Posts Tagged ‘condos’

Right now, the section of Sheppard Avenue East between Yonge and Leslie streets is a mix of old, middle aged and new – a hodge podge of sizes, styles and uses.   It’s neither ugly nor pretty.  It’s not sure if it’s city or  suburban.

below: The intersection of Bayview and Sheppard from the southwest.

main road with traffic, coming to an intersection, with a tall building in the background

You’ll probably never hear anyone say, “Hey, let’s go for a walk along Sheppard”.  So why was I there?   I’ve driven along this stretch many times but I have never walked it.  Have I been missing something?

below: A short distance west of Bayview is the modern brick St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, or ÁrpádHázi Szt. Erzsébet Római Katolikus Templom according to their sign.  Sunday mass is in Hungarian.   If you are driving past on Sheppard Ave, it’s easy to miss the simple steeple and cross that marks this building as a church.

steeple of St. Elizabeth of HUngary RC church, modern brick building with simple cross on the top

below: A large mosaic adorns one of the exterior walls.

mosaic on the exterior brick wall of St. Elizabeth of Hungary RC Church showing St. Elizabeth and two people kneeling beside her.

below: A small shrine is in front of the church.

small picture of Mary and baby Jesus in bright colours, on a small shrine in front of a church

below: The south entrance to Bayview subway station.  There are no escalators at this entrance  – instead, there is an elevator and a LOT of stairs.

south entrance to Bayview subway station with tall residential buildings behind and a construction site beside

below: The artwork at Bayview station is by Panya Clark Espinal, titled ‘From Here Right Now’.  Half an apple lies on the platform.

art on a subway platform, a line drawing of a very large apple that has been cut in half, on the wall and floor of the station

below: A salt or pepper shaker on the wall.  I’ve only shown two of the images in the series.  There are 24 in total and they are scattered throughout the  station.

art on a subway platform wall, a salt or pepper shaker in black on white tiles

below: There is a small park behind the south entrance to Bayview subway station, Kenaston Garden Parkette where I saw this tree in bud.   The first signs of spring are always wonderful to see.   Today it’s -12C outside so I hope the tree is okay.

pussy willow buds on a tree

below: This little park was designed by Wilk Associates Landscape Architecture and it incorporates a large number of rocks including a glacial boulder found on the site.   A bronze sculpture of a tree clinging to a rock  by Reinhard Reitzenstein is one of the features of the park.

small sculpture in a park of a sapling on a rock with its roots growing over the surface of the rock

below: If you stand in the park and look east,  you can’t miss the construction.

small sculpture in a park of a sapling on a rock with its roots growing over the surface of the rock - crane and construction site in the background

a convex mirror beside a black and yellow caution sign, condos are reflected in the mirror

the front and side of a large truck is in the foreground, right side, with a construction site beyond

Construction is everywhere on Sheppard Avenue.

below: All of the houses on Cusack Court are now gone.  Only the ‘No Exit’ sign remains.

a construction site where the houses on a a whole street have been demolished. The no exit sign for the street still remains., the site is behind a chainlink fence

a banner of the Canadian flag has fallen over and is lying on the ground behind a chainlink fence

below: The single family homes on the south side of Sheppard are slowly being demolished to make way for condo developments.  At the corner of Sheppard Ave East and Greenbriar  the proposed development of 184 residential units is the subject of an OMB prehearing on the 8 May 2017  (case number PL161113).

a boarded up house, split level, built in the 1950s, is in the foreground, condos and apartment buildings are behind it

below: Five houses are empty and waiting to be demolished to make way for two buildings, 11 and 6 storeys, mixed use (i.e. retail at street level) and incorporating a few townhouses.  In other words, the same old same old.

a boarded up house, split level, built in the 1950s, is in the foreground, condos and apartment buildings are behind it

below:  I said “same old same old” above because these types of buildings are popping up all over  many major roads that are outside the downtown core.  I suspect that Sheppard Avenue will be lined with structures like this one that’s already been built on the north side of Sheppard.

across the street is a 10 storey residential building, cars on the street, small trees in the foreground

Many people make the argument that there isn’t the density to support a subway along Sheppard.  I am of the opinion that if they’re not wrong now, they soon will be.   Development and public transit are dependent on each other, a symbiotic relationship if you will.   If you are affected by the construction along Eglinton for the new Crosstown line, you might agree that waiting for density only increases the problems and inconvenience (and cost?) of building new subway lines.   Also, have you seen photos of what the area around Davisville or Finch (and others) stations looked like when the subway opened there?   What is the required density?  Why do we want to funnel even more people towards the overcrowded Yonge line anyhow?   Is there an end to the questions we can ask?

