Known as the Sunshine Palace, the McCormick factory was constructed in 1913. The factory was one of the first large industrial factories in London and played an important role in the development of east London. The factory was constructed and designed by Thomas McCormick Jr. and his family. In order to design the factory, Thomas Jr. toured over a hundred candy and biscuit factories in Europe. London’s Watt and Blackwell architectural firm helped make his dream a reality, and the factory was soon constructed by the Frost and Winchestor construction company of Windsor.
The original factory was created with the Kahn system of reinforced steel encased in concrete. Large windows were incorporated into the design to allow workers access to sunlight. Terra cotta was added to the exterior cladding of the building, adding to the building’s unique features. Employee amenities included croquet, a tennis court, baseball field, and lawn bowling on the extensive grounds. Over a thousand people worked in the factory on a typical day, producing 135,000 pounds of candy and 100,000 pounds of biscuits a day.
The property was designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, R.S.O. 1990 on November 11, 2014 via By-law No. L.S.P.-3441-366. The designated features are:
- The massing of the original structure (no later additions are heritage-designated)
- White cladding and patterning
- Window openings and patterning
- Canopies above the entrances on Dundas street
The factory operated as a candy and cookie factory under various corporations until 2006. The site has remained vacant since the last business, Beta Brands Limited, went into receivership in 2008.
The City of London vested the land due to nonpayment of taxes and issued a request for proposals for the purchase and redevelopment of the property. As part of the sale, a Phase 1 and Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment and a Designated Substances and Hazardous Materials Survey were completed by LVM/Sendex (now Englobe). These studies identified substantial site and building contamination and the presence of many hazardous materials.
Sierra was the successful purchaser, and ownership of the property officially transferred to McCormick Villages Inc., a subsidiary of Sierra Construction Inc., on March 15, 2016. As part of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, the City of London initiated Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments to allow the site to be developed for commercial and residential purposes. These amendments were passed and adopted by London’s City Council in December 2015 and were not appealed.
The approved zoning includes Urban Design Guidelines, and a public site plan is required. A heritage alteration permit will also be required to ensure the rehabilitation maintains designated heritage features.
* information on history and historical pictures are provided by the City of London.