It seems incredible that a facility dedicated to the separation of sewage from drinking water would be housed in one of the most beautiful Art Deco buildings in Toronto. If not for events like Doors Open, most people would not even get a chance to see the inside of the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, located at 2701 Queen St. East, in the area known as "The Beach". Deco-styled limestone carvings adorn the exterior while the interior boasts marble floors with black, gold and taupe veins, skylights running along the span of the high ceilings, decorative cast iron stair railings, and large round-arched windows.
Our second stop of the day was the home and gallery of landscape artist Doris McCarthy, which is now a Heritage site located on the Scarborough Bluffs. McCarthy bought 12 acres of land in 1939 for the sum of $1250 and built a small cottage on it. Her mother thought the purchase was an extravagant folly and called it "that Fool's Paradise of yours", a nickname that stuck to the property. Over the years, McCarthy personally designed and built more additions to the cottage, resulting in an oddly shaped structure that juts out in all directions. Her architectural plans are proudly displayed on the wall of an added work room. She added a pond to the property because she liked how the water reflected the sky.
Never married, Doris McCarthy lived at Fool's Paradise until her death at age 100 in 2010. Some of her neighbours were on the same guided tour as us and spoke of her lovingly. She sounded like an incredible woman, feisty and joyful to the end. They described of how she liked to drive a big SUV and invited neighbouring children to skate with her on her frozen pond in the winter. While she still could, she participated in the Doors Open tours, personally guiding visitors through her home. I wish we had the chance to meet her while she was alive.