And that’s another reason for my walk here…. to make note of the construction that is occurring whether we agree with it or not and to document some of  the changes.

below:  Two low rise apartment buildings.

two three storey brick apartment buildings with balconie in the front, taken from across the street

below: Once upon a time there were a lot of these little houses along Sheppard (even more so on the west side of Yonge Street).  At least one of these is still used as a family home but most are now offices or businesses.

a few small brick houses on the south side of Sheppard Ave

below: The north entrance to Bessarion station

looking across the street to the small north entrance to Bessarion subway station, with a small two storey plaza beside it

below: Looking east from Bessarion.  You can see as far as the condos on Don Mills Road.

looking west from Bessarion subway station towards Leslie Street and beyond,

   There is a reason that you haven’t seen many people in these pictures and it’s not because I waited for people to get out of the way.   Sheppard Avenue is a “major arterial road” under Toronto’s road classification system and traffic movement is its major function.  20,000+ cars are expected to use it every day.

I don’t like to say it, but why would you be walking along Sheppard anyhow?

below: Bayview Village parking lot at the NE corner of Bayview and Sheppard.

parking lot of a mall, Bayview village with surrounding buildings in the background.

As you might know, scroll down to the next blog post to see some pictures of Bessarion station!

 

This is another meandering blog post… a post about being out and about on yet another wonderful autumn day, going wherever my feet and eyes take me.

below: The first picture of my day was this intriguing wall made of old wooden doors.  Bathurst Street.

a tall narrow wall about three storeys high made of old white doors.

below: A small elicser mural tucked away at the end of a parking lot.   The man has his back to the viewer but I can’t figure out what’s behind him or what he might be doing.

small mural on a fence, a man's head is back to the viewer

below: The leaves have fallen off the vines to reveal a yellowish creature with his baseball cap askew.

graffiti painting of a yellow animal like creature wearing a blue and yellow baseball cap. The creature is yellow. On a red brick wall, with spots on its back

below: Toronto’s tallest icon framed by a construction crane.

CN Tower in the distance, condo construction in the foreground, with a red crane

below: And on a similar note, a vacant lot cleared and ready for the next stage of its life.

a box beside a fence that has been scrawled over with blue spray paint. Behind it is a fence around a vacant empty lot. There are some small trees growing in front of the fence.

below: No more cranes here (and not many vacant lots either for that matter).  A view showing how much development there has been on the south side of the railway tracks.   Fort York is between the tracks and the condo towers.

a VIA Rail train passes by on one set of many tracks, in the background is Fort York and then a series of new condo buildings.

below: And what’s this? An old blue canoe beached on the tracks?

looking at the scene from a above, a blue canoe has been used to plant plants in. It lies across an old railway track, a chainlink fence separates the canoe from the main railway tracks that still function.

below: Standing guard over Bathurst Street, Fleet street and the Lakeshore, is one larger than life gold replica of a Royal Newfoundland Regiment and his fallen silver American foe. A sculpture by Douglas Copeland entitled “A Monument to the War of 1812”, a nod to nearby Fort York and the history of Toronto.

Douglas Copeland's sculpture of two tin soldiers, a gold one standing with backpack on and rifle in hand, and a silver one lying on its back on the ground, uniforms circa War of 1812, seen from the back, figures are much large than life sized and they are on a corner at an intersection, Bathurst St. and Fleet St.

below: My favorite example of bad grammar still exists!  Off-leash dog area at Coronation Park.

a wood fence around a dog park, in autumn with lots of leaves on the ground, on the fence is a white sign with black letters re the Toronto municipal code 608,

A beautiful day in the park.  A slight November nip was in the air but it was sunny and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue.  Coronation Park is named in honour of the coronation of King George VI who was crowned on 12 May 1937.  At that time nearly 150 trees were planted here.

Apparently, an oak tree was planted to honour the king.  Surrounding it, a ring of silver maples was planted.  This was to symbolize the countries of the British Empire.  I wish I had known that bit of trivia before I walked through the park because now I am curious if these trees are still there.   Some of the trees are quite substantial.

below: Long shadows for the morning sun, low in the sky.

morning in the park, autumn, trees with some leaves still on, many leaves on the ground, wood railing fence, shadows, Lake Ontario, path, Coronation Park.

below: Looking back towards the city center, past the empty docks of the National Yacht Club to the residences on Stadium Road.   A small group of people were making a video in the dog park.

morning in the park, autumn, trees with some leaves still on, many leaves on the ground, wood railing fence, shadows, Lake Ontario, path, Coronation Park. a small group of people in the distance are filming a video

below: This Victory Peace Monument was unveiled on 14 November 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War 2 and honour those who died in that war.   It was designed by John McEwen; the bronze pieces resemble the bow of a ship.

Metal partial cylindrical shapes on a concrete circular monument. World War 2 memorial

below: On the inside of one of the bronze pieces is a map of eastern Canada and the Atlantic Ocean.  Each boat on the map represents a ship or U-boat that was sunk during the war.  The Canadian ships are located on the map at “their last known position”.  I hadn’t realized that so many ships were lost so close to North America.

relief map of eastern Canada and the Atlantic Ocean, in bronze on a WW2 memorial. Little ships are shown on the ocean where they were sunk during WW2.

