Old Photographs of the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plan

There is an allure and mystery to buildings the public can’t access. Only on special occasions like Doors Open Toronto can we get a glimpse inside grand public buildings like the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant.

Part of its appeal is in the contrast between its utilitarian purpose and its stunning architecture. Built in the 1930s, and opened in 1941, it is the largest water treatment plant in the city. The plant not only provides Toronto with sparkling clean drinking water, its extra marble laden entrance and Art Deco architectural features have given it the nick name the Palace of Purification. The historic building and landmark has even been featured on a postage stamp.

1986 - R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant looking north
1986 – R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant looking north

Yes, our drinking water is piped in from Lake Ontario, but if you’re on the fence about drinking city tap water, maybe a tour of the plant will help make you a believer.

For more information about the water treatment process check out this website.

If you haven’t taken a look at one of Toronto’s most unique buildings, the grounds at 2701 Queen Street East are open to the public.

Browsing through the Toronto Archives we can get a look at the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant over the years as well as its construction and original site. Here are some of the images we found.

1932 - Area for Reservoir Looking West
1932 – Area for Reservoir Looking West

1978 - RC Harris Water Filtration Plant
1978 – RC Harris Water Filtration Plant
1980 - R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant looking south-east
1980 – R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant looking south-east
1980 - R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant
1980 – R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant
1980s - Detail of R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant lookingsouth-east
1980s – Detail of R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant lookingsouth-east
1980s - East end of R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant lookingsouth
1980s – East end of R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant lookingsouth
1980s - East end of R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant lookingsouth
1980s – East end of R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant lookingsouth
1980s - R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant looking north
1980s – R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant looking north
1980s - R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant looking south
1980s – R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant looking south
1980s - South entrance to R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant
1980s – South entrance to R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant
1980s - West entrance of R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant
1980s – West entrance of R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant
1985 - RC Harris Water Filtration Plant copy
1985 – RC Harris Water Filtration Plant copy
1985 - RC Harris Water Filtration Plant
1985 – RC Harris Water Filtration Plant
2011 - Exterior, R.C. Harris water treatment plant
2011 – Exterior, R.C. Harris water treatment plant
2011 – Filtration room, R.C. Harris water treatment plant
2011 - Filtration room, R.C. Harris water treatment plant
2011 – Filtration room, R.C. Harris water treatment plant
2011 - R.C. Harris water treatment plant
2011 – R.C. Harris water treatment plant
2015 - R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant North Facade
2015 – R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant North Facade
2016 - R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant operating galleries in the Filter Building
2016 – R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant operating galleries in the Filter Building
2016 - R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant Service Building
2016 – R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant Service Building

 

 

For more old photographs from Toronto, check out the Toronto Archives.