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In Your Neighbourhood: York Road East (37 photos)

Neighbourhood has a certain 'waiting for something to happen' sense about it

The area of York Road in around the intersection of Victoria Road is a different sort of neighbourhood from most in Guelph.

The area holds a lot of traces of the commercial/industrial history, and continues to hold dozens of active manufacturing operations, as well as a scrapyard, a concrete ornament maker, a few furniture makers and woodworkers, all packed into a fairly small zone on the east side of the city.

The frenetic development of new residential subdivisions and infill residential and commercial projects that Guelph has become known for in recent years, appears not to have visited this neighbourhood.

There is a dilapidated quality in many of the businesses and homes, a quality that gives the area character and sets its apart. The few abandoned stores along York just before Victoria would be a rare sight in others parts of the city.

There is an overall sense that rejuvenation is just waiting to happen over here, but is slow to come.  

For a city in want of new development land, there is plenty of it out in this part of town. At least, potentially. But the industrial past is a factor in the reality of that land for redevelopment.

The former IMICO lands along Beverley Street have sat abandoned and contaminated for many years, now overgrown and haunting. The land backs the York Centre, a colossal industrial building that holds dozens of small businesses, among them those furniture makers previously mentioned.

Next to that is the now abandoned ABS Friction factory, fenced in and chained up. The successful operation moved to a more modern facility east of Watson Parkway. Like the neighbouring IMICO land, the old factory would undoubtedly require environmental remediation before being reused for other purposes.

The historic residential area south of York, with streets like Dobbs, Menzie and Audrey – technically part of the Ward neighbourhood – have the same working class quality as much of the Ward. There is not a lot of ostentatious adornments to the houses, which are beautiful situation a block or less from the Eramosa River Park and the river itself.

This gallery of photographs was taken during an overcast morning, all on a single walking tour of about three kilometers in length and an hour in duration. Like all neighbourhood explorations, this one was full of surprises, and continuously invited a closer look around every corner.