Trees were also planted to represent the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (WW1) and its units as well as those who fought in the Fenian Raids of 1866-1870, the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, and the Boer War (1899-1902).  Once upon a time, brass plaques were placed at the foot of each tree to indicate the units the tree stood for.  If any plaques remain, I didn’t see them.

below: Another memorial is close by, a  “Memorial to Lieut. Tommy Hobbs gallant British Canadian soldier in the Great War 1914 – 1918.  Died on active service November 10, 1940.  Beloved and remembered by his comrades.”   Tommy Hobbs was involved in the creation of this park.

a memorial in a park made of a small pile of rocks. The top rock is inscribed, memorial to Tommy Hobbs, died 1940, in Coronation Park

below: A little farther on I noticed another rock, one that was painted red.   The bronze plaque on the rock says that 20 trees have been planted here in commemoration of the G20 Summit held in Toronto in 2010.

a large rock with a bronze plaque on it. The rock has been crudely painted red

below:  A 30 foot tall Inukshuk stands looking out over Lake Ontario.  Approximately 50 tonnes of mountain rose granite was used to create the Inukshuk, which was made by Inuit artist Kellypalik Qimirpik from Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

a tall stone inuksuk on a raised mound of warth

below: Streetcars across the baseball outfield.

Looking across the outfield of a baseball diamond towards a street. A line of mature trees by the street with two red and white TTC streetcars on the street, condo towers behind.

below: A closer look at that brown octagonal structure in the middle of the streetcar loop for the 509 and 511 cars.  Apparently it’s the Queens Wharf lighthouse, one of a pair built in 1861.

a brown structure, the Queens WHarf Lighthouse, sits on a patch of grass beside TTC streetcar tracks in front of a new condo.

The lighthouses marked the entrance to the Toronto Harbour from 1861 until the Western Channel was built in the early 1900’s.   This one stood on Queen’s Wharf which used to be at the foot of Bathurst Street, adjoining Fort York.  The wharf was built by the military; in 1833 it was a pier 42 feet long.    The pier no longer exists; a hundred years ago it was buried under what is now Bathurst Quay.

below:  A picture of an historical map (1886 or 1887) of the area showing Toronto Harbour, Fort York and the railway lands.  Queen’s Wharf is the pier on the left.   At that time, Front Street was the southern most street in this part of the city.   All the present day development south of the train tracks is on reclaimed land.

picture of historical map of part of Toronto Harbour from 1886, showing Fort York, Front St., and Bathurst St., and the railway lands and wharves into Lake Ontario,

below:   Taken from google maps, what the layout of the city looks like now.   As you can see, there have been many changes!

present day map taken from google maps of Coronation Park and Bathurst Quay including Fort York

Lake Ontario in the foreground, trees in Coronation Park in the middle and Toronto skyline in the distance with the CN Tower and a large Canadian flag.
a sticker of a rainbow in a heart shape. A small purple heart is in the center, then a blue heart is drawn around it, moving outwards in rainbow colours.

The Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway, commonly just called the Gardiner, has been in the news a lot lately.  This 18 km stretch of road between the city and the lake was completed in 1965 after years of planning and building.  At the time that it was built, Toronto’s waterfront was largely industrial and there wasn’t much objection to having a 4 to 6 lane expressway, with many sections elevated, built there.   The railway had begun the process of dividing the city from its waterfront a hundred years previously.

As the city changes and grows, more and more people live in the downtown core.  Industry has moved out and residents have moved in.  For so long the land south of the Gardiner as well as under the Gardiner was neglected, especially from a city planning point of view.  But now, the city is looking differently at that swath of land.  The far east elevated section between the Don Valley Parkway and Leslie Street was demolished in 2001 and there have been calls for the next section (Jarvis to the DVP) to be demolished as well.   There has been some controversy as to whether to demolish it or move it… and if move it, where to? I am not even sure what the plans are at the moment.   On the other hand, the western section of the elevated expressway (Strachan to Spadina) will remain standing.  Work is underway to refurbish the structure – the city doesn’t want any more stories of pieces of concrete dropping onto cars beneath!  Plans are being implemented to use the land under the Gardiner much more efficiently.  To make it work for the public.

The Bentway is the name that has been given to this new park, or public space, beneath the Gardiner Expressway from Strachan 1.4 kilometres east to Spadina. The first phase is due to open Canada Day 2017 and it involves the stretch between Strachan and Bathurst.  Many of you have probably driven on the Gardiner but do any of you know what is under it now?  Let’s take a look.

below: The Gardiner passes over Strachan Avenue which  in turn passes over the railway tracks.

bridge over a street, many orange and black construction cones down the center of the road, some pedestrians on the sidewalk

below:  On Strachan Ave looking west.   Condo development in this area has extended right to the railway line.  The Exhibition GO train station is in the distance.  You can also see the Gardiner to the left of the tracks.  Here the north side of the under part of the expressway is walled in and the enclosed space is used by Exhibition Place.  At this time there is no plan for the Bentway to extend this far; I have used this photo to provide more context as to the location of the park.

railway tracks in the center of the picture, condos on the right. On the left is the elevated Gardiner expressway, but under it is a concrete wall that makes it look more like a concrete building than a road

below: A closer look at the Gardiner on the west side of Strachan Avenue.  Maybe there is potential to expand the park westward? to Exhibition GO station? And by the way, those concrete structures holding up the expressway – those are called ‘bents’ and that is why the park is called what it is.

a dirt road runs alongside the Gardiner Expressway, some condos in the distance

below: This photo was taken as I stood on Garrison Common and looking towards Strachan Avenue.  This will be the western end of the new park. You can see the underside of the Gardiner as it passes over Strachan Ave which in turn is also a bridge.  This bridge once crossed the Grand Trunk Railway tracks that were built in the 1850s.  New entrances to the park are planned that incorporate the present sloped embankment of the bridge.

