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Asthe empire of Lord Black of Crossharbour crumbled around him, an opportunity arose to reclaim one of Toronto’s most historic properties. In 2006 Morgan Meighen & Associates reportedly paid $14M for 10 Toronto Street. At $1,800 per square foot, the price was three times the going rate for office space in the city at the time. But when Jonathan Morgan cut the cheque, he knew it wouldn’t be the only one: the 156 year old building was in desperate need of repairs.
The non-public areas were quite shabby, despite Black’s reputation for enjoying the finer accoutrement of life. Water stains marked the walls, and the carpets were worn through to the floorboards. “Because the building was re-purposed many times, the interior had become fairly dysfunctional,” Morgan tells me.
10Toronto Street was built over two years by Frederic Cumberland and Thomas Ridout in the Greek Revival style. It was an architectural movement that first began in the late 1700s as archaeologists were given greater access to Greece. Prior to the mid 18th Century, there was little direct knowledge of Ancient Greece, and access was difficult thanks largely to the Great Turkish War. So when architects of the 1750s traveled to the region, they quickly emulated the styles they saw. You can see it today in Covent Garden in Britain, the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, and elsewhere.
The building spent its first 20 years as a post office. It was even owned for a time by the Bank of Canada as its Toronto headquarters. In 1959 Argus Corp’s E.P. Taylor and Bud McDougald spared the building from the wrecking ball by purchasing it for $500,000 – about $3.65M in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars.
Some of the renovations performed by Argus remained, but 10 hadn’t changed significantly since the 1980s when the crews walked into the building in 2006 for demolition. Morgan’s primary desire was to make 10 a more pleasant work environment. The main floor vault was removed, as were several walls “to eliminate the rabbit warren effect,” he explained. The elevator has been replaced so it can service the basement, and the parking lot where Black was filmed by his own security cameras allegedly removing evidence of his crimes has been spruced-up with a garden. The building even sports a geothermal heat pump.
But perhaps one of the most stunning additions is a skylight that’s opens down to all three floors.
Most of the Conrad Black era artifacts are gone, put out to auction to recoup some of the losses tied to the fallen baron’s pillaging of Hollinger Incorporated. When MMA acquired the building, it also took possession of the images of the building itself – including historical photographs. Two paintings of Massey-Harris farm machinery that once hung in the Argus-era offices were later purchased at auction.
Meantime, the construction crews had to be careful with their demolition. Asbestos and PCBs were expected – and found. What wasn’t expected was just how high the ceilings were on the main floor. After generations of renovations, crews pulled down the ceiling to reveal two more – the Argus Corporation’s ceiling and a vintage 1930s one, too, both with intact tiles and light fixtures and the asbestos and PCBs that go with that era.
What was also unexpected was a pair of unmarked voids discovered in the basement. They weren’t on any plans.
We hoped they might contain gold bars, skeletons or even hooch but they just turned out to be full of rubble and new and better asbestos that required an enhanced level of precautions when being removed.
It’staken about three years to bring the 12,000 sq. foot Heritage Site up to 21st Century standards. Wiring up such an ancient building for the telecommunications needs of a modern day Bay Street firm while retaining its look must be a massive headache — and a remarkable cost. Morgan won’t how much the that second cheque was for, but insists that the budget was set before the recession started and he’s stuck to it.
The “Meighen” in Morgan Meighen & Associates is Colonel Max Meighen: the man who was ousted by Conrad Black in a backstabbing turn of events more than 30 years ago that also saw the fraudster trick a pair of wealthy widows into going along with his plan by appealing to their snobbish ways (“He has egg stains on his ties,” one widow was quoted as saying, “He becomes boisterous after a couple of drinks,” Black apparently replied). Meighen was the son of former prime minister Arthur Meighen, and Jonathan Morgan told the National Post at the time of the purchase that his family’s past association with the building was part of the reason for the purchase.
WhenI asked how it felt to reclaim 10 for the family, Morgan replied, “it depends on what you mean by family. Strictly speaking, we are not related to the Meighen family, although my sister, Vanessa, and I did grow up addressing Max Meighen as “Grampy“ and he did fulfill that role in many ways.” Morgan tells me that the primary motivation in acquiring the building wasn’t to reclaim it.
