The Don Destructor or Incinerator

Yes! It really was called the “Don Destructor” for most of its 52 years active life. The 1926 Annual Report of the Street Cleaning Department tells us that “The Don Destructor is situated on the east bank of the Don River, at Dundas Street East. It was placed in operation in July, 1917, at a cost of $225,000, exclusive of land, and during 1926, 52,081 tons of refuse were disposed of at an actual cost of 1.5 man hours of labor per ton.”

The Don Incinerator June 2003

Like its neighbours the Don Jail and The House of Refuge, when it was built it was the very best. Its technology was at the cutting edge “The Don Destructor is of fireproof construction throughout. The plant consists of three high- temperature four-cell “Sterling” furnace units, with combustion chambers, connecting flues, etc., and all appurtenances, including air heaters or regenerators. A Custodis radial brick chimney 175 feet in height with an internal diameter of ninety inches at the base is constructed twenty-five feet from the building.” While built in a residential area there were no complaints. “Although it is in close proximity to at least five public institutions, and is distant only 250 feet from tenanted houses, we have yet to receive a single complaint as to odor, or as a matter of fact from any other cause, the plant being practically odorless in the destruction of approximately 50,000 tons of refuse each year.”

January 1, 1967, it was transferred to Metro which closed it down two years later in 1969. Air pollution control standards had been raised and it just was not worth while to bring it up to standard. An 1982 Works Department Report, recommending that it “should be officially released from the refuse disposal function,” says “This old plant is located adjacent to a residential area and traffic using the plant was forced to pass through narrow residential streets while the plant was in operation. It did not meet air pollution control standards when it was closed, and it would not be possible to place it back into operation unless extensive emission controls were added, and other environmental concerns could be satisfied.”

The Destructor is gone July 2004

Manitoba Maple on the slopes

By 2004, it had become unsafe and was demolished. The chimney had been taken down some years earlier. Metro Works is holding on to the site as a possible access point to the proposed Don Storm Water Control Tunnel. The Task Force to Bring Back The Don would like to use the area for a small wetland, but that will have to wait. In the mean time the slopes can be improved. The bare areas on the slope were planted in the fall of 2004 and consideration is being given to replacing the Manitoba Maple Jungle with more desirable species of trees.