Junction Craft Brewing Meeting

Councillor Frances Nunziata and Junction Craft Brewing will be holding a public meeting on October 29 to discuss the brewery’s proposal to allow for a tasting and purchasing area at their new facility on Cawthra Avenue. The brewery is an interesting development as an example of a craft industry potentially bringing new vitality to this historic mixed-use area. It is reusing part of the former Canada Bread industrial bakery complex and seems to exemplify Jane Jacobs’ adage that “new ideas must use old buildings”. Such areas have unfortunately too often seen redevelopment exclusively in the form of residential projects out of step with its history or suburban-style retail plazas comprised of big-box stores with much of the land dedicated only to parking. The meeting represents an opportunity to address practical concerns that may arise from the operations of such a facility and to see that it integrates well into our neighbourhood.

Junction Craft Brewing Meeting
October 29, 2012 at 7 PM
90 Cawthra Avenue

Padrone Italiano: Italian Heritage of St. Clair – West Toronto

Photographic Survey Corp, 1956The highly-industrialized and historic meatpacking district along St. Clair Avenue West anchored by the Ontario Stock Yards is seen in this aerial photo looking northeast from just east of Symes Road in 1956. Source: Photographic Survey Corporation (via the City of Toronto Archives).

Ian Wheal will be leading a heritage walk here in West Toronto on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 2 PM. Beginning at the corner of Keele Street and St. Clair Avenue West near where the main gate to the Ontario Stock Yards was once located, the walk will go down St. Clair towards Lambton. Participants are welcome to stay for as much of the walk as they’re interested in. It will explore the Italian Canadian history of the area, but will also cover the Stock Yards, packing houses, railways, businesses, and the history of food production in the area including bread and even wine.

The walk will focus on the era between 1871 and 1969. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Toronto’s meatpacking district and the Ontario Stock Yards–a critical and fascinating part of West Toronto’s history. Ian Wheal is a member of the West Toronto Junction Historical Society. If you’d like to know more information about this interesting walk, leave a comment.

Padrone Italiano: Italian Heritage of St. Clair – West Toronto
May 20, 2012, 2:00 PM
Southwest corner of Keele Street and St. Clair Avenue West

Padrone Italiano: Italian Heritage of St. Clair – West Toronto

Canada Packers in view, Archives of Ontario - Canada Packers Collection, 1960An aerial photo shows the highly-industrialized and historic meatpacking district along St. Clair Avenue West from Symes Road in the foreground (on left) to Keele Street (just out of view at the top right edge), anchored by the Ontario Stock Yards in 1960. Source: Archives of Ontario – Canada Packers Collection.

Ian Wheal will be leading a heritage walk here in West Toronto on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 2 PM. Beginning at the corner of Keele Street and St. Clair Avenue West near where the main gate to the Ontario Stock Yards was once located, the walk will go down St. Clair towards Lambton. Participants are welcome to stay for as much of the walk as they’re interested in. It will explore the Italian Canadian history of the area, but will also cover the Stock Yards, packing houses, railways, businesses, and the history of food production in the area including bread and even wine.

The walk will focus on the era between 1871 and 1969. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Toronto’s meatpacking district and the Ontario Stock Yards–a critical and fascinating part of West Toronto’s history. Ian Wheal is a member of the West Toronto Junction Historical Society. If you’d like to know more information about this interesting walk, leave a comment.

Padrone Italiano: Italian Heritage of St. Clair – West Toronto
May 20, 2012, 2:00 PM
Southwest corner of Keele Street and St. Clair Avenue West

Transformation at the End of the Line: Placemaking at Gunns Loop

Gunns Loop may not appear on the rollsigns of westbound 512 St. Clair streetcars in Toronto, but with its recent reconstruction, it now has a proper sense of place. It is the western terminus for the city’s northernmost streetcar route; however, since its completion in 1981, it has lacked a design worthy of a terminus in Toronto’s iconic streetcar network. It was a banal quarter circle of concrete and asphalt, with some grass and a chain-link fence around the edges. Some generic shelters and a few shabby utility poles with mundane street lights broke up its featureless sterility.

