Archived Comments about Scarborough’s Bomb Girls at GECO

 

Filling Assembly - Primer 15

Filling Assembly – Primer 15

This page holds a sampling of memorable comments posted to GECO’s webpages over the years. The commentors range widely in age and demographics. Not surprisingly, GECO’s history–important and curious as it is–appeals to all.

This page is a work in progress. With hundreds of posts to sift through, more will be re-posted soon.

Enjoy!

 

A Trip down Memory’s Lane

“Its such a delight to find your web site because it happens to have information and pictures about GECO. My father worked there one summer as an engineering student. He has written a few of his memories down and I am marrying them up with images from the internet to create a “memories book” for Christmas for him. Finding your page about GECO is amazing! Well done! Its also interesting to learn that this information is from a romance writer – the irony here is that it writes as an engineer – almost no emotion at all! Quite the opposite of your style, I’m sure. Once again, thank you so very much for your information.

If you should have the time, send a message. It would be a pleasure to hear from you.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Sincerely — Peter French”

“I immensely enjoyed the GECO info that you have researched, especially since I am one of Carol Knight’s sons! As kids growing up in Scarborough, we often passed the GECO site, to the extent it became part of the household Knight-lore. It is good to see that GECO is finally being recognized for it’s historic importance. I intend to take Mom to the above-mentioned unveiling, and wonder if you will be attending?

F.Y.I. — “At noon this coming Wednesday, [7/22/2009] there will be a Heritage Toronto historic plaque unveiling commemorating the wartime GECO munitions plant and the subsequent creation of Scarborough’s Golden Mile that took over the site in the 1950s. The unveiling will take place at 1900 Eglinton Ave. E. (west of Warden Ave. and opposite Lebovic Ave.).” (from Mike Filey,Toronto Sun,7/19/2009)

— RK”

“My wife and I very much enjoyed your GECO presentation at the Eginton Square library this week . My aunt,Mrs.Sadie Thomas,worked at GECO. If you or anyone is planning a tour of the area, I would very much like to be involved . I taught at W.A. Porter C.I. for 30 years and am vaguely familiar with the area. My email address and telephone number are given above.

— Sincerely, Albert”

“My grandmother worked at GECO. I was hoping to put some sort of scrap book together for both her kids & grandchildren and great grandchildren. Not sure what her exact job was…..but my mom says that she had to shower before and after work at the plant. She also wore special shoes. Do you have access to old employee records. Her name was Emily Voss (nee Harris). If you could even direct me to websites with either photo’ or old employee records if possible. I realize life isn’t that simple but technology has come a long way. Thanks again.

— Deborah Sutton (Peterborough, ON)”

“There was a restaurant at the NW corner of Dawes Rd. and Danforth Ave. with a small lot behind it where the bus from GECO would bring workers at the end of their shift. I had a newspaper stand in front of the restaurant and about 5 pm some of the day shift would buy a newspaper from me when they got off the bus. I was only about 9 years old and I remember that the hit song on the restaurant’s jukebox was ‘Don’t Fence Me In’. It played about every 5 minutes. I was so sick of hearing it and I was glad when I sold all my papers and could go home. I lived on Main St. just north of Danforth. I think that was maybe my first job and in a small way, I guess it was my contribution.
I never went to GECO until several years later, but I would like to think that a lot of the workers knew me.

— Roy Robertson”

A Scrapbook

“Over a year ago someone mentioned to me that it would be funny to look up the history of my employer. Needless to say that small casual mention snowballed into a personal history project. My employer currently has 2 buildings side by side. The smaller old one is one of the last few GECO buildings left. I have found all of GECO so very interesting. I to plan to put a “scrapbook” together of the area and my building. The way the people came together was incredible. I hope to go to the toronto archives in the next month to get more info and pictures. Glad to know it hasn’t been forgotten.

— Trace”

Other War Workers: Research Enterprises

“Good morning,

What can you tell me about Research Enterprises. Its dog toothed roofed building stood at Eglinton and Laird. My grandfather worked there up until Sunnybrook Hospital was opened in 1948. He had been wounded in Cambrai, France in October 1918, invalided at home and after years in the Dominion Orthopeadic hospital in Toronto, and the Calydor Sanitorium in Bracebridge. He must have taken this job. I remember him going to Research daily but nothing about what he did there!