The elevated Gardiner Expressway passes over Strachan Ave which in turn has a bridge over what used to be a rail line. The bottom part of the bridge is covered with graffiti. The whole area is a construction site at the moment.

below: A quick aside:  It’s a slightly different angle, but here is a photo of the Strachan Avenue bridge from 1959, before the Gardiner was built.  I suspect that there has been upgrades made to the bridge since then.  Photo credit: R.L. Kennedy, found online (also a good source for the history of the Grand Trunk Railway in Toronto).  Garrison Common is to the right.

vintage photo from 1959, GTR tracks pass besidde Garrison Common park and under the bridge at Strachan Ave

Garrison Common is the green space surrounding Fort York.  It will abut (be continuous with?) the new Bentway.  Fort York is a National Historic Site and on its 43 acre site are original buildings from the War of 1812 as well as an 1813 battle site.  Did you know that the Americans beat us here in 1813 and controlled the city of York (as Toronto was known then) for a few days?

below: The new Fort York Visitors Centre is now open. There is still being work done both inside and outside, but it is open to visitors. For so long the fort was hidden away and difficult to get to; it is nice to see it receiving more attention.

entrance to Fort York, under the Gardiner, still a construction site but nearing completion

below: Jake from Park People, one of the groups helping to design the new park, stands under the Gardiner as he talks to a group of us on a tour.    Here, by Fort York, the Gardiner is the equivalent of 5 storeys from ground level, the highest it reaches as it crosses the city.

a man is standing in front of a group of people on a walking tour, he is standing under the Gardiner Expressway where it is 5 storeys above ground level.

below: Standing on the grounds of Fort York.  The Bentway will be beyond the stone wall.  You can get a good idea of the spacing between the bents.  These spaces are being referred to as ‘rooms’ and there are 55 of them between Strachan and Spadina.

from the grounds of Fort York looking south to the Gardiner and the condos built beyond it. Grass field in the foreground.

below: One obstacle is the fact that Fort York Blvd passes under the Gardiner on a diagonal.  Plans are to build a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the street.  Also in the photo, note the TTC bus – Fort York and vicinity are finally on a bus route.  Route 121 runs between the Portlands and Fort York via Union Station.

fort york blvd is in the foreground, a TTC bus and a car are on it, the Gardiner is to the right and a short condo building is in the background along with the CN tower

below: The section under the Gardiner Expressway between Bathurst Street and Fort York Blvd is not city owned. It is owned, and has already been developed, by the Onni Group who built the Garrison at Fort York condominiums on either side of it.  This is the eastern end of phase 1.

evening, low angle sunlight shines under the Gardiner Expressway where it has been developed with paving stones and some large rocks.

below: Northbound traffic on Bathurst passes under the Gardiner.

some traffic on Bathurst street on a rainy day, as the street passes under the Gardiner Expressway, condos on the right, construction hoardings on the left.

Phase 2 of the park’s development involves land between Bathurst and Spadina. This is an area that is undergoing a lot of changes at the moment, i.e. a lot of construction.

below: Immediately south of the Gardiner on the northeast corner of Bathurst and Lakeshore is a construction site.  Demolition of the old 1928 Loblaws warehouse building is now complete.  The facade of the old building was disassembled rather than demolished; after cleaning and refurbishing of the bricks, it will be rebuilt in its original location.  Two condo towers are planned for the space between Loblaws and the Gardiner.  Yes, more condo towers to face the Gardiner and add to the tunnel effect that you get when you drive on the expressway.

construction site in downtown Toronto, Gardiner Expressway runs behind the site, rubble in the foreground, a few remaining remnants of the old Loblaws building that was there, high rises in the background.

below: The development of this site is a collaboration between a number of developers.  I found a photo of one rendition (source) of what the space under the Gardiner will look like here in the future.  Public space including a cafe are part of the plans.  Check back in a couple of years to see what really happens here!

artist's rendering of what a planned development for under the Gardiner would look like, part of a larger condo and retail development.

below:  Standing on Bathurst Street, looking east along what will be Housey Street.  This is just north of where the Loblaws development (above) will be.  As you can see, you can’t walk there yet.

the elevated road, the Gardiner Expressway passes over a construction site on the right, a new street being built on the left.

below: Southeast corner of Bathurst and Fort York Blvd.  This is the section of land just north of Housey Street.  Construction hoardings and cranes – familiar sights in this area.  It also means that taking photos of under the Gardiner here are difficult!

late afternoon, long shadows, yellowish tint to the photo, looking east from Bathurst, south of Front, north of the Gardiner, wood construction hoardings with posters on it, many orange cranes, some condos already built, a woman jogging past, cars on the street.

below: Development north of the Gardiner between Bathurst and Dan Leckie Way.

construction site under the Gardiner, cranes and condos being developed on the left, CN tower in the fog in the distance.

