Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Farewell Sweet Abell


NOVEMBER 22 2011

Previous dwellings continue to resonate with us long after we have grown into other homes and adapted to new approaches to living.  My loft at 48 Abell Street was one of those past homes that was particularly significant.  We lived there for three years during a period of incredible energy and growth that was happening in Parkdale and along Queen Street West.  The building was chock full of designers, artists, architects, photographers, musicians, writers, actors and craftsmen, many of whom both lived and worked in their spaces.  One would naturally find potential collaborators or second opinions next door.  There was a steel fabricator at one end (what an incredible space that was) and of course Aristocrat Lamps at the other.  I would meet many people elsewhere who, upon learning that I lived there, would often say with warmth that they had lived there too once.
48 Abell really was an incubator for creative people who wanted a generous open space, valued living in an industrial building with its enormous wood beams and exposed brick, and who embraced the challenges and advantages of doing so downtown.  I recall that the roof had afforded incredible panoramic views toward the lake.  There had been a small wilderness behind the building that we would gather in chairs at the parapet to gaze down upon during hot summer afternoons.

Today I passed by to witness the final stages of demolition, and in the bracing wind I had a lump in my throat.  That beloved old building with so much history was being clawed down and reduced to a mound of red brick surrounded by nondescript new condos.
Many people had been drawn there in recent weeks to take a last look, and I think the construction crew was learning that it was a building that had been deeply cared for.
The smoke stack was still standing, a persistent relic - no doubt to be felled soon like the last old tree in a razed forest.


  1. Such a shame. I despise all the new condos being built -- it's destroying Toronto's character and we don't have the infrastructure to support all these new condos.

  2. Just catching up on all your posts. It's a shame this building is gone. Did there really use to be a fountain out front? Also have no idea where I'm going to go to get my lights fixed now. Aristocrat was such a good resource.

  3. Hi Emma, nice to hear from you! I know, it's such a loss... truly the end of an era.

    Happy Holidays, and happy birthday to little Henry.

    _ J