Why I Love Toronto
Ideal Bread Company Factory / Argyle Lofts
I am notorious for being late that when I say to meet at 8:00, my friends know I really mean 9:00. So one day to they’re surprise I ended up showing up a half hour early to dinner and they ended up coming late thinking they still had time because of my habits. Instead of just pacing back in forth in front of the venue I decided to go for a walk.
I was in the Ossington Strip area and decided to walk down Dovercourt Road. On my walk I saw some truly stunning homes with stained glass and brickwork. As I continued I noticed a large brick building on the corner of Dovercourt Road and Argyle Street. As I walked closer I noticed that they were residences and as I got closer I noticed some stunning features about the building and the units. I frantically searched the main level for a historical plaque and when I found it I learned that I was standing in front of the Ideal Bread Company Factory, which has since been converted into the Argyle Lofts.
This building truly has a lot of history, starting with John Dempster who purchased the site of the current lofts to open a grocery store and bakery in 1873. He sold the property in 1909 to bakers William H. Carruthers, Charles S. Carruthers and Robert S. McMullen. With the purchase of Dempster’s property, the men also purchased land to the north and formed the Ideal Bread Company. The current building was not completed until 1919 and was built in an Edwardian Classical style by Sydney Comber. The Factory operated under the name Ideal Bread Company for almost two decades before it merged with Wonder Bakeries Limited in 1938. The factory closed in 1957.
As you know I love old historic buildings that have been converted into lofts/ condominiums because usually each floor and unit has a piece of history and purpose attached to it. Argyle Lofts is no different and parts of its history remains in the architecture. Let’s examine all five floors of the loft complex shall we?
The first floor is truly stunning as they have patios and entrance ways that have round arched openings. These beautiful barn-like doors are at the base of the building because the first floor had to accommodate wagons that came to deliver supplies and remove the factory’s finished products. If you choose a unit on the second floor then you were on the packaging floor where the bread was prepared before heading to the first floor. The third floor has higher ceilings as it was the baking floor, where the dough was shaped and where 7,000 loaves of bread were baked per hour in two travelling ovens. The fourth floor was used for mixing and the fifth floor was an assembly hall that housed a stage and seating for up to 400 people. It was used by employees and on occasion the public.
With 85 units some features that stand out to me include the brick work on the façade, the arched doors of the units on the first floor, the exposed ventilation ducts, the high wood ceilings and the factory clock which sits over the entrance way and at one point greeted workers into the building. The penthouses on the top floor had some modern additions added and the view from there is stunning.
This building is a great piece of architecture and I can only imagine how the neighbourhood smelled when the factory was operational. My question though, and one I could not find an answer to, is what became of the building in the period from when it closed up until it was converted to a residence in 2007. If you know the answer shoot me a message.
That is Why I Love Toronto