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A Unique Site, Rich in Possibility
From 1889 to the 1980s the Don Valley Brick Works 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 and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), backed by the Province of Ontario. The site was acquired for public use because of its geological and brick-making heritage, and because of its place in the lower Don River watershed. The site’s quarry was recognized by the Province as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. In 2002, the site’s buildings were designated by the City of Toronto under the Ontario Heritage Act.
In the 1990s the City and TRCA raised approximately $6 million to restore the site’s quarry as a park and natural area. Now known as Weston Family Quarry Garden, the park is an awe-inspiring haven for wildlife and naturalists alike at the heart of Toronto’s ravines. Opened in 1996, the park is managed by Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and 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.
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