Photos of Carlaw the Man and Street

These pictures do not fit neatly into any category but they are neat. Major Carlaw is listed as “capitalist”. In those days that was considered a very good thing indeed…at least by the “better half”.

The magnificent facial hair that men of the era loved fell out of favour during the great influenza pandemic of 1918-19. Mustaches were then scene unsanitary and hotbeds of flu “germs”

John Anderson Carlaw

John Anderson Carlaw for whom Carlaw Avenue was named.


Carlaw Avenue: Rolph-Clark-Stone the Building



If you had stood at the corner of Queen and Carlaw in 1910, you wouldn’t see many factories except Phillips Manufacturing Co. Ltd. on the west side. The land on the east side was owned by wealthy brickyard owner John Russell. A City Alderman, he somehow failed to pay his municipal property taxes. The City of Toronto seized and sold his land between Carlaw and Boston. Russell fought back, but lost at the Privy Council in London, England, the last court of appeal in those days. In 1912 the City of Toronto used that land to develop Carlaw as an industrial artery in the East End. Manufacturers quickly seized the opportunity.

By 1921 factories with belching smokestacks dominated Carlaw. Labourers filled Carlaw, coming to work to the sound of factory whistles and going home at shift change. In the minds of residents, the noise, pollutions and jobs naturally went together and were welcome. Not that people did not want higher wages and better working conditions.

19120702-ts-sale-to-rolph-and-clarktoronto-star-may-8-1913-strike-action-during-constructionThe birth of the new factory involved some “hard labour” as the ironworkers and plasterers went out on strike and the other union men, bricklayers, plumbers and electricians, walked out in sympathy. A general strike would have threatened Toronto’s building boom.

So let’s stand back and take a good long look at this building. While this is a metaphor and I hope you enjoy this article, going to Carlaw and actually looking is even better.



Basic Form

The original 1913 factory consisted of two storeys on a raised base. The Rolph-Clark-Stone Building’s ferro-concrete frame dictated a basic box form, but allowed architects to use classical details for decoration. Toronto’s fine red brick clads the walls and the trim is brick and cast stone (artificial stone made with cement). The post and beam construction meant that the columns and bricks were non-structural, no longer load-bearing. The longest side of the structure fronts onto Carlaw Avenue and the back side fronts onto Boston Avenue.

Edwardian Classicism

The Rolph-Clark-Stone Building is identifiable as an Edwardian Classicist design by its front façade’s symmetrical massing, regular arrangement of windows and monumental central front entrance or frontispiece. Rolph-Clark-Stone, like other Edwardian Classicist factories, has a simple, balanced design, a straight roofline and sparse detailing compared to its predecessors. The cornice is simple. Most doors and windows have flat cast stone lintels. The walls are smooth and have many windows. For more info about Edwardian Classicism in Ontario see:

For some examples of Edwardian Classicist industrial design walk up Carlaw Avenue but also see this slideshow:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Grand Entrance 

printingfactoryThe Carlaw street façade is organized into three sections with an elevated frontispiece in the centre. The façade on the west side dominates the passerby with its scale and design. Everything is meant to impress. This façade is the face of the building the one that the public sees. The centrally placed frontispiece is meant to convey the beauty, but also the importance of the lithography company and the art itself. The frontispiece is a three-bay structure separated by four two-storey fluted “engaged columns”. These columns are attached to the wall so that only part of the columns projects from the wall.  Corinthian capitals crown the columns, drawing on Classical Greek and Roman architecture. These ornate capitals or column heads have a design with ancient design based on acanthus leaves, a design familiar to any educated gentleman of the day. At the base of the principal façade with its doorways and columns are three round arches with cast stone surrounds (mouldings).

If this is all Greek to you, you’re right – a lot of our architectural terms come from the ancient Greeks. For an explanation of terms, go to Buffalo’s great architectural dictionary:

Guests entered the Rolph-Clark-Stone Building through the main door at the centre arch. Inside they found an equally impressive entrance lobby marked by more Classical detailing, vaulted ceilings and with what can only be described as a magnificent wooden grand staircase that climbs in two beautiful spirals. There are two more doors on the Carlaw side of the building — at the north and south ends, and, while they are handsome, they were for more day-to-day use.

The three tall flat-headed windows in the second storey are huge and inspired by Roman designs.  The west façade also has 18 bays on either side of the frontispiece with many large steel sash windows. The whole building speaks of balance and symmetry. The flat-headed windows on the north and south sections of the western façade have cast stone sills. Concrete band courses unify the building, carrying your eyes across the window heads. There are large windows in the north and south sections of the west façade as well.

The frontispiece is topped by an entablature, the horizontal superstructure supported by giant, over-sized engaged Corinthian piers. The frieze is usually decorated with sculpture, but, in this case, is decorated with ghosted lettering spelling: ROLPH CLARK STONE.


The cornice of the Rolph-Clark-Stone Limited Building has a cast stone coping. This top course forms a protective cap against the weather and stretches along the Carlaw street wall and wraps around the south side of the building. As with the Kent-McClain Building, the cornice is important. While the pedestal or base of the building grounds it; the cornice acts as a stop, giving visual completion to the building. These elements say, “Here I begin and here I end” like a punctuation mark at the finish of a sentence. Edwardian cornices were much simpler than the late Victorian ones in this advertisement from 1898:


Many older buildings are missing their cornices and the loss is like an amputation. While passersby might not be able to say just why the building “doesn’t look right”, they can spot ugly.


