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Demolition and deconstruction legacies: Toronto’s Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village

Alison Creba (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 16 December 2019

Issue publication date: 15 January 2020




Building on the thematic intersection of architectural waste and conservation, the purpose of this paper is to look at the demolition and deconstruction of Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village – an iconic site in downtown Toronto. In doing so, it examines contradictory site values and tensions inherent in sustainable heritage practices.


This article uses a “follow-the-thing” methodology – an approach developed by the cultural geographer Nicky Gregson (Gregson et al., 2009) – to demonstrate how engaging with processes of building demolition and deconstruction can begin to reveal the site’s multiple legacies.


Recognizing that materials are not lost, but instead move through and are determined by various physical, spatial and cultural conditions, this piece demonstrates how an attention to the choreography of demolition and deconstruction may deepen our understanding of notions of ownership, responsibility and stewardship.

Research limitations/implications

Exposing material trajectories and various actors in the chain, this work challenges the save/discard binary which underpins conventional heritage practices and provides insight into new ways of considering the significance of demolition/deconstruction sites as well as broader social and environmental landscapes implicated in its reconfiguration.


Whereas heritage value is often defined in contrast with perceptions of loss, this piece suggests that engagement with processes of demolition and deconstruction constitutes a form of conservation that simultaneously acknowledges the difficult heritage of these procedures, while also commemorating the site’s ongoing transformation.



This research was support by the Government of Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, CREATE Heritage Engineering Program.


Creba, A. (2020), "Demolition and deconstruction legacies: Toronto’s Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 52-64.



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