About Evergreen Brick Works

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.

Our Mission 

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.

Impact

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.

How the Brick Works operates

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.

Sustainability

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Visitor map

Timeline of Evergreen Brick Works

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.

Millennia ago
1300-1900
The 1990s
The 2000s
2010s
Present Day

Millennia ago

400M yrs ago
15,000+ yrs ago
12,000 yrs ago
400M yrs ago

A tropical sea compressed clay into shale.

15,000+ yrs ago

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.

12,000 yrs ago

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.

1300-1900

1300
1700
1787
1790
1882
1889
1904
1984
1300

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.

1700

The Mississaugas moved into the region.

1787

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.

1790

Todmorden Mills was one of three paper mills operated by John Taylor & Brothers along the Don River.

1882

Young William Taylor tested clay from the fence-post holes he happened to be digging: the results showed it was perfect for making bricks.

1889

William Taylor and his two brothers opened the Don Valley Brick Works.

1904

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.

1984

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.

The 1990s

1991
1992
1998
1991

Evergreen began to lead tree-planting activities in the Lower Don Watershed.

1992

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.

1998

Evergreen was among a handful of groups helping to plant the wildflower meadows in what is now Weston Family Quarry Garden.

The 2000s

2002
2005
2006
2008
2009
2002

Evergreen began to explore the ideas that are now our environmental centre.

2005

A consultant report states that a Farmers Market at Evergreen Brick Works wouldn’t work. It was said that no one would come.

2006

The first Evergreen Brick Works farmers market and summer programming opened for the public.

2008

On a cold, clear December morning, ground-breaking was celebrated and construction began.

2009

Saturday summer programming engaged visitors of all ages in local food, gardening and eco-art.

2010s

2010
2017
2010

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.

2017

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.

Present Day

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.

2024
2024

Evergreen Brick Works welcomes over 500,000 visitors a year to the site. Find out what all the excitement is about.

What's On

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Our Partners

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.

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