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 Evergeen.ca
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: www.Evergreen.ca.
Have a great weekend everyone!