Windsor: Before & After Book Shows City’s “Unimaginable” Architectural Changes Over Time

There is nothing if not a poignant before and after shot in Walkerville Publishing’s newest, and eighth effort. It shows downtown Windsor, and its collection of buildings more than 50 years ago reflecting a highly developed city chock-a-block with architecture. The comparison photo is actually the same, but with one significant difference. Most of the buildings are blocked out, signaling they no longer exist.

It is a surprising turn of events.

Windsor: Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit

Aerial photos circa 1969 showing buildings that have disappeared from downtown Windsor’s city core being shown during Walkerville Publishing’s Windsor Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit at Artspeak Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 19, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor. Photos in book from the archives of Walkerville Publishing.

The publishing company, operated by the team of Chris Edwards and Elaine Weeks, have largely chronicled the history of their cherished Walkerville, starting with their first book released in 2004. In their newest Windsor: Before & After, they present a side-by-side curated collection of old and new photographs to show the dramatic change in the city under the subtitle of An Unimaginable Tale of Two Cities.

Chris Edwards co-author of the book Windsor: Before and After

Author Chris Edwards talking about his latest book, co-authored by Chris Edwards, with visitors at Walkerville Publishing’s Windsor Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit at Artspeak Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 19, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

If there is a stark reality of the work it is the dramatic changes that have swept over the city and how different it is today from what its founders built over the past dozen or so decades.

There is method in all of this. Weeks told Eyes On Windsor she and Edwards where more than a little inspired by how much has changed and “how much was gone. We felt we needed to do something to explain what has happened to the built heritage.”

It is, she adds, one way to preserve “how cool the city was.”

Windsor: Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit

Photos of theatres past and present in Windsor, Ontario, on display during Walkerville Publishing’s Windsor Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit at Artspeak Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 19, 2019. Photos from the archives of Walkerville Publishing.

Windsor: Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit

A photo of Ford Autoworkers in Ford City on display during Walkerville Publishing’s Windsor Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit at Artspeak Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 19, 2019. Photos from the archives of Walkerville Publishing.

Windsor: Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit

Photos of the “Lost Bars of Windsor” on display during Walkerville Publishing’s Windsor Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit at Artspeak Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 19, 2019. Photos from the archives of Walkerville Publishing.

Although much has been lost, Weeks holds hope for the future. In one way, she admits that the book could conceivably encourage the repurposing of what remains of the city’s once rich accumulation of significant office and retail buildings.

Almost all of the photos used in the book are from the publishing company’s extensive archives. The new photographs were taken by Edwards and Weeks with, she explains, an iPhone as they drove by, kind of drive by shooting.

Windsor: Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit

A photo showing part of downtown Windsor as it looks today on display during Walkerville Publishing’s Windsor Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit at Artspeak Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 19, 2019. Photo from the archives of Walkerville Publishing.

Windsor: Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit

A photo of the old Greyhound bus terminal in Windsor, Ontario, on display during Walkerville Publishing’s Windsor Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit at Artspeak Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 19, 2019. Photos from the archives of Walkerville Publishing.

Windsor: Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit

A photo of the former Greyhound bus terminal as it exists today in Windsor, Ontario, on display during Walkerville Publishing’s Windsor Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit at Artspeak Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 19, 2019. Photos from the archives of Walkerville Publishing.

Despite all the change in the city, the pair end the book on an optimistic note focusing on developments of late which have brought back into service some very historic edifices.

One is downtown’s old fish market, now the Canadian home of Quicken Loans and its staff of software developers. Another project, in its final stages of re-development, is the former Walker Power building on Riverside Drive in Walkerville. It is being restored to replicate its past.

Both projects, along with the University of Windsor’s treatment of the former Windsor Star building downtown, are seen as being possibly inspirational enough to encourage similar such restorations.

Windsor: Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit

A photo showing the aftermath of the 1960 explosion at downtown Windsor’s Metropolitan store on display during Walkerville Publishing’s Windsor Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit at Artspeak Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 19, 2019. Photo from the archives of Walkerville Publishing.

Author Elaine Weeks holding a copy of the book Windsor: Before and After

Author Elaine Weeks holding a copy of her latest book, co-authored by Chris Edwards, during Walkerville Publishing’s Windsor Before & After Book Launch and Photo Exhibit at Artspeak Gallery in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 19, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Walkerville Publishing held its book launch and photo exhibit Thursday evening (Dec. 19) at Walkerville’s ArtSpeak Gallery, 1942 Wyandotte St East.

For more information about Walkerville Publishing and their books visit https://www.walkerville.com

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Robert Tuomi

Article by Robert Tuomi

For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.