toronto hydro transformer home

5 secret buildings you didn't know existed in Toronto

Toronto is chock full of hidden and secret treasures, but some are more mysterious than others. Truth be told, many of the places we characterize as secret are better termed "barely known," but this fact hardly dampens our intrigue with such places. Whether it be on account of the sensitive work done at these sites or the valuable collections they house, these buildings are kept mostly under wraps.

Here are 5 secret buildings that you didn't know existed in Toronto.

Hydro houses
Perhaps the best known of these so-called secrets, I suspect even those who are broadly aware of the existence of Toronto's transformer homes have still passed by one or two without realizing what they were. There are over 250 Toronto Hydro substations spread across Toronto, many of them in residential-looking homes, like the one depicted above at 555 Spadina Rd.

secret buildings toronto

FJ Horgan Water Treatment Plant
Toronto has four water treatment facilities, of which the R.C. Harris plant is the best known. The F.J. Horgan plant, on the other hand, is the most secret, partially because it is built into the Scarborough Bluffs and descends roughly 10 and a half storeys into the ground. While tours are offered on occasion, it has a much lower profile than other facilities around the city.

Scinet supercomputer toronto

SciNet's sounds like it comes straight from the Terminator series, which is fitting given that it's Canada's most powerful supercomputer. The consortium behind the project, which includes multiple government agencies and the University of Toronto, has office space at College and McCaul streets, but the computer itself is located in an unremarkable building in Vaughan near Keele and Highway 7.

Toronto hydro Copeland transformer

Clare R. Copeland Transformer Station
This is a massive infrastructure project underway beneath the CN Tower. When complete, the 50,000 square foot building will exist almost entirely underground adjacent to Roundhouse Park. Tunnel boring machines have been used to connect the new station to the grid at Windsor Station, which sits at Wellington and John streets. The transformer is expected to go online in 2017.

toronto history museum

Toronto's hidden history warehouse
In the absence of an official museum of Toronto, thousands of historical artifacts from our city's past are housed in an unlabeled warehouse in Liberty Village. The city doesn't make the location of the site public knowledge because of the value of the materials stored here and the fact that it's not suitable for anything other than small tours, which are occasionally granted to Heritage Toronto members.

Photos via Reimar Construction, SciNet, Toronto Hydro, Alison Norman, and Derek Flack.

Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

5 cheap weekend getaways from Toronto this winter

The entire TTC system will be free to ride on Sunday

The remote allure of Toronto streets in the 1990s

The 5 most outlandish holiday lights in Toronto

Sold! Newly built ravine house goes for $2.5 million in Toronto

York University unveils Markham expansion plans

Justin Trudeau arrives in Toronto to open new subway line

Toronto losing another bowling alley for condos