Toronto Through My Lens

Category: Demolitions

Bloor Street United Church

Passing by the Bloor Street United Church at 300 Bloor Street West a couple of weeks ago, I was quite surprised by the renovation/demolition taking place there.

Located in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood, the 19th century Neo-gothic structure is undergoing a major interior and exterior restoration and renovation that includes the redesign of 20,000 square feet of community and commercial office spaces. For the time being the congregation is worshipping with St. Matthew’s United Church at 729 St. Clair Avenue West.

The mixed-use project aims to add approximately 40,000 square feet of leaseable space which will support the congregation’s ongoing programs. The completion of the project will carry out the original mission of the church, providing a community space for gathering and worship.

A glimpse into the future

Respecting the heritage building, the commercial and residential program form a podium and a 29-storey-high tower – the Cielo Condos – that is set back from the church. The tower takes cues in geometry and materials from its neighbourhood. The brick fabric of the Annex is reflected along the accordion-like podium of the building and features panels of windows that connect residents to the city and neighbourhood. In contrast to the intricate detailing of the church, the tower’s minimal form and gold detailing complement the existing structure.

A Bit Of History

The church began as a Presbyterian congregation in 1887 to serve the rapidly growing population of then-northern Toronto, with the church building opening in 1890. In 1924, the church voted by a substantial majority to join the United Church. Three years later, a portion of the church was demolished when the city decided to widen Bloor Street.

The church grew in size in the 1940s and 1950s as an influx of immigrants arrived in the area. The congregation was so large that on several occasions, Massey Hall was rented to hold some services. It was decided to renovate the church in 1954. As it was nearing completion, however, a fire broke out and the church was badly damaged, with most of the sanctuary destroyed. Money was quickly raised to rebuild the church; in the interim the congregation met at nearby churches and U of T’s Convocation Hall.

Renovation Pics

Changes on Sherbourne Street

Up until a few years ago I would pass through the Sherbourne Street area near Bloor Street East twice per day, on my way to the subway. Not the most uplifting of ‘hoods, the area has traditionally been slightly down at heel. That has all been changing recently. This past weekend I went up Sherbourne Street, not having done so for quite a while, and was shocked by the recent changes on Sherbourne and neighbouring Howard Street.

Apartments and restaurants on Sherbourne Street demolished between Shoppers Drug Mart and Eggsmart restaurant

Howard Street

After years of neglect, the heritage building on the corner of Howard Street and Sherbourne Street finally gets some attention (and a new condo built above it):

Northeast corner of Howard Street and Sherbourne Street
Northeast corner of Howard Street and Sherbourne Street
Northeast corner of Howard Street and Sherbourne Street
Future Demolition, North Side of Howard Street
Behind the Eggsmart restaurant on the corner of Sherbourne and Howard Streets
Future Demolition
North side of Howard Street, east side of Eggsmart restaurant
Beside the stores on Howard Street, looking over to Sherbourne Street
Looking east down Howard Street. New construction on the left and new condo ahead left (corner of Howard & Parliament Streets)
Will they stay or go?
A couple of remaining shops on the north side of Howard Street beside the construction site
Will they stay or fall to the wrecking ball?
Remaining shops on the south side of Howard Street

Glen Road

I shot these while heading to the subway via the wonderful little street known as Glen Road. I’ve always loved Glen Road; so much character – to me it has an almost-Brooklyn look and feel. It’s a huge bonus that the once-derelict period houses on the west side of the street were recently renovated and revitalized:

Glen Road Apartments
Glen Road Apartments
This side of the street was once derelict and abandoned…
…now beautifully restored
Beautifully restored
Subway entrance at the end of Glen Road
Time to go underground for a while

Sherbourne Street continues to change and gentrify. Over the last few years several upscale condos have gone up near the corner of Bloor Street East, making the area a little more desirable than it was a couple of years ago.

A Walk Up & Down Avenue Road

It was a crisp fall day when I started my Avenue Road photowalk at Bloor Street West. I made my way up Avenue Road, reached Dupont Street, then returned south until I hit University Avenue and Dundas Street West. Here’s a little of what I encountered along the way.

