Electronic music in Toronto found a new home when Charles Kabouth bought the massive 60,000 square foot space that housed RPM nightclub in 1996. He built 5 rooms under 1 roof to compete with the entertainment district—the most densely populated club area in North America. The Guvernment would act as the name of the multi-room club as well as the main room itself. The Orange Room, Acid Lounge, The Drink and the roof top patio Sky Bar all boasted their own DJs and catered to completely different crowds. The Warehouse, a concert venue that occasionally hosted DJs, would make up the rest of the venue.
The main room would eventually put The Guvernment and Toronto on the map when it came to electronic music. The biggest laser in Canada, a custom built Phazon sound system by New York’s Steve Dash, and of course Mark Oliver’s 9 hour extended vinyl sessions is what kept punters dancing till sunrise every "Spin Saturday". As the city cracked down on illegal warehouse raves, promoters found The Warehouse to be a perfect legal venue to move to while still keeping the underground feel to their parties.
5 years in, international DJs started to take note and made a point of performing at the club whenever possible. Carl Cox, Sasha, Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, Marco Carola and Steve Lawler were just some of the names that would drop in to play sets for the Toronto crowd. The Guvernment became a staple in Canadian clubs and was the largest night club in North American for many years with a total capacity of 10,000 people on long weekends. Kool Haus would serve as one of the city’s favourite mid-size concert venues hosting names such as The Rolling Stones, Prince, Bob Dylan and countless others.
Over the years, the industrial waterfront slowly developed into an area with a school, offices, a beach and now condos. The Daniels Corporation would successfully buy the land for a mixed-use multi-building development. And so, after over 18 years, Charles and Mark Oliver, his resident DJ since year 1, would play the final tracks after Canadian superstar Deadmau5’s headlining set.
This brings us to the 3 month long demolition of the massive Guvernment/Kool Haus complex. Keys were acquired by The Daniels Corporation on February 2nd and Pro Green Demolition didn’t waste any time stripping away the interior finishes before punching out most of the Kool Haus entrance way. The wooden patio off the main room on the south/east corner didn’t last long. Inside, a metal staircase is all that remains of the Ink Entertainment offices.
It was only a couple days before excavators tore past the office area into The Guvernment’s main entrance way. Darkened areas on the white bricks spell out “GUVERNMEN”, which is cut off diagonally.
As work progresses, piles of metal, steel, cable, concrete, and bricks form in the former staff parking lot as they are readied to be taken away for recycling.
A week later, all that is left of the massive Guvernment main room is the stage, 2nd floor balcony with sound booth, the south bar, and a half broken staircase.
After taking down the rest of the east wall with an excavator, work crews would start to remove the south wall brick-by-brick to prevent any accidents on the sidewalk below. This process would carry on for the entire south and west walls of the building.
After Chroma is completely gutted, part of its original look of The Orange Room is revealed. Likewise, a stripped-out Kool Haus is reminiscent of its original identity in the 90s—The Warehouse.
A couple weeks pass by and all that’s left is the southwest corner of the complex that housed The Gallery (formerly Charlie’s) on the ground floor, Surface (formerly Cathouse, formerly The Drink) on the 2nd floor, and of course Sky Bar tops it all off on the roof.
The south side of the south stairwell shows a graffiti tag that reads “RIP Guv”. Only fitting that this tag would survive almost to the very end of the demolition process.
It would be the support structure on top of a middle of Kool Haus that lasted until the bitter end.
Watch a video of two excavators pulling this last piece to the ground.
As the remaining rubble is taken away, prep work for Daniels Waterfront: City of the Arts begins.
Due to the proximity to the lakefront, digging out the perimeter of site that will be padded with a low grade concrete instead of traditional wooden slabs. This will prevent lake water from seeping into the work site while they build the foundation and 4-storey underground parking garage.
In the fall, the warehouse/office building located north of Guv will be demolished to make way for the 2nd half of the project where the two condo towers are planned to reach 48 and 36 storeys high.
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