• Ed Brown

My Flemingdon Park: Avenue of Stars

Phase two in Flemingdon Park's development also initiated the construction of the industrial component of the master plan, some of which would become architectural gems.


International Business Machine (IBM) had been present on the northwest corner of Don Mills Rd and Eglinton Ave since 1951. Two years earlier, the American-based technology manufacturer purchased 36 acres from the estate of Robert Fleming.


The IBM factory and head office was a sight to behold, a 325,000 square foot, low-slung, glass and concrete building employing 1,350 in a pastoral setting. The plant manufactured, among other products, electric typewriters, time recording devices and accounting machines. The factory distributed items globally to over 78 countries.

Eglinton Avenue East and Don Mills Road, 1956

The first mass-produced version of a digital computer, the IBM 650 Magnetic Drum Data-Processing Machine, was manufactured here. The IBM 650, known as Mr. Smartie, boasted the staggering ability to calculate 5,000 multiplications per minute and 3,700 divisions every sixty seconds!


Within twelve months of opening, the Don Mills Rd plant needed to be doubled in size. A $2,000,000 expansion completed in 1954 made it one of the longest buildings in Canada at nearly a quarter-mile. Another $7,000,000 expansion completed in 1966 enlarged the plant further.

After IBM, the Ontario Medical Association headquarters at 24 Ferrand Dr, constructed in 1961, was the second commercial property in Flemingdon Park.


Commercial buildings appearing after 1962 included:

  • Flemingdon Park Shopping Centre (747 Don Mills Rd)

  • Flemingdon Park Shell Centre (751 Don Mills Rd)

  • Imperial Oil Headquarters (825 Don Mills Rd)

  • Gestetner Ltd (848 Don Mills Rd)

  • National Sales Incentives (875 Don Mills Rd)

  • One Medical Place (20 Wynford Dr)

  • Marchant Calculators (40 Wynford Dr)

  • A.C. Neilson Co (39 Wynford Dr)

  • Aircraft-Marine Products (49 Wynford Dr)

  • Bata Shoe Head Office (59 Wynford Dr)

  • Oxford University Press (70 Wynford Dr)

  • Smith Corona (29 Gervais Dr)

  • CCH Canadian Ltd (6 Garamond Ct)

  • R.L. Crain Ltd (10 Garamond Ct)

  • Inn on the Park (1100 Eglinton Ave E)

  • Holiday Inn Don Valley (1250 Eglinton Ave E)

Noncommercial buildings included Ontario Science Centre at 770 Don Mills Rd, the Presbyterian Church in Canada at 50 Wynford Dr and the Japanese Cultural Centre down the road at 23 Wynford Dr.

Renowned mid-century modernist architect John B. Parkin designed Imperial Oil Headquarters and Bata Shoe Head Office. Celebrated architect Raymond Moriyama configured the Japanese Cultural Centre. Architects Macy Dubios and Robert Fairfield were responsible for the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Oxford University Press. The office building was a finalist in the Massey Medal for Architecture in 1964.


Half a kilometre away, officials turned ground for Olympia Square, a $10 million office complex on the southeast corner of 789 Don Mills Rd. The original scheme called for the construction of three towers. The 16-storey North American Life & Casualty Co and the 23-storey Foresters House — the IOF Building — went up. The third tower never came to fruition.


Olympia and York Industrial Development Associates, owned by the influential Reichmann family, oversaw the 2-million square-foot project. For the Reichmanns — father and five sons — developing property since the 1950s, their introduction to Flemingdon Park would be on a grand scale. If plans were adhered to, Olympia Square would be the largest office complex constructed outside the city's core, larger than Toronto Dominion Tower.

Ontario Science Centre and Olympia Square during construction

Olympia Square was the Reichmanns foray into the development of Flemingdon Park.


Their role would become even more significant.


Additional housing, factories, movie theatre, bowling alley, curling rink, shopping centres, riding paths, meeting halls, badminton courts and the $5 million Flemingdon Park Inn were on the drawing board. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation intended to break ground on 33-acre Radio and Television City on land north of Eglinton Ave. E.


On account of the constellation of corporate entities in the Eglinton Ave-Don Mills Rd corridor, for a time the thoroughfare was designated, The Avenue of Stars.

 

Additional material from Toronto Star, July 24, 1964, pg. 23;

Globe & Mail, Oct 2, 1963, pg. C5; Globe & Mail, Mar 23,1956 pg.10

Toronto Public Libary


Ed Brown lived in Flemingdon Park at 58 Grenoble Drive from 1969-1991


Read the entire series here

edbrownwriter@gmail.com