Friday, November 5, 2010

The Brickworks, Toronto, Ontario

Is it possible to beautify and repurpose an old industrial space?  Evergreen, a non-profit organization, dedicated to bringing nature back into Canadian towns and cities thinks that it is. 

Just take a look at their Brickworks project in Toronto's Don Valley.

Archival photo from

Four hundred million years ago, the Don Valley in Toronto was a tropical sea. A thousand years ago it was at the mouth of a glacial river. Then 12,500 years ago the glacier melted and retreated north.

In more modern times, the Don Valley was the site of three paper mills and the Don Valley Brickworks. At its peak, more than 43 million bricks were manufactured at the Brickworks.

In 1904, a major fire destroyed much of the Toronto's downtown core and new by-laws were passed requiring masonry construction for all new buildings. The Don Valley Brickworks, which produced a wide variety of bricks and other kiln-fired clay products, supplied much of the materials for the rebuilding of the downtown, as well as the materials for many major structures including Massey Hall and Casa Loma.

In 1984, the Brickwork's factory closed its doors and then in 1986, the land was expropriated by the City of Toronto and the Regional Conservation authority. The site's quarry was restored as a park and natural area. The environmental group, Evergreen focused on the site's historic buildings, revitalizing them through a process they refer to as "adaptive re-use."

The Brickworks is now a 40 acre green space and is a wonderful place to spend a fall afternoon. On the afternoon of our visit, we were lucky enough to see wild ducks among the bull rushes in the ponds and turtles sunning themselves on the shore. 

Evergreen's Brickworks is open year round. On Saturdays, there is a Farmers Market , as well as DYI Workshops. There is also a retail garden center dedicated to helping Torontonians bring nature back into their backyard or balcony.

To find out more about Evergreen and their many other green projects visit their website:

Have a great weekend everyone!


  1. This looks like my kind of place to visit! It goes without saying ... I love your photography. Does that Farmer's Market run year-round? I'm going to have to visit the link and check it out! Have a great weekend!

  2. Beautiful transformation of a property and your photos are lovely.


  3. TO does have some lovely areas .

  4. A very beautiful place! It would be great to be able to visit it.

  5. Thanks for posting about the Brickworks and Evergreen. I have been aware of Evergreen for many years but it has been a while since I checked in on their site. They are growing ! I will have to plan a trip out to the nursery in the spring and have a good hike too.

  6. It's amazing how quickly nature can reclaim a place. It looks beautiful now. Love the photo of the milkweed seeds!!

  7. It looks lovely now and your photos are beautiful. Could you let me know sometime what those seedheads are in your last photograph as it's a stunning photograph.

  8. Lisa,
    As far as I understand from the Evergreen website, the farmers market is open year round. I have not had the opportunity to go to Saturday market and so, I am sorry, I can not speak to what "fresh" farm produce could be found there in November.

    Sorry, I should have identified the seed pod image. It is milkweed that was growing wild in a field near the park's ponds.

  9. I see Monarchs and Viceroys headed that way. I have been watching what Toronto has been up to with these reclaimed areas and abandoned industrial sites. You have very forward thinking people in charge. Lovely images and I have said on my blog that I swear the leaves are prettier in Fall in Canada. Even right across the river.

  10. Great post Jennifer! Good to know the history of a place and you have covered that exceedingly well. Terrific to have people with visions helping to reclaim the natural beauty and habitat of a place too. Your photos are all stunning! What lovely colors and your Milkweed shot is fabulous! ;>)

  11. Looks like a beautiful place! i'm always fascinated with places like this that are transformed into a neat, new green space for all to enjoy. I only wish I lived closer to visit! Beautiful photos too, by the way.


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