Dan Leckie Way is a north-south road that runs under the Gardiner just east of Bathurst.  It is the western boundary of Canoe Landing Park.  This park is north of the Gardiner and the Lakeshore.

below: ‘Tom Thomson’s Canoe’, by Douglas Coupland sits at the highest point of land in the area; it’s almost at the same level as the Gardiner and is very visible as you drive by.   This park extends down the hill.

The end of a large red canoe, an artwork by Douglas Coupland called 'Tom Thomson's Canoe' sits in a park, high above the surrounding scenery. Looking southwest towards the elevated Gardiner Expressway and the condo developments south of it.

below: Looking the other way from the same vantage point. The street running under the Gardiner here is Dan Leckie Way . Up until this point the Lakeshore is south of the Gardiner.

The elevated Gardiner Expressway with traffic is in the middleground, some trees and parkland in the foreground, and condo developments in the background.

At Dan Leckie Way, the Lakeshore is still south of the Gardiner and the space under the expressway is wide open.   By Spadina, one major block east, the situation changes.   The Lakeshore splits and westbound traffic lanes go north of the Gardiner and eastbound lanes stay south.  Shortly after Spadina, the Lakeshore runs under the Gardiner and there is no room for any further development under the road.

below: Standing on Spadina, just south of the Gardiner and looking west.  Here there is a lot of road to cross for pedestrians on Spadina.  Not only has the Lakeshore split to run on either side of the Gardiner, but there are also ramps between the Gardiner and the Lakeshore.

major road with traffic under an elevated expressway in a city, long ramp from the upper level to the lower. Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Blvd in Toronto, at Spadina looking west

below:   Still on Spadina, and still looking west, but now under the Gardiner.  The space under the road is not as high as it was previously.  Its lower and darker and not as inviting.   It will be interesting to see what phase 2 of the Bentway development will look like in this space.  I am not sure when it will to be finished but I will keep an eye on it!

under an elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway, at Spadina.

As for the eastern Gardiner, what does that look like?  Well, that’s a whole other blog post!

 Project: Under Gardiner  On this site you’ll find detailed maps and diagrams of this area as well as information about the plans for the various sections of the space.

 

 

 

Standing on the corner of Yonge & Bloor, looking south….  On one corner, a tower almost finished and on the other corner a tower another just started.  1 Bloor East and 1 Bloor West.

below: 1 Bloor East (7 photos)

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction, two men on a balcony, as well as a piece of plastic covering something part way up

below: The beginnings of an overhang at street level, NW corner of the building.

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction - reflections in the windows, looking up from the ground floor, the supports of an overhang at the first floor can be seen but the overhang itself is not finished

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction - parts of two adjacent buildings

below: The podium level as seen from the SW corner of the building.

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction - the edge of the podium levels as viewed from the street, looking up

below: The full height of the building is more easily seen from farther east on Bloor Street.

looking west along Bloor Street towards Yonge, with highrises on the left, and the overhang from the entranceway to the Marriott hotel on the right. people on the sidewalks as well as bright red umbrellas over seating at a patio.

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction - curves and diagonal lines as well as the usual rows of windows

below: As seen from across the street, under the protective covering over the sidewalk.

part of a glass wall of windows of a tall condo under construction as seen from under a covered walkway across the street
below: Once upon a time the old Stollerys store stood on the southwest corner.  Today it is a construction site wrapped in hoardings covered by a mural of a forest scene.  I’m not sure what they’re trying to say or who they’re trying to fool.  Oh well, it looks pretty for now.

looking across the Yonge Bloor intersection towards the south west corner where there is a construction site with hoardings covered by a green mural of trees. High rises in the background, a few people on the ocrner waiting to cross the intersection.

below: If you look behind the hoardings, you will see that all the buildings except one have been demolished.   No hole has been dug yet so it’s going to be a while before this tower is completed.  And when it’s completed it will be Toronto’s tallest condo building at 72 storeys.

view of a construction site where one old building remains, a digger is on the site as is a very large orange rubbish bin

Two blocks north, at Yonge & Yorkville, there is another hole in the ground.

below: The doors and windows of the old brick buildings on Yonge Street are boarded up.  These buildings date from the 1860’s.

Looking across the intersection of Yonge and Yorkville streets at a row of old three storey brick stores that now have their doors and windows boarded up.

below: Peek around at the back and you’ll see that the old stores have been demolished but their facades have been saved.  Again, this project is in it’s early stages and again, it’s going to be a tall one.  This time, 58 storeys tall.

construction site, orange fence, the back part of a row of old buildings has been demolished, facades saved, now they are all boarded up.

below: The stores have been stripped of their signs and decorations.  It looks a bit desolate at the moment but it will be interesting to see just what the developers do with the facade.

a woman walks on a sidewalk on Yonge St past old brick buildings with their doors and windows boarded up

below: No one can argue that the old buildings were in good shape.  At least there is an effort being made to preserve the front of the buildings.  Preserving some of our history is important and I think that the old architecture adds visually to the look of the street.

an old wood column decorative piece on the front of an old brick building

As I walk back down Yonge street towards Bloor, a sign catches my eye.  Another development proposal sign – Toronto’s most common sign I think.  This one is for a 64 storey building at Yonge and Cumberland.  Anyone feeling a touch of vertigo at the moment?

development proposal sign on Yonge street

 

 

 

Have you ever noticed how many trees there are in this city?
Have you ever stopped to examine the visual relationship between trees and architecture, the patterns of leafless branches superimposed on straight man-made lines?

