259 Lake Shore Blvd East

259 Lake Shore Blvd East
Toronto ON
M5A 3T7

Before 1923, the ground beneath this formerly vacant building did not exist. The land in this area of the city was fashioned from infill that covered over marshland between the Don River and Ashbridges Bay. Since the early 1800s, each time Toronto’s economy has surged, the shoreline has been altered, subjugated to the interests of capital.

The life of this nondescript building reveals the area’s economic history. Its first tenant in 1945, the Standard Chemical Company, produced methanol, formaldehyde, and charcoal. A railway line to the south tethered the site to the movement of goods. By 1954, the building was divided into a warehouse and a showroom, a configuration that remained intact over the course of various leaseholders, including oil and electrical supply companies and a series of car dealerships. (The advertising of its most recent tenant, Volvo, is still visible on the façade.) This building’s fate is indeterminate, as real estate development is increasingly filling the voids left by industrial decline.

Those who study civic ecosystems argue that old buildings are needed to incubate new ideas, which is what artists are offering here, if only temporarily. Artworks gathered at 259 Lake Shore consider different forms of relations in light of the connections and disconnections that characterize the present. Videos prefigure the catastrophic effects of the Anthropocene; clusters of tin monarch butterflies are programmed to respond to seismic data; intricate drawings document Inuit life before forced assimilation. Directly inside the building’s doors, a massive wooden replica of Toronto’s harbour immediately makes apparent the human-made alterations of the land and waterscape, all in the service of industry.

This Biennial site description was generated by the curatorial team, in consultation with our creative partners, to offer lesser-known facts and histories, and explore sites in relation to the changing shoreline.

The festival cafe, “Ciao Ciccio,” is brought to the Toronto Biennial of Art by Ascari Hospitality Group, and offers guests the highest quality coffee beverages, plus a broad array of pastries, daily sandwiches, salad bowls, and much more.  Open Thursday-Sunday for the remainder of the Biennial.

PARTISANS is the architectural team and exhibition designers that helped transform the old Volvo dealership into the galleries.

This Biennial site was made possible through a partnership with Waterfront Toronto.

  • Accessibility

    Accessible entrance and washrooms
    AODA compliant building
    Accessible parking

  • Getting There

    By Public Transportation: The TTC offers three bus routes – the 6, 72, and 75 – within a short walking distance of 259 Lakeshore Blvd.

    By Car:

    • Coming from the West: Follow Gardiner Expressway E to the Jarvis Street exit. Keep right and follow the signs for Lake Shore Blvd E eastbound. Turn right onto Lower Sherbourne Street, then left onto Queens Quay E, where the destination is on the left.
    • Coming from the East:Take Lake Shore Blvd E eastbound towards the downtown core. Turn left onto Parliament St, and continue onto Queens Quay E, where the destination is on the right.

Artworks at 259 Lake Shore Blvd East

AA Bronson at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E

Bronson’s multi-year project, A Public Apology to Siksika Nation, responds to European genocide, including his great-grandfather’s role as the first missionary at Siksika Nation and founder of the Old Sun…

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Adrian Blackwell at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E

The ancient Greek term isonomia implies political equality. Blackwell’s two site-responsive, non-hierarchical structures at the Biennial are spaces to gather for weekly programs and contemplate isonomia in the face of…

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Adrian Stimson at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E

Stimson’s installation and performance is generated in close dialogue with residential school survivors and leaders in Siksika. Revealing the layers of colonization and Indigenous resistance in his community, Iini Sookumapii:…

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Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E

In Wagner and de Burca’s experimental film RISE, poets, rappers, and musicians who belong to the collective R.I.S.E. (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) perform agitprop edutainment in the Toronto underground. R.I.S.E.…

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Caecilia Tripp at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E

Interstellar Sleep is an immersive installation produced in collaboration with astrophysicists from York University Observatory, cosmologist Dr. Renée Hložek, and composer Mani Mazinani. It is comprised of a celestial filmscape,…

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Curtis Talwst Santiago at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E

This installation brings together forty-eight works from Santiago’s Infinity Series, which consists of miniature dioramas housed in reclaimed jewelry boxes that are often assembled using found materials to convey an…

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Dana Claxton at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E

Claxton’s LED fireboxes are a testament to the beauty and resilience of Indigenous women. In these portraits the face of each sitter is subsumed by their cultural belongings—layers of beaded…

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Embassy of Imagination + PA System at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E

Sinaaqpagiaqtuut/The Long-Cut is a two-part procession that began in Kinngait, NU, and continues in Toronto, travelling from The Bentway to 259 Lake Shore Blvd E, where sculptures, banners, and wearables…

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Fernando Palma Rodríguez at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E

A swarm of 104 robotic monarch butterflies are programmed to respond to seismic frequencies. Monarchs, which have suffered rapid decline, are the only species to migrate between Mexico and Canada…

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