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History of the Warehouse Lofts at Mystic Pointe

Once known as the SkyLofts, the Warehouse Lofts are contained in a big building with two addresses at 250 & 300 Manitoba Street. Now named for the warehouse of the old McGuinness Distillery property that makes up part of the structure. The developer created a large loft with two separate entrances and two different condo corporations. This 8-storey building has a variety of two-level lofts ranging from 1 bedroom to 2 bedroom plus den layouts, all boasting impressively high 17-foot ceilings. Most of the lofts include jacuzzi tubs, gas fireplaces, breakfast bars, herringbone hardwood floors on the main floor and carpet on the second floor. Some lucky suites open onto private patios on the building’s impressive roof top garden.

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The Warehouse Lofts are an imposing presence on Manitoba Street

While the two address/two condo corporation set up can seem confusing, it helps to know that 300 Manitoba is the main building, the big block under the roof garden. And then 250 Manitoba is the L-shaped part that rises above – and surrounds – the roof garden. Unusual, sure, but it works. Both buildings have a variety of unit sizes and unique layouts and so there are a lot of options here. The ground floor is commercial and includes a general store, pharmacy, yoga, sushi and dry cleaners.

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The Warehouse Lofts are known for their high ceilings and massive windows

One of the best features of both buildings is the shared, rooftop terrace where residents frequently gather to mingle and watch the airshow and other events. This makes the Warehouse Lofts perfect for dog lovers. There’s a dog area on the property as well as a huge dog park behind the building where locals gather for “Yappy Hour” to meet their neighbours, share some drinks and socialize their dogs.

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Warehouse Lofts residents love the huge rooftop patio

Most of the old distillery was razed in 1989. It was a massive facility that was on Algoma Street, which no longer exists. Of all the buildings, only the old ageing warehouse was kept. The rest were demolished to make way for the Mystic Pointe development. From 190 Manitoba across to the 300 Manitoba, the townhouses on that street plus the Legion Road condos, all are built on the land reclaimed from the old factory. If you have kids of the right age, you may have watched an episode of Mighty Machines that featured the demolition of some of the McGuiness buildings!

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The McGuinness Distillery in Mimico just before closing in 1989

This reminds me a lot of the old railway lands development in the core, CityPlace. Old industrial lands re-purposed. One building converted, others built on reclaimed land. There were 3 phases, beginning in 1992. Phase 1 was the towns and condo at 190 Manitoba, phase 2 was the warehouse conversion and the soft loft at 200 Manitoba. Phase 3 is yet to come. If you haven’t heard of Mystic Pointe, it’s a 16 acre, master-planned community by developer Camfrost Felcorp near South Etobico*ke’s lakeshore in Mimico. It was ranked #1 for Where to Buy Now in Toronto Life’s 2012 guide, noted as a popular choice for first-time buyers and empty-nesters alike. But it has since become increasingly popular with young families as well.

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McGuinness Distillery site that became the Mystic Pointe development

Before you get too excited, Warehouse Loft residents don’t actually get to live in the old warehouse. Much like what happened on Mill Street in the 1980s, they decided to use the old warehouse for the parking garage. As far as I can tell, none of the lofts are actually in the old building, which is a shame. But it does make for a rather awesome garage!

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Inside the McGuinness Distillery just before closing in 1989

L.J. McGuinness Distillers operated on this site from 1938 to 1988. Lawrence J. McGuinness started in the wholesale liquor business in Toronto in 1905. In the 1920s, McGuinness formed a partnership with brothers H.W. “Harry” and Herbert Hatch to acquire distilleries, starting with Gooderham and Worts.

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And ad for McGuinness’ Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky

In 1933 McGuinness sold his shares in Hiram Walker-Gooderham and Worts, and founded a new distillery. The success of this business led to construction of the Mimico operation, on this site, where the distilling, blending, bottling and warehousing of liquor was done.

