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Closure of SKF's Scarborough plant, December 9, 1981. Photo by Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images.

"Haissam Ramadan and Frank Tridico", Scarborough, Ontario, 1993. Image courtesy of Gayle Hurmuses from, "Extended Family - Photographs of the GM Scarborough Van Plant"

Signed vent, General Motors plant, Scarborough, May, 1993. Courtesy of Gayle Hurmuses.

"The Last Van", General Motors plant, Scarborough, May 6, 1993. Courtesy of Gayle Hurmuses.

  • Industry in Decline

    The GM Van Plant

    SKF, the General Electric Company, and Volkswagen moved out of the area by 1983. But the closure of the General Motors (GM) van manufacturing plant ten years later marked a significant turning point. GM had been with the Golden Mile almost from the beginning with their then subsidiary Frigidaire, where they used their automobile technology to innovate appliances with perks like “roll to your drawers” or “instant ice ejectors”. In 1963, the factory had shifted to making auto parts, and in 1974 another move was made to van assembly. Eventually, the factory was manufacturing 30 vans per hour, and in 1986, the one millionth van rolled off the line. When the plant closed in 1993, 2,800 workers were left unemployed.

    The factory had a close-knit workforce. Employee and photographer Gayle Hermuses captured life inside the manufacturing plant. Her images were shared in her photo exhibition Extended Family.

    ???? Look for our Heritage Toronto plaque at 1901 Eglinton Avenue East that commemorates the legacy of the GM plant.

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  • Industry in Decline

    Remnants of the Golden Mile

    In 1986, Loblaws proposed converting the Golden Mile Plaza into a supercenter. The plan was approved, and a fire in December of that year put the demolition of the old plaza ahead of schedule. For a while, the new superstore tried to bring back some of the mid-century suburban traditions – they even had a fleet of employees on roller skates. It didn’t last; the store was converted to a No Frills grocery store in the 1990s. Today, there is very little left of the Golden Mile. Eglinton Square remains, and a few buildings still bear the name, like the nearby “Golden Mile Apartments”. The area has been built up as big box store paradise and has not been visited by a member of the Royal Family in quite some time. 

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