The Prince Arthur Condo
38 Avenue Road
The Prince Arthur Condo, 38 Avenue Road
I’ve always loved this entryway – so elegant, dramatic
New Condo Construction: 183 Avenue Road
Construction on the northeast corner of Avenue Road and Pears Avenue in Yorkville. This is a proposed 10-storey mixed-use condominium building designed by BBB Architects for K P Isberg.
Hazelton Lanes Residences
55A Avenue Road
Galerie de Bellefeuille
87 Avenue Road
Future Site of “The Webley”
121 Avenue Road
Bike Memorial For Adam Excell
On the corner of Avenue Road and Davenport Road. Adam Excell was riding his bike on Avenue Road, near Davenport Road on June 13, 2015, when he was struck and killed by a car that did not remain at the scene.
David Drebin Mural
On the northwest corner of Avenue Road and Davenport Road. David Drebin is a Toronto-born professional photographer.
David Drebin Mural & “Super Convenience”
Northwest corner of Davenport Road and Avenue Road
The Hare Krishna Temple
The Hare Krishna Temple is located at 243 Avenue Road. The building is the former home of Avenue Road Church. It was built in 1899 and was originally the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. The building was designed by Toronto architects Gordon & Helliwell.
The Church of the Messiah
240 Avenue Road. This Anglican church was founded on March 24, 1891 by members of the Church of the Redeemer further south on Avenue Road. The building, and the rectory next door, were designed by Gordon & Helliwell, the same architects who designed what is now the Hare Krishna Temple across the street.
Fall Leaves
Somewhere on Avenue Road
Mural Outside Havana Coffee Bar
233 Davenport Road, southwest corner of Davenport Road and Avenue Road
Flower Markets
Avenue Road, south of Davenport
Giant Ring
Outside Louro & Sons Jewellers, 104 Avenue Road
These cast bronze figures are entitled “Mixer” by sculptor An Te Liu, a Taiwanese-Canadian artist living and working in Toronto. “Mixer” envisions its installation as a stage inhabited by a pair of cast bronze figures engaged in dialogue with passersby, hotel visitors, and each other. Bold and distinctive in silhouette and richly finished in a lustrous deep gold patina, the sculptural ensemble forms a vivid and iconic tableau establishing the Park Hyatt as a singular destination. As a public artwork, “Mixer” is monumental in scale – visible from afar and instantly recognizable. Open and intimate, the work invites visitors to experience the artwork fully and in the round. People become a critical part of the scenography, which unfolds within the architectural proscenium and extends out into the city.

“Mixer” finds shape and expression in the rich history of Park Hyatt Toronto, merging classical figurative allusions with industrial, artisanal, and organic forms culled from glassware, vessels, and couture. The forms also stem from a reinterpretation of the artistic legacy of Henry Moore, a seminal figure in the history of the modern era in Toronto. “Mixer” captures the allure of social encounters and celebrates imbibing in all the senses. They form a continuity between the illustrious past of Park Hyatt Toronto and its present renaissance as an exemplar of elegance and luxury. An Te Liu’s inspiration for this work comes more specifically from an archival photograph of the Park Hyatt Rooftop Lounge, commonly known as “The Rooftop bar at Park Plaza,” years ago. An Te Liu would visit during his years as a student at the University of Toronto – understanding its’ social significance as a landmark in the city. Park Hyatt Toronto invites visitors to experience the artwork in the round, as this ensemble of works seems like an encounter or conversation. The hotel program inspired this meaningful concept as a place of social convergence, where friends and strangers cross
Lillian Massey Building
Building used by University of Toronto, 125 Queen’s Park
“Freedom Fighters”
Queen’s Park
“Freedom Fighters”
Queen’s Park
Fall Leaves
Queen’s Park
Al Purdy Statue, Queens’ Park
Al Purdy was a 20th-century Canadian free verse poet. Purdy’s writing career spanned 56 years. His works include 39 books of poetry; a novel; two volumes of memoirs and four books of correspondence, in addition to his posthumous works. He has been called the nation’s “unofficial poet laureate” and “a national poet in a way that you only find occasionally in the life of a culture.”
Iranian Demonstration
There was an Iranian demonstration happening that day at Queen’s Park, and this guy was ripping up and down Queen’s Park and University Avenue with his balloons and flag
U of T’s Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre
112 College Street, at University Avenue
“Happy Lunar New Year”
Canada Post box at University Avenue and Dundas Street West
The United Building
481 University Avenue. On the corner of University Avenue and Edward Street. Converting into luxury condos.
The United Building
481 University Avenue. On the corner of University Avenue and Edward Street. Converting into luxury condos.

