R.L. Hearn Power Station

Toronto's Forgotten Landmarks: R.L. Hearn Thermal Generating Station

Near the edge of the Leslie Spit on Toronto's eastern shore, lies one of the city's most impressive industrial relics - the massive, derelict R.L. Hearn power station. Since the completion of its construction in 1951, it has been at various times mothballed, partially closed, re-opened, and reconfigured; it is still home to one the of the top ten tallest structures in all of Canada - its mighty 705 foot tall power stack, still a reference point for incoming planes.

R.L. Hearn Power Station

After its decommissioning and final closure, it was slated to become an enormous film studio, owing to its massive interior space (the turbine hall alone measuring nearly 1,000 feet); it truly is a ready-made movie set (think: Aliens, or 28 days/weeks later). However, these plans were dropped in 2006, yet since then it has been home to the sets of several films.

I was fortunate enough on my first visit to this site many years ago to have an ex-employee with me, who added function to the aesthetics in the building; I learned how the station could move from one fuel source to another in under a week (unheard of), and how it started with many small smoke stacks, but due to pollution and smog issues over in the city, a single enormous stack needed to be erected.

R.L. Hearn Power Station

After it ceased existence as a power station, the various groups who moved through its many catwalks left behind bits, moved bits, and most importantly removed bits of the structure, rendering this already terrifying edifice ever more unstable.

A building of such volume can never fully be accounted for, but the absolute lack of care and security measures ended up finally taking the life of a photographer in his early 20s earlier this year (the result of which was a brief discussion of the illegality of his entry, rather than the more important proprietary/curatorial and safety issues - which were temporarily stepped-up from the previous obese woman in a golf cart).

R.L. Hearn Power Station

It is difficult to sum up this building in only a few words, and even photos fail to adequately address the level and vastness of its decay. Like much of forgotten Toronto, beneath a veneer of red brick lies one of the most terrifying, most intriguing, and most profound buildings I have ever encountered.

Here's a slide show of some of the snaps I have taken at this titanic building:


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