A building with its original cornice. The same building in derelict condition without its cornice. The restoration of the same building from the College of Architecture, Texas A & M University

The band of concrete across the lintels of the ground floor not only unifies the building by leading the eye horizontally along the brick-faced façade. It is also a subtle reference to the concrete floor of the second storey, articulated the interior on the exterior.

Series 372, Subseries 58 - Road and street condition photographs

Saw Tooths


Saw tooths, Printing House Lofts, 2010


The factory incorporates a row of “saw tooth” on its roof. This roof design is most commonly seen on older factories.


The saw toothed windows faced north. They filtered the soft northern light and avoided glare, perfect for a graphic design firm like Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd.


What the Building Was Trying to Say

201 Carlaw Avenue communicated the stability of Rolph-Clark-Stone Limited and the firm’s aesthetic sense. The design speaks of orderliness and authority.  The Rolph-Clark-Stone Limited Building says, “We are rational, solid, secure and modern and we are here to stay.”

But it wasn’t true. Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd. is gone, but the factory remained.


Printing Factory Lofts

The Printing Factory Lofts were built over the old Rolph-Clark-Stone Building. The Printing Factory Lofts project preserves three façades and incorporates significant portions of the original factory building into the project including the classical main entrance portico that opens to a grand wooden staircase. The land was purchased in 2004 for eight million dollars. The City of Toronto approved the construction of the Development in 2006. The prices ranged from $179,900 to $510,900 when the condo units first went on the market in October 2006 in pre-construction sales. The City of Toronto designated 201 Carlaw as a Heritage Building in 2007, one of only two on Carlaw — the other is the Toronto Hydro Transformer Building. Construction of the Printing House Lofts ended on May 12, 2010.

Although the front doors were replaced, much of the original entrance was kept.

It’s extraordinarily ornate, it’s all original…It’s going to be one of the nicest entranceways and lobbies of any condominium in Canada.

Brad Lamb, Brad J. Lamb Realty Inc., quoted in The Globe and Mail, November 3, 2006

They not only maintained the façade but also incorporated the old factory’s sawtooth roof with skylights into the two storey loft units with their exposed concrete ceilings, polished concrete floors, exposed metal ductwork and brick walls. The builders removed the centre portion of the factory, tearing down 65 per cent of the original factory. In its place they build an eight-storey glass tower, two garden courts and a series of townhouses that face Boston Avenue to the east. 


I took this picture just after the Printing Factory Lofts opened. The yellow construction fence is lying along the front of the building, the weeds haven’t been cut at the front and those big signs at the front door say, “Inventory Clearance”.




Beaverbrook Homes (now Averton Homes) developed the old abandoned factory into an upscale condominium with lofts. The architectural firm was Chandler Graham / Montgomery Sisam Architects. The structural engineer firm was Blackwell Bowick Engineering and the mechanical engineer firm was Novatrend Engineering Group Ltd. The architects removed the centre part of the factory to create an eight storey glass tower, two garden courts and townhouses facing Boston Avenue. Brad Lamb was the realtor that marketed the newly created condominium project. This brought 254 new housing units to what was in the 1990s a brownfield of abandoned buildings and lost jobs.


Architect’s model from The Globe and Mail, November 3, 2006

The Printing Factory Lofts received the Paul Oberman Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Architecture and Design at the 2011 Pug Awards – the 7th Annual People’s Choice Awards for Architecture. The Printing Factory Lofts also won a 2011 Toronto Urban Design Awards honorable mention.

To see what the Printing Factory Lofts look like today go to:,+Toronto,+ON+M4M+2S3/@43.6624079,-79.3406196,3a,75y,76h,90t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sFe0NnAFTrGm–yFzYD-0Wg!2e0!–yFzYD-0Wg%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dsearch.TACTILE.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D86%26h%3D86%26yaw%3D76.143875%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x89d4cb772e1be547:0x6a4bb0e819c182ed!8m2!3d43.6624787!4d-79.3402214!6m1!1e1?hl=en&authuser=0

For more about the architecture of the Printing Factory Lofts see:

Loss and Profit

Standing here in 2016, I juggle in my mind and heart, the loss to the East End that the adaptive reuse of Carlaw Avenue’s industrial buildings signifies and the profit to our community.

Remember the industrial Carlaw of early days and all the lost blue collar jobs. In my mind I am still standing at my work station, hearing the roar of the machinery in spite of my ear plugs and smelling the inks and breathing in the paper dust. My muscles were strong from moving box after box of flyers, maps, booklets and newsletters.  I remember the ache of standing on a concrete floor for eight hours or the many hours of a double shift.

globe-february-3-1923-foreman-wantedWe can argue that talented architects, creative designers, and flexible and sophisticated developers have profited Leslieville by repurposing empty, run-down factories, like this, into upscale condominium lofts. The City Plan only allows mid-rises like the Rolph-Clark-Stone Building so that a vibrant street life is fostered and glass towers don’t overshadow Leslieville. According to City Planners “a mid-rise building is generally taller than four storeys, but no taller than the width of the adjacent street right-of-way (i.e. typically between 5 and 11 storeys).” For more info see

globe-and-mail-october-22-2010These condos draw in a vibrant new population of young, affluent people while respecting the history of the neighbourhood. These newcomers fuel the booming businesses along Queen Street, driving Leslieville’s Renaissance and firing up the real estate market for detached homes and duplexes on the surrounding streets. Property values have soared with real estate prices and the cost of a Leslieville cup of java.


A Landmark Building

We have a love-hate relationships with factories which may explain why so few are recognized as Heritage Buildings or have plaques. Carlaw Avenue is a street of such lost lovelies. I love this street and this building, but I hate how it is changing so quickly that I hardly recognize the old neighbourhood.

