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Looking back at my first involvement with trucking

The next time you travel the DVP, check out the old Toronto brickyard located just northwest of the Bayview/Bloor cutoff.


The next time you travel the DVP, check out the old Toronto brickyard located just northwest of the Bayview/Bloor cutoff.

Evergreen, a non-profit organization is at the forefront of this 50-plus million dollar environmental makeover.

The project is scheduled to open this fall, and will include a farmers market, green city workshops, community art displays, summer camp/nature club and organized kids’ activities.

Oddly enough, this site was my introduction into the world of trucking. At 16, I began working at the brickworks as a summer student.

The year was 1974 and I held many lofty positions that first summer including cleaning ceiling tiles in the purchaser’s office, pulling weeds along the never-used railway tracks and my all-time favourite, handing out work gloves and towels to the full-time employees.

Yes, I kept the plant running like a well-oiled machine.

In my second summer, I was “promoted” to running a machine called the “chipper.” It chipped away (go figure) the face of sand and lime brick, which gave them a rugged look.

On a good day, my friend Mike and I would move over 11,000 bricks through that machine. At six pounds a piece, that meant approximately 66,000 lbs of brick. What a workout! It’s a good thing we actually never did the math, otherwise we would have called in sick more often.

Having earned my stripes, I spent most of my third, fourth and fifth summers in the shipping and receiving departments.

The work was mostly office-oriented and included dispatching a small fleet of delivery trucks.

I got to know the truckers and they got to know me.

Now, I may have had a beer or two with the boys after my shift and I may not have been allowed to pay for them but I can honestly say I never played favourites. They got their loads as I received them.

Today, many of the buildings I worked in have been renovated or torn down. This isn’t a bad thing. The core structure is left and will be there for generations to come. Who knows what would have happened if Evergreen had not gotten involved?

If you’re driving by the plant, stop in and take a look.

The kiln areas remain standing as well as the receiving, carpentry, machine and electrical shops. In the sand and lime area you’ll see the kiln car tracks that lead to the famous chipper.

The actual machine is long gone which is too bad, I wouldn’t mind giving it a good kick with my steel-toed Grebs.

-Rob Wilkins is the publisher of Truck West and can be reached at 416-510-5123.


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