notice that the two clock faces say different times?

looking north up Yonge Street towards Grosvenor, clock tower still there, yellow scaffolding holding up the facade of an old brick building

The clock kept time until 1969.  It had been maintained by the city up until then.  Repairs and upkeep stopped when the city decided that the cost was too much.   Maybe it will function once again in the near future.

St. Charles tavern clock tower stands on a construction site as a woman on a bike cycles past

below: An archway has been built into the back of the clock tower.

close up of the lower part of clock tower, with archway that has been constructed at the back

looking up, condo towers and the clock tower from the St. Charles tavern

From Lever Brothers soap factory to Unilever to East Harbour development…  In the 1890’s, Lever Brothers of Britain built a soap factory at the foot of the Don River.   Lever Brothers eventually became part of Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch conglomerate.   In 2002 Unilever sold the Toronto factory, but not the land, to Pensler Capital Corp of New Jersey.   From the National Post: ” Mr. Pensler renamed the company “Korex.” He froze workers’ wages. They lost their Unilever pensions. In 2008, Mr. Pensler offered a contract which workers said stripped seniority and benefits. About 160 workers walked out; in August, 2009, Korex Don Valley declared bankruptcy.”

view of the back of the Unilever (Lever Brothers) factory in Toronto

The development company, First Gulf Corp., bought the 14-hectare site from Unilever Canada back in 2012.  Although there are plans to redevelop the site, nothing has happened yet.

below: The sign says “Drivers, do not exceed 10 psi when unloading T.P.P. hexahydrate.

pipes and yellow metal fire escape on the side of an old factory

The building is mostly empty.  You can rent space inside if you have about $10,000/day to spend.   The grounds are kept fairly clean but the signs of neglect and age are everywhere.   There are other interesting bits and pieces left over from the site’s industrial past, but I have chosen to literally focus on the signs today.

below: No more phoning to get into the warehouse.

warehouse entry phone sign on white painted plywood where most of the white paint is gone, phone is not there, just the marks of where it used to be

yellow wign held up by red metal brackets. faded sign,

on rusty red metal, old sign that says do not block

below: Some signs have left very few traces.

empty rectangular metal frame where a sign once was, on an old yellow rusty pole, vacant land in the background

large dial with rust on it, attached to tap on yellow pipe, gauge in the background

chainlink fence in front of area with yellow pipes, overgrown with weeds and shrubs, sign that says no smoking, white on red, chipped in one corner

below: It’s not easy to read, but the sign in the foreground is a warning about speed bumps.

white water tower in the background with Ponds written on it, metal overhead structure for trucks entering old abandoned factory in the foreground with faded sign that once was warning speed bumps

red brick large Unilever factory, with exterior pipes, brackish pond in the foreground, with orange plastic fence around it, part of fence has collapsed and Danger sign is near the water

a lot of masts from sailboats standing upright, a man walks on one of the boats as he gets it ready to go back in the water after the winter

Getting ready for spring. RCYC (Royal Canadian Yacht Club) is nearby.

There are a few changes happening down at the Port Lands.

a man in orange stands beside his bike on the side of a road, sity in the background

below: Aerial view of the present configuration of the Keating Channel, Don River, and part of the port lands beside a drawing of the planned changes.  Rerouting the Don River will create an island, Villiers Island.

two maps side by side, one is an aerial photo of the port lands and the other is a drawing of the new route of the Don River through the port lands and the planned changes to the area.

In the 1880s, the lower part of the Don south of the former Winchester St. bridge (just north of Gerrard St) was straightened and the mouth of the river was placed in a channel to create additional harbour space and industrial dock space for boats in what is known as the Port Lands.   This project was called the Don Improvement Project. The Don River now empties into the inner harbour through the Keating Channel.  Lakeshore Blvd passes over the very south end of the river and because of its height (very low), boats can not enter the Don River.   Boats may still enter the Keating Channel by going underneath a lift bridge at Cherry St.   The straightening of the Lower Don also allowed for construction of the railway line parallel to it.

