Historic vault contents opened, reveal... skates?
Documents and developer's records found from the 1960s appear to belong to a building designer
After hours of painstaking work by an expert locksmith Tuesday evening, the contents of a historic vault hidden for decades in the 120-year-old Dineen building on Yonge Street have finally been revealed.
Boxes, documents, bank cheques and ... a pair of very old skates.
The developer's records found from the 1960s appear to belong to someone named Stern. His company was King Manor Ltd. and based on the documents, he was designing buildings on Sheppard Avenue East.
"There are no bricks of gold but it's kind of nice to have stuff to mill through. There's bound to be some interesting documents," said Clayton Smith with Commercial Realty Group, the current owner of the building.
"There's everything from what porta-potties rented for 55 years ago...It's kind of neat in the developer's world."
The safe, which itself is a historic gem built before the turn of the last century by Toronto's J & J Taylor Safe Company, was a challenge to crack Tuesday evening. It had a broken spindle — the dial used to enter the combination — when it was uncovered during renovations in 2011.
"It looks like the spindle was broken off and that's usually done in frustration," said Josh Pothiers, who's with a company called Toronto Safecracker.
Armed with a drill, a paper clip, a remote camera and a lot of patience, Pothiers got down to work Tuesday evening.
He was eventually able to open the vault, but it took him two and a half hours from start to finish.
The Dineen building was the showroom, workshop and office of the upscale fur and hat making company, W. & D. Dineen, until the 1930s.
The building then saw a series of owners and many tenants, some whose names are carved on a stone registry in the entrance, another discovery made during renovations carried out by the Commercial Realty Group.
It was the curiosity of one of the current tenants, Kane Willmott of iQ Office, who pushed to open the vault.
"Was it worth it? Absolutely! These are documents that tell the story of doing business in Toronto in the 60s and 70s. It will be interesting to keep reading and discovering."
The yellow brick building has several steel vaults, a common feature to protect against fire and flood in 19th century buildings, but this one was the only one unopened.
With files from Amanda Margison