Two significant early businesses were located on the south-west corner of Frederick and Front (145 Front Street East): William Davies Meat Packers 1868 to 1879 and The J. & J. Taylor Safeworks, 1855 to 1924. The much modified main building used by both businesses still stands with commercial tenants, but the other buildings have vanished.
William Davies opened a two-storey plant for packing pork on this site, which he rented at first, but by 1875, he had bought it. After he moved his opperations to a larger plant on Front Street at the Don River, this building at Front and Frederick was taken over by The J. & J. Safeworks who incorporated it into their operations. It still stands there today in greatly modified state. For more about the Davies business see Toronto Pork Packing Plant.
The J. & J. Taylor Safeworks, also known as the Toronto Safe Works, began as a foundry that made machine and large decorative and structural castings, in 1855. Their safes were fire and theft proof, which gave them a near-monopoly in the safe-making business. The safes were bulky and heavy. The factory expanded in 1867 and again in 1877 to occupy most of the east end of the block. Another addition was made in 1883. The company had its own wharf just west of the foot of Frederick Street.
When the Grand Trunk railway was built, the tracks ran along the south side of the Esplanade, which gave the firm a convenient alternative to shipping by water. In the 1920s, the railways required more space which the city supported. The project to elevate the Tracks started in 1925 and continued for three years. The south side of the Taylor property was expropriated, forcing the company to close in 1924, as they never relocated. Some of their safes were still in use in the 1950s and 1960s. J. & J. Taylor was the most successful manufacturer of safes in the city because of the quality of their products. Their safes were not only fully secure but also lasted for years without giving problems.
For more information see “A Glimpse of Toronto’s History.” (Davies MPLS# 188 and Taylor MPLS#181)