401 Richmond is one of those interesting buildings that is hard to miss. It looks old, well kept, and interesting but has little to no signage. The first time I passed, I was left wondering it’s purpose and wanting to do further research.

The building itself was originally owned by MacDonald Manufacturing Company, one of two companies in Canada that produced the advertising tins that used to line the shelves of stores in the 1800s and early 1900s (now very collectible). If you find a historic tin, you can tell if it was made by MacDonald Manufacturing by the makers mark at the bottom of the container.

At the end of World War 2 (1944), both the company and building were purchased by Continental Can, a more traditional canning company. In 1994, the building was saved from demolition by the Zydler family, who have slowly renovated it over the past 20-years and turned it into a centre for the arts community in Toronto.

For my visit, I wandered in thinking that I’d walk through the building, look at the wood floors, marvel at the beams, perhaps see a historical marker or two… and then head out to explore something else. What I didn’t anticipate was getting sucked into the galleries for half a day.

The Galleries

I blame the Braid Harvesters for pulling me in, which has also effectively changed my perspective on Canadian art: to a more positive view.

The Braid Harvesters is part of a larger show called we live on the edge of disaster and imagine we are in a musical by Amalie Atkins, and was originally shown at the MacKenzie Gallery in Saskatoon. Pieces have since found their way to other galleries around Canada. In this case, I found the short film in a tent set up in G44 in Toronto.

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From here I discovered Julie Favreau’s Anomalies and Jacynthe Carrier’s Les Eux, also in G44. Also, Eating Away at the Edge or the poetry of discarded things in the Red Head Gallery and Sonya Filman: The Watchful Eye and the Tentative Handin the Open Studio along with Nadine Bariteau: Au revoir.

Enjoy the pics.