Buildings of Liberty Village 2 – Sunbeam Incandescent Lamp Company of Canada /Canadian General Electric Co. (219 Dufferin Street)

This is the 2nd in a series of posts on buildings that I am hopefully going to be building models of in the coming years as I work on building a layout based on Liberty Village in our apartment.

219 Dufferin Street, originally the Sunbeam Incandescent Lamp Company of Canada.  Shown on the left in a drawing in the 1912 Canadian General Electric Annual Report, and in a current photograph.

This post is a building that sadly, only a very small portion of will be modeled on the layout, and not the impressive frontage in the pictures above.  Originally built in 1908, the plant was an early manufacturer of electric light bulbs.  The company was acquired by Canadian General Electric, and the plant was used for producing a whole range of products as well as serving as their corporate head office.  The Canadian General Electric Annual General Report of 1912 describes the plant as follows:

Two other large factories in Toronto, controlled by the Company, must be mentioned. The Canadian Sunbeam Lamp Company, which employs some 400 hands, is devoted entirely to the manufacture of Tungsten filament lamps under the Mazda patents, for which the Company owns Canadian rights.

If only we still described our industries in such delightful terms.  Fortunately, the building survived the years of industrial use, and the ever ongoing pressure to demolish industrial buildings and re-develop them.  The large floor areas and high ceilings are not an attractive feature, and used to market the loft office space in the building now called the “Dufferin Liberty Centre“.

Views of 219 Dufferin Street, showing the pattern of large windows on the north wall, and the power house, now a restaurant.  The 110′ brick chimney provides a landmark within Liberty Village.

As with most industrial buildings of this era, they were expanded and modified over the years as uses and owners changed. Because of the large size of the main building, most of the changes in this case appear to be internal to either the building or the courtyard created within them.  The City of Toronto added the property to the “Inventory of Heritage Properties” in 2005.  While this list is not a formal Heritage Designation, it ensures that the City monitors the site for any applications that may alter the heritage value, and is a first step to a formal Designation under the Ontario Heritage Act should a proposal that would negatively affect the heritage aspects of the site come forward.

IMG_4402Extract of Underwriters Insurance Plan Vol 2 Sheet 86 showing the Canadian General Electric Plant at Duffern St/Liberty St/Mowat Ave in 1945 (Toronto Public Library Collection).

For the layout, only the powerhouse and maybe a little bit of the main building will be modeled.  The building is located at the western focal point of the layout, the intersection of Liberty Street and Mowat Avenue, where both the Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway served industries and the trackage crossed and connected in a mess of switches as shown on the Underwriters Plan above and the extract of the track plan below:

Oct 31 17 - Liberty Layout Concept 1-FastTracks 3.anyExtract of the Western Corner of the Layout Plan, 219 Dufferin Street is building “B” on the plan.

I’ll be able to fit the entire powerhouse into the layout, with the end wall of the main building in shallow relief behind it.  There will be a car spot on the north side of the building for deliveries/shipments to the plant.  Based on the insurance plan, it appears that the plant likely received coal by rail for the boilers.  It appears that there was a single loading dock door about half way along the building, which means it would be off-layout, where it looks like doors for loading box cars were available.  As with the other industries, I need to learn more about Sunbeam/CGE to understand if they were receiving raw materials, shipping finished product, or both by rail to understand where traffic would have been coming from and going to to develop an operating scheme for the layout.

District, King Street West and Spadina Avenue. - [between 1977 and 1998]The Power House of the Sunbeam Incandescent Lamp Company in its less than heydays of the 1970’s.  Picture courtesy of The City of Toronto Archives (Series 1465, File 51, Item 11)

The picture above also shows one significant change that won’t be modeled.  At some point between 1945 and the 1970’s, the corner of the power house was cut off and an angled wall with a metal roll up door was installed.  For the purpose of my model, I will continue on the pattern of the side walls to a square corner.  What is helpful about the image is that it shows what are likely the original style of multi-pane windows, which have been replaced as the building was modernized and converted to office-loft from industrial uses.

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