Toronto’s Brick Works
An abandoned brick factory and clay pit in Toronto has been turned into a vibrant space for people and nature. As you may have guessed, we were there as part of the Garden Bloggers Fling back in June.
Now called simply Brick Works, the site is the work of a Canadian non-profit called Evergreen. The group is committed to restoring healthier urban environments, with an emphasis on the watershed of the Don River in the Toronto area.
One of the first things we saw was a striking sculpture and vertical garden representing that very region.
Fissures in rusted metal represented river and stream beds.Plants sprouted out of them, reminding us that there is no life without water.
Now part of the old factory contains a farmers’ market, though we weren’t there on a market day. There is also a cafe and a native plant nursery on the grounds.
Behind the factory, there is now a quarry garden where the clay pit had been. The pit was 150′ deep when it closed in the 1980s.
The pit, which was partly filled with rubble and trash while the property lay derelict, has been transformed into a pond with boardwalks.
The garden is full of critters of all kinds, on the ground and in the air and water. Here’s a couple of turtles sunning themselves.
And a rather nasty-looking snapping turtle.
The water lilies were beginning to bloom.
In addition to the Quarry Garden, there was a Children’s Garden so delightful that I wanted to borrow some stranger’s child so I could have an excuse to hang out in it.
Love the coneflower sculpture.
Every Children’s Garden needs a teepee.
We had lunch outside, catered by Brick Works’ own cafe.
Part of the old factory stands as a sort of a memorial to the industrial enterprise and its workers, who created the bricks that went into most Toronto buildings for a period of decades.
It was hot, backbreaking work. Workers had to walk between kilns heated to 1,800 degrees.
Others stacked about 12,000 bricks a day using bare hands, because gloves slowed them down.
This old industrial site does seem to have undergone a successful rebirth through Brick Works. It provides community, creativity, and beauty – while contributing to a healthier environment. Nice job.