My Corner of the World
Another post that falls into this category! Not unusual for me.
I had taken these photos in 2017 as we drove by. I never really gave any thought to the name other than it caught my attention because I love photography.
This whole post happened because of a photo I came across on a Facebook group!!! And as I investigated one thing led to another (insert John, shaking head, and saying as usual...). So I had to go out and track down some of the locations of Kodak around downtown.
Tom, the Backroads Traveler will appreciate this. I did know about Kodak in Rochester New York because of Tom. We even went to Rochester to visit the Eastman House Museum.
My photo of the Kodak Gil in Rochester.
So obviously I knew a lot about Rochester and Kodak, but not what was in my own backyard!!
Click here to read about the Rochester/Toronto relationship - Ryerson University.
Kodak The Early Years also from Ryerson along with this website. This was written by photography students in 2019 and is fascinating.
There is insight to women at work, the war years and advertising. It also covers the racism that existed in Toronto at the time in the section called Difficult Histories.
Following Canadian Kodak’s incorporation in 1899, the company established premises in an existing building at 41 Colborne Street, Toronto. The property was intended to serve as an assembly and distribution centre, rather than a site of manufacturing: the fledgling company imported bulk film and photographic paper, as well as completed cameras, from Rochester for packaging and distribution in Canada. The property was leased to Canadian Kodak Co., Ltd. for 3 years at $840 per year. Consisting of four floors and a cellar, 24 ¼ x 71 feet each, the site housed the entire Kodak plant and its staff of ten. A further 7-year option on the property was offered by the owner but never taken. Largely unchanged from its original structure, the Colborne Street building still stands today.
See it today.
The Colborne Street premises soon proved insufficient to house the rapidly growing Canadian subsidiary. With its lease set to expire in 1901, the company set out to find a new site for its operations in what was then Toronto’s manufacturing district. In September of that year, Canadian Kodak purchased an empty lot at 588 King Street for $70 per foot and hired Toronto architects Chadwick and Beckett to build a new plant. Over its 17-year tenure at this facility, Canadian Kodak began its transition to a manufacturing operation, producing its own photographic film, paper, and mounts. The company also began to import camera parts—rather than completed cameras—from Rochester for assembly and distribution in Canada. Like the Colborne Street site, the King Street premises quickly proved too small to house the growing business and two additional buildings were constructed in an adjoining lot. By 1908, the King Street factory had expanded to its full capacity and the company had grown to 108 employees. Like Kodak’s Colborne Street plant, the King Street facility still stands today, now part of a busy retail strip in downtown Toronto.
So, back to the photo that started all this. I was flipping through a Facebook group called Toronto Old Districts and saw this photo. I had not known that Toronto had such a large Kodak operation.
Kodak Mount Dennis Campus, also known as Kodak Heights, was an industrial park in the Mount Dennis neighbourhood of Toronto. It was owned and operated by the Eastman Kodak Company as a major camera manufacturing factory since its opening in 1912, peaking at 900 employees in 1925, 3,000 in the 1970s, falling to about 800 before it ceased the plant's operations in 2006.
Kodak had opened its Canadian operations on 8 November 1899, first on Colborne Street and then King Street in the downtown core. By 1912 the company was growing so rapidly that a new corporate campus was needed. George Eastman personally visited Toronto to view potential sites, eventually selecting the Mount Dennis area, which at that time was farmland. In 1913 the company purchased 10 hectares (25 acres) at $12,000 per hectare ($5,000/acre) and began construction as soon as the deed was transferred. A series of seven buildings were initially constructed, including two that were connected by an enclosed bridge. The first to be completed, Building 1, was the power plant, which connected to the Canadian Pacific Railway just south of the plant with a spur that ended inside the building. It burned about 500 tonnes of coal a day. The move from the King Street facilities began in 1916, completed the next year.
End of employee meeting, west parking lot, last day of manufacturing operations, Kodak Canada, Toronto
The 19-hectare (48-acre) campus once contained over a dozen buildings, of which only Kodak Building 9 remains standing. The building was abandoned until 2013 when the land was acquired by Metrolinx to construct the Eglinton Crosstown line. It will be the location of the Mount Dennis LRT station main entrance with a bus terminal, and the Eglinton Maintenance and Storage Facility nearby.