— Donna George, Whitby, Ontario”

I Had No Idea!

“Barb, thanks for publishing the best-ever article about GECO. I worked in one of the units, years ago, and had no idea of the history of the area. Have you considered submitting your website/informatin to History Television?- What an amazing documentary this would make! History Channel should consider this…now that would be a worthwhile show, definitely a cool idea.

I think the address was 126 Manville, in a small Engineering office (back from 1971-1974) – the building has been taken down – just flattened, but I guarantee that the tunnels exist underneath. If you drive down Manville, you’ll see an empty lot on the west side – that was it. There was easy access to the tunnels then.

My husband attended cadets when he was a teenager in one of the old GECO buildings on Manville and tells me that they used to go down into the tunnels, exploring, and found they could access other units.. seems that others did as well – this would be back in the late 1950′s.

We drove down Manville yesterday, and it’s 124 Manville that is gone *my apologies* The demolished site is now a parking lot, with a chain link fence on 2 sides. I would love to join you, with other GECO enthusiasts – thanks so much- Please!…just let me know when. I’m curious to know if entrances to the tunnel still exist in each surviving GECO building (they did at one time).

— Meg”

 

Miss GECO Finalist Phyllis Topping

Miss GECO Finalist Phyllis Topping (middle)

Miss War Worker

“What a great site about Geco. My aunt worked for Geco and was also Miss Geco one year. Is there any photos available of all the “Miss Gecos”? I have a photo of my aunt, with some other women in their Geco uniforms. I’m also looking for anything about the aunt of a dear friend of my mother. The aunt’s name was Elizabeth Wright (could have been known as Lizzie or Betty). I worked at a company in the Pharmacy and Eglinton area for 12 years and there were also tunnels that far over as well. Went in one of them.

— Nancy”

GECO as Post-War Housing

“This the first i have saw of your site.I moved there in 1947 along with many other families as Toronto was in dire need of housing and GECO was modified only slightly to accommodate upwards to approx 1000 families.The tunnels were still there as we as kids would go down there to play.We lived in #134 Building and later moved up to # 16 Building and i believe they still bare these numbers today.

— Don Walton, Wasaga Beach, Ont”

“I moved to GECO with my mom and brothers to live there after we were evicted from our home in East Toronto. I just completed reading the book “Corky, Peggy and the Goldfinch’ written by Warren W Evans in 2004, published by Author House. He too lived there in his teenage years and this book recounts his story. I would love to meet and chat with a fellow Gecoite about those years. I don’t do email but my wife Robin does. I would prefer to chat verbally about these days if anyone would like to call. I live in Rosseau, Ontario area. Thanks.

— Gary White.”

“My friend had her son killed in a car accident while living in GECO. Do you know anyway i might fine an article about this accident???

— Phyllis”

“A few years back I was looking for information on GECo as my family lived in a building where the Ford Dealership is now. I was about 5 years old but I had three older sisters and a older brother. My brother, Kerry Ian Taylor was 9 years old when he fell of the water tower and was killed, this was in 1953. I just wanted to thank you for this great article and keep in touch with any new tours of the area. Thanks so Much

— Dennis Taylor”

GECO in the 50s 

“I heard about your recent presentation about GECO at the Eglinton Square Branch of the Toronto Public Library, which I understand met with a very enthusiastic response.

GECO is of particular interest to library historians. When the Scarborough Public Library was organized in 1955, Robert Bonis notes in his History of Scarborough, “temporary library headquarters were obtained in an old G.E.CO. building beside the municipal offices on Eglinton Avenue …(p. 236). Bonis also includes pictures of the building on p. 237.

In addition to your presentation and your website pages, have you written a book about GECO that we could add to our collections? As you are no doubt aware, two books by the General Engineering Company (Canada) now are in the Toronto Public Library catalog: Facts & figures 1947, 96 p.) and Ammunition saves lives (1944, [8] p.)

