Posts Tagged ‘Unilever’

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

Tucked away in part of the old Lever Brothers (then Unilever) soap factory there is a small exhibit now showing.

below: Follow the yellow caution tape to find the installation…..

yellow caution tape marks a path through an old industrial space, sign on a post that says Danger no pedestrian traffic.

below: This is the sight that greets you when you first walk into the room…..   A large industrial sized funnel left behind when the factory was decommissioned dominates the room.  A few figures stand on the other side of it.

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls - three of them stand around a net on a circular frame, a large industrial funnel above them.

below: Moving closer.  Above the figures is a bubble making machine – how appropriate for a soap factory!

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls

As it turns out, these figures – mannequins or automatons – were originally made back in the 1980’s as props for the Wilderness Adventure Ride at Ontario Place.  When Ontario Place closed, these guys were abandoned.

below: He looks very intent on something. .. like destroying my camera if he could.

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls - solitary man with half an arm missing, staring straight ahead, beside a net to catch soap, a large soap bubble dropping from above him

Toronto artist Max Dean rescued their remains, cleaned them up and brought them back to life.

below: … and into the 21st century.  Playing Candy Crush to pass the time? Or checking his Tinder messages?

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls - sitting on a stool with a phone in one hand, a real woman behind him with a phone in her hand taking a picture

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls - an older man standing on the stairs and looking down

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls - the likeness of Andy Warhol, white hair, glasses on head, hand up, finger pointing

The Unilever factory site is now owned by First Gulf (a development company). Access is at 21 Don Roadway which also the DVP ramp from the Lakeshore. There is parking. Getting there by public transit is not easy as there is no access directly from the north (the railway tracks & DVP are in the way).

 

“Still Moving” continues until the 3rd of June.

A walk along the Don River.

The Don Valley Brick Works (or Evergreen Brickworks) is an old clay quarry and brick factory that operated between 1889 and 1984.  Today the site consists of 16 heritage buildings and an adjacent 16-hectare public park known as Weston Family Quarry Garden that includes wetlands, hiking trails, and wildflower meadows.

below: Interior of the kiln building.  Some of the kilns have been removed to create a larger open area and year round event space.

large ceiling pipes, exhaust system for old brickworks kilns, some of the old kilns as well

below: anser faces on the exterior yellow brick wall.

yellow brick wall with two large blue anser faces on it, as well as part of the word Toronto in yellow bricks

below: The Brickworks “living map” of Toronto is looking very healthy.  It is “Watershed Consciousness” by Ferruccio Sardella and it depicts the rivers and ravines in the city.    Some of the greens are looking a little tall (like they don’t belong there? a few strays?).

a pink chair and a yellow chair sit in front of a sculpture that is a metal relief map of Toronto, green plants grow in the areas of the map that are ravines and green spaces in the city

below: Bullrushes growing in the wetland area around the pond.

narrow brown bullrushes growing amongst the reeds in the wetlands at brickworks

below:  Ideas!  I’ve been meaning to find the end of this bridge and walk at least part of it – if I do, I’ll let you know!  It’s the bridge that you see beside the Brickworks.  It was built in 1928 and is 335m long.   It is part of the Don Branch of the CPR and it ran from Leaside Junction to the downtown core until the line was closed in 2007.

two people walk across an unused railway bridge

After a short visit at the Brickworks, including a quick bite to eat at the Farmers Market, we headed south.  The first part of the walk was back along Bayview to Pottery Road since Brickworks is on the west side of the Don River and the trail is on the east side.  I didn’t take any pictures – walking along a major road that doesn’t have a sidewalk needs all of your attention.   There is a bike path that parallels Bayview on the east side but getting to it was either a long detour or a dash across the road and over a barrier.   We made the decision to stay on the west side and cross with the lights at Pottery Road.

below: Although the path is through the ravine and it runs beside the Don River, it also runs adjacent to the Don Valley Parkway.  There are only a few places on the trail where you can see the highway but there is a constant rumbling noise from the cars passing by.

cyclist on a path, riding away from the camera, fence to the left of him/her, green signs on the Don Valley Parkway to the far left. exit sign for Bayview and Bloor.

below: This is the same railway line as the bridge shown above but farther down the valley.  A very makeshift bike crossing.

two cyclists walk their bikes across loose pieces of plywood over unused railway tracks

below: Standing at the same spot as the above photo, but turned around 180 degrees… You can see how overgrown the old tracks are.

looking along an abandoned railway line, overgrown tracks, trees on either side, apartment buildings far away in the distance

below: Two different railway lines run down the Don River Valley.   The line shown here, the CN Bala subdivision line,  is very active including use by GO trains that service the Oriole, Richmond Hill, and Newmarket route.   The Bala subdivision tracks continue all the way to Sudbury.

a cyclist walks his bike over a gravel travel under a bridge that has just been renovated, another bike rider is dismounting

below: A quiet spot by the abandoned tracks.

an old rusted side of a railway trestle bridge, lots of greenery from the trees growing around it, a man is standing at one end of the bridge, unused tracks
below: There are a few spots along the trail where there was damage from the high water levels in the spring.  Most if the problems are with the banks od the river.  The trail itself is in good shape.

an orange plastic fence runs between wooden stakes, danger, marking the parts of a riverside trail that got washed away or damaged in high water in the spring

below: Kayaking on the river.

a yellow kayak with two people in it passes under an old railway bridge that has graffiti on it. Don River

below: Keeping an eye on the water level.

surveillance camera on a tall pole, aimed at rulers and markers on the far side of a river, keeping an eye on the water level

cyclists on a path through the trees, a bridge support is beside the path

a big white happy face graffiti on a bridge support

below: Does anyone know what the 6 drum shaped things are?

two boys ride bikes past the Mill Street Junction hydro station, fenced in area with danger signs,

below: Standing on the old metal bridge across the Don River at Eastern Avenue, looking south.  When the Don Valley Parkway was built, it cut through Eastern Avenue.  Eastern was rerouted, swinging north a bit before crossing over the DVP and splitting into Richmond, Adelaide, and Eastern. (depending in which direction you’re travelling).   If you stand on the bridge and look directly east, there is still a road there that dead ends at the highway.  It is now Sunlight Park Road and it is provides access to the BMW dealership that you can see as you drive past on the DVP.

metal work of the side of a bridge frames the view of a river and trees and city buildings, Don River, abandoned bridge

I couldn’t see any park in that area so I decided that if there is a Sunlight Park it’s teensy tiny.  Luckily I didn’t stop there – I did some research and discovered that Sunlight Park was actually the first baseball stadium built in Toronto.   It was built in 1886 and was first known as the Toronto Baseball Grounds – four storeys, wood, and the home of the Toronto baseball team from 1886 to 1897.   And where is Sunlight in all this?  The stadium became known as Sunlight Park after the Sunlight Soap factory that was built by the Lever Brothers in 1900/01 in the same area.   The stadium was demolished in 1913.

below: The building in the background was the Lever Brothers (the Unilever) soap factory.  There is now a sign on the building that says firstgulf.com – they are the development company that owns the site.  NOW magazine published an interesting story about the building as it looks at the moment (with lots of great pictures!).  The path through the striped underpass joins the Don River Trail to Corktown Commons.

two men walk through a park towards an underpass under a railway track, factory in the background.

 Stay safe.  Protect the plants (and the humans!)

altered sign. Instead of saying Protect the Plants it now says Protect the humans.