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.

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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.

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One of the first things we saw was a striking sculpture and vertical garden representing that very region.

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Fissures in rusted metal represented river and stream beds.Plants sprouted out of them, reminding us that there is no life without water.

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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.

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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.

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The pit, which was partly filled with rubble and trash while the property lay derelict, has been transformed into a pond with boardwalks.

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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.

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And a rather nasty-looking snapping turtle.

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The water lilies were beginning to bloom.

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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.

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Love the coneflower sculpture.

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Every Children’s Garden needs a teepee.

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We had lunch outside, catered by Brick Works’ own cafe.

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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.

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It was hot, backbreaking work. Workers had to walk between kilns heated to 1,800 degrees.

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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.Β It provides community, creativity, and beauty – while contributing to a healthier environment. Nice job.

 

 

 

58 Comments on “Toronto’s Brick Works”

  1. You seem to have so many places of interest in your area, probably the most inspiring schemes in the UK are the reclamation of the many old slag heaps and now defunct mine works although some of the old brick work sites have been turned into attractive lakes.

  2. Thanks for another great post on an area I never even knew existed. Will definitely plan a visit there the next time we visit TO. Did you change your theme? I’m looking to change mine and am having a hard time figuring it all out. I’d like to be able to display more pictures vertically as yours shows, that second picture on the vertical garden is amazing!

    • Yes, I did change my theme. I actually hired a friend of my son to customize a theme a little bit. One of the things I learned in doing this is that no matter what your theme. there is a “read more” button you can click which will make people click a link after the first paragraph (or wherever you put the break).

      • Yes, I do have the “read more” button on every post. So in other words if you go to my homepage, you can just scroll down many posts, and then if you want further info on a certain one, you just hit the “read more” button. Somehow though, I don’t see your “read more” button, and I don’t see a homepage for you either? Does this particular theme not allow for a homepage? What is the name of your theme? Your friend’s son did a brilliant job, I do like the way your photos are displayed in this theme. Just so much to learn, I want to change my theme, but am so afraid it will mess up other things πŸ™‚ I need your son’s friend πŸ™‚

    • There were plenty of people – not crowded, but well used. I just cut them all out. We were asked not to photograph the children. And the adults weren’t photogenic πŸ˜‰ Or maybe they were. I tend to focus on nature – though in a place like this, built for people, it does create a sense of emptiness.

  3. It sounds like the workers there had a rough time of it! I simply loved the vertical planting on the stunning sculpture, when I first saw it I thought it looked like a tree. The pond is lovely too, good to know it’s teeming with wildlife. What a fun children’s area….good to inspire them! A marvelous place! Just shows what can be achieved eh?xxx

  4. It’s hard to pick a favorite garden from the Fling, but this was definitely one of my favorites! However, it seemed like we barely scratched the surface with this unique property. If I ever get back to Toronto, I’d love to spend a day at Evergreen Brick Works–hiking and touring other areas of the property that we didn’t have time to explore. I believe that second photo is the best one I’ve seen of that delightful sculpture depicting Toronto’s ravine system. Nicely done!

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