The Rolph-Clark-Stone Building, over a century old, existed in a grimy but elegant harmony with its industrial neighbours such as the Palmolive and Wrigley factories. Carlaw was a rundown “brown field” of empty buildings in the 1980s when I moved here. I share the Old East End’s blue collar history.

It is easy to argue that the Rolph-Clark-Stone reuse as the Printing Factory Lofts maintains the visual integrity necessary for it to convey its significance and heritage value. Yet many of us still remember those who waited in long lines at the unemployment insurance office. Pogie, no matter how much, never replaced the vanished jobs on Leslieville’s main industrial drag. Leslieville’s renaissance has brought new jobs, high paying jobs for some, minimum wage service industry (often part-time) jobs for others.

The bricks are no longer coated with decades of coal dust and industrial grime.The greasy spoons are disappearing, replaced by cafes with armchairs and baristas. We will continue our walk up Carlaw in our “time machine” and I hope you will follow us.

Your comments, memories and stories are welcome here, just email to the Leslieville Historical Society at:

The Heritage Analysis Report: Carlaw and District Landscape and Public Realm Improvements, March 2016, prepared for the City of Toronto by Unterman McPhail Associates can be downloaded here as a pdf:


For more about proposals for the future of Carlaw Avenue, see:,%202013%20presentation.pdf


For more information on the architecture of this building go to:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd., 201 Carlaw


May my invention become known throughout the entire world by benefiting mankind in manifold ways through exquisite (printed) goods. May this only ever serve purposes of refinement, but never be abused for purposes of evil. May the Almighty Father grant this! May the hour be blessed in which I invented lithography! 

Johann Alois Senefelder, (1771-1834), Inventor of Lithography


D. G. Berri, The Art of Lithography, 1872.

Our next stop on our journey up Carlaw Avenue is 201 Carlaw Avenue. This plant was one of the largest employers in Toronto’s printing industry in 1921. By the late twentieth century Rolph-Clark-Stone Limited, lithographers will be one of the largest graphic art firms in Canada.


Globe, September 10, 1927

cutting-machineCutting machine, Toronto Lithography Co., 1898.

The Rolph-Clark-Stone Limited Building was impressive in 1921 and will continue to be so even in 2016. It is an excellent example of an industrial building from the period of the First World War. On March 06, 2007, the City of Toronto included 201 Carlaw Avenue on its Inventory of Heritage Properties. It is one of only two Carlaw Avenue buildings to be designated a Heritage Property.

But let’s find out about Rolph-Clark-Stone the business, before we explore Rolph-Clark-Stone the Building.

Rolph-Clark-Stone the Business

Those of us who’ve lived in Leslieville a long time remember Carlaw Avenue as a major employer providing blue collar jobs for our neighbours, friends and even ourselves and as an outstanding Canadian graphic design firm.

I was an apprentice bookbinder in a factory just off Carlaw in the 1980s, before I returned to school to study art. The loss of those jobs on Carlaw, Eastern and especially Dunlop’s on Queen, pulled the rug out from many of us financially. In some cases the factories and jobs went overseas or out to the suburbs. In many cases, the parent companies, mostly in the US, just shut down their Leslieville branch plants, gutting the industrial base of the neighbourhood. For many people free trade was costly.


litho-artistsLithography artists at work, Toronto Lithography Co., 1898. This company became Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd.

More About Lithography as an Art, Craft and Industrial Process

We take the visual imagery around us for granted as we are bombarded with thousands of illustrations daily. It wasn’t always so. An illustration is a visualization or a depiction made by an artist. Illustrations include:

  • drawing (charcoal, graphite pencil, ink, chalk, pastel, etc.)
  • painting (oil, watercolour, gouache, acrylics, etc.)
  • etching
  • engraving
  • lithography & chromolithographic techniques
  • photographs
  • or other kinds of technique, including computer-generated prints.

The invention of printing is a striking achievement of Buddhists in east Asia. Korea took the lead. The world’s earliest known printed document is a sutra printed on a single sheet of paper in Korea in 750 CE. This is closely followed in Japan by a bold experiment in mass circulation (precisely the area in which printed material has the advantage over manuscript). The earliest dated printed book known is the “Diamond Sutra”, printed in China in 868 CE. (CE means “Common Era” and replaces the old A.D. or “Anno Domino”‘ BCE is “Before the Common Era” and replaces B.C.)


Produced by Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd.

In about 1400, more than six centuries after its invention in the east, the technique of printing from wood blocks was introduced in Europe. As in the east, the images were printed by the simple method of laying a piece of paper on a carved and inked block and then rubbing its back to transfer the ink. Also, as in the east, the main market was holy images for sale to pilgrims.

Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press  and independently developed a movable type system in Europe, along with innovations in casting the type based on a matrix and hand mould. (The concept is experimented with in China as early as the 11th century). He also added illustrations to his printed books, usually woodcuts.

Books were still expensive and rare.  The Industrial Revolution made books cheap and available to virtually everyone. Since the 19th century books have been printed in a large-scale industrial process. Now with the Digital Revolution, computers make possible small-scale self-publishing that it is even cheaper and more accessible.

It’s hard to appreciate the craft that went into products by a graphic arts firm like Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd. Lithography could and did produce the exquisite printed goods that its inventor, Senefelder, hoped for.

lithography-roomThe lithography department of the Toronto Lithographing Co. in 1898

In 1844 American inventor Richard March Hoe builds the first lithographic rotary printing press, a press in which the type is placed on a revolving cylinder instead of a flatbed. This sped up the printing process considerably. Early advances in lithography made mass reproduction of such colour illustrations possible, although at a high price.

