Goodbye, Solway’s

Solways-claw
G. Solway & Sons, my favourite site along the West Toronto Railpath, closed its massive rusty gates earlier this month. Solway’s was a scrap yard that irritated new home owners buying into its industrial and working class neighbourhood. These new residents pressured the City to put the squeeze on Solway’s by changing local traffic laws and banning bicycle scrappers . Having endured several years of these pressures, Solway’s has now sold the site to a condo developer. But I’m not going to dwell on all that. I want to celebrate Solway’s as it was.

When I lived on Perth Avenue behind Solway’s six years ago, I would see a steady procession of pick-up trucks and bicycles with handmade wagons taking the city’s discarded metal to the scrapyard. Walking by the yard (then at the end of a dead end alley), I might see a magnet picking up an entire dump truck load of metal, or a giant claw picking up kitchen appliances three at a time and hurling them 50 feet. Later, when the street was cleaned up and Railpath opened, some of the locals would set up lawn chairs across from the scrap yard to watch the show.

Mechanical dinosaurs appeared one day in 2010, peering over the weed trees that line the Railpath. A crane operator placed these theme park discards along the fence line where they slowly decayed over several seasons. In particular, I remember the triceratops’ eye staring mournfully at me every time I headed home along the path.

Solways-mechanical-dinosaurs

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5 responses to “Goodbye, Solway’s

  1. Brilliant! I have lots of fun memories of checking out interesting discarded cars left overnight at their doorsteps (despite a big sign saying not to do that) or those bicycle scrappers like you mentioned. I didn’t even know they were closing – kinda sad, but they were a dusty sore eye for the neighbourhood. How many times did I have to clean that front porch of junk filth? I’ll miss the Triceratops – great paintings – you captured the imagery perfectly.

    T.

  2. I worked at Solways for 10 years in the office. I miss it every day. I blame the neighbors and the city of Toronto for all of us having to find new jobs. No one should ever have to go through the harrassment that Howard did.

    • Thumbs up Jackie!! I took scrap metal there for almost 30 years!
      Always drove carefully in the area; Most residents of the area are
      totally unaware of the industry that took place in the area 50-60 years ago.
      Very interesting history of Solways and other industries is available to
      anyone curious! I agree Howard [owner Solways] bent over backwards
      to keep the area safe and clean for residents! ……Bert Senior! [jim]

    • Hi Jackie Hope everything is ok.Howard was the best>>>>>all the best to all Solways crew. Gino and JJK

  3. Thanks for this sad but shining little homage. I shopped at Solways since I started working with metal in my 20s, and was saddened to hear it finally killed by whingeing nimbys. I’m veering toward 50 now, still working metal, and will miss poking about in their treasure bins, seeing the latest photoshopped roast of one of the fine folks who worked there – never mind having access to a well stocked and well priced metal supplier down town! They may be gone, but won’t soon be forgotten.

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