Toronto’s Flatiron Building

This past Sunday, CTV Toronto’s evening newscast featured a segment on Toronto’s Gooderham Building. The building is more commonly known as the Flatiron Building and is one of Toronto’s prominent landmarks. The segment focused on the heritage aspect of the Flatiron, including details of the building being built in the 1890s, the historic manual elevator which still functions today, and the building’s architectural highlights.

The Flatiron building in Toronto was the first Flatiron building to be built in North America. New York City’s Flatiron often gets credit for being the first of it’s kind, however the one in Toronto was build ten years prior. The building was originally commissioned by the Gooderham family for office space. In 1998, the building was bought by the Tippins and is currently used as office and commercial space.

In upcoming weeks, CTV Toronto plans to focus on more heritage buildings in Toronto during their Sunday broadcast. I look forward to tuning in to see which buildings they deem worthy of mentioning. Despite searching I haven’t been able to find the segment from Sunday online.

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Sudbury’s water towers

Sudbury is currently home to two iconic water towers, one on Pine street and the other on Pearl street. Both towers are in a state of disrepair and a debate over their restoration or demolition has been ongoing since 2008.

The Pine street tower was built in 1946 and was used for 50 years. The city’s heritage committee recently determined the tower has moderate to low cultural heritage value. Despite this declaration of “low cultural heritage value”, some locals are still displeased with the Sudbury’s city council recent decision to tear down the water tower located on Pine street. Following this decision, there was some discussion of the water tower’s site being turned into a park which would feature ‘portions of the dismantled tower.’

The second water tower, located on Pearl street has a completely different fate. Media Mobile Advertising bought the property surrounding the Pearl tower last fall. Media Mobile Advertising has submitted a proposal to convert the water tower into a commercial facility. This conversion would be similar to the one undertaken in Lethbridge, Alberta. It will be interesting to see if this project comes into fruition.

Photo credit: Wiki commons

Photo Recall

December 25th’s #reverb10 prompt: Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Thia prompt reminded me of a number of the great photographs I’ve come across during my work in the past year. Here are a couple of examples:


The Brutis Office falling through the ice on Lake Huron. Photo is part of the collection held by the Thessalon Union Public Library.

This newspaper clipping is also held by the Thessalon Public Library and shows a local OPP officer baby sitting a cougar.

This final photograph shows Thessalon in its hay day. There are many photographs which highlight the vibrancy of this town during the era which was dominated by lumbering. It’s a stark contrast to the quiet small town it has become.

Letting go of built heritage

The December 5th #reverb10 prompt is: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

A number of Ontario communities let go of valuable built heritage this year. Old buildings have been damaged by neglect, torn down by cities, or ‘renovated’ in the name of modernization. Earlier this year the Heritage Canada Foundation put out a ‘worst losses’ list which named the most significant buildings lost in 2010. The list includes:

1) Century Theatre, Hamilton, Ontario
2) 35 – 151 Colborne Street, Brantford, Ontario.
3) Downsview Hangars (Buildings 55 and 58) – Former CFB Downsview, Toronto, Ontario
4) Fleming Grain Elevator, Fleming, Alberta
5) River Street, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
6) Watson Lake Hotel, Watson Lake, Yukon

All of these buildings were valuable based on their age, architecture, or provenance. It’s disconcerting that three of the six major losses on this list are from Ontario. Built heritage preservation simply isn’t a priority or fiscally feasible for a lot of communities. As a result, it seems as though at least once a month another irreplaceable historical landmark is let go of.

Built Heritage: Round Barns


There are reportedly only three 12-sided round barns in Canada. Two of which happen to be located not far from where I’m currently living. One is found just outside of Thessalon, Ontario is currently being used as a gift shop. This building was built in 1928 by local resident Alex Campbell, Jr.. The barn’s roof has been re-shingled in recent years (2003) however the rest of the barn maintains its original integrity.

The second barn is located also located in the Municipality of Huron Shores and was recently relocated and re-purposed to be a community building. This barn was previously known locally as the Cordukes’ barn, and was constructed by local resident Thomas Cordukes in 1918. Local history suggests that Alex Campbell assisted Thomas Cordukes in the construction of this barn in 1918 and perhaps was inspired by that experience when constructing his own round barn ten years later.

In the early 2000s the local heritage association identified the historical significance of the Cordukes’ barn and through local fundraising in 2009 work on relocating and restoring the Corduckes’ barn began. Many of the original beams and posts were rotted beyond repair however where possible the original materials of the barn were reused. The municipality currently envisions this re-purposed barn to serve as a museum, community dance hall, farmers market, and general gathering place. This barn has just opened up for public functions and is well on it’s way to becoming integrated into the community. It’s great to see a heritage building being preserved and reused.