With the development of chromolithography, full colour printed goods became affordable. Chromolithography produces colored prints from lithographic stones. In the 1850s, it was hoped that chromolithography would be a good rotary-lithographic-pressmethod of color printing to illustrate books. The process of chromolithography allowed a wide range of colours to be used, from delicate to deep shades. A separate stone was drawn for each color, and as many as 20 stones were used for one print. After the illustration was drawn, each stone was inked in an appropriate color on a press. Then the print paper was passed from stone to stone to pick up the varied colors. The paper had to be aligned exactly on every stone or the resulting print was spoiled.


Stone lithography single feeder press.

By the end of the 19th century, photographic processes took the place of all hand lithographic methods, meeting the popular demand for less expensive illustrated books. In 1903 American printer Ira Washington Rubel was instrumental in producing the first lithographic offset press for paper.

globe-and-mail-january-15-1963-pin-up-girl-1900The “golden age of illustration” lasted from the 1880s until shortly after World War I.  Newspapers, mass market magazines and illustrated books became the dominant media of public consumption. Improvements in printing technology freed illustrators to experiment with color and new rendering techniques. Some illustrators in this time became rich and famous. Calendars with pin-up girls became very popular.

In the 1950s programmed composition increased the speed of the printing process and photo-typesetters replaced earlier methods, making reproduction much, much faster. In the 1970s, computers were integrated into the printing process. The Digital Revolution had begun and firms like Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd. either adapted quickly or died.




Lithography by Clark Co., 1902 (Toronto Public Library)


Map by Alexander and Cable, 1903, lithography by Rolph and Clark Ltd., Toronto (Toronto Public Library)



An Early Portrayal of 201 Carlaw avenue

globe-october-7-1911Rolph-Clark-Stone is an interesting company with its own history. In 1878 the Toronto Lithographing Co. began and offered lithography, engraving and electrotyping. They
produced books, maps, posters, etc. In 1909 William Stone took over the Toronto Lithographing Co. and it became Stone Ltd. In 1917 Stone Co. merged with rival Rolph and Clark Ltd. to form Rolph-Clark-Stone Limited.


globe-august-3-1917-mergerRolph and Clark Limited bought land from the City of Toronto in 1912 — land that had been brickyard owned by John Russell and seized by the City of Toronto for non-payment of property taxes. The City used that land between Carlaw and Boston Avenue to provide the basis for a new industrial subdivision in the East End. A year later, O’Keefe Brewers decided not to build a new brewery on land they had purchased on Carlaw Avenue. Rolph and Clark Ltd. bought that land as well. It was Rolph and Clark Ltd. that actually built 201 Carlaw in 1913 before the merger with Stone Company.


The Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd. logo in the 1920s


The Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd. logo in the 1960s



stone-pictureJust before World War One and during the Great War, new globe-july-17-1930factories, powered by hydroelectricity from Niagara Falls, sprang up along Carlaw and Eastern Avenue. Thousands moved from rural Ontario into Toronto looking for work while immigrants from Britain poured onto steamers to cross the Atlantic, seeking work in big cities like Toronto.

Working class Shacktowns sprang up just outside city limits as the population of Toronto increased 82 percent between 1901 and 1911. There was a “housing famine” and while the Shacktown east of Greenwood Avenue was one way blue collar workers found homes, another was doubling up in the existing housing clustered around the factories. Overcrowded housing led to serious health and social issues. William Stone and Frank Rolph were strong proponents of building better housing for workers although the Rolph-Clark-Stone Company did not feel the same way about unions. Many similar employers felt that, since they looked after their own, there was simply no need for labour unions on their shop floors — maybe someone else’s but not theirs.




globe-february-19-1919-toronto-housin-coThe period just after World War one saw a great change in thinking about what society thought its City government could and should do. People demanded better roads and Ontario’s first system of paved highways was built starting with the Kingston Road. Paved streets even came to the old Leslieville. Riders insisted on better public transportation and the old inefficient (and arrogant) street railway company was taken over and the Toronto Transportation Commission now called the Toronto Transit Commission (T.T.C.) replaced it, improving and extending routes across the City, making it easier for people to get to work.

Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd. actively promoted better housing for workers. The Toronto Housing Commission (THC), supported by Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd. and other members of the Canadian Manufacturing Association, put up  homes, sold at or about cost to families with low-interest mortgages. The employees of Rolph-Clark-Stone earned good money under a benevolent, albeit paternalistic, management that even made sure workers had decent places to live.








In 1920 the City of Toronto built its own low income housing on four streets that ran eastbound from Coxwell: Stacey, Earl Haig, Currie and Hanson and other streets in the old East End.




Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham, 1759. Printed by Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd. Credit: Library and Archives Canada.

globe-june-27-1923People were proud to work for Rolph-Clark-Stone. They produced outstanding high quality graphic arts — everything from labels, boxes, calendars, books, brochures, posters to postcards. And they knew it. Their work produced beautiful illustrations, still collected almost a century later.

They shared the strong camaraderie that distinguished many factories in our area. Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd. had a reputation as a good place to work, with decent wages and good management. It employed many skilled artists and printers, as well as labourers, and worked at building a sense of family, what would later be called “a corporate culture”. The company sponsored a sports league, Christmas parties, picnics and other social events. They celebrated the birth of each other’s babies, attended weddings and cried at funerals. They worked together and played together. At that time, young boys in their early teens went to work as “printer’s devils” and eventually became apprentice, then journeyman and then master printers. They paid their dues and expected to work and often did work in the same plant for the rest of their working lives.Rolph-Clark-Stone had many men (and a few women) who worked there for decades.

