Picture perfect progress – Urban photogs train lenses on Crosstown’s Mount Dennis and Keelesdale Stations

We continue to show you images of work taking place on the Crosstown light rail transit line. But to offer out a different perspective on the project, Metrolinx invited select photographers to exclusively focus on the last two stops west on the Eglinton line. Here’s the rare steps they took.

Looking past the dust and the heavy-machinery, Jamaal Merrick saw a bustling site through a completely different lens.

His focus? Capturing a moment he knew only he and nine other urban photographers would get to witness during an exclusive walk from the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit (LRT) project’s Mount Dennis Station to Keelesdale Station.

Photographers head to the Kodak Building.

Photographers head to the starting point oft of the tour at the once abandoned Kodak Building. Photo by Nitish Bissonauth

A special tour was held August 1st to allow those who photograph the many angles of Toronto, and transit, to see what few have so far seen.

“As a photographer, you always want to share unique views,” said Merrick.

“I always want to make sure I show people something they’ve never seen before, and this is definitely it.”

Those unique views started at Mount Dennis Station where the photographers got a chance to walk through the former Kodak Building – a heritage structure which dates back to 1939 and is now part of the design for the transit hub which will connect the LRT, the TTC, GO transit’s Kitchener Line as well as UP Express.

Building material sits on a flood inside a building.

Inside the Kodak Building, some of the historic features have been preserved such as the original columns and the old staircase which is currently covered. Photos by Nitish Bissonauth

Metrolinx had to shift the abandoned building 200 feet from its original spot and elevate the entire structure – a massive undertaking that is much appreciated by Merrick.

“I’ve seen pictures of what this placed looked like before,” he says. “It’s kind of surreal to see it now with all this work going on. It’s a nice touch.”

See a time-lapse video of that big move here.

Below the building is the platform where you can literally picture yourself catching an light rail vehicle (LRV). The whole station is taking shape and visualising the future is even easier with the tracks now already laid.

Photog image 4

For the first time, visitors stepped foot on the elevated guideway where trains will travel east and west between Mount Dennis Station and Keelesdale – a once in a lifetime walk of discovery.

“To get exclusive, limited access to places that are generally off limits, those are always the best,” said photographer Robbie Stilez.

Photographers walk the route. In this case, they are on the tracks, but outside.

Part of the tour included going on the tracks and walking on the same guideway trains will be running through once the project is complete. Photo by Nitish Bissonauth

Stilez was even more impressed walking on the route that lead into the tunnel at Keelesdale Station – a highlight for many of the photographers who were able to capture shots in a place they’ve only dreamt of shooting in.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” says Merrick.

“I’ve never had access like this before.”

For many photographers, safety is just as important as getting that great shot. Being able to be on tracks with full protective equipment and going underground without having to worry about a train, gave them even more peace of mind. It also allowed them to do what they do best – capture every angle.

“I like the symmetry,” said Stilez. “In photography you have a leading line, vanishing points; you get some pretty good shots in tunnels.

“I’m excited to post.”

Photographers set up cameras inside the tunnel.

Jamaal Merrick setting up the money shot of the tunnel going toward Keelesdale Station. Photo by Nitish Bissonauth

While the tour was great for those visiting, it was also a chance for the crews on site to showcase their own works of art – the construction on these two elaborate stations.

“It’s very important because we know the disturbance construction can cause, so having people come in and see the work we do, they have a much better understanding and appreciation for what’s happening in their communities,” said Danilo Andric, assistant project manager at the Keelesdale station site for Crosslinx Transit Solutions.

Crosslinx is Metrolinx’s constructor on the Crosstown project.

Andric noted Keelesdale Station is the first underground station that will be completed on the line. And once open, getting the same access and taking the same shots will be impossible. It’s something the photographers were well aware of.

“This is a sneak peek of what’s coming and even when it comes, people are not going to get these perspectives,” said Merrick

“This is invaluable – I can’t put it into words – it means a lot to me.”

The Eglinton Crosstown is expected to be completed by September 2021.

Story by Nitish Bissonauth, Metrolinx Bilingual Spokesperson, Media Relations and Issues Specialist