Updated: Oct 17, 2021
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? Three good reasons to get out of the house: a great restoration project + an artsy café + a nice little patch of urban nature.
(Note: This courtesy self-guided tour is not included in the 26 urban strolls and 52 mini-walks in the author's Toronto guide.)
Foundries made Toronto industrial, and Toronto relies heavily on these remnants of the past to remember where it comes from.
So I was delighted to stumble upon the Foundry Lofts in Davenport Village. It's a perfect example of the impact of such a restoration in a neighbourhood.
Perhaps you've been following the story of the endangered foundry in the Canary District, east of the Distillery? There was an outcry when its demolition began. The population mobilized and the irreversible destruction of this historic building was temporarily halted. I really hope someone is paying attention to the Foundry Lofts to find a way out of this conundrum.
But first things first, coffee
I recommend parking around Lourdes Coffee (1867 Davenport Road, open 7am to 5pm Monday to Saturday an 9am to 3 pm on Sunday), notable for the funky lane set with tables, with large mural on its west side. They’re technically in the Carleton Village neighbourhood but just 5 minutes away from the Foundry Lofts. I'm pretty sure this little café is setting the tone for future cool things to be seen in this up and coming neighbourhood.
They serve excellent coffee and if we come early enough, we can snatch one of their scrumptious raspberry or chocolate croissants baked every morning in the shop. “Flown frozen from Italy, European butter and European wheat!”, proudly announced the young owner. Yum!
Then, walk 5 minutes eastbound on Davenport to Foundry Avenue, where you will turn south. Under the viaduc, you’ll find a fun mural of pigeons (how many do you see?). On the other side is the naive mural of hockey heroes.
About the Foundry
The Canada Foundry Company was established in 1903. It manufactured steel and iron products, including locomotives. In 1923, the company and its assets were absorbed by Canadian General Electric, which occupied the site until 1981.
A restoration project was undertaken by the Toronto-based Neudorfer Corporation on 1100 Lansdowne Avenue. They purchased the property in 2002 and the Foundry Lofts were opened in 2008.
Skeptics did not see much of a future for this former industrial area. I even read a comment that criticized the proximity of a mediocre Country Style donut shop which devalued the value of the lofts.
In 2017, Neudorfer also completed the Fuses Condos development, preserving the facade of the century-old warehouse that stood at the corner of Dupont and Lansdowne, down the road.
Since then, home values have continued to rise. Last time I checked, the average sale price of Foundry Lofts was $850,000 (or $2,850 per month in rentals) for 1,200 square feet (including two bedrooms, two bathrooms and 19-foot ceilings). You can view a decorated loft at this link. And a bigger one which was on sale for $1.5 million in 2021 (plus condo fees...of course).
I’m impressed by the architectural harmony between the lofts built in the old foundry and the new row houses, just south of it. Same kind of windows and shape. Hard to believe, right? I had to dig more to make sure and found the confirmation on Urban Toronto's website, with an aerial photo showing an empty space where we now find the new buildings. Nicely done!
While you're there
After your stroll around the Power House, walk north on Lansdowne, past Davenport Road, and go up the ramp to explore the prettiest part of Earlscourt Park.
The southern part of this park still has some large, mature trees and wild flowers. Following the paved path west, you'll come across another set of stairs taking you down to Davenport and back to your starting point.
This is a short 1.5 km circuit. For a longer walk, note that from Lourdes café, you’re a 10-min walk from the beginning of the West Toronto Railpath (the 2-km paved path running over an old train track, incidentally WALK #8 in my guide).
To get there from Davenport Ave, go south on Laughton Ave south, and take the first lane to your right (as I was writing this blog, in mid-October 2021, artists were just starting to embellish this alley!). It leads into Uxbridge Ave. Turn west on Pelham Ave, then south on Osler Ave and look for Cariboo Ave, the starting point of the Railpath.
This post is a complement to local author Nathalie Prézeau's latest walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. You can get it on amazon.ca and Toronto’s major bookstores. We also deliver or contact the author directly at email@example.com to arrange for a pick up with a discount at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville.