This place has always fascinated me. My face would be pressed against the window as my parents merged onto the DVP from the Gardiner, heading north to my grandparents. Huge billboard, giant chimney, dozens of cars in the parking lots but oddly enough no activity was to be seen through the windows.
One of my favorite pass times involves going on Google Maps and combing through the city looking for things to climb and places to explore. Possibly abandoned place over here, never-been-done-before rooftop over here...
While mulling over whether or not I should make the voyage over to this east end beauty, my mom called from behind me and said, "Hey! That's where your uncle used to work making detergents. It's the Lever building!" That pretty much sealed the deal, now I had to uncover this mystery of a building.
Finding a way in took a solid hour of trespassing on half a dozen properties, biking around in circles, bush wacking, barbed wire hopping, wire untangling and security dodging. If I were to have been caught all at once, I think I would've been jumped on by the railway security, clubbed by the mod, handcuffed by the cops and verbally abused by like 3 different security companies
The main building takes awhile to explore fully. Most floors are simply vacant, with paint peeling off the ceiling. However as you move up the staircase, you'll find that there are "half-floors" where these huge vats or mixing tanks are held. The upper floors are really interesting, as you'll find that typical factory fun vertical playground of see through grates running up and down the side of the old production lines.
In addition to the big one, there are also two or three accompanying faculties that are pretty interesting and extremely photogenic. I recommend thoroughly exploring them as well!
Getting in here was lots of fun, and discovering that the place was indeed abandoned was also rewarding enough. However as I'm writing this, I do remember talking to Freaktography awhile back. So, despite me forgetting who planted the idea in my head, thanks for giving me the heads up on this place!
Definitely worth the trip, please feel free to make your way to the photos now, this next section is going to go through the history of this place.
In 1872, Antoon Jurgens, founded the first margarine factory in the world in Oss, Netherlands. Then, in 1888, Samuel van den Bergh, also from Oss, opened his margarine factory in Kleve. These two companies merged in 1927 to form Margarine Unie.
On the other side of the English Channel, the Lever Brothers began producing a new successful form of soap in 1885 named "Sunlight Soap". In 1930 they merged with the Dutch company, Margarine Unie, to form Unilever (according to one source the first modern multinational company).
Due to the second world war, the business was forced to grow overseas rather than in Europe.
Apparently in 1890, a factory was built along the Don Valley River here in Toronto. Mainly soap and detergent products were made, including companies such as Dove and Sunlight. In 2002 Unilever sold the factory to Pensler Capital Corp, who then froze the workers wages and took away their pensions. This was the cause for the strikes in 2008 which inevitably led to the closing of the factory in August 2009, when the newly named Korex Don Valley declared bankruptcy.
The building is currently making revenue by the adds on its huge billboard on the roof and by occasionally being used as a movie set (Suicide Squad). In 2012, First Gulf Corp bought the property and is now planning to refurbish it into a 225, 000 square foot factory building for offices and lease out the 200, 000 square foot warehouse for warehouse use. They hope to create 4000 jobs.
All info found on Wikipedia and the National Post.