Horizontal branches of a tree growing in front of a low rise yellowish brown brick apartment building. Balconies, jutting out with the bright blue sky behind.

For the past couple of weeks I have been keeping an eye open for such relationships while I walk.   As it turns out, there are lots to be found…. and some are even interesting  🙂

Part of a mature tree, looking upwards, the greenish steeple of St. Basils church can be seen through the branches. No leaves on the tree. A very tall condo building under construction is also in the picture.

Just for fun I googled “How many trees are there in Toronto?”.  I got answers!  One link was particularly useful:  available in pdf from the City of Toronto’s website is a report titled, “Every Tree Counts: A Portrait of Toronto’s Urban Forest” (updated in 2013).   It is estimated that Toronto has about 10.2 million trees and they provides a tree canopy over between 26% and 28% of the city.

A large mature tree with no leaves, early spring, grows in front of a large glass building that has a reflection of another large building its windows.

There are at least 116 different tree species in the city.  The 10 most common species account for close to 58% of the total.   We have a lot of maple trees – Norway Maple, Sugar Maple, and Manitoba Maple were the top 3 species.  Next in the list were Green Ash, White Spruce, Silver Maple, American Elm, Eastern White Cedar, Austrian Pine, and White Ash.

When Dutch elm disease devastated the city’s elm trees in the 1960s and 1970s many were replaced by Norway maples.  These proved to be hardy but they were also very invasive and damaging to ravines and other natural spaces.  As a result they are rarely planted on city property anymore.  Still, they represent 15% of Toronto’s tree coverage.

A lone smallish sized tree in winter is growing in front of a stone building on the University of Toronto campus, snow on the ground.

Of the total tree population, 6.1 million (60%) trees are on private property, 3.5 million (34%) trees are in parks and ravines, and 0.6 million (6%) trees are on city streets.

A tree in a concrete planter in front of a tral coloured building. It's a sunny day so there is a shadow of the tree on the building.

Trees make a significant contribution to our life.  Not only do they look nice, but they also provide benefits.  They provide shade in the summer and they help improve the air quality.  They help prevent erosion in our ravines and they provide habitat for insects, birds and animals.  Our parks would be poorer places without trees.

A large branch of a tree in the foreground, condos and the CN tower in the background. The curve of the tree branch looks like its wrapping itself around one of the tall condos.

One goal that the city has is to increase the canopy cover over Toronto to 30%.  To this end, between 2004 and 2012 the city and its partners planted almost 100,000 trees per year.   That’s almost 900,000 trees.   Not all survive but progress is being made.  Tree cover increased slightly (1.3%) between 1999 and 2009.

below: A map of Toronto showing the tree canopy in each neighbourhood

A map of Toronto showing the percentage of each neighbourhood covered by tree canopy from almost white (very few trees) to dark green (a lot of trees)

in winter, some snow, part of a large leafless tree in front of an office building with a sloght curve in it.

Take a moment to look at the trees you pass, yes, look up!  Especially in the next week while the branches are still bare.  Better still, look up often and watch the changes unfold as the trees bud and bloom.  At this time of year the trees change quickly and before you know it the city will be transformed.

winter tree in front of a stone government building on Queens Park Circle, A Canadian flag and an Ontario flag are flying in front of the building.

A number of leafless trees and three lamp posts in Simcoe Place, downtown Toronto, with the CBC building in the background

A man's legs as he walks across the pond on Ryerson campus. Very little water is therem lots of reflections of the trees and buildings around. He is wearing jeans and bright orange running shoes.

leafless tree branches above an older red brick house with a mansard black slate roof and a feww yellow brick details

The eastern end of the Kay Gardner Belt Line Park crosses over Yonge St and the subway just south of Davisville station.  It then runs across the north side of Mt. Pleasant cemetery.  It comes to an end at Mt. Pleasant Road where the trail merges into the roads that run through the cemetery.

In 2014 students from Greenwood School painted a mural at this location.  The mural has three main elements.  A train to represent the Belt Line, the name of the community that it is located in (Mt Pleasant Village), and the words ‘use Dominion Coal and Wood’.    The last part is because not long ago, on this site, stood the large concrete silos that the Dominion Coal and Wood company used to store coal and wood.   The shape of the black background is very similar to the shape of the silos if viewed from above.

below: Mural, with Mt. Pleasant Road above it.

