Did you know? (Fact #2) What do Canada’s Wonderland and Palace Place have in common?

What do Canada’s Wonderland and Palace Place have in common?

Wonder Mountain (Copyright Luke Dalinda)

Wonder Mountain (Copyright Luke Dalinda)


With the summer season upon us, many Torontonians make an annual pilgrimage to Canada’s greatest theme park, Canada’s Wonderland. What many people do not know is that Palace Place has a unique connection to Canada’s Wonderland.

So, what do these two Toronto landmarks have in common?

They had both been built by Bramalea Limited, which at the time was Canada’s biggest commercial and residential builder.

wonder mountain construction

In 1979, Taft Broadcasting, headed by the legendary Dudley Taft Sr., had formed a partnership with Bramalea’s parent company, Trizec Properties Inc., which had been led by the Bronfman family, to build Canada’s most ambitious theme park ever.

Coming in at a cost of $122-million, Canada’s Wonderland had opened its doors on May 23, 1981, and it has since become one of Canada’s greatest theme parks.

So, which landmark cost more, Wonderland or Palace Place?

Answer: Palace Place

From 1988 to 1993, Palace Place had been built at a cost of $200-million by Bramalea Limited. The sheer cost at that time was a testament to Palace Place’s unrivalled construction. Bramalea had a very special vision for Palace Place that, to this day, has yet to be duplicated or equalled.

Palace Place Archie Blair photo 1

Luke Dalinda with Archie Blair. Archie had been an onsite manager for Bramalea during the construction of Palace Place, and he was Palace Place’s first employee, as its Operations Manager until 2011.

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Farewell, Archie Blair. Palace Place will forever stand tall in salute of your hard work and dedication.

Palace Place Salutes Archie BlairPalace Place Salutes Archie Blair

(Pictured above Archie Blair presenting Luke Dalinda with his beloved construction helmet from Palace Place.)

Today was a sad day for Palace Place.

After 20-years of dedicated service, Archie Blair, Palace Place’s faithful building manager, had retired.

Archie had been the only one from the original Bramalea construction team to stay with Palace Place, and no one knows the building better.

I had literally grown up with Archie at Palace Place, so for me, while I know that we will keep in touch, it still feels like we have lost a family member.

Archie had helped me with research for my book on Palace Place, and I have written his profile page below.

Although, nothing will ever equal the stories that he had shared with me over the years, and, believe me, several novels could be written from them.

I had spent some time with Archie today, his last day.

Archie had given me his beloved Bramalea construction helmet from when Palace Place had been built. Archie had told me, “No one loves Palace Place the way that we do. I would like you to keep my helmet safe onsite for me.”

I am pleased to report that Archie’s helmet has been polished up, and it now sits with other Palace Place memorabilia in my office on the 42nd floor.

Archie, you will always have a family at Palace Place, and you will be greatly missed.

An excerpt from Palace Place, the book, by Luke Dalinda.

He is the only one.

The only one to have witnessed the construction of Palace Place from the very beginning and to have lived with Palace Place until the present day.

There is not a soul that knows Palace Place better than Archie Blair. No one knows Palace Place hands-on like Archie. Like the starship Enterprise, Archie is our Scotty, and he has kept Palace Place shipshape for almost 20-years since first occupancy.

Archie had come to Canada from Scotland as a carpenter in September of 1972, and he had supervised the construction of family homes in Peterborough and The Kawarthas.

In 1976, Archie had joined Bramalea Consolidated Limited, one of Canada’s largest property developers, as a maintenance person, and he had quickly worked his way up to Director of Operations, overseeing the entire Bramalea maintenance department. He had worked as a liaison between property management and Bramalea construction, and he had trained the superintendents and managers on all new buildings.

When it had come to Palace Place, Archie had been responsible for reporting on the construction activities to the executive team at Bramalea.

It had taken the best, most-talented trades to meet Bramalea’s exacting standards for Palace Place. “We all knew that this building was special. All the workers gave everything they had. They knew that this would be a living testament of their work.  It was a real team effort. We all took great pride in building Palace Place,” Archie had said.

When construction had completed, Archie had joined the Palace Place condominium corporation as its first employee as Building Operations Manager, and he has worked for Palace Place ever since.

As Building Operations Manager, Archie is responsible for the direction, supervision, performance, and evaluation of all Building Operating Personnel, which include eight housekeeping staff and two building operators. He is responsible in all areas pertaining to housekeeping, structural, mechanical, electrical, and building operations of both the interior and exterior. Archie overseas all needed repairs and maintenance that is conducted by staff and outside trades, and he obtains competitive quotes for necessary work and special projects.

Archie deals with day-to-day building operating problems, and he assists in the issuing of new contracts.

Archie had supervised the biggest renovations at Palace Place, which had included the following.

* Widening of driveway at gatehouse
* Replacing interlocking at entrance with patterned concrete and re-asphalting driveway
* Repainting of garage (5 levels)
* Re-lamping of garage (twice)
* Design and Installation of sliding doors at front entrance
* Conversion of Corridor Fresh-air units and domestic hot water tank from electricity to gas
* Alterations of the recreation lounge
* Replacement of corridor carpets
* Riser valve replacement
* Design and supervising construction of Garbage Shed
* Design and supervising construction of Recycling Area
* Upgrade of emergency generator
* The replacement of the Chillers, the Cooling Towers, and the Boiler
* Changeover of ceiling heating in P1 garage from electric to gas

It is common for architects and builders to leave their buildings once they have been built, never to return. To have seen Palace Place built floor by floor, to have been on site every day, to have been involved in the design and construction, and to have been a part of the original team is something that can never be replaced, and it is an education that can never be equaled.

Palace Place residents have been very fortunate to continue to have one of the original builders on site.

Archie Blair has dedicated 23-years of his life to making Palace Place one of the best condominium residences in Canada, and Palace Place will forever stand tall in salute of his hard work and dedication.

Palace PLace BookTo order, Palace Place, the book, please send an email to LDALINDA@DALINDA.NET.