The Barns’ History
The history of the barns is what sets it apart from similar spaces. With the original barns built as early as 1913 for industrial purposes, the space also served as a former transit maintenance facility for the Troronto Civic Railways (now known as the TTC). The barns were even known within the TTC as the St. Clair Carhouse. Streetcars would be stored in the five-building facility, until expansions at the Hillcrest Complex left the facility idle. The City of Toronto retrieved the property from the private Transit Commission in 1996, and currently leases the site to Toronto Artscape Inc. for a whopping $1 a year (within a 50 year lease). In fact, between 1996 and 2007 (when construction led by architects Joe Lobko and Du Loit began), the site remained pretty much stagnant, with plans for demolition. However, due to by-laws against demolishing a heritage site, as the site was previously declared, neighbourhood support encouraged an adaptive reuse of the space.
That reuse was in part thanks to St. Clair councillor Joe Mihevc, who proposed a heritage study, and later, a proposal which entered vote in Toronto’s City Council in 2002. Artscape transformed the site thanks to the $23 million it raised in donations, and Wychwood Barns officially opened to the public on November 20, 2008.
Artscape at Wychwood Barns
Artscape is a not-for-profit which ‘makes space for creativity and transform[s] communities’. Artscape is behind similar successes in Toronto (and B.C.) such as the Artscape Distillery Studios, Artscape Triangle Lofts, Artscape West Queen West, Daniels Spectrum, and the Parkdale Arts & Cultural Centre, just to name a few. Over the last few years the Barns have established an irreplaceable place in the community, healing past differences faced as the neighbourhood underwent catalytic change, bringing together members of all creative realms. The building also sustains its community programs and services through revenues from venue rentals, 5 unique event spaces, which have hosted guests like Habitat For Humanity, Loblaws, and Reebok.
As mentioned, the Barns house a multitude of community organizations. Arts enthusiasts will want to check out The Storytellers School of Toronto, Theatre Direct Canada, b current, and No Strings Theatre. For food and environmental lovers, there’s LEAF – Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests, Not Far From the Tree, and The Stop Community Food Centre. And for the kids, there’s The Children’s Art Studio and The Helene Comay Nursery.
General entrance is free (open 9am – 5pm, Monday – Sunday) and the space is hosting a variety of upcoming events in the summer months.
SAVE THE DATES:
Every Saturday, 8AM-12:30PM (1PM in the summer), The Stop Farmer’s Market
May 15, The Bump to Baby Show
May 29, Appleseed Cider Fest
June 19, Kick It At The Barns
Artscape Wychwood Barns, 76 Wychwood Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada + 1 416 392 2489