The Old Brickworks: A modern photographer’s haven
The Don Valley Brick Works, or “Brickworks” as it was formerly known, was one of the last best havens for photographers looking to capture contemporary shots of an old industrial wasteland in the city of Toronto, Canada. The site was located in the Don River Valley, close to downtown Toronto. This former quarry and industrial site was once a paper mill and a brick-making plant, established in the late 1800s. Industrial production on this land ended in the early 1980s.
For many years, the abandoned buildings were easily accessible to photographers, and others, looking to venture into the graffiti-covered industrial wasteland. In fact, in the 1980s and 90s, there were illegal rave parties that were held in some of the buildings, which is when many graffiti artists also decorated the premises. Old machinery and warehouse equipment, a jungle of brick and twisted metal, still occupied the damp floors of the buildings that were only lit by the sunlight that peeked through old gaps in the roof.
Just a few years ago, the site was converted into a large-scale community center called the Evergreen Brickworks, which is run by a non-profit with the focus on social enterprise. The site is considered to be an Ontario Heritage site and, with the help of some of Canada’s most talented architects, has transformed many of the old buildings to create an educational center and events space. During the redevelopment of the site, some traces of the “old” brickworks were kept in tact, but have remained controversial. The old walls of graffiti that were preserved have been the subject of a notice of Toronto city graffiti bi-law violation for the past couple of years.
Here are some snapshots that were take prior to the reconstruction of the old Brickworks. There really isn’t a place that I know of that exists today that was as special for taking old industrial photography.