R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

History of the Plant


  • original plant (455 million litres per day) was constructed from 1932 to 1941
  • named for Roland Caldwell Harris, Commissioner of Works for the former City of Toronto from 1912 to his death in 1945
  • enlarged to 910 million litres per day from 1955 to 1958, after the former Metro Toronto Works assumed responsibility for water supply in 1954; has been re-rated to 950 million litres per day since then

Special features

  • City of Toronto's largest water treatment plant
  • used as a setting for many film, fashion and television shoots because of its unique architecture (Art Deco style with marble and brass decorations)
  • featured prominently as a setting in award-winning Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje's novel In the Skin of a Lion
  • designated under the Ontario Heritage Act "as being of historical and architectural value" on June 5, 1998 through Toronto City Council By-law No. 303-1998


An architectural masterpiece

Located at the foot of Victoria Park Ave., the plant is an architectural masterpiece, designed in the classical version of the Art Deco style. Constructed in the 1930s, it has been declared a national historic civil engineering site.

To ensure its heritage attributes and to minimize the impact of new structures or changes to the existing facility, a Heritage Conservation Plan has been adopted. To facilitate public consultation on various projects planned at the Harris, a Public Advisory Committee meets regularly.

R. C. Harris is Toronto's largest water treatment facility, producing up to 47 per cent of Toronto's and the Region of York's water requirements. The original 455 million-litres-per-day capacity plant was constructed by the former City of Toronto from 1932 to 1941.

When the former Metro Toronto Works Department became responsible for water supply, it was decided early in 1954 that additional filtration capacity was urgently required. As a result, the plant was enlarged to 910 million litres per day at a cost of $7.3 million (1955 to 1958). The enlargement included construction of a second intake, doubling the filtration and settling areas and installation of major pumping and electrical equipment. The plant has since been upgraded to 950 ML/d.

Operating gallery

The plant was named for Roland Caldwell Harris, Commissioner of Works for the former City of Toronto from 1912 until his death in 1945 and is a fitting memorial to his long and brilliant career in the public service. Owing to his foresight and that of his consultants, the original plant included all embedded piping for future enlargement, as well as space for future equipment in pumping, screening, electrical and chemical rooms.

Both the original plant and the additions were designed by and construction supervised by the consulting engineering firms of H.G. Acres Limited and Gore and Storrie Limited.

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