Restoring Massey Hall to its original glory

Meet a Leaside Business: Kreitmaker

Massey Hall. Photo Constantine Ntakos.
Massey Hall. Photo Constantine Ntakos.

Consider the humble brick.

You can make a fair case that the history of human civilization, from the Pharaohs to the present, has been built with bricks.

Certainly, Toronto was. The red-brick bungalow was the standard for home construction in the old city for well over 125 years – including in Leaside, where a slightly grander version is still considered a classic Leaside house.

Bricks are made of clay mixed with an adhesive – the ‘straw’ Pharaoh denied the Israelites – formed into moulds and baked hard.

For much of the city’s history, the bricks that built Toronto came from the (Evergreen) Brick Works, originally the home of the Don Valley Pressed Brick Company, but now a thriving cultural centre.

The Taylor brothers, John, William and George, began making bricks there in 1889, and after a major fire in 1904 destroyed most of downtown Toronto, the siblings provided most of the brick used to rebuild the city. At their peak they were producing 100,000 bricks a day.

Bricks are at once as common as earth and as unique as the local environment, and the local clay pit.

That presents a problem when any of the grand old brick buildings of the last century – like Massey Hall – have to be repaired or restored. The new bricks don’t match the old.

That’s where Kreitmaker enters the picture.

When the Massey Hall restoration committee needed to match the colour and texture of the 125-year-old bricks used for the original music hall, they chose Kreitmaker, a Leaside company, for the job.

Kreitmaker is a brick, block, stone and concrete supplier on Industrial St. just off Laird.

“After looking through our options with the builder, the best match was the Aldridge Red Smooth brick by Ibstock Brick, a UK brick manufacturer for whom we hold exclusive distribution rights for all of Canada,” says Kreitmaker’s general manager Chris Cameron. “We supplied 20,000 pieces for the restoration.”

The $184 million revitalization job completed last spring and the historic music hall is more beautiful than ever and lovingly restored to its 19th century glory.

“We are very proud to be a part of this project as Massey Hall has played such a huge role in the history of Toronto and has shaped the culture of our city too,” Cameron added.

“We also worked on the Campbell block building at Dundas and Keele, one of the more historic buildings in the Junction area. For that restoration job, we supplied another Ibstock brick – Orange Stock, a very popular colour when it comes to restoration jobs in Toronto.

“As most buildings from old Toronto were built using bricks from the Don Valley brickworks, we have found that our bricks from Ibstock can perfectly match the old-style bricks produced at the brickworks. We have worked on many residential projects using Ibstock brick to properly match the old Toronto design, which is a favourite among builders across the GTA.

The company chose Leaside because it is a perfect fit for their work, and being a part of the business park has helped greatly as the land was ideal for an industrial construction business.

“When the land was purchased in 2004, we saw a lot of potential in the area. Now it has become a part of the community’s growth with new shopping centres and housing expansions,” Cameron said. And the perfect home for a company grounded in Toronto’s finest brick. Thick as a brick, for all the right reasons.

About Ken Mallett 40 Articles
Ken Mallett has spent his entire working career of 30 + years as a newspaper reporter and television news writer/producer. He worked for ten years as a foreign correspondent in London England for the Sydney (Australia) Morning herald and Toronto Star before moving into television news as a writer/producer for the CBC and later Director of News and Current Affairs for Global Television. He is a regular contributor to Leaside Life.