From 1890 to 1980, the Don Valley Brickworks was one of Canada’s pre-eminent brickyards. At its peak more than 43 million bricks a year were manufactured for use in the construction of homes and buildings across Canada. Many of Toronto’s most prominent buildings were made from Don Valley brick – Massey Hall and Old City Hall are two examples. In the late 1980s the site was expropriated by the City of Toronto, the TRCA (the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority), and the Provincial government.
In the 1990s the City and TRCA raised approximately $6 million to restore the site’s quarry as a park and natural area. The Don Valley Brick Works Park is awe-inspiring: a haven for wildlife and naturalists alike, it is at the heart of Toronto’s ravines. Opened in 1996, the park is managed by Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. The Don Valley Brick Works Park is worth a visit in any season.
Evergreen’s focus has been the site’s 16 historic factory buildings. The buildings – a collection of brick structures from the early 1900s and industrial sheds from the 1950s – have been revitalized through a process called “adaptive re-use.” The result is Evergreen Brick Works – a community environmental centre with programs that celebrate the site’s unique geological, industrial and natural heritage.
In 2010, Evergreen Brick Works was named by National Geographic as one of the world’s top 10 geotourism destinations.
The site will be animated with year-round programs and activities that include a native plant nursery, demonstration gardens, an organic farmer’s market, conference and event facilities, youth leadership and children’s camps, and family programming. The new office building on the site will be LEED Platinum and will showcase environmental techniques like green walls and a green roof — it will be one of the “greenest” buildings in the Western Hemisphere.
In this episode we’ll begin in the main centre and then venture out back to the old brick quarry that is now a pond filled with wildlife. Finally, we head inside the old brickwork factory to see the restoration efforts and to view the incredible graffiti that covers the walls and brick ovens.