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Eat & Drink

Toronto Islands to get a much needed new restaurant

Posted by Chris Bateman / June 3, 2014

toronto island airportAn historic piece of Toronto's island airport is going to become a restaurant and event space at Hanlan's Point, the Toronto Port Authority has announced. Terminal A, which has been sitting in the saturated outfield of Billy Bishop airport since 2012, will be moved closer to the public side of the island and renovated with input from designers and TV personalities Sarah Richardson and Tommy Smythe.

This morning, the TPA announced it had reached an "agreement in principle" to restore the building and open it up to the public, but it's unlikely to be a simple project. The protected three-storey structure, which once provided facilities for passenger and baggage handling, air traffic control and airport administration, has been abandoned and propped up on brick stilts for several years. Because of its heritage status, any alterations will have to be approved by the city.

Specific plans, budgets, and timelines for the restoration, which is being financed by a group of Toronto businessman led by private pilot Alexander Younger, Richardson's husband, were not released.

toronto island airportThe white clapboard structure was the first passenger terminal at the Toronto Island airport when it opened in 1939. An almost exact copy of an early terminal building at Malton airport, now Pearson, it pulled double-duty as an air traffic control tower and processing centre for arriving and departing passengers.

The terminal survived several expansions as the airport grew through its various incarnations as Port George VI Island Airport, a Royal Norwegian Air Force training camp during the second world war, and, more recently, a bustling hub for short-haul flights.

The building was forced to make way for the airport side of the pedestrian tunnel, which is currently mired in a legal dispute, in 2011. It was decommissioned and shifted away from the centre of activity on top of a giant skid a year later.

Questions surfaced over the building's future when the Toronto Port Authority, the airport operator, announced it was seeking a buyer who could preserve the building, one of the last of its kind in Canada, in a new location.

What do you think of plan to give the old terminal a new lease on life?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Toronto Port Authority.



Tourists / June 3, 2014 at 01:08 pm
Will be full of 905ers all the time, no doubt.
Rob replying to a comment from Tourists / June 3, 2014 at 01:23 pm
I hope it becomes a nightclub!
Ken / June 3, 2014 at 01:23 pm
I missed who was paying for the renovations of this old dilapidated wooden building? Hopefully not a government agency through funding from the taxpayers.

I can't see that a private restaurant developer would pay for the renos. The restaurant would probably be open only during the summer months and during the day. Not much of a business plan.
PC / June 3, 2014 at 01:30 pm
Bring on the protesters!

But seriously, I say bravo - when they opened Hanlan's Point Airport in 1937 they also tore down an amusement park and Toronto's second baseball stadium - Hanlan's Point Stadium - where Babe Ruth purportedly hit a homer (some say his first professional homer!) into Lake Ontario.

Restoring the original terminal buildings would be a good start at repairing this horrific wound left by the thoughtless developers of the past.
Potrzebie replying to a comment from Ken / June 3, 2014 at 01:34 pm
Hey Ken, here you go, lifted straight from the article: "...the restoration, which is being financed by a group of Toronto businessman led by private pilot Alexander Younger..."

But congratulations on getting all your talking points in!

