While the Candy Factory Lofts was last a sweets production facility, it did not start out that way. In fact, it was only home to Rockets for 25 years, from 1963 to 1988. Doesn’t matter now, as the gorgeous lofts set the standard for Toronto loft conversions. These are the ultimate hard lofts, the building that truly started the loft boom in Toronto back in 2000.
The Ce De Candy Co. was launched in 1949 after third-generation candy maker Edward Dee moved his family from England to New Jersey and secured the name Smarties for his candy wafer roll. His family had been making a similar candy in England at what’s now the Swizzels Matlow Co.
In 1963, Dee expanded to Canada, opening a second factory on Queen Street West in Toronto. The candy was called Rockets here to avoid confusion with Nestle’s colourful sugar-coated chocolate Smarties. Oddly enough, the US does not have the chocolate Smarties that we know and love. They only have their version of Rockets, which they call Smarties.
The original Rocket prototype was invented in England. But it would have been flavoured with cinnamon and cloves. Those were spices that were likely imported into Britain from the British colonies. According to Edward Dee, who is now 88 years old and still working in the business in New Jersey, the workers came mostly from what was a Portuguese neighbourhood around the factory.
The original space is now the Candy Factory Lofts. The Candy Factory Lofts were originally the brain child of Harry Stinson, a past Toronto developer with a troubled and interesting history (anyone remember the Mad Hatter’s for birthday parties in the 1970s and 1980s?). After several long years of turmoil between the development team and the building owners Metro Ontario Group, the Candy Factory finally was completed in 1999/2000. I think it is this project that launched Brad Lamb.
The Candy Factory is most certainly one of the most notable loft conversions in Toronto. It may not be as famous as it once was, but this was once THE loft, the standard by which all others were measured. Blessed with spectacular and classic hard loft architecture, this building remains one of Toronto’s most popular loft residences.
The Candy Factory has all the charm and character of a 100+ year old brick warehouse which spans a full city block at Queen Street West and Shaw Street. Though it appears to be a single structure, the Candy Factory Lofts are actually made up of 3 buildings.
The east building was built in 1907 as a fabric mill. It was constructed of masonry walls, post and beam frame, with 3×8 southern yellow pine deck covered with hardwood strip flooring. The west building was built in the 1920s. It too was constructed with masonry walls, post and beam frame with 2×5 red pine mill decking covered with hardwood strip flooring. The center structure is a combination of steel post and beam, masonry, concrete decks and 2×5 spruce mill decking overlaid with hardwood. This area housed the buildings’ heating plant and incinerator.
It was only after the fabric mill left in the early 1960s that Eddie Dee moved his Ce De Candy Co. into the space and made Halloween special for generations of kids. The factory then moved to Newmarket in 1988, leaving behind an empty shell. The workers did not follow, though, but found work in other sweet shops in the area. From the Patterson Candy Company next door (now the Chocolate Company Lofts), to the Cadbury/Neilson factory on Gladtone.
Now the Candy Factory is a post and beam loft conversion with 121 units, ranging in size from 700 square-foot one bedroom units to 3,500+ square-foot two-level penthouse suites. Most of the lofts are in the 1,000-1,600sf range. Some of the building features include real hardwood strip flooring, exposed brick, mezzanine bedrooms, fir columns and beams, wood ceilings, floating spiral duct work and granite counters. Many suites feature gas fireplaces and kitchens.
The 5-storey structure of 250,000 square feet (23,000 square meters) plus 1 floor of basement space was converted to 121 condominium loft units. The building and certain of its units have been used for a number of movie and commercial shoots because of its unique architectural character. Due to its massive size the Candy Factory offers a 24 hr. concierge, party room, a guest suite, fitness room, roof terraces and phenomenally wide hallways.
The Candy Factory Lofts has been described by many as the quintessential example of what a loft conversion should be. One of the most challenging elements of the conversion was the structural support of the entire 250,000 square foot building while excavating the basement underneath it, to construct an additional level of underground parking – rare in most lofts.