Evergreen Brick Works - Rediscover Toronto Week 4

Monday, July 14, 2014

During the first month of my Rediscover Toronto Challenge I have gone back to a number of places that I have always loved, but haven’t visited in a while.  This week I decided to go somewhere I’ve heard about but have never been - Evergreen Brick Works.

Let me start by saying, it wasn’t what I expected for a number of reasons. 

For one thing, I was expecting a farmers market and there wasn’t one. 
Not because there isn’t one, there is – every Saturday and Sunday from early May through the end of October. Except of course when a large charity event has booked the farmers market venue for the day. That’s what happened the day that we went.  I’m told that it is one of the best in the city, so I’ll have to make another trip to see it for myself.

Despite the lack of farmers market, our visit exceeded my expectations.

Evergreen brick works map, Toronto, Lower Don ValleyEvergreen Brick Works Site Map

It’s a former brick works - now environmental interpretive centre

The Don Valley Pressed Brick Works Company was built at the foot of the Don Valley River. This location provided the brick works quarry with a good quantity of high quality clay.

Evergreen Brick works, graffiti, Don Valley Pressed Brick worksOriginal Brick Works Equipment in the Young Welcome CentreBuilt in 1889, the bricks manufactured here built many of Toronto’s most important and recognizable buildings including the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park, Massey Hall, Osgoode Hall, Casa Loma and many of the city’s heritage buildings.

Massey Hall, Toronto, Don Valley Pressed Brick WorksMassey Hall was built from bricks from the Don Valley Pressed Brick WorksThe brick works closed for good in 1984 and the site feel into ruin.

Evergreen brick Works Valley Smokestack, Childrens GardenThe Valley Stack is the last remaining of the original smokestacks

It wasn’t until 2010 that Evergreen, a Canadian non-profit organization, stepped in and renovated the site and its buildings. Now, the Brick Works supports the organization’s efforts to connect people with nature.

Koerner Garden, Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto Don ValleyLooking into the Koerner Garden

It’s one of North America’s most important geological sites

Within the Young Welcome Centre there is a large display showing the rock layers  found on the north slope of the quarry. This face of exposed sedimentary rock reveals significant information about the area's glacial history. Almost 100 years ago, a geologist and University of Toronto professor named A.P. Coleman studied the layers of rock and fossils gathered at the quarry, and found conclusive evidence of 2 ice ages with a preserved interglacial deposit layer - which is highly irregular. The north slope remains of interest to the scientific community and continues to be studied today for insights into climate change.

It’s an art gallery

Throughout the property there are a number of installations that fuse nature and art into beautiful works for the public to experience.

Toronto Watershed, Art installation,
The Toronto Watershed

Entrance to the Market

It's an upscale eatery and cafe

Cafe Belong, Evergreen Brick Works

Enjoying the view at Cafe BelongThe cuisine at Cafe Belong is local and organic with a focus on sustainability.  We found the menu to be challenging for our picky young eaters, but everything we ordered was delicious.

Being (Ever)Green

Shuttles to transit, electric car charging stations and a community bike shop are all ways that Evergreen encourages the community to use alternative modes of transportation to get to and enjoy this green oasis in the heart of the city.

Evergreen Brick Works ShuttleRegular shuttle service to public transit

Evergreen Brick Works Electric Car Charging stationPreferred parking for electric and hybrid vehicles

Sweet Pete's Bike Shop and Bike WorksSweet Pete's Bike shop and the community Bike Works

As part of their mission to reconnect people with nature, the Evergreen Garden Market sells native plants and other non-invasive species to encourage responsible horticultural practices. Many of the plants sold here are cultivated and grown locally by one of my favorite nurseries – Native Plants of Claremont.

All profits from the Market  are used to support the community programs

On my next visit, I want to see the farmers market, participate in some of the community programs and get a better look at the north slope to see if I can find the evidence of the ice ages for myself.

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