Rolph-Clark-Stone shares were “closely held”, mostly by members of the founding families, and the executive of the firm was dominated by Rolphs and Clarks up until the 1970s. In many ways, Rolph-Clark-Stone was a family firm.




The Civilian, Vol. XIV, No. 3 (February, 1921) Rolph Clarke Stone ad



Globe and Mail, November 15, 1955



Most industrial labourers were poor when the Rolph-Clark-Stone Building was built. Most remained poor throughout the 1920s. After the “Great War to End All Workers” ended on November 11, 1918, a series of strikes swept Toronto, including streetcar workers, police, and many others. Most strikes were for improved wages, but men and women also went out on the picket line to fight for better and safer working conditions and to end child labour. Most factories, including Leslieville’s brick making plants, the Consumers’ plant on Eastern, Dunlop Robber on Queen, and those on Carlaw, were dangerous places to work. However the dangers were not understood at the time. For example. the connections between chemicals used in lithography and cancer would not be made for another 80 years.


Smokestacks belching black clouds were considered a sign of process. Carlaw Avenue had its fair share.

If we walked by in 1921 we would hear the incessant clang and whirring of large machinery, including presses, planers and cutters. I know from experience in the industry that in the old days there were many young printers who could hear perfectly and there were many older workers who’d spent a lifetime in the industry.  But there were no workers who’d been there a life time who did not have hearing damage. Many were deafened by their jobs.


As time passed the machines got bigger and bigger. When I worked in a bindery off Carlaw, some of the machines were almost a city block long. The noise level was overpowering and we constantly breathed in  paper dust. I wiped my machine down before I took a coffee break; when I came back fifteen minutes later there was almost an inch of paper dust on the machine.

We would smell solvents that we couldn’t even name as we walk by in 1921. Lacquers, shellac, degreasers, turpentine and other strange, pungent aromas wafted up and down Carlaw.

Lithography was a far from safe process for the workers. Originally lithographers used stones and relied on a toxic mixture of asphaltum, rosin, nitric acid, and mineral spirit solvents. Many lithographic materials are suspected or known carcinogens and neurotoxins. Fumes from the solvents meant that women who worked in plants often found that they could not bear children or they had abnormally high rates of miscarriages. These chemicals were carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic. In other words, cancer, birth defects in offspring, and infertility are known risks of the lithography process. Those who worked at Rolph-Clark-Stone had a greater risk of cancer. They endured chronic, debilitating illnesses including neurological damage, and died prematurely because of their long-term exposure to the chemicals in the lithographic process. No one could have known that his job was killing him, although some may have suspected. No one knew that she couldn’t have a baby because she packed calendars into boxes.

The inks used in the process were made up of pigments suspended either in water or linseed oil, along with binders or preservatives. Linseed oil is not considered hazardous if inhaled or if it touched the skin, but many of the inks contained small amounts of toxic heavy metals, such as lead.


Workers suffered pigment poisoning if they accidentally swallowed pigments while they were eating, drinking or smoking. A lot of workers ate at their machines to speed up production. In the summer the plants were almost impossibly hot. It was easy to take in a little pigment with your coffee or water.

Lead poisoning lead to anemia, damage to nerves, kidneys and the gastrointestinal system. It also caused damage to the reproductive system. But other pigments were dangerous too, notably cobalt (cobalt blue), cadmium (cadmium red) and manganese (manganese blue, manganese purple). Cadmium red, chrome yellow and zinc yellow can cause lung cancer if breathed in. Lamp black and carbon black, popular in the lithography of the day, had impurities that could cause skin cancer.

Lithography used stones (usually limestone and later metal plates) for printing.  The crayons used on the stones contained a number of toxic substances. Hydrofluoric acid and phenol were and still are the most dangerous to use. Talcs were often contaminated with asbestos and silica. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. And I haven’t even discussed amputations from the cutters or “guillotines”. Many print shop workers are missing bits of fingers or more. I’ve seen it happen on the shop floor.planer-stone-grey-1

A machine to smooth the stones.

In 1993, Merle Spandorfer, Deborah Curtiss and Jack Snyder M.D., published a ground-breaking manual Making Art Safely. They recommended that lithographers need three levels of protection from harmful vapors. Modern lithographic stone process safety measures include:

1)   Individual respirators for each worker;

2)   A general dilution ventilation system for the whole plant; and

3)   Additional local fume extraction at any source of airborne contamination, including at individual machines and work stations.

None of these were available in 1921, though plants did have fans.

The old saying, “hard work never killed anyone” could never be less true than on Carlaw Avenue. Johann Alois Senefelder’s invention did become known throughout the world. Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd. benefitted Leslieville. But many artists, printers, bookbinders and labourers paid a high price for exquisite graphic arts.


A Rolph-Clark-Stone pin-up.



The Spring Fur Brigades Leave Montreal for the West by Franklin Arbuckle, ca. 1946. Printed on a calendar by Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd.

To Be Continued

For more about lithography and safety:

Time Travel Carlaw: Queen Street East Presbyterian and 181-183 Carlaw Avenue

1921-3Come with us way, way back to Carlaw Avenue 1921. We are going to walk up the east side of Carlaw all the way to Gerrard, experiencing some of the views and imagining some of the sounds and smells of Leslieville’s main industrial district. As we walk north away from Eastern Avenue towards Queen, we see how closely housing and factories sit. There was no city planning legislation in Ontario until just before World War One. Small working class houses line Carlaw up to Queen. Meet some new immigrants, mostly from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, along with some families who’ve been in Leslieville for years — Fogartys, Snooks and others.