Dave / June 3, 2014 at 01:36 pm
Oh no not 905ers!!! Although I agree that the Club District is annoying, let's be thankful 905ers come downtown to spend their money. Without 905ers downtown businesses would go out of business.
Ken / June 3, 2014 at 01:41 pm
Potrzebie Thanks for the clarification; and thanks to the group of Toronto Businessmen who are paying to restore this important part of our Island heritage.
pat / June 3, 2014 at 01:42 pm
I think it would be great to give it new life as a restaurant. Position it so people can watch aircraft takeoff and land: there are still lots of people who like to watch that! There could be a bit of a retro thing, bringing back the glory days of air flight as luxury, and watching airplanes as something one would want to do!
local / June 3, 2014 at 01:56 pm
Alexander Younger is Sarah Richardson's husband, so I'm sure she'll put her best foot forward on this project.
Joey / June 3, 2014 at 02:02 pm
Well, at least now we know how Sarah Richardson and her little sidekick get design jobs: nepotism!
Fergus Flattery / June 3, 2014 at 02:23 pm
Interesting use, providing the heritage is preserved. Some concerns: What will be generated vehicular and pedestrian traffic, deliveries, acces to island etc.? How will this use fit in with current activities at Hanlan's Point?
MSigs / June 3, 2014 at 02:36 pm
If its going to be waterfront I hope the TPA has the foresight to install docks.
Louis A Street / June 3, 2014 at 03:02 pm
Will the public be allowed onto private airport land from the Island Park to use the facility? If not, patrons will have to cross the airport to get to it. If counting on access from the Island Park the facility be a summer-only operation. The Hanlans ferry run by the city doesn't run in the winter. Will the building be moved away from the av-fuel farm whose tanks now sit nearby, next to the park border, and which have to topped up for Porter and Air Canada? Will the building be soundproofed? Otherwise patrons will require ear protection. Ground noise, about which the TPA is in blithely convenient denial, nonetheless is huge when Porter and Air Canada Q400s are running up, baking during landing, and in maintenance. The noise in fact is loudest on the south side of the airport, where the old terminal sits, and especially on the harbour and Island side. Just some thoughts to consider.
James replying to a comment from Rick / June 3, 2014 at 03:07 pm
Clearly just trying to stir controversy with an off cuff remark. Clearly doesn't understand how the city works and runs and that majority of downtown is flooded with 905 commuters everyday, working, visiting, spending their dollars here.
If you build it they will come replying to a comment from Louis A Street / June 3, 2014 at 03:25 pm
Thanks considered. NEXT! Should be summer only like the majority of the rest of venues and events on the island. Would be a bad move to keep it open in the winter. NEXT

Moaz Ahmad / June 3, 2014 at 03:28 pm
Interesting concept ... Turning this into a restaurant (maybe a few restaurants) or an events centre reminds of Murray House, a government building in Hong Kong that was moved to Stanley, on the south side of the island, and repurposed for restaurants. it's worth mentioning that this would be a pretty big building for what we are used to seeing at Hanlan's Point today. Of course in the past there was a lot more going on.
bill replying to a comment from Dave / June 3, 2014 at 03:35 pm
People living in the city are very capable of dining and shopping in the city. They do it every day of the year.
Blackradishes / June 3, 2014 at 04:05 pm
I think that putting in a restaurant and events space would be a good use. Could potentially be more revenue for the city, if they could get enough revenue out of it during the summer months, as If you build it they will come stated, the ferry does not run in the winter.
Greg Hannah / June 3, 2014 at 04:25 pm
Move this to Hanlan's Point proper, near the beaach. The first floor could be a restaurant & offices for checking in campers and the second/third floor 8 or 9 hotel rooms. Surrounding this could be a camp site for those who'd love to pitch a tent for a night or two.
bob loblaw / June 3, 2014 at 04:32 pm
With Sarah Richardson on the case, place is guaranteed to look like a cross between a funeral home and a seniors' residence. Flowered prints and pillows everywhere.
Becca replying to a comment from bob loblaw / June 3, 2014 at 06:03 pm
Hey...there's nothing wrong with floral prints
stopitman replying to a comment from Tourists / June 3, 2014 at 06:50 pm
Lives in a big city -
Complains about tourists.
BM / June 3, 2014 at 07:48 pm
This is a great idea. Congratulations to all involved. Very excited to see it when complete.
Aaron / June 3, 2014 at 10:28 pm
The terminal is quite an icon at the airport. In 25 years, it will celebrate a full century on the island. Wow.
Whiners again / June 4, 2014 at 11:58 am
I'm constantly surprised at the need to bitch by so many people who follow BlogTO. Is it some sort of disability that you are incapable of controlling? Is there anything that people will not complain about? Do us a favor and move somewhere else. Take your baggage with you.
Gerry / June 4, 2014 at 01:13 pm
All the best to the entrepreneurs who want to restore this lovely building. I worked in the tower there 1970-75 and my wife worked at Austin Airways on the second floor until the buyout by White River.

At one time the City of Toronto Coat of Arms was inlaid in the linoleum flooring of the main waiting area, but this was torn up and thrown out some time ago.

That building has a lot of history- I would be glad to do my part for a research project.

As to noise- if you want silence, move to the country.
Spike replying to a comment from Ken / June 5, 2014 at 08:09 am
Which is why this should be used as a terminal instead of as what's intended, or just tear it down completely
Hotel is needed / June 5, 2014 at 10:59 am
A restaurant is a good idea, but what the islands really need is a HOTEL so we can stay over night on the islands without having to go to a b&b in someone's house.
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