From Abandoned Brickyard to World's Top Geotourism Destination

Although the human history in North America dates back at least ten millennia, very little cultural heritage has been preserved over the ye...

Although the human history in North America dates back at least ten millennia, very little cultural heritage has been preserved over the years, and what's left mostly comes in a form of languages, traditions and legends of aboriginal people. So unlike Asia, Middle East or Europe, very few archeological sites from pre-Columbian North America have lasted till our days. And even after the European settlers arrived, this has not changed much, so newer buildings would just replace the old ones. Agreed that this approach helps a town or a city always look young and fresh, but what about keeping a historical heritage? This way, nothing is going to become old enough to be preserved. So I'm really surprised that an abandoned brick factory in Toronto, a long-time eye sore rather than a historical place, has not only been preserved, but also restored and transformed in an environmental centre and a geotourism destination known far beyond Toronto city limits.

Evergreen Brick Works, as it's now known, used to be Don Valley Brick Works, a large brickyard that was in operation between 1889 and 1984. 
The factory would manufacture more than 43 million bricks per year at its best times. A picture on one of its walls even says that 'The Skyline of Toronto spells Don Valley products'. 
And I can attest to it since most of homes and buildings in old Toronto neighbourhoods are made of red and buff (yellow-brown) bricks, likely produced here or at similar factories.
Brick production requires clay and shale, both found on site. Though there are different methods to make bricks, they all come down to mixing a clay or shale with water and either firing in a kiln or leaving it to dry and firm under the sun.
This old brick-making press used in production in early 1900s would be capable to produce up to 3,000 bricks per hour. 
Interesting that lime and iron define the colour of a brick. If lime prevails over iron, a brick would be yellow or buff, otherwise - red. According to the information stand, Don Valley Brick Works would offer ten shades of red, seven shades of buff, plus brown, gold, olive, obsidian (dark brown) or mottled (uneven) brick.
More than 16 hectares / 40 acres of damaged land with collapsing buildings is what was left out after Don Valley Brick Works closed in 1984.
Shorty after, a non-for-profit organization called Evergreen, took a lead in restoration of this place into something that the city would later be proud of. 
Old quarry is no longer a mud hole, but a nice urban park. New trees were planted, the old wetland restored, walking trails paved. I haven't been there before, and was really impressed based what I'd seen.
Can you guess what this is? 
It's the largest living map of Toronto called Watershed Consciousness by Ferruccio Sardella. It depicts five main rivers of Toronto and their watersheds. They all drain into Lake Ontario. Evergreen Brick Works stands by one of them - Don. The other four are Mimico, Humber, Highland and Rouge.
Many old buildings were restored, and a few more built. Inside Young Welcome Centre.
A green wall.
This place now hosts the largest farmer market in Toronto every Saturday.
Small shops are open daily and complement the market by selling nice decor, garden stuff, live plants and some local food.
For those who want to repair their bikes, there is Bike Works, a community do-it-yourself bike repair centre. Next to it - a place to rent or buy a bike.
Foodies would love a nice selection of local gourmet food from food trucks.
Good food - happy people.
'The Children's Garden is designed to activate the imagination of children, inviting them to engage in open-ended play. Here, children have the freedom to be the architects of their environment, to invent and build using their own creativity and problem-solving skills, all while developing an appreciation for the natural world (from the brochure).'
Evening talks around a wood-fired oven must be a favourite activity for kids after working at the garden.
A climbing structure is awaiting the most adventurous and brave ones.
A cable car has been proposed to link Broadview subway station with Evergreen Brick Works in order to make commute easier and more pleasant. Toronto is a relatively flat city, so a cable car would be a nice addition to the cityscape.  
Currently, visitors can take a TTC bus #28 or a free shuttle from Broadview subway station. Parking is very limited, though biking options are plentiful since Evergreen Brick Works sits next to a few of major biking trails.
'Tout est possible' ('Everything is possible' from French). Do you agree? I think Evergreen Brick Works is a good example of it.

You Might Also Like