British immigrants. - [1911?]

Immigrants from Britain, around 1911. City of Toronto Archives.

Queen St E Presbyterian Church and Leslie trees

From the Toronto Public Library.

A Presbyterian Church anchors the southeast corner of Queen and Carlaw. On November 16, 1877 local Presbyterians with the help of Rev. J.M. Cameron founded Leslieville Presbyterian Church. They worshipped in the Orange Hall (Gowan’s Hall). George Leslie, prominent nurseryman, is the first name in the Church’s register. On November 25th, 1877 they celebrated Holy Communion for the first time. Members built a new red brick Gothic church that opened on July 14, 1878. Henry Bauld Gordon (1854-1951) was the architect. It was laid out in the shape of a cross and seated 400.

18780712 Canada Presbyterian New Ser V 1 No 37 2

The Canadian Presbyterian, Vol. 1, No. 37, 2, July 12, 1878

The Rev. Abraham was the first supply, and helped organize the Sabbath school, but William Frizzell was the first pastor, inducted on October 17, 1882. His pay was $400 a year. The small congregation was united with Chalmers Church and Rev. Frizzell filled both pulpits. Frizzell was an Ulsterman like many in the church. From the start, the congregation was close to the Loyal Orange Order.

In 1883 the congregation built a large Sunday school.  They had a Young People’s Association and a Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavour.  A Willing Workers Society, formed in 1882, helped poor people. They raised money in concerts, lectures and social events. Annual picnics were held as excursions across the Lake to Port Dalhousie, nearer to home at places like the Humber or Victoria Park.  In 1887 about 150 children went to the Sunday School. That year Leslieville Presbyterian Church and Chalmers Church separated. Rev. Frizzell became Leslieville’s full-time pastor. The congregation was self-supporting and had over 300 members. In 1891 the Women’s Missionary Society formed.

Visiting speakers packed the church. Missionaries were popular.  The Church also held special services to spread the Gospel among local people. By the 1890s Leslieville was industrializing. Poor families packed houses along Eastern, Carlaw, Logan, etc.  Many were illiterate. They suffered from tuberculosis, typhoid and other infectious diseases. The Board of Education could not keep up with the growth in population.  The Church offered its Sunday School rooms until public schoolrooms were built. The area was no longer a rural village. In 1894, the congregation voted to change the name. In 1895 the name became Queen East Presbyterian Church. That year two members of the Women’s Missionary Society sailed to China as missionaries.

In 1895 Rev. Frizzell was a leader in the Sabbath Observance Alliance. On May 10, 1897, they packed churches to fight against Sunday streetcars.  William Frizzell argued:

A Sunday service would not be a benefit to workingmen; the day would become a holiday instead of a holy day; the day was set aside for rest and worship.

However, the referendum against Sunday street cars failed.

Many members fought in World War One. 31 died; many more were wounded. The 36th Ulster Division, famous for its bravery, was closely linked to the church. Later a stained glass window was dedicated to the “Red Handers”. The Great War changed Canada profoundly, giving women the vote, for example.  Presbyterians led the movement to women’s rights. For example, Rev. W. Hardy Andrews called for extension of the right to vote to women. Between 1912 and 1925, there were several votes on church union. In 1925, most Presbyterians joined the United Church of Canada.   Queen Street East Presbyterian Church voted against union.

On a Sunday night in 1924, while Hardy Andrews preached on “The Perils of the City”, including in crime among teenagers, two youths broke into the vestry and stole the collection.

In 1928, the congregation built a new Sunday School on Carlaw Avenue beside the church. In 1929 they had the church remodeled at a cost of $45,000.00. S. B. Coon & Son were the architects. Even in the Great Depression the church continued to sustain itself and reach out to the community around it. Queen Street East Presbyterian Church raised $9,055 in 1935.  The Women’s Auxiliary had raised $1,050 that year, a considerable sum at that time.

About 170 from the congregation served in World War Two. Nine died.

Fire almost destroyed the church on January 12, 1968. The banquet hall and most of the sanctuary were saved. Before the fire, Rev. John Robson and Sam Campbell, chair of the Board of Management, had planned to appeal to local businesses for money to modernize the structure. Thus the fire presented opportunities and dangers. There were many ideas about what should be done with the church and grounds. Some had wanted to build a seniors high rise with a church built in. Others worried about red tape and regulations surrounding government grants. Sharp disagreements lead to some members leaving the congregation. On Dec. 19, 1968 the re-built church was re-dedicated. The congregation decided to build a new addition on Carlaw. The tenants of the new building were needed to help defray costs. In 1970 John Robson and members of the congregation helped found the Riverdale Community Organization. In 1987 Rev. John C. Robson retired June after 33 years at Queen Street East Presbyterian Church. He died the next year. The South Riverdale Health Centre dedicated the meeting room which faces the church yard in memory of Dr. Robson.

Challenging times faced Queen Street East Presbyterian Church. Church attendance declined rapidly as society became secular and multicultural.  More people work on Sundays and William Frizzell would have been shocked at stores, malls, sporting facilities, etc., all open on the Sabbath. Virtually all of Leslieville’s churches have faced shrinking congregations. Some church buildings closed as there are no longer the revenues to support them. Queen Street East Presbyterian Church itself went through a long period of rapidly succeeding ministers, far different from the days of Frizzell, Andrews or Robson. The size of the congregation shrank, but became more multicultural, reflecting the neighbourhood. Moreover, these Presbyterians were well placed to deal with change as leadership had always sprung from the congregation itself. They called the pastors and governed the church’s life and had been tested in fire.

