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HISTORY: Dupont building was a purpose-built car factory (Feb. 2024)

April 5th, 2024 · No Comments

Examining the old and new: Toronto’s first Model T assembly plant

Pictured above at left: a 1915 Ford Model Roadster model; middle: 672 Dupont at Christie where these models were assembled; and at right: a 1915 Ford Model T Coupe. Both cars are on permanent display at 672 Dupont and it’s free to visit!

By Mia Keskinen

At the turn of the 20th century, Toronto was considered a car manufacturing town; now, this is a distant memory. Evidence can still be found today, as the location of Toronto’s first Model T factory was at Dupont and Christie streets. 

In 1915, a Ford Model T assembly plant and show room was built at 672 Dupont St., now owned by Faema, a commercial coffee equipment supplier. Each of the five floors were built with reinforced flooring to support the weight of the automobiles being assembled. Each floor also had a different purpose. The first floor was the showroom. Model Ts, which were only available in a sleek black colour, retailed for a significantly lower price than vehicles today. They cost $360, which equates to $9,566 in today’s dollars. Currently, Faema’s displays two of the original Model Ts in its windows and a sign that details the vehicle’s history, giving Toronto residents a glimpse into the past.  

Henry Ford, who lived from 1863-1947, was a notable inventor and industrialist. He created the Ford Motor Company in 1903. On Oct. 1, 1908, Ford invented the Model T, the first automobile that would be mass-produced on an assembly line and would make record sales of over 16 million automobiles over the next 20 years. Given the high demand for the Model T, the Ford Motor Company expanded internationally. In Canada, it built assembly plants in Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Toronto.

The plant on Dupont was built at that site because of proximity to the rail line. Loading docks facing the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks were located on the second floor, as this floor was created for imports and exports. 

Parts were brought in by train, and cars were shipped throughout Canada and the world, especially the British Empire. The third and fourth floors contained the assembly line. This facility also manufactured right-hand drive cars that were exported to several British colonies, including India and Australia. Finally, the fifth floor was a  paint shop where each Model T was painted a sleek black colour. Perhaps most surprisingly, the roof also had a test track for the finished product.

In the mid-1920s, the Ford Motor Company relocated its operational facilities to a factory close to Danforth Avenue and Victoria Park Avenue. There is significantly less public knowledge about this plant as it did not establish the same notoriety as Toronto’s first assembly plant. The original building, at 672 Dupont St., has stood the test of time. Both its exterior (vivacious red bricks) and its interior, are in pristine condition due to Faema’s historical preservation efforts. This building is a true hidden gem and is testament to the Annex’s industrial period in the early 20th century. 

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