Tag Archives: real estate

Scenes From Carlaw Avenue

Carlaw Sign
Deep in Leslieville lies Carlaw Avenue, a historic manufacturing street in Toronto that fell victim to and adapted with changing times.

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

Carlaw Avenue looking north from Natalie Avenue (now Colgate)

Perhaps the fitness studios and shiny condominiums might mislead otherwise, but Carlaw still has the remnants of a onetime working class neighbourhood. At one time factories lined the avenue from Queen to just north of Gerrard. During World War I and II, they were used to produced munitions (as a now defunct Carlaw bus route serving Sunday workers suggests).

Carlaw1924Goads

Carlaw Avenue in 1924

But much like the situation with other areas in the city (The Waterfront and Liberty Village, as examples), companies began to fold their operations as it no longer became viable to run in the middle of an urban centre. The results were transformational for the street. With buildings stripped of their original use, they became anomalies in their increasingly residential surroundings. Their fates fell into one of two holes: re-purposing or demolition. Carlaw seems to have employed both.

Beginning just north of Queen on the east side is the former enterprise of Kent McLain. According to the 1910 City of Toronto Directories, Mr McLain was in the business of showcase manufacturing at 181-199 Carlaw Avenue.

Second tall building on the right side of the street

The McLain Building is the 2nd Building on the Right Side

McLain Building 2
Where the street intersects with Colgate is the site of the Colgate-Palmolive Plant, now demolished. Currently the frame of a new condo is going up.

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

The Palmolive site is the first building on the left

Palmolive-Colgate Factory

Credit: Urban Toronto.

Condo Construction
Across the street, there are two former factories that have been adapted. At 201 Carlaw is the long exterior of the Rolph Clark Stone Limited Building, built in 1913, now with a tower jutting up the middle of it . Up further on the east side of the street is the old Wrigleys Gum plant, placed at 235 Carlaw. Both establishments are now converted lofts, although old monikers still remain above the doors to remind us of their histories.

Rolph Clark Stone Building

Wrigleys Factory Roof

Wrigleys Factory Lofts 2

Wrigleys Building 2

Wrigleys Factory Boston Entrance
On the west side of street is the former home of the Phillips Manufacturing Factory (address 258-326), now a long brown bricked strip of various new commercial endeavours including a kickboxing club and a yoga establishment.

Looking Down Carlaw (2)

Looking down Carlaw

Stores on Carlaw 4

Store on Carlaw
At Carlaw and Dundas several recently completed and recently started condo projects as well as street signs enticing passerbyers to invest.

Construction Dundas and Carlaw   Dundas and Carlaw 4

Urban Lofts Sign

Just south of Gerrard is the grand Toronto Hydro Electric Station. At one time the rounded corner sported a store front, no doubt educating people about the wonder of electric powered appliances in the 20th century. Built in 1916, the station is a heritage property for the City of Toronto.

Carlaw Avenue. - February 3, 1919

Hydro Building 2
It is not an industrial site (although early factories relied on the railroad), but the cross-section at Carlaw and Gerrard is an interesting focal point as well. At one time, the large open section of Gerrard underneath the railroad did not exist, forcing the street to dip down and around at Carlaw before resuming a regular east-west route. The subway was constructed in the 1930s to straighten the street up. The former route still exists as a narrow residential branch of Gerrard running in northeast-southwest direction , although it stops just short of the main road.

Old Gerrard and Carlaw

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

CNR Gerrard and Carlaw

    Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

Finally, situated at the northeast corner of the intersection is the Riverdale Shopping Centre, a No Frills-anchored strip mall caught in the shadow of its much larger Gerrard Square neighbour. The presence of this site hides that at one time a series of buildings belonging to the International Varnish Company made their home here.

Internation Varnish Gerrard and Carlaw 2

Internation Varnish Gerrard and Carlaw

Northwest corner Carlaw and Gerrard 2