In July 2019, we began photographing one of the largest infrastructure projects in Toronto’s history, Waterfront Toronto’s Port Lands Flood Protection project. Although the sheer scope of our five-year commission was a little overwhelming, we began with great enthusiasm, being well aware of the significance of the documentation both to our city’s history and its future.
We started by surveying photographically the 200-hectare construction site and immediately noted the speed with which many of the now vacant industrial buildings on the site were being taken down to make way for the new river and park. It is also fair to say that many of these structures were not memorable from any architectural perspective other than the most utilitarian. At the same time, other industrial sites there, such as the cement silos at the intersection of Cherry and Villiers Streets, were being retained through official heritage designation and will therefore inevitably represent the “memory” of this area’s industrial past.
One building in particular, taken down in January 2020, struck us as having a more unique presence than the others.
130 Commissioners Street, a mid-twentieth century construction, was home to Cooper’s Iron & Metal recycling facility in Toronto’s Port Lands from 1972.