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mural celebrating mt pleasant village and the old dominion coal and wood silos that used to be at that location. At the end of the belt line trail where it merges into mt pleasant cemetery

below: Plaque located on the site of the old silos (now in the bushes beside a condo)

City of Toronto historical plaque describing the history of the Dominion Coal and Wood silos that used to be on Mt. Pleasant Ave near the old Belt Line Railway tracks.

transcription of the Heritage Toronto plaque:

“Dominion Coal and Wood

Originally located on Danforth Avenue, the Dominion Coal and Wood Company was founded in 1912 by William H. Smith.  In 1929, the company opened a landmark facility on this site.  Its nine adjoining concrete silos were designed by E.P. Muntz Engineering Company.  Coal and wood were transported here by rail car along the former Belt Line Railway and then sold as heating fuel to local businesses and home owners.

Originally just one among many similar suppliers in the city, Dominion Coal and Wood outlasted most of its competitors.  The company expanded into building supplies as coal sales dwindled, but continued to sell coal here until the site was closed in 1999.  Although recognized as an increasingly rare type of industrial architecture, the historic silos were demolished in 2001. “

 

below: The nine silos, about 1972.  The photo is from City of Toronto Archives and was found online at JB’s Warehouse (a good source if you are interested in more information at Dominion Coal and Wood)

picture of the Dominion Coal and Wood silos on Mt. Pleasant, from city of Toronto Archives, taken about 1972. With an old Mt. Pleasant streetcar on the street by the silos.

below: I tried to replicate the above photo, about 42 years later.  The Mt. Pleasant streetcars are long gone as is the gas station on the NW corner of Merton and Mt. Pleasant.  A corner of the tall white apartment building on the right can be seen peaking from behind newer condo buildings.  Of course, the dominant part of the picture is the condo development that was built on the site of the Dominion silos in 2002.

condo building across the street, about 12 storeys high, made of brick and glass, a couple of cars are on the street

Sometimes when I walk I find a view or a photo that suggests a theme for the day; something that summarizes the area that I’ve been walking through.  On Saturday, this was the photo, a construction site on Wellesley Street -a massive hole in the ground amongst a growing number of high rise buildings.

red and white danger sign on a makeshift wooden fence that says danger due to open edge. Beyond it is a very large hole for a construction site. A bulldozer is in the hole, downtown Toronto is in the background.

a large number of new high rise buildings just beyond a large hole in the ground where another condo is being built

This piece of property, between Wellesley and Breadalbane streets, had been vacant for a number of years.  It was once owned by the province; back in the 1980s there were plans to build a ballet and opera house there.  Those plans fell through and the land remained vacant while community groups lobbied for a park to be developed there.

When I first walked the area in April 2013, there was a blue fence around the site.

A wood plywood fence painted blue. Someone has painted three large white dollar signs on as well as the word ka-ching.

The blue fence is gone. According to the development proposal sign, two towers are being built here with a combined height of 99 floors.  A nine or ten storey L-shaped podium will run along St. Luke Lane and Wellesley Street to join the towers.    The plan also allows for park land on Breadalbane.  When I checked the website for the development, 11 Wellesley aka Wellesley on the Park, there is only one tower pictured and it doesn’t look like the description on the sign.

Ah, a little light bulb goes on.  The sign describes the developers’ original plan.  A change in the plan doesn’t mean a change in the sign.   So…  this seems to be the future home of one 60 storey condo tower on one third of the land and a 1.6 acre park on the remainder.

two bicycles parked on a sidealk in front of a fence that has a development proposal sign on it. Building site behind that, thena wall of skyscrapers in the background.

My Saturday walk had actually started close to Yonge and College.   I was drawn to the nondescript block of stores that are now boarded up in preparation to be demolished.

A block of two storey stores on Yonge street has been boarded up in preparation for demolition.

I’m wishing that I had taken pictures previously of these stores just to document the history of that part of Yonge Street.  I had many chances to do so, but the building never seemed interesting enough.

a man is walking past a row of boarded up stores that are about to be demolished.

development proposal sign above a large number 501, with an office/retail for lease sign above it.

Whether or not you think that two 58 storey towers with a shared 7 storey podium is an improvement is an entirely different question. It will contain 960 condo units and 5 storeys of above grade parking (because the subway runs underneath) with 320 parking spots.  Lobby access for the buildings will be from Maitland and Alexander Streets on the north and south sides of the property.  Or at least that’s what’s on the sign.   But fool me once, so I checked the  website for the condo (TeaHouse Condos in this case) and once again the information doesn’t match.  According to the website there will be two towers but the north one will be 25 storeys and the south one will be 53 storeys.  Whatever the end result, it will be different from what’s there now!

 

At least one person had an objection.

development proposal sign on a yellow wall that someone has written enuf on in big pink letters

A walk around the back of the building shows that we aren’t losing much there either.

two stroey building boarded up and ready for demolition, with a parking lot, behind a chain link fence.

 

The next site that I explored is just to the south where a hole is already in progress on the SW corner of Yonge and Grenville.

A hole in the ground on Yonge Street for construction of a building.

