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.