A Walking Tour of our City's False Fronts
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A Walking Tour of our City’s False Fronts

A few months ago, Torontoist wrote about the practice of façadism in the downtown core. Façadism—which refers to the practice of retaining the front face, or “skin,” of an old building and affixing it to a newer, usually larger structure—has become increasingly popular in recent years as the city continues to grow up and out at its breakneck pace.
Façadism began to be seen in Ontario after the 1975 Heritage Act, which gave municipalities the ability to designate structures as heritage buildings and, in theory, to protect them from destruction. Marketed as a profitable compromise between developers and conversationalists, the practice of façadism has led to the destruction of some of Toronto’s most distinctive historical and cultural buildings, leaving nothing but a scaffolded husk behind. Dozens of seemingly centuries-old structures in the downtown core have in reality been eviscerated, rebuilt, moved to a different location, or simply replaced with ersatz, “heritage-inspired” architecture.
In response, Toronto Architectural Conservancy (TAC) is offering a free walking tour of these structural mirages. The tour will be led by TAC president Alec Keefer, whose encyclopedic knowledge of Toronto’s history will focus on the politics behind the construction, destruction, and transformation of the structures into wafer-thin false fronts.
The tour begins this Saturday, November 24 at 1:30 p.m. on the Southeast corner of Victoria and Adelaide.
Photo by Bitpicture from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.