It’s been 18 years since I made my first photo at Evergreen Brick Works, the destination of a sweaty bike ride on the weekend. Despite the heat and humidity, the reward for my journey was a hot tea and scone from the cafe and a browse through the recently reopened shop. Except for masking up to go indoors, it was possible to forget the pandemic for a few moments.
I relished watching people explore the site, and shared a laugh with a stranger when her puppy flopped to the ground at my feet. It wasn’t the heat. She was swooning for a share of my scone. Looking around at the reclaimed site, now full of mature flowers and gravel trails, I remembered my first visit in 2003.
My apartment was in a brick low rise building just north of the dilapidated industrial site on Bayview. It occurs to me now the building was likely made from bricks from the clay on this very site. Before I got into photography, I’d zip past the Brick Works several times a week on my way in and out of the downtown core without giving it a second thought.
My curiosity was piqued after I bought my first film camera and tripod. As part of a school assignment, I paid the site a visit. It was the end of the day. Wandering the vacant property, I was drawn to the water and grasses beyond the main buildings. The building cast a warm reflection on the cool blue mirror of the pond. I settled in and came away with one keeper for my efforts.
Before leaving for an even hotter bicycle ride home, I took a walk through what is now a beautiful garden, past the pond onto a small bridge that has been built since my first visit. The vantage point is almost the same as my original photo.
I took a few quick shots with my phone, and paused to take in this full circle moment. The Brick Works has evolved from a decrepit space to a vibrant hub. And although I find myself in exactly the same physical location, the place is not the same, and neither am I.
📷 Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works – July 2021 (left) and October 2003 (right)