Fondly called Toronto’s backyard, Evergreen Brick Works is a special place where people can connect with one another, nature and themselves. We’re inspiring people to be explorers and stewards of their communities and to build healthy urban spaces for generations to come.
Evergreen Brick Works is a place where people can experience and learn sustainable practices that enable the cities of the future. When you visit, we hope you’ll take something unforgettable home with you — whether it’s a new perspective or experience.
Your activity shapes the environment and experience of the Brick Works, highlighting to us what communities truly need to come together. Through our public markets, which act as incubators for small businesses, pilot programs in the Children’s Garden, or the redevelopment of the historic kiln building to achieve carbon neutrality, successful ideas born here are then scaled and implemented across Canada through Evergreen’s projects.
Evergreen Brick Works functions as a social enterprise, meaning that any profit we make from our revenue-generating ventures like hosting events, the Evergreen Garden Market or our camps and educational programs is invested in maintaining the Brick Works and used to fund Evergreen’s work across Canada. A unique business model, social enterprises are essential for a sustainable economy. Through our diverse suite of enterprises, we are able to accelerate our work of creating cities bursting with life.
Help us celebrate the connection between people and the natural and built worlds by supporting better public places.
Operating on the traditional homelands of the Wendat (Wen-dat) , Haudenosaunee (Ho-den-O-Show-nee), and Anishnaabek (A-Nish-Naw-bek) Confederacies, Evergreen Brick Works is a vibrant public place where people can connect with each other and the nature all around them.
It is located on the historic site of the former Don Valley Brick Works and quarry—the site that made the bricks that built Toronto. In 2010, Evergreen transformed a collection of deteriorating heritage buildings into a global showcase for green design and an award-winning public space. Open year-round, Evergreen Brick Works welcomes more than 500,000 visitors annually to experience its public markets, participate in conferences and events, enjoy outdoor learning and nature play, and explore public art in the heart of Toronto’s ravine system.
A tropical sea compressed clay into shale.
An ice age left a glacial river at the site. The Don Valley Brick Works sits on a floodplain at the confluence of Mud Creek and the Don River. Thousands of years ago, this was the mouth of a glacial river, which explains the presence of so much clay.
A river is formed; this river was teeming with salmon, and the surrounding marshlands were home to deer, muskrats and ducks. It becomes an important waterway that connects to the Cobechenonk (Humber River) and the Rouge River. As such, it is a seasonal settlement for many Indigenous peoples, primarily the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinaabe nations. One name for this area along the river is interpreted as (‘Burning bright point’ in Anishinaabemowin). This river was an Ancestor for many nations, and through ceremony, language and care-taking they lived in good relations with the river.
The Wendat nation’s longhouse villages were developed along the river, and women would make pottery from the clay deposits. The rich, loamy soil lent itself well to agriculture and many settlements planted the ‘Three Sisters’ (corn/maize, beans and squash) along the riverbanks.
The Mississaugas moved into the region.
This year marked the problematic “Toronto Purchase.” Believing the purchase to be a rental and sharing of the area and not the release of their rights to the land, the Mississaugas unknowingly surrendered most of the land that would become York, and then Toronto, to the British. This also marked the beginning of the industrialization of the Don River and surrounding area.
Todmorden Mills was one of three paper mills operated by John Taylor & Brothers along the Don River.
Young William Taylor tested clay from the fence-post holes he happened to be digging: the results showed it was perfect for making bricks.
William Taylor and his two brothers opened the Don Valley Brick Works.
The Great Fire destroyed much of the downtown core of the city, resulting in new by-laws requiring masonry construction for most buildings. The Don Valley Pressed Brick Works Company produced a wide variety of bricks and kiln-fired clay products that built many landmarks in Toronto and beyond, including Massey Hall and Casa Loma, Montreal’s Acadia Apartments and the T. Eaton Buildings in Winnipeg and Moncton.
The factory closed. Today, the Don Valley Brick Works consists of 16 remaining heritage buildings and an adjacent 16-hectare public park known as Weston Family Quarry Garden that includes wetlands, hiking trails, and wildflower meadows.
Evergreen began to lead tree-planting activities in the Lower Don Watershed.
The first phase of park development was undertaken with the support of the city, TRCA, as well as a significant private donation by the Weston Foundation.
Evergreen was among a handful of groups helping to plant the wildflower meadows in what is now Weston Family Quarry Garden.
Evergreen began to explore the ideas that are now our environmental centre.
A consultant report states that a Farmers Market at Evergreen Brick Works wouldn’t work. It was said that no one would come.
The first Evergreen Brick Works farmers market and summer programming opened for the public.
On a cold, clear December morning, ground-breaking was celebrated and construction began.
Saturday summer programming engaged visitors of all ages in local food, gardening and eco-art.
Evergreen Brick Works opened as a year-round living demonstration of how past and present can work together to create greener models for urban living.
Evergreen embarked on a bold new build, the redevelopment of the historic kiln building at Evergreen Brick Works, with the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality. The revived kiln building is a venue to showcase and celebrate urban innovation from Canada and around the world.
Evergreen Brick Works is today a green respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. And that’s where the magic lies. Because when the quarrying was done and industry moved out, nature, with a little help and ingenuity, began to seep back in. With time, patience, and the help of the surrounding community, life came back to the site. This once empty, abandoned space is now a vibrant public place that supports the health of Toronto’s people and of our planet.
For over 30 years, Evergreen has enjoyed working alongside businesses from multi-national organizations to local start-ups to build long-term strategic partnerships. The support of our partners is integral to the vitality of this award-winning public place.
Want to be the first to find out about new events at the Brick Works, sales at the Evergreen Garden Market, vendor lineups at the Saturday Farmers Market and more?
Check out some of our exciting upcoming events.