Story of Yorkville Fire Hall and Unilock


I discovered there weren’t any paving stones in North America. I went and visited, I found out who was making paving stones in Zurich and he led me on to a gentleman […] in Germany and I brought him over to Toronto and I got a license to make unistone and then the fun began. Bought the land up in Berry, put a small plant up there and started making unistones and that was the beginning. In Europe they did a great deal of commercial work. With that paving stone, Fritz took me to Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart where they had done the entire storage area for vehicles and parts, and it was all done in unistone. And the reason they did it is that when they did it in concrete and asphalt, loading would crack that product, but with the unistone it worked extremely well. This was our sales effort of what a great product the unistone was. What we needed was an opportunity to display that.

And one day I was driving with our sales manager, Gordon Richard, in Yorkville and we happened to pass the Fire Hall just down the road here. And they were busy building it. I said, “Stop the car Gordon, we’ll make a call here”. He said, “Ed […] that’s the city and it takes them months and months”. I said, “I will give it a shot”. So I took a unistone and one of our little brochures and walked over, found a guy in charge, had a chat with him. Turned out he was European and he knew about paving stones, loved the idea of putting paving stones at the Fire Hall so much that he went down to City Hall and next thing we know, we got an order to do the Fire Hall. And that was terrific, because that gave us the best test site you could imagine. Here we got this beautiful, reconstructed Fire Hall with big fire trucks running over our pavers everyday, and you can see how well that worked because forty years later those stones were still there.

My name is Paul Halls, Toronto Fire District Chief 31. I’m a proud member of Toronto Fire and have been for 38 years. I joined the job just after the original bricks were laid in this platform. They’ve endured for over forty years, over 250,000 emergency responses in that time have come out these doors across this platform. The stones withstood so much pounding. The aerial truck or the ladder truck weighs over 35 tonne. So rolling in and out for quarter million responses in the forty years they’ve been here is huge. We need good equipment, we need good material, part of that is a good platform. The thing for us is durability, so the way they are built – way thicker – they will withstand the pounding of the trucks. That means something to us because we need to rely on this, it doesn’t matter weather, time of year, doesn’t matter. We need this to survive. It was nice when those stones needed to be replaced, they put together a team of people to actually think about the history of the hall and how it ties into Yorkville, so they wanted to build the durability as well as the history. And our fire station is proud to be one of the oldest buildings.

My name is Brett Hoornaert and I work for The Planning Partnership in Toronto and I am a landscape architect. The planning partnership was brought on by the Yorkville BIA to develop a master plan for the revitalization of Yorkville, Canada’s trendiest shopping district. We were looking for a paving stone for the streetscape that was sophisticated and contemporary that would meet the City of Toronto’s requirements for durability. The original Unilock pavers at the Fire Hall on Yorkville Avenue are quite a testament to their durability. The durability of the pavers was of outmost importance primarily for two reasons. One, we’re in a roadway condition so we have buses, we have fire trucks, we have vehicular traffic moving across this road all the time. And so we needed something that would be able to withstand all these loads. Working closely with the reps at Unilock, we chose the PromenadeTM Plank Paver with the Umbriano® finish because it provided both the aesthetic we desired, as well as the durability and longevity that we needed. Unilock was a great partner through the design phase. They not only helped us choose the colour, the paver size and the pattern, but they also anticipated potential issues down the road. This helped during the construction phase when they were on-site helping the contractor making sure that the paving installation was as high quality as possible. So we’re continuing to work with Unilock on Phase 2 and it’s really exciting to see it come together because although we had unipavers in the roadway on Phase 1, on Phase 2 we have them from building face to building face.

We made very high quality paving stones from day one and we continue to do that. What I find very gratifying, sitting here at this moment on Yorkville Avenue, down the way is the Fire Hall and out this window they are doing the entire Yorkville Avenue from Yonge to Avenue Road in Unilock paving stones. That’s pretty nuts. Quality is number one. It’s how we know our business over the last forty years. Quality and people.

Yorkville Fire Hall

In 1974, Unilock Uni-Stone™ was installed at the fire hall on Yorkville Avenue in Toronto. Forty years later they were still intact and enduring the rigors of daily fire truck traffic. For the full story click here.

Yorkville Avenue

The Planning Partnership collaborates with Unilock to create a pedestrian friendly environment in one of the most prestigious shopping districts in Toronto. For the full story click here.