We plan to index and create a link to your GECO website pages on the Toronto Public Library’s Virtual Reference Library. I suggest that your website would be greatly enhanced by having the images identified and credited. This should be easy to do, since almost all of them are from the Archives of Ontario and are identified on its online visual database. See http://ao.minisisinc.com/scripts/mwimain.dll/463/3/0?SEARCH&ERRMSG=IMG_WEBimg_simNo.htm

Wouldn’t your readers be interested to know, for example, that Mary Pickford is pictured in the fourth image on the main page. I am also curious if Ray Corley created the “Engineer’s drawing” of GECO. He was a dear friend of mine and had a great interest in GECO; he also did presentations on the company before he died.

I look forward to hearing fom you. — Barbara Myrvold”

 

“Thank you for your Very interesting ‘site’. My father Jack Atchison [a ‘vet’, now deceased] worked as a ‘fireman’ at one of G.E.C.O.’s 2 fire halls after the War. I think it may have been Firehall #1. Are there any records re the fire halls & their post-war late-1940s employees? My long-time friend from that era also remembers as a child visiting the GECO post-war housing there. We are both working on family-histories & are interest in its post-War housing-use. [Dad was also involved in the firemen’s temporary adoption of an ownerless dog who rescued a child from a street-manhole–apparently there was a newspaper-article about that rescue–& he subsequently found the dog a home with my friend’s family.] My aunt Bertha ‘Bertie’ Withers also worked at GECO during the War.

— Meg”

GECO Today

“There was an access hatch in the floor in the warehouse at 140 Manville Rd. You could only walk so far (towards Lake Ontario) and the tunnel was bricked up. There were rooms down there. Not sure if the building still exists?

— John”

“I was wondering where exactly the remaining tunnel is. I grew up at Birchmount and Chelwood, just up the street from comstock and went to school at W.A. Porter. I had never heard of the tunnels until today on a site remembering Scarborough on Facebook. I would love to take my kids there if it is possible to see and go into the tunnels. Any information would be appreciated. Thank you

— Cheryl”

 

More to come…

 

31 comments for “Archived Comments about Scarborough’s Bomb Girls at GECO

  1. barry maher
    September 25, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    my dad worked at the GECO plant when he was about 16 or 17..he said it was the best job he ever had..all those women….and him..lol..he turned 90 on the 23rd of september and has very fond memories of his time there..his name is Alfred Maher.
    If anyone remembers him it wold be great to hear from them.

  2. jim hardy
    April 12, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    The GECO tunnels sure did exist. I lived there with my family 1949- 1954 and we (some friends and I) had several late night excursions into these tunnels under the buildings. In fact we were caught by the caretaker one night and ended up in juvenile court charged with unlawful trespassing. We never did it again after that!

  3. Stew Baker
    February 12, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    Is there anyone around that may remember my mother, Betty Baker? She worked at GECO making ammunition. I was 12 in 1943 and remember Mum telling me about the static-free clothing they wore and I believe showers after their shift. As for the GM van plant, my father, Ken Baker, worked there for over 25 years. It used to be a Frigidaire plant prior to becoming the van plant. When he was 86, I drove him past the plant location after it was levelled. He broke down and cried.

    • February 13, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Hi Stew, thanks for your query. I hope you hear from someone who remembers your mother, Betty. You must be proud knowing she did her part to help win the war. You must also be so proud of your father who dedicated his life working hard for his family. If you live in Southern Ontario and would like to have a coffee to chat about your mother’s GECO days, please let me know and we’ll set something up. Thanks again. Take care, Barb

  4. Brad Moore
    March 31, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Hello Barbara,

    Great site, and nice to see the history of the Golden Mile area being preserved, as that area has changed so much since the halcyon days of the 50’s and 60’s. I am particularly interested in two locations in the area that I hope you can shed some light on. There used to be a factory on the north side of Eglinton just west of Warden in the spot where the Sport Chek is today more or less. It had a smokestack on the east side of it. To the east of this plant there used to be another industrial plant which fronted Ashtonbee, and this was directly across the street from the Centennial College campus. Between these two plants was a railway spur with lines servicing the plants. Can you tell me what companies operated out of those buildings? If you email me directly, I have a couple of old aerial photos of what they looked like back in the sixties that I could send along. Thanks ever so much.
    PS- My father used to work in the old Thermos plant back around 1960, and I have memories as a kid going shopping at the old Sears Warden outlet across the street from the monolithic water tower.

