A Call for Photo Searching Help – Pardee Avenue, Liberty Village

Seeing as most of us are being good and keeping ourselves inside and isolated to try and help stop the spread of Covid-19 (sorry, I won’t say it again in this post about train stuff!), it seemed like a good time to re-raise an issue I tweeted about last April. There is one building on my layout, and its a significant and prominent one that I have virtually no information about what it looked like. Strangely enough, because I have a survey of the site, I know the exact dimensions on the ground, but not the appearance! The Gillett Company (Standard Brands) Mill and Elevator Complex on Pardee Avenue. A small part of this building, which from the Goads Fire Atlas plans was the boiler house still survives, latterly it was the Roastery, a coffee shop which is now sadly closed. As near as I can tell, the Mill and Elevator appear to have survived until around 2004, which means there is a chance someone has decent pictures out there, and that’s my request. If you’re an urbanist, a photographer, someone in your family is a photographer, anything in Toronto who has photos of this building, I would love to see them.I have a number of aerial photographs from a long way away, but nothing even remotely close enough to see any sense of what the building looked like in actuality. I’ve been searching for going on 3 years for pictures online, in archives, at train show photo vendors to no success, so I’m hoping to use some crowd sourcing to get the word on the search out to see who can maybe find something in their collections that would be helpful in eventually building a model of the building.

As well, I’m interested in general in any picture of Liberty Village from before the 1980’s. Anything that helps me find what it looked like in the 1950’s era I am modelling (basically before the industries all wound down and buildings started finding their second lives and getting new windows and the tracks being ripped up). I have all the pictures from the Toronto Archives that are scanned and online, and have looked through some of their un-scanned materials in the research room, but I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a folio of images that had more Liberty Village stuff.

If you are able to come up with any images and are willing/able to share them with me, whenever things are back to normal, I’ll buy you a coffee or a beer or your libation of choice in thanks if you’re local, or make a charitable donation to something for our front-line medical workers in your name if you’d prefer. You can comment in the comments on this post, via social media if you come accross this on Twitter, or by email sjgardiner [at] hotmail [dot] com. Thank you for any help you can provide!

Pardee Ave in 2019, a Gillett Company Postcard, the one picture I’ve found on the internet where you can see the building up close (Image Courtesy Patrick Cummings via Flickr), and an aerial view of the building circled (Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 75).

While it will be some time before I get to building this structure, its an important landmark on my layout given how much trackage goes around it. As I’m going to be putting a lot of effort into recreating the buildings of Liberty Village in the coming years, the time spent now to find reference materials will make the end product that much better.

IMG_1391The paper cutout in front of the chimney is this building, its literally the only building on my entire layout where I have room to build the whole thing with all four walls and no compression!!

Thank you in advance for your help if you have something or know of someone with something and get in touch. All the best!

2 thoughts on “A Call for Photo Searching Help – Pardee Avenue, Liberty Village

  1. I’ve posted a link to this post to the Classic Canadian National, Classic Canadian Pacific, and Vintage Toronto pages on Facebook. Perhaps you’ll get some crowdsourced love…
    Fingers are crossed!
    – Trevor

  2. The late Lloyd Baxter often shot all kinds of structures near rail tracks, both because he used them in his geography classes and for possible later model building.

    His late widow donated his non-family slides and 16mm films to Bytown Railway Society in Ottawa. I don’t know how many, if any of his slides have been cataloged since 1995 when they were donated and I don’t know if there are any that may help your research, but it might be worth investigating when you can.

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