(We wanted) to have the pleasure of owning such an elegant building, a rarity in Toronto, with its cache and historical connection, and to preserve it from the clutches of some developer who would slap a condo tower on top of it.
The move-in date is scheduled for November of this year.
Michael Hainsworth Email interview with Jonathan Morgan
National PostMeighens back in 10 Toronto Street
Toronto LifeHouse of Lord
Wikipedia.orgToronto Street Post OfficeRediscovery of GreeceConrad Black Criminal fraud trial
McLean’s MagazineThe end: 10 Toronto Street, 1958-2006
Photo credit: CBC TelevisionConrad Black on security cameras
Ithad been a very long time since a single player video game drew me in the way BioShock did two years ago. The premise? Your plane crashes in the ocean in the 1960s near what appears to be a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere. Instead, it’s a marker for an Art Deco underwater world created by a Citizen Kane-esque capitalist tired of taxation and government rule. Of course, things go horribly wrong when his scientists start manipulating genes to give Rapture’s citizens super powers for a price using injectable drugs.
The price, it turns out, is your humanity. “Little Sisters” become evil soul-sucking zombies and their “Big Daddy” turned into robot-like men in turn of the 19th century deep sea diving suits, loaded to the mechanical gills with weaponry to protect them.
Ifyou play the game to completion, you manage to get out of the underwater hellhole. Now in BioShock 2 you return, and this time you’re one of the bad guys.
In BioShock 2, you are a Big Daddy. In fact, you’re the first Big Daddy ever created — a prototype model that’s lighter and faster. Unlike the rest of the Big Daddies, he’s also got free will, the “ability to make rational decisions,” says Thomas. So, just as in the original, you must decide whether to be a good father figure to the little girls of Rapture, or just kill them and take their drugs.
Asthe father of a young girl, the creepiest angle in the original BioShock was that you had an option: kill the evil little girls and take their life force to save your own, or save them by removing the evil within.
Of course, I opted to save the little girls. The physics model of their bodies was spine chilling: as you “pulled” the evil out of them, their limbs flailed exactly the way my daughter’s do when I’m scooping her up to haul her to the Naughty Corner.
In BioShock 2 your role as Big Daddy is thwarted by the introduction of Big Sister, one of the girls you’ve saved in the first game. 10 years later, she’s back and isn’t pleased that you’re messing with her plans.
Onething that made the original so fascinating was how advanced the artificial intelligence was. The game truly changed depending on how you reacted to the world around you — both physically and psychologically. The creators of BioShock 2 promise more of the same in the sequel.
I’m also a sucker for Art Deco, and this franchise makes great use of this fabulous time in American architecture.
Wired MagazineFirst Look: BioShock 2 Takes Bold Trip Back to Rapture
It was no surprise that Porn airs during Super Bowl Game was the most popular article here. What surprises me more is that Darwin Poster: Very Gradual Change We Can Believe In surpassed it.
When a Tuscon, Arizona Comcast feed of The Big Game accidentally (and ever so momentarily) switched to an adult porn star’s channel, people turned to CNN.com for more. And CNN directed them to HAINSWORTH.COM:
Janet Jackson ain’t got nothing on the Tuscon, Arizona division of cable giant Comcast. As the Cardinals scored their last touchdown, the feed for standard definition customers switched for 30 seconds to the company’s “Jenna Club” porn channel. Viewers were treated to a scene of a male performer standing up, pulling down his pants, and doing what every 12 year old boy has done: flap his penis back and forth.
Not Safe For Work (NSFW) Video: Gizmodo.com
Source: KVOA News 4, Tuscon
From time to time BNN viewers take me to task for what they feel is my “constant RIM bashing.” This is what I tell them about why I’ve spent the past five years asking knowledgeable guests scary questions about the technology, the competition, and the management behind Canada’s only remaining technology hero.
The Estate is now fully wired for wireless Internet access, with multiple points handing-off service to mobile devices to ensure seamless high speed access at all times.
Real world snap reveals my 3 year old Sony Ericsson still beats the iPhone 3GS. Check out the photo and tell me if you think it’s enough to warrant a purchase.