Argyle Authentic Lofts
Edwardian bakery converted to luxury lofts and circa 1919 building keeps old entrance as front door
By John Blumenson
The Argyle Lofts will convert the 1919 landmark Edwardian-style, five-storey former bakery into 86 authentic hard lofts. The 11 two-storey penthouse lofts will afford spectacular city views and have private roof decks. The penthouse will be set back from the facade so not to detract from the architecture and won’t be immediately visible from the street below. Ground-floor units facing the street will have private front yards.
The distinctive corner bakery entrance will continue to be the The Argyle Lofts front door, with the clock retained as a reminder of the building’s industrial past. The red brick walls accentuated with stone detailing will be chemically cleaned and repaired. New windows will match the pattern of the existing ones.
The Ideal Bread Company was founded in 1909 by brothers William and Charles Carruthers and Robert McMullen. Previously, a small bakery existed on the site. In 1938, Ideal amalgamated with Wonder Bakeries, and production ceased in the 1950s. Since then, the building has had a variety of uses.
The January, 1920 issue of Construction Magazine devoted several pages and illustrations to this modern bakery facility. Designed by Montreal architect Sydney Comber, the functionality of bread making was carefully designed into every aspect of the building, from the basement to the fifth floor.
Special provisions were made to waterproof the basement, where the flour was delivered, sifted and then mechanically lifted to the fifth floor.
There, it was weighed and then the bread-making process continued through the floors below. Flour descended to the fourth floor, where the dough was mixed and left to rise.
The shaped loaves were automatically lowered to the third floor and into one of two huge 21-metre “travelling” ovens, each weighing more than 815 tonnes and producing 7,000 loaves per hour. The baked goods were wrapped on the second floor and then loaded on to wagons or trucks from interior loading docks on the ground floor.
The bakery required about 250 workers per day. In addition to drinking fountains, change rooms and washrooms, a huge assembly hall with a stage and seating for about 400 people was located on the fifth floor for the use of employees, their families and the community.
Some community members objected to the current owner’s request for heritage designation to the Conservation Review Board, a provincially appointed citizen board. A review board hearing was held to determine if the former factory warranted sufficient architectural or historical merit to be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
During the course of the hearing, it became clear that all parties – the owner, the developer and even the objectors – agreed the building should be preserved. It remains questionable why the board bothered to convene a meeting when there were no objections to the architectural or historical merits of the building.
The OMB heard the developer’s presentation, expert witnesses and the community’s objections about design, traffic, safety and parking issues, but at the end of the second day, the board ruled that the proposed conversion was acceptable subject to a number of conditions requested by the city and agreed to by the developer, including a Heritage Easement Agreement.
With the building’s heritage attributes protected by both heritage designation and a municipally held Heritage Easement Agreement, the developer proceeded with obtaining required building permits.
Incoming search terms