News & Stories
History at the Barns
The Artscape Wychwood Barns or “The Barns” as they are known, was originally built in 1913 as a streetcar repair facility for the Toronto Civic Railway (TCR). At the site’s busiest point there were five barns which could house 50 streetcars with spaces for an additional 110 cars in the five acres surrounding the facility. The structure was built with utilitarianism in mind and is considered to be a prime example of the classic revival industrial style.
During the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, the Wychwood Barns was one of the most important transit facilities in the city. When the Toronto Transit Commission took over the space in 1954 however, its future was in doubt: the TTC was considering phasing out the use of streetcars. In 1978, the Wychwood Barns were decommissioned. Although used briefly as a testing and development facility, the barns ultimately began to fall into disrepair.
Thanks to the hard work of Councillor Joe Mihevc and a group of dedicated individuals, they saved the Barns and helped turn it into what it is today – a community cultural hub and multi-faceted complex where a dynamic mix of arts, culture, food security, urban agriculture, environmental and other community activities and initiatives coexist.
Read the entire case study on the Artscape DIY page here.
Welcome to Our New Website!
I’m thrilled to welcome you to our new website. Like the place and people that inspire it, the site showcases our vibrant and beloved community cultural hub.
The Artscape Wychwood Barns opened in 2008 and now is home to:
- 26 artists and their families who reside in live/work studios
- 14 artist work-studios
- 12 not-for-profit arts and environmental organization
Yet we’ve never had a dedicated online presence – until now. Even better, Artscape is excited to collaborate with the Wychwood Barns Community Association (WBCA) in running this website, its blog and social media.
We value this unique relationship with the WBCA. We both share an investment in engaging the wider community to make “The Barns” our shared space. Please consider volunteering with the WBCA to support its events, projects and community revitalization efforts.
Here are a few highlights of our new website to orient you as you explore:
- What’s Happening – A dedicated calendar of upcoming events that you can submit to and at which you can publicize your event
- News and Stories – Read the stories WBCA and Artscape will be sharing
- Who’s Here – Check out some of the wonderful organizations and tenants who work here
- Event Rentals – Spark ideas for renting the space, and get a sample of last year’s event clients here
- Info for Visitors – A great place to visit if you’ve never been here before; you can take a virtual tour
So whether it’s your home or destination, a studio or a possible event venue, the Artscape Wychwood Barns is your community cultural hub. And whether you’re finding us online or in person, let us know things you’d like to read and see. Welcome!
Interim Managing Director
Artscape Wychwood Barns
We are the Wychwood Barns Community Association
Greetings from the Wychwood Barns Community Association!
The WBCA was formed in 2008 to engage and inspire in the St. Clair West community; creating a community that is a more connected, more vibrant place to live, work and play.
We are very excited to be contributing to this amazing new website and encourage you to check back often for updates and news about what’s happening at The Barns and in the surrounding area.
As your conduit to The Barns, we would also love to HEAR FROM YOU. Please contact us at email@example.com with any ideas, questions, concerns or simply to join our amazing team of volunteers.
We will also be sending out a new and improved monthly newsletter and you can subscribe to it by clicking the following link: http://eepurl.com/bTlUpb
Remember that this is OUR community, so I encourage you to jump in and get involved. I look forward to meeting you soon
Peter Moscone, President
WBCA Board of Directors
Heritage Toronto Awards – Barns-related Nominees
The Heritage Toronto Awards recognize individuals, community organizations, industry professionals and associations for exceptional contributions towards the understanding of Toronto’s history and heritage. In September 2015, Heritage Toronto announced the nominees for the 2015 awards. Among them were two Barns-related contenders: a blog named Back to the Park, and a short publication from the York Pioneer and Historical Society, “Before the Barns: The Edwards Family and their Leather Factory,” by Stephanie Lever.
Back to the Park documents Teresa Casas’ weekly “market square” pop-up exhibits at The Stop’s farmers’ market. The stories explore the history of the St. Clair West neighbourhood as well as other issues of interest to market patrons. As Casas explains on the site, “Through these [posts] I explore with market visitors the stories, places, issues and values that define life in the St.Clair West area.”
In her nominated article, Stephanie Lever explores the history of the leather tannery that occupied part of the site that eventually became the Artscape Wychwood Barns before the TTC used the site as a streetcar maintenance facility, with a focus on the Edwards family and their history in the area in the late 19th and early 20th century.
2015 – An “Eventful” Year
Events at the Artscape Wychwood Barns attract thousands of visitors year-round. The Stop Community Food Centre’s weekly Farmers’ Market alone brings in 2,000 people a week!
Community events animate the neighbourhood with art, performances, food and beverages full of Toronto talent. They contribute to Artscape’s wider mission to facilitate tenant- and community-led programs on art, the environment and community.
In 2015, the Artscape Wychwood Barns hosted 151 events with 128,350 people, such as:
- Upcycle (April 26): In celebration of Environment Day and as a complement to the Ward 21 Environment Day, organized by Counselor Mihevc, Artscape hosted a “garage sale” to promote repurposing and repair of household items and clothing.
- Barns Art Market (BAM) (May-September): Artscape organized and ran five BAMs in 2015, which featured 25+ exhibitors for each event selling jewelry, prints, paintings, photography, ceramics and more.
- Circus 2015 (August 26): Circus returned with an evening of high-flying acrobatics, fire dancing, stilt walking, carnival games, carnival themed food and more for over 800 attendees.
- Boo! At the Barns (October 24): The sixth annual event delivered once more frightful fun for the whole family, attracting over 1200 people and offering food, drinks and activities for all ages with the haunted house, tarot card readings, stilt walkers and face painting.
Several events by other organizations and companies drew in the community:
- Toronto Life: Where to Eat 2015 (April 9): Toronto Life brought the pages of its annual Where to Eat issue to life with the inaugural Best Restaurants event, welcoming 450 guests and chefs from 16 of the best restaurants in the city.
- Halo-Halo Festival (August 7): The Halo-Halo Organization presented its second annual and fun-filled festival of the communally-enjoyed Filipino dessert, which consists of shaved ice, evaporated milk, boiled sweet beans, caramelized plantain, dried and fresh fruits, jello and tapioca topped with ice cream, sweetened yam and/or flan.
- Toronto Garlic Festival (September 18): This popular annual celebration of Ontario’s garlic harvest returned, featuring fascinating presentations on garlic’s history, health benefits and cultural secrets.
- Soupalicious (September 27): Soupalicious hosted its annual soup-tasting harvest celebration, joining local gardeners, farmers, restaurants and chefs using local produce to create signature soups. The event supported Plant a Row – Grow a Row, a locally-based people-helping-people program established in communities across Canada to assist in feeding the hungry.
- Supper with Syria (November 29): We are especially proud to have been the venue for the first Supper with Syria event, a community fundraiser to support Syrian refugees. Syrian and Canadian chefs prepared traditional Syrian dishes and exchanged personal stories of culinary customs with over 300 guests, raising over $118,000 to help sponsor two Syrian refugee families in Toronto.
Like our other hubs, the Artscape Wychwood Barns uses an innovative sliding scale rental pricing model. This allows us to offer reduced rental rates to community groups, festivals and smaller arts and not-for-profit organizations. See a cross-section of all our 2015 event clients on our Event Rentals page.
We hope to see you at “The Barns” soon and invite you to dream up a community event that you’d like to host!