Photo taken from St. Lukes Lane

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below: This hole has exposed the north wall of the brown brick Oddfellows’ Hall as this view shows.  This is looking south, with College Park in the background (built by the T. Eaton Co. and opened as a 6 storey Eatons store on 30 October 1930).  Behind the chain link fence is St. Luke Lane.

back of a large four storey brick building behind an open hole construction site, taller buildings in the background (College Park)

Now you see it… soon you won’t.  The condo tower here will be 66 storeys high.

open hole at construction site surround by fence, brick building in the background.

Oddfellow’s Hall was built in 1891 and 1892 by architects Norman B. Dick and Frank W. Wickson for the Independent Order of Oddfellows.  It has two octagonal turrets and is a playful mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles.   The building had a 20’ x 46’ long grand hall for IOOF private meetings as well as offices and storefronts.

below: Looking north up Yonge Street at College Street, about 1970.  The Bank of Commerce (later Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and now CIBC) was an early tenant of the building.  Also in the picture is the old fire hall tower but more about that later.

old photo from about 1970 looking north up Yonge Street from College Street. Oddfellows Hall is on one corner with main tenant as Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Old fire hall tower is in the distance.

Photo found online, original source was City of Toronto Archives

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below: Most people will recognize the building as Starbucks.

Oddfellows Hall, a large brick building with two hexagonal turrets, brick, now a Starbucks on the ground floor.

starbucks at the corner of Yonge and College

Back to Grenville Street where there is yet another development.  On the west side of St. Luke Lane is a partially completed condo that has incorporated the facade of what is known as the John Irwin house.  It is one of the oldest surviving residential buildings in the area;  in 1873 it was recorded as being owned by a John Irwin.

An old three storey brick house, the John Irwin house has been restored and incorporated into a new condo development that is in the process of being built, cement mixer in front, men working.

This house wasn’t always in this location though.  It was moved a few metres east along Grenville, from one side of the condo development to the other.  I found a photo that I took in April 2013, just after the house had been moved.  Here you can see the back of the house as well as St. Luke Lane to the right.

back of an old house from the 1870s, the John Irwin House, a three storey brick building, that was moved from one site to another. It is sitting on supports at the edge of a construction site.

Does your head hurt yet?  Because there is more…..
But first, a break.  A few other pictures from the area.

below:  No Parking in St. Luke Lane, twice.

A red sign on a red wall. In yellow letter that are peeling off, the sign says Private Parking Only, mcdonalds.

A light yellowish grey wall with a yellow sign that says no parking. Old sign, looking worse for wear. A piece of flat scrap metal is leaning against the wall
  below:  And a man (Van Gogh? someone else?) with a red umbrella but more remarkably, a white picket fence almost hidden under vines by Wellesley Street.

A drawing of a man on white paper pasted to a concrete wall. A red stenciled umbrella is on top of his face. A white picket fence is beside the wall.

below: Also in St. Luke Lane, a mural commemorating the Highway of Heroes.

A mural commemorating the Highway of Heroes

And back to the program….

So far we have two holes in the ground, a partially finished condo, and a block that has just begun to be demolished.  The last development that I saw in the area was one that is still in the planning stages.  The development proposal sign posted beside Currys Art Supplies (the blue awning) is a clue that changes are imminent at 480-494 Yonge Street.  This building is on the SW corner of Yonge and Grosvenor.   The sign says one 45 storey tower but by now I don’t believe the signs!

development proposal sign at 490 Yonge street

480 Yonge Street is a heritage building as is the old fire hall (1872).   The top corner of 480 Yonge is just visible in the bottom left of this picture.  It is to be incorporated into the new development if it goes ahead.  The fire hall tower is going to be preserved but the building in front of it will be removed.  The sidewalk will also be widened as a result.  That’s the opening act of this story; there may be changes before the final curtain.  The developers applied for a zoning amendment (increased height and density) earlier this year but I do not know the results of that.

old fire hall tower above a newer building, or a newwer facade on an older building, red dump trunk on the street, large new condo being built in the background, Yonge St.

below:  On the NW corner of Yonge and Grosvenor is this building.   I don’t know if there are any plans in the works to redo this stretch of Yonge Street but after seeing all the new developments, I’m starting to get a bit sentimental about the old buildings.  So here is documentation of what remains, starting with  A & W Home of the Burger Family at 496 Yonge.

Three storey older grey building on a downtown corner.

below: between Grosvenor and Breadalbane – Cuban cigars and Persian food

Three three storey buildings in a row, old brick buildings, on Yonge St in downtown toronto, 502, 504 and 506. Yonge Market, Persian restaurant, a Cuban cigar store.

below: SW corner of Yonge & Breadalbane – old and new, short and tall

sw corner of yonge and breadalbane streets showing older stores in the foreground and taller condos in the background.

below: SW corner of Yonge & Wellesley – tattoos, massages, and payday loans.

southwest corner of Yonge and Wellesley, a row of old buildings, now storefronts. A Massage parlor and a tattoo place, a convenience store and a Money Mart. Gass condos in the background.

below: NW corner of Yonge & Wellesley – Not just noodles

not just noodles restaurant on the corner of Yonge and Wellesley as well as more stores going north up Yonge Street.