Welcome to Walk Liberty!
Walk Liberty is an interactive, online portal that showcases the rich history, public spaces, and dynamic and eclectic businesses of Liberty Village. Get outside, explore the neighbourhood and support your local businesses.
This is one of ten stops along a walking tour of Liberty Village.
The Toronto Carpet Factory – a massive 320,000-square-foot complex – is one of Liberty Village’s oldest landmarks and it remains its most spectacular.
In 1899, the Toronto Carpet Manufacturing Company outgrew its original location near St. Lawrence Market, building a new facility in Liberty Village, at the corner of King Street and Fraser Avenue. The company couldn’t keep up with the demand of the Canadian market for its ingrain and chenille Axminster carpets and within five years had added its own spinning and carding facilities, as well as additional looms to produce Brussels and Wilton carpets. By the end of the First World War, the factory occupied a whole city block and employed over 1,000 people, about the same number of people who work at the Carpet Factory today. The many buildings were constructed in the classic 19th century style of perimeter buildings forming a cloister around a central quadrangle and powerhouse.
All of the buildings are of the late-Victorian “brick-and-beam style” – heavy timber construction with load-bearing brick walls, wooden columns and beams, and hardwood floors. All roof decks are wooden, with the exception of the boiler/generator room which is concrete slab. In its time, the site was considered to be “state of the art”, completely self-reliant, with its own steam- generated heat, power and electricity capabilities, fire pump and an underground cistern storing 625,000 gallons of water for emergency use. The cistern remains buried beneath the floor of 72 Fraser Ave. A maze of catacombs (steam pipes) still delivers heat through the site.
The complex closed as a carpet manufacturing centre in 1976, but it has since been renovated as an office space; tenants include printing, film and video companies, marketing and communication agencies, software developers, architects, and boutique law firms.
On the southeast corner of Liberty Street and Fraser Avenue sits the former E. W. Gillett Company building, locally known as “The Castle.” Constructed in 1912, the Gillett plant was famous for its Magic Baking Powder and Royal Yeast Cakes brands. Gillett merged with several American firms in 1929 to form Standard Brands, itself eventually becoming part of Nabisco Foods. After sitting mostly empty for years, the Gillett factory was renovated and now houses digital and broadcast media firms including SiriusXM Canada, television producer Insight Productions, and e-book firm Kobo. The old boiler house, off Pardee Avenue, is home to Broadflour bakery, which maintains the site’s baking tradition.