Ew! On Eastern Ave.

A.R. Clark Tannery Bad odor pix at A.R. Clark Tannery 1970 Toronto Telegram York University
A. R. Clarke Tannery, Bad odor pix at A.R. Clarke Tannery, 1970, Toronto Telegram fonds, York University
2 Clarke Tannery Peterborough
Clarke Tannery Peterborough

Landlord:
That smell’s the tannery; God help you in summer. If there’s one good thing, the rats can’t climb this high, but the water can – that roof hasn’t got long.

Giacomo Casanova:
You’re not exactly selling it.

From the movie Casanova, 2005

Where did it all begin? In 1852 John Clarke opened a small tannery on the Otonabee River in Ashburnham, now part of Peterborough.

In 1882 his three sons, Alfred Russell, Frederick G., and Charles F., moved the tannery to Toronto and Alfred R. Clarke took over sole ownership. The tannery was very successful, but, besides the notoriously bad stench associated with tanneries, it had other problems, including labour unrest.

In 1893 the Working Women’s Protective Association went out on strike by at the A.R. Clarke & Co. glove factory in a fight for factory reform law and votes for women. The strike ran for about three months. Eugene Forsey, Eugene. Trade Unions in Canada, 1812-1902.  (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982) 329- 300.

[Building Permits] A. R. Clarke, a three-story factory in Eastern avenue, to cost $25,000. Globe, Sept. 20, 1900 [at Beachell in Corktown]

In 1902 Alfred R. Clarke moved his tannery from beside the Don River to 633 Eastern Avenue.

A story circulated that, while Clarke was supervising raising the flag (to celebrate the end of construction) from his new building’s roof, all Toronto’s church bells rang and factory whistles shrieked. Though Clarke knew he was a prominent figure in Toronto’s business world, he was, none the less, gratified with the City’s response to his new tannery’s opening.  When he got back to his office he found that the celebrations were for the end of the Boer War, not to welcome the new tannery.

http://www.firstportcredit.com/pages/410/410_51_history.html

3 Toronto Star, June 23, 1905 Cropped
Toronto Star, June 23, 1905 Cropped

ADDITIONS AND MORE ADDITIONS

[Building Permit] A. R. Clarke & Co. – One-storey brick addition to leather works, near Caroline street on Eastern avenue, $1,000. Toronto Star July 18, 1904

…a factory for A.R. Clarke & Co., Ltd., on Eastern avenue, to cost $2,000. Globe, Sept. 20, 1905

5 Toronto Star, June 23, 1905

6 Toronto Star, Sept. 26, 1906
Toronto Star, Sept. 26, 1906

Frederick G., and Charles E. Clarke owned and operated Clarke and Clarke, tannery, while Alfred R. ran A. R. Clarke Co. The other Clarke Brothers specialized in leather pickled in brine while A. R. Clarke specialized in patent leather and fine leather products such as gloves. For a while Frederick and Charles considered building a new tannery on Carlaw Avenue.

Dr. Brown, the first speaker, said that the tannery would be right next door to his fine new residence.

“I have invested $15,000 there, the savings of a lifetime,” he said. “No one can tell me that there will be no odor from hides in pickle.”

“I am afraid it may interfere with my church, which is within 200 yards, said Rev. Mr. Frizzell of Leslieville Presbyterian church. This is a very thickly-populated residential district.”

Toronto Star, Sept. 26, 1906

7 Toronto Star, Oct. 2, 1906

8 Globe, Oct. 9, 1906
Globe, Oct. 9, 1906

“I’m glad we’re going,” said one woman.

“Why – because of the odor of the tannery?” asked The Star.

“Not that particularly. You see, there are so many odors around here that it is almost impossible to make distinguish any particular one.”

Toronto Star, Oct. 2, 1906

9 Toronto Star, Oct. 9, 1906

Toronto Star, Oct. 9, 1906

4 Globe, May 16, 1907
Globe, May 16, 1907
11 History of the Twelfth Regiment, York Rangers, 1913
History of the Twelfth Regiment, York Rangers, 1913

GLOVE MAKERS WANTED FOR light work; inseam and trimmer machines. A. R. Clarke & Co., Limited, 633-661 Eastern avenue.

Globe, June 3, 1913

12 Postcard Atlantic Record

12 Globe, March 22, 1915
Globe, March 22, 1915
12 Globe, May 7, 1915
Globe, May 7, 1915

This advertisement is from the day before a German U-boat torpedoed R.M.S. Lusitania.

Lusitania12 Postcard

10 Globe, May 5, 1908

12 Sinking ship13 The Aftermath

11g Globe, June 21, 1915
Globe, June 21, 1915

Elbert Hubbard the founder of Roycroft, died on the Lusitania as well as many other celebrities and many wealthy men, women and children. Hundreds of second and third class passengers drowned as well.  Alfred R. Clarke survived the sinking only to die of pneumonia afterwards. The vortex from the sunken liner sucked Clarke far under the surface. The incredible water pressure crushed his chest, puncturing his lungs.