Fortunately, the recent streetcar right-of-way project on St. Clair Avenue West involved a complete overhaul of the public realm. This time around, design would not be neglected. Intuitively, Gunns Loop was one of the last parts of the transit project completed between 2005-2011. It was transformed into a public space with polished landscape and urban design. The new design has not only enhanced this transit facility, but also the community itself with a beautiful new public space. Stepping off the streetcar onto the sheltered and attractively paved platform is now a more interesting and formal experience which evokes the “higher-order” transit that light rail can be. The loop is now a public space with a sense of culture and welcoming refinement, and no longer just a banal piece of infrastructure. It now gives people a sense of place. Continue reading

Holiday Train in the upper Junction

On Tuesday, November 29, the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Holiday Train will once again make a stop in our neighbourhood, the only stop in the city of Toronto. The brightly lit up freight train is an impressive sight for all ages, but the event is especially great for kids who get an up close view of an impressive train and with family-oriented live music. The goal is to raise money and collect food in the fight against hunger, so bring canned goods and other food items listed here if possible.

The location has changed from the former intermodal yard beside the parking lot of George Bell Arena. This year, it will be stopping at 750 Runnymede Road in front of the railway’s Lambton Yard office. It’s a short walk from anywhere in the upper Junction. Parking is available at the Walmart beside the office. Transit users may take the 71 and 79 bus routes which originate from Runnymede subway station and get off at Runnymede and St. Clair, then walk south towards the railway underpass. The entrance to the yard is just before the underpass, and is next to the Walmart plaza. The 40 Junction route goes to the loop at Dundas and Runnymede, and riders can get off there and walk north, through the underpass. The yard entrance is on the left. Those taking the 30 Lambton bus will likewise get off at Dundas and Runnymede and walk north through the underpass on the west sidewalk of Runnymede.

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, website
November 29, 2011, 6:15 PM
750 Runnymede Road, in front of CP Lambton yard office

Click for a map.

Why Preserving the Symes Road Incinerator Matters More than Ever

Not much of our built heritage remains in the upper Junction, at least not in terms of older heritage buildings. Home to the Ontario Stock Yards and a substantial meatpacking district for nearly a century, there were large industrial plants in the district but also office buildings from the early part of the 20th century. The Canadian Pacific Railway’s West Toronto Yard had a roundhouse and machine shops on West Toronto Street, where Rona now stands, and also where the Keele Centre at 500 and 530 Keele Street stands. The site of the Staples store at Keele and West Toronto Streets had an interesting modern office building from the 1970s in the Brutalist style. A look at archival photos reveals several handsome midrise office buildings along St. Clair Avenue West; however, no buildings were spared when the industrial area was redeveloped in the 1990s.

This industrial era largely ended in 1993 when the Ontario Stock Yards moved to Cookstown, Ontario. The demise was dramatic: the stock yards, the historic roundhouse, and the large Canada Packers site on the north side of St. Clair between Gunns Road and Symes Road were wiped to a blank slate with the all buildings destroyed. Some smaller-scale commercial buildings around the district also disappeared at this time. Some residents without ties to the disappearing industries might have been too pleased by the development to really consider its fuller implications. The buildings lost often met the street in a dignified way like the old warehouses preserved in Liberty Village. They were meaningful markers of a long and interesting history of industrial activity on an impressive scale, were thousands of people made a living—many of them immigrants. Though its smells might have been foul and the district dirty in its final years, the end of this era in the early 1990s was an opportunity to preserve and commemorate the meaningful past with the benefit of distance from the problems created by the industry.

Continue reading

Redeveloping New York Pork – A Significant Time and Place in The Junction

With the ruins of the New York Pork slaughterhouse demolished last spring, the future of the property at 2306 St. Clair Avenue West is open for speculation. Officially, no plans have not yet been disclosed, but it is worth close consideration for anyone familiar with the area in the upper Junction. It is located on a major Toronto street which has recently been planned by the city to become a mixed-use main street. This plan, the result of the St. Clair Avenue West Land Use and Avenue Study, was formulated by the city of Toronto after consultations with residents and other local stakeholders in a series of meetings over one year. It envisions a walkable, built up area centred on St. Clair Avenue West similar to The Junction’s historic mixed-use area on Dundas Street West or Bloor West Village. The architecture, scale, public realm, and commercial activity will likely be different, giving the area a unique atmosphere. Yet the cohesive urban built form will be similar if the plan is embraced. Now ambiguously post-industrial and underdeveloped, there is potential in the area around for a vibrant, diverse, and beautiful district with the right development projects centred on St. Clair. Continue reading