For more info:

Queen Street East Presbyterian Church
947 Queen St East (at Carlaw)
Toronto, ON M4M 1J9
Church Voice Mail: 416-465-1143

The first big factory we see on the east side of Carlaw as we cross Queen Street and head north is Kent McClain Ltd. But it won’t be the last. Both sides of Carlaw are lined with factories from Queen to Gerrard.

Here is a listing of the larger factories from the Toronto City Directory of 1921.

Carlaw Ave East Side
181-199 Kent-McClain, Ltd., showcases
201-213 Rolph, Clark, Stone Ltd., lithographers
235-245 Wm Wrigley Jr Co. Ltd. Gum makers
D. Shoup Co. Ltd., paper boxes
British American Wax Paper Co. Ltd.
235-245 Dunlop Tire Rubber Goods Co storage
Eaton Co. Factory
319      George Le Monte & Son, Ltd. Paper manufacturers
325      Connell Anthracite Mining Co. Ltd.
345      Roden Bros. Ltd., silversmiths
347- 353          Flexible Shaft Co. Ltd.
Stanley Piano Co., piano manufacturers
Toronto Hydro Electric System East End Station

GTR Bridge [CNR overpass at Gerrard and Carlaw]

Carlaw Ave West Side
254      Palmolive Company of Canada Ltd.
258 – 326        Phillips Manufacturing Co. Ltd., mouldings
328      Pratt Food Company of Canada Ltd.
330      The Canadian B. K. Morton Co. Ltd.
346      Frederick G. Harrold, coal
388      Jefferson Glass Co. Ltd.
Gerrard St. intersects

Kent-McClain, Ltd., 181-199 Carlaw Avenue, was a major employer manufacturing showcases, bookcases and other furniture for retailers, libraries, etc. As we walk by their factory, the sound of saws, lathes and other heavy equipment pours out of the open shop windows. The air is rich with the smell of sawdust.

torontoonkentmcclainlogoThis three-storey building was built in 1911 in the Edwardian Classicist style and was occupied by Kent-McClain until 1935. Many factories of this period were built in this style. But what is Edwardian Classicism? According to

Edwardian architecture can be split into a few main categories. First there is the Edwardian Classicism which evolved from the Beaux Arts, and often overlapped with the Beaux Arts style. It was extravagant and powerful, perfect for public buildings as well as for new types of buildings that arose in response to the changing social climate of the time. Train stations, libraries and police stations were often built in the high style of Edwardian Classicism, as were commercial buildings and factories. The new electrical power stations in Niagara Falls were also in this overblown classical style.

Edwardian Classicism was popular from the late 1890s through to the First World War. These buildings were meant to impress with their solid massing and impressive facades, but they were also practical and sturdy, much valued in 2016 for condominiums and office space, as well as ground floor retail stores.

Many of the buildings on Carlaw were built with brick from Greenwood Avenue brickyards or the Don Valley brickyard. This building has the large windows typical of the period when electricity was first being introduced into factories. Cheap hydro-electricity helped make Carlaw the industrial success it was in the 1920s. The door way and windows are accented with a light grey limestone.  Like many factories of its time, it has a cornice with modillions with dentils and plain frieze below. If this is all Greek to you, you are on target. These architectural terms come from the buildings of ancient Greece like the Parthenon.

For a definition of building terms go to:

Inside 183 Carlaw, there is a big eight-unit stained glass window featuring the Kent-McClain shield.

For more information about this and other Carlaw  Avenue buildings go  to:

Back to the future of 2016, the building now hosts offices and studios.

181-183 Carlaw Avenue, the Kent-McLain factory. Photo used with the kind permission of Lennard Commercial Realty, Brokerage

181-183 Carlaw Avenue, the Kent-McLain factory. Photo used with the kind permission of Lennard Commercial Realty, Brokerage



In the 1920s Kent-McLain is major employer. This photo shows what the inside of their shop probably looked like.


A worker in a similar woodworking factory. Canadian Woodworker and Furniture Manufacturer, Vol. 22, No. 2, February, 1922


Toronto Star, February 6, 1918


Toronto Star, Dec. 12, 1910






A Kent-McClain showcase manufactured for a store at Yonge and Bloor. Canadian Woodworker and Furniture Manufacturer, Vol. 22, No. 10, October, 1922.

A Kent-McClain showcase manufactured for a store at Yonge and Bloor. Canadian Woodworker and Furniture Manufacturer, Vol. 22, No. 10, October, 1922


Proximity to the rail line allowed Kent-McClain to bring in materials such as oak, walnut and other high-quality hard woods as well as to ship out their products across Canada.

In the 1920s the rail sidings on Carlaw served the factories below. Future posts will take us to many of these buildings:

