Shelby Edwards

Hydro Houses

Date: 2019
3”x 3” each
Graphite on paper

Toronto is not typically associated with its history.

The city, relatively speaking, is fairly young, not yet even 200 years old. Its population is not connected by any sort of common understanding or appreciation of its origins.

However, the size of the city that allows for endless opportunity, sometimes makes it difficult to find common ground. So, when I heard this story, I recognized the importance and impact that telling it could have. Since the second world war, Toronto Hydro has been disguising its neighbourhood transformers in shells of houses with the hope that it would help them blend in. The basic structure of these shells consists of three walls (the back of the "house" is exposed), a door, and boarded windows. Some houses have more details including flower beds and chimneys. These transformer houses were built in almost every Toronto neighbourhood, totalling approximately 200 at their peak.

The project was evidently a success, as much of Toronto's population is unaware of the existence of these transformer homes.

My goal for this project was to bring attention to this strange part of the cities history with the hope of encouraging people to talk about and research the places they live. In order to do so, I found each house on Google Maps and drew them with as much detail as street-view would allow.

There is the potential for the transformer houses to connect the population of Toronto and encourage conversation within communities and between them. It is a common ground and a source of familiarity but also, strangeness.