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This street could win awards for derelict cars

I’ll wager not too many of you have been down to the far end of Canvarco Rd., unless you were trying to find a way to loop around the back of what was the Leaside Industrial Area, now the Leaside Business Park, or trying to find the offices of Urban Garden at 25 Canvarco.

The street name comes from Canada Varnish Limited, started in 1924, an original occupant of the street. Forty-something years ago you could still hear the carillon from Canada Varnish several times a day. Now it is gone, as is its carillon, but a variety of businesses carry on.

At the dead end of the street, Urban Garden is a tenant, having moved here in 2007 for more space. Their surroundings are scruffy, but their office is modern and clean. Their clients are condos or commercial buildings, with some residential. Stanley, the friendly wire-haired dog, gives the office added character.

Most properties and businesses on the south side of the street could win awards for the number of derelict cars, piles of tires, disposal bins and odd bits of old industrial equipment on their properties. (I saw an old fire department pump No. 2 Ford truck sharing space with a Lincoln arc welder, a cement mixer, a Bobcat, a Case uniloader and a slew of filing cabinets among many other treasures.) The exception to this mess is the rear entrance to All Canadian Self-Storage, which is as clean and swept as its Laird frontage.

Another south-side exception is the business of Aris Auto, operating out of a Quonset hut. Aris Stathakos describes himself as an alignment guy, specializing in suspensions and front ends. He’s been in business for 30 years, but here for the last eight years only. People who need his skills find him. There are no big signs out front.

The businesses on the north side of the street have their street-side addresses, but there are also several unnamed roads leading into what was the Canada Varnish complex with many buildings in various states of disrepair.

On one building there is a new garage door, with a sign saying Rushforth Electric. I had wondered where they had gone when the house on Randolph, which had their business in the basement, was sold.

The only advertising sign you’ll see at the Laird/Canvarco intersection is one for Ironman. A letter on his door states that he’ll welcome visitors on Saturdays, or before 9 a.m. on weekdays. The letter, dated December/12, says that he’s been in business for 31 years, is proud that his grandfather and father taught him the trade, and he’s proud of his Greek heritage. Another sign outside says, “All welding repairs done on site. Disposal bins.”

I was on Canvarco on the search for a kayak business, because of the kayak displayed at Andy Elder’s Grilltime. Found it, and got to talk with Mike Fekete of Kayak Sport Canada, who said the business moved here 10 years ago after operating out of his garage for years. He found the location while riding around on his bike. As he said, “Paddlers don’t like fancy” and this location certainly fits the bill. His specialty now is repairing, but with his son, Dav Nemethy-Fekete, they also sell kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards, paddles and other equipment.

Mike told me that the four-man crew he was on from the Island Canoe Club won the Canadian Championship in Welland in 1979, with a record that stood for 10 years. What he didn’t tell me was that he is a certified sprint kayak/canoe coach, physical therapist, rehab specialist, strength and conditioning specialist and personal trainer, who studied in Hungary and Canada.