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Boxer Building

May 26, 2020 (0) comment

In April 2002, the “Boxer Building”, occupying the corner of Islington (formerly Seventh Street) and Birmingham Streets, was designated as an historical building under the Ontario Heritage Act. It is the oldest surviving industrial building in New Toronto.

The building started as the new McDonald’s Stamping Works. In 1889, Thomas McDonald, a Toronto industrialist, formed the Mimico Real Estate and Security Company, who purchased 550 acres of Etobicoke farmland, and financed the construction of ten factories, including the McDonald’s Stamping Works building. Mr. McDonald moved his stamping works from Sherbourne Street in Toronto to the new building. The MacDonald Stamping Works part of the building is shown to the left. (This is currently the middle part of the building along Islington Avenue, that stands today). It is the Islington Avenue faade of the McDonald Stamping Works Building that is historically significant because of its Romanesque Revival style with contrasting brick and stone detailing, round-arched window openings and buff brick voussoirs.

I found a biography of a Mr. Thomas McDonald, pictured on the left, on a personal family genealogy site, who died in Montreal in 1897. The biography clearly indicates that this is the same Mr. McDonald who started the Mimico Real Estate & Security Company.

In 1896, both the Stamping Works and Mimico Real Estate went bankrupt. The building was then occupied by the Grocer Manufacturing Company and subsequently, Imperial Soap Company.

From 1903 to 1908, the building was purchased by the Robert Menzie Wallpaper Company (aka Menzie’s Wallpaper). (What’s interesting here, is that the Feb 10th, 1905 edition of the Toronto Star discusses the opening of the Canada Brass Rolling Mills (Brown’s Brass?) and lists R.E. Menzie as the managing director of the mill. Same guy with his fingers in a few pots?)

In 1908, the Reg. N. Boxer Company bought the company and expanded the building. (The McDonald Stamping Works building is alongside Islington Street, while the expanded Reg. N. Boxer building fronts along Birmingham Street).

The 1927 Toronto City Directory lists the company as “Manufacturers and Importers of paper hangings” with Reginald N. Boxer as President & Manager, Frederick G. Hanson as Vice President and Frank M. Hulbig as Secretary Treasurer.

In 1927, the Boxer Company formed part of the Canadian Wallpaper Manufacturer’s Limited, although they continued to use the name until 1959. The CWM operated until 1978, when they became Sunworthy and moved to a facility in Brampton. The building was purchased by Danbel, manufacturers of electrical fixtures. As of 2001, the building was owned by Noma Company, and is currently up for sale/lease.

Montgomery’s Inn has a photograph of the Boxer building in 1910 displayed in their “Villages” exhibit. I took a picture of the photograph, shown below. (Sharon Kettlewell was able to provide me a close up of the people in the picture). One of her relatives, John T. Kettlewell was a longtime Boxer employee. Sharon was also able to provide with a photograph of his 25 year service medallion (shown below). John retired in 1947 with 39 years of service. To the right is the same front of the building along Birmingham Street (before all the current road construction started). The building is currently up for lease.

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