Posts Tagged ‘military’
This civil defense siren, slightly relocated east to its current location at Dundas and Shaw, just across Dundas from the northwestern corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park, is one of the last sirens remaining and a noteworthy artifact of the Cold War. In 2007, the Toronto Star published an article by Leslie Scrivener about it and the few others left.
“It’s a neat thing to look at,” says Claire Bryden, referring to the air raid siren near the corner of Dundas St. W. and Shaw St., a remnant of Toronto’s age of atomic anxiety. The sturdy, horn-shaped siren rests on a rusting column on the property of Bellwoods Centres for Community Living.
Few of these Cold War relics, which would alert the population to an imminent nuclear attack, remain in Toronto. One siren resides atop the York Quay Centre at Harbourfront. Others, like the one on Ward’s Island, disappear when buildings get new roofs.
Today, no one claims ownership of the surviving sirens. Call the City of Toronto and they refer you to the province. Call the province and they refer you to the Department of National Defence. Call the Department of National Defence and they refer you to … the city.
But Claire Bryden is happy to take possession of the one at Dundas and Shaw. Bryden is executive-director of the Bellwoods Centres, which provide homes for people with physical disabilities. The air raid siren, overlooked for decades, suddenly became of interest during construction of a new building. Because it was in the middle of the Bellwoods Park House property, which straddles old Garrison Creek (now flowing through an underground culvert), the siren had to be moved or removed altogether. A new public path, part of a Discovery Walk daytime urban trail from Fort York to Christie Pits, will go through the property right where the siren was.
What to do with the towering artifact? “Rather than throw it away, we decided it’s a piece of historical memorabilia,” says Bryden, who recalls air-raid-siren practice in her childhood. “It gives character, and we don’t see too many around.”