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R.L. Hearn Generating Station

From anywhere on the lake and islands, the impressive smokestack of Hearn stands tall for all to see. The generating station itself is the largest building in the portlands, easily visible from the Prince Edward Viaduct. The station itself began as a coal-fired plant, but in later years was converted to a gas-fired plant before being mothballed in July of 1983 amid pollution concerns.

Location attributes for R.L. Hearn Generating Station
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Built :: Closed   Status   Difficulty
1951 :: 1983   Partially Demolished   ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Hazards Risk   Security Risk   AUE Rating
★ ★ ★ ★ ★   ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆   ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Hazard Observations   Security Observations
Large Drops, Partial Demolition, Potential of Asbestos   None Specified

I had to opportunity to visit Hearn back in April of 2005, back before a lot of the station had been hollowed out. The generating turbines were still intact and in place, the coal chute was still intact, and the east wall had yet to be broken for the heavy equipment. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me, but figured that Hearn would remain that way for a while, so I'd go back later and get pictures.

Jump ahead a few years. Now that the Portlands Energy Centre is being built next door, things have changed. The coal chutes have been knocked down to make way for transmission lines, and the building is being slowly vanishing. The turbines, generators, and boilers are no more. Water conditioning tanks sit as piles of scrap metal. Huge swaths of floor have simply ceased to exist, presumably removed with the the aforementioned components. The ground floor of the plant is a muddy pit chock full of debris.

What remains intact, though, is still a good portion of the plant. The control rooms, while they have taken some beating over the years, are still mostly intact. The coal conveyors at the top of the plant remain, idle for their remaining years. The office sets, including the jail cell, still stand. In fact, most of the damage in the office area is natural; water leaking and rotting away ceiling tiles, peeling paint, and so forth. Even the store rooms remain mostly untouched.

Security at the plant itself doesn't look like it's changed much; when I went by to take a look at the changes in the region (and had been hoping to explore Hearn that day, a hope that was dashed by the sheer number of workers on site) there was still the lone security guard in the entrance booth. As to whether the guard at the transformer yard still remains is an unanswered question; there was no sign of any security around that part of the site. The plant itself has had a good dose of plywood since the an explorer was killed there (read the very bottom of this); anything that may have remotely been an access point is now tightly sealed by plywood.

At this time, there is still no answer to what will happen to Hearn. The Portlands Energy Centre doesn't look like it'll utilize much of the old plant, save the transformer yard. And while the building is being gutted of salvageable machinery, the remainder of it remains intact and standing. Only time will tell at this point what will happen to the old power plant.

JUNE 19, 2008 UPDATE
Earlier this week, an explorer from Toronto either fell off a catwalk on the upper levels of the plant, or had it give way from under him. He fell into one of the coal hoppers, and had to be rescued by emergency crews. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries two days later in hospital. Details can be found in any of the major news sites for the Toronto region.

I would suggest that staying away from the plant, which is an active (albeit lethargic) demolition site, might be a wise idea until things have cooled off. There will be a lot of activity around there, and at this point no one is really sure just how safe some parts of the plant are (I was up in the area he fell from a few weeks ago, and it looked fairly intact to me). This could have happened to anyone.

RIP, fellow explorer.

Early Days - Sometime in the Past...

Found over at UER, in a thread posted by Avatar-X.

Turbine Hall - April 2006

Photo taken sometime in 2006 by fellow explorer Axle

Drive-By - February 2007
Missing It's Soul... - May 2008
Path of Destruction - April 2010
Night Shots - June 2010
Last Man Standing - October 2010

A few years ago, I figured that Hearn would be the first of the big three exploring locations (with the Canada Malt Plant and the Don Valley Brickworks being the other two) to bite the bullet. Today? The Brickworks have been completely renovated and reused, while most of the Malt has been demolished. Other than scrapping, Hearn still stands. Go figure.

Unending Vastness - November 2010
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