Why I Love Toronto Reason #189
The Abandoned Loblaw Warehouse on Lakeshore and Bathurst
Lonely, this building is lonely, it has nobody occupying it, it’s so lonely, very lonely, it has nobody to occupy it oh no! Sorry, Lonely by Akon came on as soon as I typed what the reason was and I thought it was either a coincidence or irony? I can’t tell the difference between the two and that is why I can never be a full hipster. Regardless, I was walking along Lakeshore and I saw this building just sitting there on the corner and remembered always seeing it as a child and wondering why it was just sitting there deteriorating and not being torn down. Now of course that was before my appreciation for old buildings and before I developed my Heritage Modernization Theory which I define as “modernizing heritage buildings in opposition to tearing them down and building more modern structures”.
Now everyone knows the Loblaw Warehouse, even if they don’t know its name. You can see it from the Gardiner and some of the building extends under the Gardiner as well. It has been abandoned for over a decade and unlike our beloved CB2 which revitalized an old masonic temple and future Massey Tower which will revitalize the old bank of commerce, the future for this building is grim – well for parts of it anyways.
Now according to the Loblaw website the building dates back to 1928 and was not only a Warehouse, but their head office. The building is an example of Art-deco was built by Sparling, Martin and Forbes. I’ll post some pictures of the building then and now, but just looking at the then pictures – I mean wow it was a masterpiece in art-deco architecture.
The warehouse was built with its own electric tram railway (say what!), oversized ovens to bake, drums for blending tea, and 22 thousand feet of pipe that were used for refrigerating. It had access to a train tracks behind the building so it could move its shipment in and out. And I’m sorry but Back the F*** Up! Apparently according to the website the employees had a bowling alley, billiard tables and auditorium in their cafe to produce plays! LOBLAW WEBSITE SAY WHAT!
It wasn’t until the 70’s when Loblaw left the site and the building became a Daily Bread Food bank until 2000, leaving the building abandoned and left to deteriorate. Today when you pass the building you can see its neglect, some of the windows are tilted open or broken which probably means it is now the home of the many city creatures (those evil racoons, those gross rats of the ground and of the sky aka pigeons), some of the windows are boarded up and there is no consistency in the glass. The façade has even become discoloured over the years. It’s just being left there…but people c’mon it’s these old buildings that would be awesome for lofts, or shops! Many of us may this building as ugly, but underneath that ugly, it could be the best reminder of Toronto’s past. I mean if it wasn’t for CB2 I would never have guessed that bright purple eyesore known as the Big Bop was such a beautiful building.
Now the building is today a historic landmark which means it cannot be torn down, even though Loblaw tired in 2004. Apparently in September of last year Loblaw was going to make a request to council to demolish parts of the building so they could build a new Loblaw superstore. Now c’mon we have to save our old buildings they are amazing and have so much history! We have bits and pieces of it! In fact when the building opened many papers praised its beauty! The Globe said that management should allow tours for the public into the warehouse! This eventually happened during the depression according to one source. Now with all this talk of demolition to parts of the building confuses me! I mean Loblaw was so keen of restoring the façade of the former Maple Leaf Gardens (Reason #50 and #100) and yes I know it is the only building in Toronto to have seen the Leafs win the Stanley Cup and it is an architectural masterpiece, but just because it has a more famous history than this Warehouse does not give it priority to be fully saved. This Warehouse is still a magnificent example of art-deco built by Sparling, Martin and Forbes.
So if we were to apply the Heritage Modernization Theory to this former Loblaw Warehouse, then we need to save this building, restore it and bring it back to the beauty and the praise it once had in the late 20’s. We need to save our heritage properties and bring life into them once again.
That Is Why I Love Toronto.