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What does cider have to do with city building?

In partnership with Brickworks Ciderhouse, we remember the history of city building and champion city building of the future.

Bacth 1904 cider Image: Courtesy of Brickworks Ciderhouse
Image: Courtesy of Brickworks Ciderhouse

On a cold and windy spring evening in 1904, Toronto set ablaze. Remembered as the Great Toronto Fire, it destroyed more than 100 buildings in the downtown core, put over 5,000 people out of work and cost an estimated $10 million in damages. The dense core of the city was crowded by textile factories, book-sellers, paper supply companies and chemical manufacturers, and tangled by electrical wires. This meant the fire spread fast through the city, quickly jumping from building to building, carried by winds that peaked at nearly 50 kilometers per hour.

Looking north-west to the corner of Bay and Wellington streets April 1904 Photographer: Arthur Frederick Rust City of Toronto Archives
Looking north-west to the corner of Bay and Wellington streets, April 1904 | City of Toronto Archives

The source of the fire was never determined, but it sparked an important change as to how we build our city. Following this tragedy, Toronto was prompted to pass a new bylaw for safer fireproof structures that would prevent anything like this from happening again. The three materials that fulfilled the legal conditions for fireproof coverings were hollow tiles of burnt clay, terra cotta and bricks. The city was going to need a lot of bricks.

Luckily for Toronto, the Don Valley had a rich quarry of clay to excavate and turn into bricks. Purchased from William Taylor and his brothers three years prior to the fire, Robert Davies owned the Don Valley Brick Works situated by this quarry. Along with numerous other Toronto brick yards, the Don Valley Brick Works supplied the materials that helped to rebuild the downtown core. 

For over 100 years since, these buildings have stood tall. The former Don Valley Brick Works, whose iconic red bricks are woven through Toronto’s landscape, are a reminder of our city building past.

Evergreen has partnered with Brickworks Ciderhouse based on our deep connection to the history of the Don Valley Brick Works and to champion city building of the future. Coming together at what was once the Don Valley Brick Works, now Evergreen Brick Works, we are turning an old factory that pressed and fired clay from deep in the ground to a lively destination for conversation, connection and community.

people talking and drinking at the cider garden

One of the spaces that fosters these connections is Brickworks Ciderhouse’s Cider Garden. At many of our markets and events, including Harvest Apple Festival presented by Brickworks Ciderhouse, you can find this space under the Pavilions. Here, people can try their craft ciders, catch up with a friend or meet someone new in their community.

Brickworks Ciderhouse’s first-born cider, Batch: 1904, is named to remember the Great Toronto Fire and to celebrate a city standing tall for over 100 years. Inspired by Brickworks Ciderhouse's Batch: 1904, join us at Evergreen's Harvest Apple Festival to walk through the historical buildings that built Toronto back up after the Great Toronto Fire. End the tour with samples of Batch: 1904 and raise a glass to the future of city building, by shaping and creating public spaces together.

Batch: 1904 History & Future Tour is now sold out. Thanks to all who are joining us and make sure not to miss all the other fun at Harvest Apple Festival!