 

below: The cars are parked on vacant land between Lakeshore Blvd and Lake Ontario/Keating Channel. Mounds of gravel have been dumped off the end of Essroc Quay and beside Keating Channel. You might also have noticed the nine green bins that have been laid across the water (very left side of the photo). They too are full of gravel. These are part of the beginning of the renovations of the port lands. The Keating Channel will remain, but the area south of it is slated to be changed. In the middle is the GFL (garbage collection) transfer station. The low reddish brown building was a recycling facility. It was the site of a fire a few months back and most of the south end sustained substantial damage.

view from higher, over Keating channel, Essroc quay and towards Centre Island, Port lands in Toronto, mounds of gravel in the water, parked cars, boats in the water, light industrical development, trees,

Access to the western portion of the port lands is via the Cherry Street bridge.

bridge with traffic lights in the background.

below:  Here it is being lifted to allow a boat to pass through the Keating Channel.   This bridge was built in 1968 and is at least the fourth bridge at this location.

lift bridge is up so a boat can pass under

below: In 1900 a wood swing bridge was built with just a single railway track that was operated by the Grand Trunk Railway.  There are still remnants of the tracks that serviced the industries located in the area.

vintage photo, black and white, 1910 of wood swing bridge in open position, some boats around, Keating Channel, Cherry Street, Toronto,

below: Two steel drawbridges were subsequently built here, one in 1912 and one in 1932. This is a circa 1915 photo of the lift bridge at Cherry Street.

photo from the Toronto Archives of the liftbridge at Cherry Street, open position, black and white photo taken about 1915, found on Wikipedia.

source: Originally from the Toronto Archives Fonds 1244, Item 1482 but found on Wikipedia

The plans for the redevelopment of this area show that the south end of Cherry Street will be moved to west of its present location – the jog in Cherry where it joins the Lakeshore for a short distance will be eliminated.

below: This is a close up shot of Essroc Quay at approximately the new location of the new Cherry Street bridge.  The Keating Channel is in the foreground.  This quay, and the water channel behind it, will be turned into wetlands and parkland.  Essroc is a landfilled pier and is publicly owned as is Cousins Quay (the one behind it with the GFL transfer station).

 a mobile crane on tractor wheels, green body, is helping dig a hole in the ground on a flat piece of land that has water on two sides. lots of orange and black construction cones around the piece of land

below: A new fence too.

behind a chain link fence, a line of green dumpster bins, laid end to end, stretch across a channel in Lake Ontario,

below: Looking across Essroc Quay to the Toronto skyline

view of Toronto skyline and CN Tower from the Port Lands, with construction for the new Cherry street realignment, and flood plain protection plan in the foreground.

There are many reasons for rerouting the Don River.   The Port Lands are no longer used by many industries, land use has changed.  As the city grows and changes, this area has become prime real estate but it is also a flood plain.  Before any development can occur, flood control measures need to be taken.    The Cherry Street Stormwater and Lakefilling project will stabilize the local shoreline, protect land from flooding, and create a new landmass to begin the re-naturalization of the Don River’s mouth.   The river would be re-routed through the middle of the Lower Don Lands between the Keating Channel and the Ship Channel. The area being filled will become part of ‘Promontory Park’, a new major green space across the harbour from Toronto’s skyline.

The project will also allow for a realignment of Cherry Street so that it no longer merges with Lakeshore for a short distance.  At the moment, the Cherry street and Lakeshore Blvd intersection is problematic, especially for pedestrians. Once upon a time there wasn’t much reason for people to walk there I guess. Now, if you are on the wrong side (the west side) of Cherry street, you get stranded at Lakeshore.

two people standing on a sidewalk as they try to figure out how to cross the street, two large billboards behind them, train tracks (elevated) behind that.

The Keating Channel isn’t exactly beautiful.  Lakeshore Blvd and the Gardiner Expressway run along the north shore of the channel.  There has been discussion & debate about the fate of these roads but so far nothing has changed.  Will they demolish this section of the elevated Gardiner?  Or won’t they? (Probably not).

raised expressway road on concrete pillars, runs above another road and beside a channel of water, CH tower and downtown Toronto in the distance

below: The very south end of the Don River at the moment.   Not much to get excited about is it?  It looks like there is work being done under the bridge?  (something’s happening there but I don’t know what).   Hopefully it will look better in a few years.

bridge over the Don River, grey, flotsam in the river,

The Ship Channel is south of the proposed changes described above.

ships docked

below: Piles of salt on the south side of Ship Channel. These arrive by ship.  The old Hearn Generating Station is in the background.

piles of salt on a dock, power generating station in the background.

small boats lined up along a dock, tugboat,

And south of it all, Cherry Beach.

woman sitting on a bench under large trees by a beach, two dogs running towards the beach, some people standing by Lake Ontario

two sikh men in turbans stand on beach, early spring, wearing jackets and long pants.

More info on the Cherry Street Stormwater and Lakefilling project