    • May 7, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Hi Brad, thanks for your post. I’m not familiar with the former factories you mentioned in your inquiry as these businesses were built after the war as part of the Golden Mile of Industry. Rick Schofield, Archivist of the Scarborough Historical Society would be a good person to ask. The Society has aerial photos of the area you may enjoy seeing. I remember shopping at the Sears outlet on Warden too. Good times.

  5. Catherine Staples
    March 6, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    I have the original separation slip of my Grandmother’s from GECO Scarborough. She worked there for 4 years. I have also just purchased a copy of The Geco Fusilier: a Powder Magazine, the internal publication for the employees of GECO. I got it on ebay. Only one I could find.

  6. jackie eden
    January 21, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Hello Barbara I hope all is going well for you and your family. I just received a photo of my mother with my sister Vera who had polio I have been looking for it for some time it would go good to show at your book sighning I thought I can send you one if you like Take Care Jackie

    • January 27, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      Hi Jackie, nice to hear from you. I’d very much like a copy of your photo with your mother and Vera in it. And, of course, it would be lovely to bring it to the book’s launch. You already have my mailing address but if you need it again, it’s: P.O. Box 30001, RPO Huntingwood, Scarborough, ON, M1T 0A1. Take care! Barb

      • jackie eden
        March 23, 2015 at 10:54 pm

        Hello Barbara I am mailing you a photo of my sister Vera and my mother when Vera was in sick kids hospital with polio I will put it in the mail this weeki Take Care My Best to you all Jackie

  7. Anne Long
    September 30, 2014 at 7:07 am

    I have just watched a documentary about the wonderful women who worked in these ammunition plants in Scarborough,I have just found this website and really enjoying it. My mother also worked there doing what she called stuffing tracer bullets.We were told that she was a Miss Geco once and would love to see if there are any pictures of her. Her name was Mary Millhouse.
    Thanks for any help you can provide.
    Anne Long

    • Catherine Staples
      March 6, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      What is the documentary and where can I access it?

      Thank you

  8. January 22, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Hello Barb,
    Just stumbled on your site looking for my wife’s paternal grandmother who worked at some factory from ’38 to 46′. I thought that she might have worked at GECO but her uniform in the one photo Donna has of her is not the same as the white GECO outfits. her name is Doris Brooks.
    Donna is scrapbooking her family’s history and I’m researching mine and working on stories set in Toronto so your site is great find for information and we’ll return often.
    Keep up this great work.
    Mil Sepic

  9. Al Harris
    November 8, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Barb,

    It was so nice meeting with you. I tried to get Aunt Gert to meet you but she was very ill and passed away. I will be making a couple of copies of the ‘ping pongs’ and I did find out from her that the guy she married ‘Bert’ was also a worker at GECO any idea when the book is coming out? I finally retired from the Fire Service.

    • November 13, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      Hi Al, so nice to hear from you again. I’m sorry to hear of your Aunt Gert’s passing. I pray good memories bring comfort to you. You mentioned the “Ping Pongs”. I would LOVE a copy if you’re able. I would be happy to meet you to pick it up if this is easier than mailing the picture. Let me know and we’ll set up a time. I hope to announce a release date for the book by year’s end. Thanks again, and take care!

  10. Keith
    November 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Was the old SKS factory on the south east corner of Eglinton and Birchmount part of this complex ? Would there be access to the tunnel from that building ?

    • November 14, 2013 at 12:08 am

      Hi Keith, thanks for your inquiry. The SKF building was built about 1950, five years after GECO closed. It was located on the southwest corner of Birchmount Road and Eglinton Avenue. Although GECO owned the land from Warden to Birchmount, there were only a couple very small buildings, and a large emergency water reservoir east of Sinnott Road. No tunnels either. Of course an urban legend hints there are GECO tunnels still accessible under the Metro East Detention Centre which was built on the old GECO site. Hope this helps. Take care. Barbara

  11. sharon
    October 23, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    It was my uncel who got hit by a car while living in geco his name is Butch Haladay His mother name is ceicle HALADAY

    • October 26, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Dear Sharon, thank you for your comment about your uncle who was killed while living at GECO. It was a tragic story back then; yet it still resonates today especially when we hear about a young child who is killed in an accident. My sympathies to you and your family. Take care, Barbara

