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History and Heritage

221 - 227 Sterling Road: Artist Lofts

221 - 227 Sterling Road buildings were constructed in 1912 by the Fairbanks-Morse company. They produced gasoline and steam powered engines for farming and marine usage; additionally, a brass foundry was also built on-site to manufacture parts for their engines. The company employed 700 to 900 people. An important feature of these buildings is that the walls are built of brick and cement mortar with timber posts, timber and steel beams and floors are 15.24 cm (6”) thick – making this type of construction irreplaceable. 


If you click on the first image, the inner picture is from a 1912 Fairbanks-Morse pamphlet. You can see that the trains pulled right up to the buildings to load and unload materials. A fragment of that spur track still exists today. Walk down the alleyway by 50 Merchant Lane and the back of the 221 Sterling Road buildings, and discover the old spur track. You can imagine where coal-powered trains chugged their way into the neighbourhood spewing soot onto houses on the east side of Sterling Road and Perth Avenue. Spur tracks can also be found inside some of the loft spaces. 


In 1914 the First World War began, and Fairbanks-Morse supported Canadian and American wartime efforts by pivoting to the manufacture of munitions. Compared to engine assembly, shells required smaller workspaces, and during WW1, the company employed 2000 men and 1500 women without constructing new buildings. At the end of the war in 1918, Fairbanks-Morse laid off 3500 munitions employees and began removing shell-manufacturing machinery to reinstall machinery to again produce farming and marine engines. The Toronto Daily Star (now the Toronto Star) published an article on 30 November. 1918 stating that “...many of its soldier-employees will have returned home, and it has promised these [sic] first chance at positions…many of the women munition workers were soldiers’ wives, who will naturally become housekeepers again when the normal bread-winner is home.”


By 1923, Fairbanks-Morse sold their land, for $100, 000 to The Moloney Electric Company to manufacture transformers. Moloney Electric remained on Sterling Road until they moved to Etobicoke between 2008-2010. 


In the last 12 years, the South Junction Triangle has transformed from a semi-industrial neighbourhood to a destination area with restaurants, cafes and creative industries nestled within modest Edwardian semi-detached houses and new townhomes. 


The South Junction Triangle neighbourhood should be safeguarded from becoming a tiny area overwhelmed by glass towers with no soul of its past. 

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