Silent Junction
Toronto's up and coming Junction neighborhood has had a great portion of its industrial heritage demolished, and in some cases re-purposed over the past decade. I have been documenting the changing face of this neighborhood from the beginning of the changes you now see today. I became interested in industry because of commuting through this neighborhood and started documenting the spaces I could get access to in 2005. One of the first factories I visited was the old Sherwin Williams plant in December of 2005, which as of today is still a pile of rubble on the edge of Junction, waiting to become condos. Other buildings had more success, the Houghton chemical plant became a parkour gym with some other small businesses as tenants, Bunge/Swift meats was demolished over the span of two years and was one of the few places I visited on a dozen or so different occasions. The old GE plant which has sat idle since the early 1980's redeveloped one of the foundry buildings as a loft/condo and demolished everything else to build a townhouse complex on the sprawling grounds.

Most of these changes have happened in the past 5 or so years and really account for the second half of the neighborhoods gentrification, the first being the demolition of the old stockyards in the early 90s, replaced with a big box complex. Gentrification can be a touchy issue in some neighborhoods, especially when the local residents get displaced, but that hasn't happened in the Junction, yet. The rejuvenation of retail shops along Dundas street also are more diverse and serve the needs of the neighborhood better then the usual string of bars, money marts and pawn shops that have popped up in other neighborhoods along bloor.

Photos featured are from 2005 to present, both film (in various formats, 35mm, 120,) and digital.

I haven't written a more extensive history of the Junction because these two books i consulted have covered the topic very well. I'd highly recommend them if you want to know more of the neighborhood. The Leader and Recorder's History of the Junction and West Toronto Junction revisited through the West Toronto Junction Historical Society.

The reception will be on May 3 from Noon until 4pm and will feature 20 images showing photos Toth has taken since documenting the Junction's many factories since 2005. The show will be up in the Junction Brewery on Cawthra until the end of the summer. Much of the changes you see in this neighborhood happened starting happening when Toth was exploring the neighborhood. Almost all of the industry in the Junction has been driven out by the creep of gentrification and most of the buildings documented have either been demolished (such as NRI, Bunge and Benjamin-Moore) or re-purposed (Houghton as the new Money Vault and Symes waste transfer station, for example).

Gentrification can be a touchy issue in communities, especially when the local residents get displaced, but that hasn't happened in the Junction, yet. Rising property prices and it's proximity to the established High Park neighborhood make the Junction the next up and coming area but echos of it's industrial past still linger and it's one of Toronto's historically interesting neighborhoods with historical significance that hasn't lost it's character. Many businesses have also moved in which support the local arts scene so it's not all just bars and boutique clothing shops a la Queen Street West.

Kathy Toth is a local photographer and visual artist whose documentary projects focus on elements of the urban, industrial and built environment. She published a book on Hidden graffiti in Toronto called 'Hidden Toronto' last year to great acclaim. She has exhibited her paintings and photography for over 15 years and is currently working on related projects.

Historical Junction Images