      • March 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm

        thank you for kind words I’am looking for all information about gego and the people who lived there my grandmother lived at gego so did all my family last name haladay my mother also lived there with my father his name was william little if anyone remeber’s the family name HALADAY also LITTLE please reply

    • Anne Mercer
      August 28, 2015 at 10:34 am

      Sharon, I found the death notice for Reginald Haladay, aged 7 in the Toronto Star June 23, 1950. Beloved son of Cecilia and the late William Haladay. Interment at the Pine Hills cemetery. All so sad. I found nothing else in the Star and nothing in the Globe and Mail. Anne

    • March 5, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Hello Sharon: I went to school in Geco withButch andbrother Ray. Alsothere was a sister, believe her name was Marie?? We went to the show a few times. They then movedto the Danforthnear Woodbine. Regard, Chester (Bill) Oke

  12. Bill
    February 17, 2013 at 2:38 am

    By chance found your site and the comments of Geco were really interesting. My family lived there about 1950-53. I was particularly interested in Dennis Taylor comment. I knew Kerry Taylor, we went to the same school and school room. I was 10 years old. When I drive by the tower I always think of Kerry. My family lived in 3 or 4 of the buildings. One close friend of mine was Heather Irving, we were both 10 years old. I believe there was a get together at a restaurant about 7-8 years ago in the area. Really nice to read the comments from people who lived in Geco. Until to-day I never knew where they got the name Geco, now I do.

  13. February 7, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    The Scarborough Archives has a collection of documents, records, publication and photos of GECo for those interested.
    The Scarborough Archives is open to the general public
    Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7-9 pm (no appointment necessary)
    and during the daytime (10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m) by appointment
    (as we are not always working on site)

    To make a daytime appointment, email date/time to
    and we will confirm.

    The Archives is located at 6282 Kingston Road on the NW corner of Kingston Road and Meadowvale. Parking and the main entrance are at the back of the building (off Meadowvale).

  14. matthew
    October 27, 2012 at 7:05 am

    I love the work you’ve done here and have some information regarding Donna George’s question. Research Enterprizes developed radar systems,the Eglington and Laird location were there offices the testing facility located at the edge of the Scarborough bluffs still stands and can be viewed on google street views! barbed wire fences and all @ 1 eastville ave.

    • admin
      October 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Matthew, thanks for your post. REL and GECO were friendly rivals, especially when it came to extra-curricular activities such as the Miss War Worker Beauty Pageant, and sports like softball games. How interesting that REL’s testing facility still stands. I’d heard it was a weather station. I’ll try to check it out. Take care!

    • Adam
      January 15, 2015 at 4:38 am

      The original radar bunker built into the face of the bluffs still exists in this area as well. There are also a ton of wires/cables that must have run to some kind of tower on the property as well. Pretty neat stuff.

      • January 15, 2015 at 6:32 pm

        Hey Adam, nice to hear from you again. Isn’t it great how many ‘treasures’ there are to discover around Scarborough — throughout Canada for that matter — if we slow down and have a really good look around? Do you whereabouts exactly this radar bunker is located?

  15. Damian
    August 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    I came across this page while doing some unrelated research on a property in the area. A neat find was a plan of the buildings and tunnels as they existed in a 1956 Fire Insurance Plan of Toronto (Volume 9), available at the Toronto Reference Library.

    • admin
      August 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks, Damian for your post. It’s interesting to watch how seemingly unrelated roads, including individual research topics, eventually lead to a fascinating GECO discovery.

  16. Dan McGarry
    June 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Just found your site and have a great deal of interest regarding GECO as my father’s family lived there when it became housing after the war. He worked at SKF in the summers.

    The tunnels were still in existence in the late 80’s as there was a natural gas leak in the area and the gas seeped through the long closed tunnels into some of the buildings. The City workers and building occupants were largely unaware of the existence of the tunnels until this happened and had to locate former GECO staff who could identify the routes/locations of the tunnels and their entrances.

    A journalist went to work at the GM van plant for a year and wrote a book on her experiences. I have a booklet published by CAW Local 303 in 1993 which has information on many of the factories in the area. It’s a shame that so many productive/good jobs have now vanished.

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