 

 

 

 

11j Toronto Star, June 21, 1915
Toronto Star, June 21, 1915
Toronto Star, June 21, 1915
Toronto Star, June 21, 1915
1
Toronto Star, June 21, 1915
2
Toronto Star, June 21, 1915
12
Globe, July 5, 1915
14 Globe, July 8, 1915
Globe, July 8, 1915
14a Globe, July 8, 1915b
Globe, July 8, 1915
14b Globe, July 8, 1915c
Globe, July 8, 1915

15 Enlist

16 Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1983-28-132317 But What Tremendous Fleet Could Have Brought over such An Army The Lusitania. July 6, 1918, Library and Archives Canada

But! What Tremendous Fleet Could Ever Have Brought Over Such an Army? – The Lusitania. July 6, 1918, Library and Archives Canada

19190911GL Clarke tannery heir scandal Booth woman
Scandal Tannery Heir sued, Globe September 11, 1919

A. R. Clarke’s son Griffith B. ran the tannery until he died in an accident in 1923. Then Clarke’s widow ran the business herself.

17 Toronto Star, May 20, 1919
Toronto Star, May 20, 1919
18 Toronto Star, June 7, 1919
Toronto Star, June 7, 1919
19 The municipality of Toronto, p 260
Biography of Frederick G. Clarke, The Municipality of Toronto, 260

 

tannery-ashbridges-bay-1926-toronto-public-library
Tannery, Ashbridge’s Bay, 1926. Toronto Public Library.
19260510GL A R Clarke ad - Copy
Globe, May 10, 1926

Heavy Water Damage at Clarke Company Fire

Heavy damage by water was done last night to the stock of the A.R. Clarke Company, manufacturers of leather goods, 633 Eastern Avenue, when water sprinklers flooded four floors of the building. A small fire started about 10.30 on the fourth floor, near a clothing room. Sprinklers were set in operation, and before fireman could shut off the water, all floors were flooded.

The superintendent of the firm stated he could not estimate the loss last night, but though it would be several thousand dollars. The cause of the fire is not known.

Globe, Nov. 6, 1926

On the death of Mrs. A. R. Clarke,in 1931,  her son-in-law, W. H. Lytle became company president of the tannery until he died in 1961. The family remained involved in the business for years.

19b Globe, Dec. 18, 1931
Globe, Dec. 18, 1931
20 Globe and Mail, Oct. 6, 1942
Globe and Mail, Oct. 6, 1942
20a Globe and Mail, Sept. 16, 1947
Globe and Mail, Sept. 16, 1947
20b Globe and Mail, Nov. 2, 1949
Globe and Mail, Nov. 2, 1949

In the 1960s A. R. Clarke & Co. Limited expanded by buying The Breithaupt Leather Co. Limited of Kitchener with tanneries in Hastings and Campbellford. See the May 1967 “Centennial Issue” of Industrial Canada held in the Western Libraries at the University of Western Ontario.  http://www.lib.uwo.ca/programs/companyinformationcanada/ccc-ARClarke.htm

20c Globe and Mail, Aug. 24, 1962
Globe and Mail, Aug. 24, 1962
Globe and Mail, Aug. 15, 1962 photo
Globe and Mail, Aug. 15, 1962 photo
picket A. R. CLARKE tannery plant 1963 TPL TStar lic
Picket outside A. R. CLARKE tannery, 1963 Toronto Star photograph used under a Toronto Star license and accessed at the Toronto Public Library.
20c Globe and Mail, Feb. 10, 1964
Globe and Mail, Feb. 10, 1964
21 Clarke Tannery (lower left) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario
21 Clarke Tannery (lower left) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario
22 Clarke Tannery (Middle) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario
22 Clarke Tannery (Middle) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario
23 Clarke Tannery (center) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario. Canada Metals far left
23 Clarke Tannery (center) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario. Canada Metals far left

On March 27, 2001, fire destroyed the A.R. Clarke Limited building as it was being renovated to convert it into a film sound stage. The tannery on Eastern Avenue was in receivership at the time.

Workers dismantling the pipes inside the building were welding with acetylene torches while the sprinkler system was shut off. More than 100 firefighters and more than 30 fire trucks fought the fire. Police evacuated nearby businesses and homes were evacuated as flames shot into the sky.

Spilled degreasing chemicals over the years of operation contaminated the tannery land and the groundwater.

25 Toronto Star, June 28, 2001

Toronto Star, March 28, 2001

26 Toronto Star, June 28, 2001 text

23 Toronto Star, March 29, 2001 photo
Toronto Star, June 29, 2001
24 Toronto Star, March 29, 2001 text
Toronto Star, June 29, 2001
CASANOVA
Landlord: That smell’s the tannery; God help you in summer. If there’s one good thing, the rats can’t climb this high, but the water can — that roof hasn’t got long. Giacomo Casanova: You’re not exactly selling it. From www.quotes.net

Ayrshire CF 1873

 

Published by Leslieville Historical Society

Welcome to the Leslieville Historical Society's website. Please feel free to join us, to ask questions, to attend walking tours and other events, and to celebrate Leslieville's past while creating our future. Guy Anderson, President, Leslieville Historical Society and Joanne Doucette, local historian and webmaster.

2 thoughts on “Ew! On Eastern Ave.

  1. I have just recently left Leslieville (home to my family since 1954). I lived on Dagmar Avenue and went to Leslie P.S., Woodfield Junior High School and then on to Riverdale Collegiate Institute. I am an author of a series of books on Home Children, my father was one. I came across your website while researching the Tannery on Eastern Avenue for a new book that I am writing. Well done!

    1. Thank you, Sandra,

      Your warm words are much appreciated. I am familiar with your writing as I always watch out for anything about Home Children. I knew a few growing up.

      My grandfather on my mother’s side was a Barnardo boy who was given the choice of the navy at 11 or the colonies. He chose the sea.

      Regards,
      Joanne Doucette

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