The history of The Foundry begins in Old Toronto, at 206 Front Street East. From at least 1872, William Hamilton manufactured railway cars, cast iron pipes for water, and related metalwork at the St. Lawrence Foundry on Front Street East. In 1900, the company was sold and became the Canada Foundry Company Limited. In 1903, after changing owners yet again, the Foundry set up shop at a new, spacious location in the town of Toronto Junction, at 940-1100 Lansdowne.





The Canada Foundry Co. manufactured steel and cast iron items: railway tracks, bridge parts, fences, staircases, and fire hydrants -if you happen to spot one of Toronto's antique fire hydrants, odds are, it was produced here. The Foundry also made more whimsical objects, such as over-the-top Edwardian decorative dragons designed by architect E.J. Lennox, now encased in glass in the lobby of Old City Hall.


But perhaps the most famous items to come out of The Foundry were their electric locomotives. They had a very rich history supplying locomotives for many railways across Canada from Shawinigan Falls Terminal Railway, London & Port Stanley Railway to the Canadian Northern’s Mount Royal in Montreal. They built numerous styles of locomotives from box cars to freight cars. Instrumental in modernizing commuter services, they combined an electric locomotive with a coach into a single car.


The Canada Foundry was perfectly located among other factories along Royce Avenue (now called Dupont Street). The neighbourhood's companies manufactured every part of the early 20th century's mechanized dream, from railway tracks to engines, radiators, grinding wheels, and gears, all conveniently located near the trains themselves.

In 1923, the Foundry was sold to Canadian General Electric and began manufacturing electrical transformers in the South building. In a 1998 article for Taddle Creek, the Toronto Star journalist and editor Alfred Holden describes these behemoth transformers as "weighing up to two hundred and thirty tons, whose cores and coils could be hung like mere meat on hooks and jigs from the factory's beams." The transformers had to be shipped out on 
specially-equipped flatbed trains. The North building lay abandoned, save for the use of the massive interior as film studios for various projects. 




The original window shapes have been preserved and the roof monitor carefully restored. Inside, much of the huge open space of the original building has been maintained as a communal atrium, stretching through the whole central area. Hallways are hung along the edges, giving every loft a main entrance onto the shared 4-storey atrium, lit by the original skylight monitor.


By 1990, Toronto City Council was already considering the site as an industrial heritage site; by 2004, the former old office building and the powerhouse were designated. In 2008, the building at 1100 Lansdowne was classified under the Ontario Heritage Act. New residents moved into the building this past fall.



In the middle of the atrium, there's a new square brick structure that houses a shared gym and meetings rooms. It looks as if a plain work building from the original site was picked up by tornado and dropped into the warehouse-a nicely-accomplished architectural wink to the original Foundry.