From The Vaults: Demolition of CBC Radio/TV Studios & Broadcast Tower

Welcome to a New Series!

This is the first instalment of a series of posts I call From The Vaults. These are shots of Toronto’s architecture I’ve taken many years ago on film, prior to making the move to digital photography. I’ve been scanning my old film prints to digital lately, so eventually there will be a few more instalments of From the Vaults to post and enjoy.

Today’s Post

For my first From The Vaults post I’m covering the demolition of the CBC Radio/TV Studios and broadcast tower at 345 Jarvis Street. Occurring in 2002, the demolition made way for the construction of the dual-tower Radio City condo project and Canada’s National Ballet School.

After the Jarvis Street transmitter was made redundant by the CN Tower, the CBC continued to use these Jarvis Street studio facilities until moving to the Canadian Broadcasting Centre at 250 Front Street West in 1992.

The adjacent studio complex facing Jarvis Street (now the Ballet School’s Margaret McCain Academic Building) was used for CBC Toronto’s radio and television operations. Prior to CBC doing extensive renovation when they first acquired the property, this building was the original Havergal Ladies’ College, built in 1898. Later, the building became known as the CBC Radio building.

February 2002
Our city view prior to the Radio City towers going up. Note the brown studio building (far right) slowly being demolished floor by floor.
February 2002
Demolition continues on the main studio building, just behind the tower’s left side
May 2002
A few months later the studios are almost a hollow shell
May 2002
The studio building continues to shrink…
July 2002
… and shrink some more
August 2002
The site is almost totally demolished. Just one building remains, lower left of frame, and the broadcast tower still stands… for the moment.

Demolition Starts on the Broadcast Tower

The old CBC broadcast tower was a mass of approximately 1,000 iron girders held together with 10,000 bolts. The tower rose from a base of 63 square feet located between the old Havergal Ladies College – which CBC bought for about $120,000 in 1944-45 – and historic Northfield House built in 1856 on Jarvis Street north of Carlton. The tower was painted red and white as a warning for low-flying aircraft.

The 540-foot freestanding lattice-style tower was built in 1952 to provide radio transmission facilities to the city of Toronto. It was the second tallest freestanding structure in Canada for several years and the second tallest freestanding lattice tower ever built in Canada after the Cambridge Bay LORAN Tower. In addition it was the tallest structure in Toronto for 15 years until the completion of the TD Tower in 1967.

Transmitting from the tower were CBC stations CBL-FM, CBLT and CBLFT, as well as CJRT and CICA-TV. In 1976 almost all broadcast signals in Toronto moved to the CN Tower, making the Jarvis Street broadcast tower redundant.

Early August 2002
Demolition starts on the broadcast tower. As I was watching this years ago I remember wondering if the guy swinging around on that precarious basket/platform was receiving danger pay.
Early August 2002
Demolition continues on the broadcast tower
Early August 2002
The very top section and antenna were dismantled and lifted down by crane
Early August 2002
Removal of the top section continues. It’s hard to see in the shot, but there are two workers clinging to the very top of the tower (right side) as the top segments are lifted away by the crane.

Bring on the Destruction!

Time For the Tower To Go: August 24, 2002

I took these shots as the tower started to fall after the explosives detonated at the base. Luckily I had a power winder going full blast on my film camera at the time, so it just kept snapping away automatically as the structure fell.

The tower starts to lean after the first explosives go off at the base
The descent continues
Almost down
She’s dead, Jim. Nothing left but a cloud of dust and some mangled pieces of iron.
This photo courtesy of Urban Exploration Resources

I have several photos of the Radio City condos and National Ballet School being built on this location – stay tuned for future posts of those.

If you’d like to learn a little more about the CBC demolition and subsequent building of Radio City and Canada’s National Ballet School on this site, check out these links:

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