Breaking Dormancy

Renovation imperfect

old building detailThis odd little attachment to a swanky modern renovation is located in my neighbourhood in Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton area. I first noticed it when we movbuilding lted in about four years ago. Over the years I kept thinking that it was preserved so as to provide a transition space between the gleaming new structure and the muck that defined the construction area.
But was that it? It seems not. The reno was finished long ago but the ramshackle hut remains. Is it to remind the owners of the ‘before’ life of their residence? Is it an art piece to provoke people like me into wondering what it represents? At the very least, it’s a conversation piece.

New Toronto establishments (restaurants, cafés, stores) in older buildings often like to pay homage to whatever existed in their location previously. The Summerhill location of Boxcar Social used to be a dry cleaner. The sign for this former business still shows up in the front window of this trendy café when the glass fogs up on cold days. At first, the owners thought they would try to scrub this off but then they embraced it. They saw it as a way to remember the history of the area and its past incarnations. Who knows, maybe someday a new business will insist on keeping the iconic Boxcar logo sign.

The city of Toronto has rushed headlong into re-inventing itself through massive new construction and renovation. Some places deserve to be razed – think of the ugly strip malls that mar Dufferin Street south of Yorkdale Mall. But many places have meaningful histories that are worth remembering even if it means leaving a discordant appendage on your fancy new frame.

– Miria Ioannou
Photos by Miria Ioannou and courtesy Boxcar

This article is part of our issue BREAKING DORMANCY.

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