Brandram-Henderson Ltd. (paint & varnish) 377 Carlaw Ave.
Frank A. Bowden & Sons Ltd. (lumber) 377-387 Carlaw Ave.
International Varnish Co. Ltd. 371-375 Carlaw Ave.
Martin-Senour Co. Ltd. (paints) 371-375 Carlaw Ave.
Connell Anthracite Mining Co. Ltd. yd#5 325 Carlaw Ave.
Wrigley Building 245 Carlaw Ave.
Delco-Light Co. of Canada Ltd. 245 Carlaw Ave.
Dyment Ltd. (window displays) 245 Carlaw Ave.
Diamond State Fibre Co. of Canada Ltd. 245 Carlaw Ave. (fibreboard)
De Forest Radio Corp. Ltd.
General Fireproofing Co. 235 Carlaw Ave.
A. D. Shoup Co. Ltd. (paper boxes) 245 Carlaw Ave.
Blachford Shoe Mfg. Co. Ltd.
Geo. LaMonte & Son Ltd. (paper mfgs.) 319 Carlaw Ave.
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. Ltd.(gum) 235-245 Carlaw Ave.
Rolph-Clarke-Stone Ltd. (litho.) 201-213 Carlaw Ave.
Kent-McClain Ltd. (showcase mfg.) 181-199 Carlaw Ave.
The Palmolive Co. of Canada Ltd. (soap) 58-64 Natalie St.
Phillips Mfg. Co. Ltd. (mouldings) 258-326 Carlaw Ave.
Pratt Food Co. of Canada Ltd. 328 Carlaw Ave. (poultry remedies)
Sturgeons Ltd. (painters supplies) 330 Carlaw Ave.
Frederick G. Harrold’s Coal Co. 346 Carlaw Ave.
Dominion Glass Co. Ltd. 388 Carlaw Ave.

This list was compiled from:


First Train on the new Toronto Viaduct 1927 Globe Sept 24 1927

First Train on the new Toronto Viaduct. Globe, September 24, 1927




Time Travel Carlaw: 1920s South of Eastern Avenue


City of Toronto Directory, 1921

Is time travel possible?

Maybe not literally (yet), but with a little imagination, some good pictures, and a smidgen of narrative, the past can come alive. Use your imagination to go up Carlaw Avenue in the mid-1920s with the Leslieville Historical Society.



s0372_ss0058_it0071 001

Foot of Carlaw Avenue, City of Toronto Archives




Goad’s Atlas,  1924 south of Eastern Avenue to Keating Street (now part of Lakeshore Blvd. E.) Brick buildings are red, wooden buildings are yellowish-brown). Lot numbers are shown, as well as subdivision numbers and even the numbers of houses.




The Packers’ Encyclopedia, 1922


The Packers’ Encyclopedia, 1922


The Packers’ Encyclopedia, 1922



First stop, just south of Eastern Avenue on the shore of what is left of Ashbridges Bay. A wave of pure stink washes over you. Raw sewage in the water competes with the over-powering smells from Fuller Stanbury Co., pork packers and the penetrating stench of tallow renderers on your

Shoe & Leather Journal, January 1, 1923

Shoe & Leather Journal, January 1, 1923

right hand as you face north. At your left H. B. J1921-5ohnston & Co.’s tannery reeks to high heaven. But that’s just one smell and we’ve just begun. Consumer’s Gas plants on Eastern Avenue near McGee are belching smoke into the air, as are dozens of factories.






Tannery Ashbridge’s Bay, 1926 (Toronto Public Library)

s0372_ss0079_it0166 001

Looking north from Eastern Avenue at the rail overpass into the industrial heart of Leslieville, wreathed in smog.

You hear the high-pitched squeal of frightened pigs as workers prod them down a chute from a box car at the railroad siding along Ashbridge’s Bay. Maybe it’s time to pick up the pace.

Walking is difficult as the street is in terrible shape, with deep ruts and potholes that seem bottomless. The new cement sidewalk is safer.


12 Carlaw Avenue, April 11, 1933 City of Toronto Archives

The streets are lined with small houses, some rundown, some even falling down. This is the poorest part of Leslieville. Some bear old Leslieville names like John Wise (not Wase) at #14, William Snook at #32 and Samuel Buckner at #136. But many more are immigrants who flooded into the neighbourhood just before World War One, drawn by the jobs in the factories and mills. Many houses hold two, three, even four families. Children are everywhere, their voices high and happy, as they play games of tag and hopscotch on the sidewalk. Boys hunch over marbles.



Goad’s Atlas, 1924, showing Eastern Avenue

Jewish rag picker, Bloor Street West. - 1911

Jewish rag picker, Bloor Street West. – 1911. City of Toronto Archives.

1921-2Rag and bone yards are tucked in among the tanneries, paint factories and slaughterhouses along Eastern Avenue. We call it recycling; they called it scavenging. It was work for the poorest of the poor, mostly new immigrants from the shtetls of Poland and the Ukraine.Samuel Cohen’s Veterans Rag and Waste at 101 Carlaw represents long hours of hauling goods by hand trucks and wagons from across downtown to the East End. Every grown up  who live in this crowded neighbourhood in the 1921 we are visiting knows what it was to work long hours.

I worked ten hours a day, six days a week. The only thing we could do because money was so low you couldn’t save anything or very little, so you had to work long hours to keep the table going.


But the rag pickers stand out in a world that was increasingly more and more dominated by one ethnic group.

And I think I should say that it was a WASP neighbourhood. As a matter of fact, I think it was Hughie Garner that said we were WASPO – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Orangemen. 



When I was a boy, very rarely you met anybody who wasn’t born here or Anglo-Saxon or whatever you call them.



Interior, October 30, 1913, City of Toronto Archives


Just north of Eastern Avenue, a small subsidiary of Dunlop Rubber produces Peerless heels and soles. There are many small plants scattered among the houses. People need to be able to walk to work. Their pay is not enough to support a family and pay for streetcar tickets. In another 80 years, the manufacturing plants will be gone and with them the blue-collar jobs that East Enders depended on. In the 1980s they would think of Carlaw as a ghost town of lost jobs and memories of days “on the shop floor”, where the sound of factory whistles carried above all the industrial noise and smoke from dozens of tall chimneys.

Smoke meant our men were working. 



Most of the factories that were here when I was a boy are now out in the suburbs. The buildings are now usually warehouses and most of them are empty.




To be continued