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Ad on the side of the McGuinness Distillery in the late 1980s

His son took over the family business in 1951 and ran it until it was sold to Standard Brands in the 1970s. Cory Distilleries Ltd. bought the company in 1987, and the distillery operation was closed soon after. Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky and Polar Ice Vodka are probably the only bottles you would recognize in the LCBO today. And you can [watch a “goodbye” video filmed right before the closing of the plant here] (

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Open spaces with tons of light are what you will find at the Warehouse Lofts at Mystic Pointe

Larry McGuinness was born in 1882 in Port Hope, Ontario to Irish parents Patrick Hugh and Mary (nee Cauley) McGuinness. On the 1891 Canada census, Patrick is noted as having been born in the US and was employed as a labourer in Port Hope. On the 1901 census, the family had moved to Toronto where Patrick was working as a stable boss. Proof of L.J’s occupation (liquor merchant) and home address (17 Withrow Ave.) was found on a 1917 border crossing document when he crossed into the US from Niagara Falls.

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The huge windows of the Warehouse Lofts give great views of the lake or the city

McGuinness was friends and neighbours with one of the Canadian Olympic boxing team’s trainers and used to attend boxing matches in the US with him. Whenever he crossed into the United States for a boxing match. L.J. would be noted as a member of the boxing entourage and, once in the US, would conduct his liquor business. This subterfuge would have been very valuable to Mr. McGuinness during Canada’s prohibition years of 1916-1920, when the manufacture, sale and transportation of liquor was illegal.

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Coasters promoting McGuinness Silk Tassel Canadian Whisky

At some point he and his family moved to 2619 Lake Shore Blvd West. While living here he made his real money as a bootlegger and rum runner who exported liquor into the United States during Prohibition. At the height of Prohibition, he and his partner Harry Hatch, controlled all traffic in liquor along the west end of Lake Ontario. By the time Prohibition was over McGuinness was a very wealthy man. He would use the profits to build a much larger estate a few lots to the east in 1927.

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The view from the rooftop garden is amazing

The largest home built on the Mimico waterfront was that built by Lawrence J. McGuinness at 2603 Lake Shore Blvd West in 1927 set behind tall ornate gates. The mansion was designed by architect John Wilson Siddall (1861-1941) and is built in limestone in the English Tudor style. It originally had 21 rooms including six marble bathrooms, four fireplaces, a panelled library, two solariums and formal gardens extending to the lake.

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And the view from inside the Warehouse Lofts is pretty great too!

From here he continued his profitable distilling and distribution activities until Prohibition was revoked in the United States in 1933. McGuinness was well known in Toronto, and was a personal friend of Ontario Premier Mitch Hepburn.

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It is pretty hard to beat the Warehouse Lofts for what you get – large open spaces, massive windows, two-level living – all at prices that are lower than you would expect

Upon his death in 1951, his son Larry McGuinness Jr. took over the family business. Educated at Upper Canada College, Larry Jr., competed as an equestrian in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics for Canada. In 1973 he sold the distillery operation for $4 million, bringing his net worth to a total of $7 million. Following the death of his mother he sold the Lake Shore Blvd. mansion to the Polish Government in 1976. A year later he declared bankruptcy after a series of bad investments in mining. He later moved to Florida to live with his brother and son. The house still remains in the ownership of the government of Poland and is their consulate in Toronto.

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The old McGuinness estate at 2603 Lake Shore Blvd West, now the Polish consulate

The location of the Warehouse Lofts is hard to beat. In terms of ease of travel, the Mimico GO Station is just a 10 min walk away. Highways are quick and easy to get to and the drive to the core is short – 15 minutes to the downtown Toronto in light traffic and 25 minutes in heavy traffic. For those who work in Mississauga city centre, it’s just a 15 min commute as well. Plus, you’re steps to the Martin Goodman Trail, the Humber Bay Shores waterfront park and a nearby primary school.

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