Yesterday and Today: Brick Manufacturing

Emery’s brick manufacturing plant

By Tim Lambrinos

The rich history of our business community silhouettes a huge descriptive of commercial development beginning in 1955. However, in the 1940s, there did exist some commercial businesses already established throughout Emery, pre-dating the Milani building-wave.

Richard Storer operated a dairy poster manufacturing plant named Consolidated Advertising where modern-day Goldpine Crescent intersects Windhill Crescent. In 1948, there also existed the Reichold paint additive manufacturing plant at the intersection of Wilson and Wendell. The adjoining community name of Pelmo derives from merging the Moffat family farm name with Sir Henry Pellatt’s surname – of Casa Loma fame.

Nearby to this precise location along Wilson Avenue, a commercial manufacturing business was in full operation since the early 1930s. It was located at 100 Marmora Street at Edgar Avenue just a couple of hundred metres north of Wilson Avenue, on the east side of the CPR train tracks.

It was called the Booth Brick Company and manufactured bricks using clay from a nearby deposit. Jethro Crang had purchased his farmhouse on the north side of Wilson Avenue in 1921 from Sir Henry Pellatt.

According to Jethro Crang’s memoires, he took on a partnership venture with Mr. Booth and he started the manufacturing plant known as the Crang-Booth Brick Factory. Recent research in the Toronto Archives only reveals the company named as the Booth Brick Company. In the archives, there are photographs of actual plant operations taken in 1963. According to Crang’s memoires, in the 1930s, there ran an overhead cable system running for a quarter of a mile to the plant carrying the clay. The clay deposit lay where modern-day Clayson Road and Wilson intersect Hwy 400, hence the name.

The Booth Brick Company was operating in full-swing in the late 1940s when the Humberlea community residences and streets on the west side of the CPR train tracks were built just after WWII. In 1959, the Hastings family had been living on Melody Road since their home was built in 1949.

Nine year old Doug Hastings would often travel across the CPR train tracks to the Booth Brick Factory in the wintertime as a frozen-over quarry made an excellent skating rink for the area’s children.

However, his 14 year old brother Gerry Hastings fell through the ice one winter day in 1959 landing on some underwater debris. Gerry ended up breaking his leg and couldn’t move on his own.

A North York ambulance was called and dispatched, however the attendants had to park on Wilson Avenue and walk all the way north along the train tracks to get to young Gerry. Doug recalls watching the attendants manoeuvre over piles of broken bricks while carrying his older brother out on a stretcher.

As the clay deposit dwindled, the brick factory ultimately closed down in the late 1960s and many of the area children have vivid memories of exploring the abandoned brick factory for several years after this.

The red brick-building was ultimately demolished in 1976 to make room for construction of a new modern structure built on the exact location.

There are no remnants left of the former brick factory. The current building at 100 Marmora Street was built in 1976 and initially served as the first home to the head office of Harold Kamin’s, Bargain Harold’s, and then housed a tire distribution company. Grand National Apparel now operates within the front of the new building. The rear of the building now houses the Stesco Global Co. which deals in wholesale packaging machinery.