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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Walking the last of the Toronto Green Line — Casa Loma to the Bridgeman Transformer Station

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EDITOR: This is the final of Shawn Micallef’s posts following the Green Line hydro corridor through midtown Toronto, location of the Green Line Ideas Competition. Check out to find out how you can participate.

Section 17 – Casa Loma Campus of George Brown College

Past the Howland underpass the George Brown campus begins with a building adjacent to the tracks, the first since Geary Avenue. More gravel and paved parking lots, one with some rather nice landscaping elements (compared to previous lots), leads through a brief chicane-like bump around that single building, through a dense pocket of the campus, and onwards to Macpherson Avenue which runs to Spadina. The street passes by a few blocks of white Georgian style townhomes that, with historic Casa Loma rising above at the top of the Davenport escarpment, makes this area seem like the wealthy Kensington neighbourhood in London UK, though even at seven figures, the Toronto Georgians are still much cheaper.

Click here for a bigger map of the Green Line.

Section 18 – Toronto Archives and Madison Avenue Lofts

The final linear segment of the Green Line begins at Spadina Avenue and the last of the difficult road crossings. Busy with students making their way to the Dupont Subway Station just under the tracks, here the ghost of the Spadina Expressway, cancelled in 1971, can be seen in the setbacks of the Georgian rowhouses on the west side and the Toronto Archives on the east, there to provide room to the proposed highway that was never built.

Further east the Madison Avenue Lofts were created in a former Toronto Hydro Building and have residential units right down to sidewalk level, where landscaping makes this one of the more pleasant parts of the line. The south, however, is also the last of the scrubland and parking lots along the tracks. In a few places along Macpherson Street old spur line tracks can still be seen leading to the existing hydro substation whose hum can be heard half a block away.

Section 19 – Toronto Bridgman Transformer Station

The Green Line ends at a triangular site bounded by Huron Street on the west, Davenport on the north and east, and Macpherson to the south. Here the electrical hum dominates nearly as much as passing locomotives as a cluster of outdoor electrical equipment are found quite close to the southern edge of the property behind a substantial chain link fence.

Beyond the visible electrics is the Bridgman Transformer Station, a large two storey red brick building built in 1904 and designed by Toronto’s great early architect, E. J. Lennox of Old City Hall and Casa Loma fame. It continues the theme of noble and grand but uncelebrated industrial heritage found along this corridor. Gravel lots to the north, some used by Toronto Hydro, others orphaned, give the site a neglected feel, and the constant traffic along Davenport heading into and out of Yorkville cuts off the site from adjacent residential areas somewhat. Though this site is industrial in nature, the area north of here, considered South Forest Hill or Poplar Plains by some, has some of Toronto’s most expensive real estate.

Here the electricity goes underground, but there’s much potential for more connections, as there is a nexus of cycling routes where Davenport passes underneath the CPR railway, and pedestrian paths into ravines to the north and east. From this point, it’s only a ten minute walk to Yonge and Bloor, arguably the centre of Toronto, so the Green Line, which reaches deep into the west side of Toronto ends very close to what is, arguably, the crossroads of the city.


One comment

  1. Such a great thing to focus on. Business, industry and residences seem to have pushed together and areas surrounding the rail line and the hydro corridor are neglected, overlooked and underused.

    I live in the lofts across from the tracks and my concern is mostly safety at night. It’s dark, overrun weeds, and at various times sketchy people have lived in makeshift camps hidden from the road’s view.

    About a year ago Councillor Josh Matlow announced his support for the Annex Ecopark and that Hydro One donated the 2 acres to the project. As far as I can tell it is spearheaded by local residents. I can’t find anything more recent but here’s posting from a year ago, with a pdf link to a draft of the proposal. It includes a dog park, zip cars, bixi bikes, gardens.