Are we overlooking our oldest and most valuable Heritage in Liberty Village? Heritage Tourism, large or small, is coming to West Liberty Village.
The creation of the Liberty Village Heritage Conservation District is well deserved. The district is outlined on the following 1899 Goads Map. In fact, Liberty Village has a longer and more diverse Heritage than the Distillery District. The opportunity for Tourism and increased property values is significant.
Fort Rouille, shown in the lower left corner of this 1818 Phillpotts Plan of York, was a trade centre between the French and the Mississaugas from 1750 to 1759. Trails connected the Fort to clearings to the north in present day Liberty Village where native families would have camped, a comfortable distance from the soldiers. These trails later were redirected to York Town and Fort York. Trails also led north to the Dundas trail and Givens’ house, top left.
The trails and gathering places are shown on this map of Liberty Village. The two clearings were at Mowat and Liberty and north east of Atlantic and Liberty. There were also trails that led south into today’s Exhibition Place and east – west, parallel to Liberty Street. These are the same areas of Liberty Village that have developed from the confluence of modern trails, ie. rail lines and roads like Dundas St and Lakeshore Road. How can Liberty Village highlight this Heritage richness?
In 1879 The Toronto Industrial Exhibition opened. In 1883 The first Electrical Railway was built in the Toronto Industrial Exhibition that came to ‘showcase of the nation'. In 1912 TIE became the Canadian National Exhibition.
The first major factory in Liberty Village was the Ontario Wind Engine and Pump Company, established at 35 Liberty St. in 1889. Within a few years it expanded to cover the entire block. Wind, gas and steam were still the main sources of power as the creation of electricity at Niagara was still an uncertain decade away. The rail lines, roads and population provided a big boost to Liberty industrialization.
The Ontario Wind Engine and Pump Company spread to occupy the entire block as shown. A further addition at the lower right completed the Georgian symmetry of the building, which still stands today. Notice the Cristal Palace in the distance.
The proposed design is beautiful example of modern architecture. It also provides a respectful setback from the retained heritage at 25 Liberty St. The photograph also shows the continuous heritage that surrounds the site and continues, uninterrupted, to Dufferin St. However, the modern building will significantly decrease the impact of the heritage streetscape. The feeling of immersion in another time will be greatly reduced and the heritage value of the whole area greatly diminished.
We all believed that the stucco buildings shown were ruined. Stucco was at one time applied directly to the brick. Luckily, not here.
A collision broke the stucco on the western wall, revealing foam board applied before the stucco. The foam board is power nailed in place, causing minimal damage, and can easily be removed. This creates a surprising and huge opportunity to preserve the historic character of the entire block.
The east wall of 25 Liberty displays stepped brick cornices that connect to pilasters between paired windows. The windows have curved arched tops and the green portico is a handsome feature. Doorways were planned to fit in seamlessly wherever needed by this functional industrial building.
This view of the north wall reveals that the detailing of 25 Liberty St is echoed symmetrically in 65 Jefferson.
This, more detailed view of the north wall of 35 Liberty, shows the still existing brickwork, arched windows and splendid symmetry of the oldest part of the building. Typically the oldest buildings are less elaborate than their followers.
This close up of the West facing wall of 65 Jefferson shows all of the existing detailed brickwork. We are also allowed a peek at the cultural value of the vibrant artistic community which once thrived here. The paint, a remnant of the days of acid rain, can be removed.
Looking west at 25 Liberty we see that this building completes the valuable existing heritage that continues to Dufferin.
The industrial post and beam construction remains through much of the building. Tourists will love this building.
Liberty Village can be the Heritage pride of west end Toronto. All of Liberty Street in the Heritage Conservation District will be heritage buildings if you keep this one. Heritage tourism raises property values and attracts entrepreneurs. We hope you will decide to keep this unique and original treasure. I would also like to help you highlight your First Nations heritage.
This material was presented to the Liberty Village BIA 2017-04-20. It was standing room only. Three representatives of the Developer were in attendance and ARA Architects spoke. A lively discussion followed. Liberty Village BIA clearly values heritage.
Just an observation: We employ architects to evaluate Heritage. This approach appears to skip over First Nations and anything covered by stucco.