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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

206 Carlton

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Zundle House

The recent sentencing of David Irving to three years in prison for holocaust denial got me thinking about the fortified house at 206 Carlton. This was where Irving’s contemporary, the now-deported Ernst Zà¼ndel, ran his small-press and hate operation called Samisdat Publishing between the late 1970s and mid-1990s. It has been a dark spot on my Toronto map since I moved up here in 2000 when, while looking at apartments in Cabbagetown, I was told this was the house of Zà¼ndel. Location has a strong power — especially on this elegant stretch of Carlton with all the pretty wrought iron fences, around the corner from Adrienne Clarkson’s former home.

In the following years, I’ve passed by it a lot and wondered what went on behind those barred windows. Like most people, the patent outrageousness of holocaust-deniers doesn’t make any sense to me. They’re like an evil version of the Flat Earth Society. How did it all work — were the meetings there between Zà¼ndel and his sycophants as freak show as I imagine them to be (it got even weirder at 206 — when not denying, Zà¼ndel also was into UFO Spotting)? Did he nervously study the street before he went out? When he lived there anti-racism rallies were held outside and people like Jack Layton gave speeches. In 1995, the house was firebombed (you can still see the ghost of 206’s porch roof that was damaged outlined on the building next door).

porchThere seemed to be a burst of these hate-filled types in the early 1990s. I remember at the time in Windsor, much was made about the white-power record label “Resistance Records” and their band RAHOWA (Racial Holy War). I think they were located in Windsor due to the proximity of the U.S. (or maybe we had a good supply of Pit-bull breeders who seem to be the dog of choice for these people). They had a small suburban house in Forest Glade, a cul-de-saced corner of the city, just down the street from my mom’s church.

Zà¼ndel hasn’t lived at 206 for a while — the house has new owners and college-student-types live in it now. Still, many of the fortifications are still there, including the video camera and what looks like a rigging of some kind up on the the 3rd floor (perhaps for flying banners?). I’m sort of glad they haven’t taken down this strange stuff — it’s one of Toronto’s few fortified buildings, and a quiet reminder of the chaos that exists at the edges of society. Off hand I can only think of the U.S. Consulate on University and the Hell’s Angels compound over on Eastern Avenue that compare (uh, compares architectually, that is).