Demolition proceeds at historic Small Arms building in Mississauga

View of demolition work, April 10, 2015. The view is looking east toward Toronto. Jaan Pill photo

View looking east toward Toronto during demolition of interior of south end of Small Arms Building. A crew of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga completed the task in mid-April 2015. Jaan Pill photo (April 10, 2015)

A crew of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga completed the task in mid-April 2015.

April 10, 2015. Jaan Pill photo

April 10, 2015. Jaan Pill photo

View looking west. Jaan Pill photo

View looking west. Jaan Pill photo

View of east wall of building, viewed from the south facing north toward Lakeshore Road East. Jaan Pill photo

View of east wall of building as observed looking north toward Lakeshore Road East. Jaan Pill photo

View of the west wall of the structure that is undergoing interior demolition. In the background is the parking lot beyond which are found a series of baffles from the Long Branch Rifle Ranges. Jaan Pill photo

View of west wall. The part of the building visible in the background (you can see a corner of it) is where demolition of interior has been proceeding in April 2015. South of the building is a parking lot and a green space where baffles from the Long Branch Rifle Ranges are located. Jaan Pill photo


Photo from April 6, 2015 shows view of south end of Small Arms Building facing south toward Lake Ontario. Jaan Pill photo

View of interior following removal of interior structures, April 10, 2015.

View of interior following removal of non-load bearing walls, April 10, 2015. The windows in the photo are facing toward the west. Beyond the windows is the site of Canada’s First Aerodrome. All the remains of the aerodrome is a plaque and some street names in the area. Jaan Pill photo


Mississauga-based performance company Frog in Hand presented a special, one-time performance of their latest stage presentation at a Small Arms Doors Open event at the Small Arms Building on Sept. 27, 2014. Frog in Hand creates multi-disciplinary performances in unusual spaces, in this case at the same factory shop floor where weapons were inspected during the Second World War. The view is facing toward the west. Jaan Pill photo

The non-load bearing walls at the south end of the Small Arms building in Mississauga have recently been demolished. A crew of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga completed the task in mid-April 2015.

April 10, 2015 visit to Small Arms

I most recently visited the Small Arms building at Dixie Road and Lakeshore Road East, in the Lakeview neighbourhood of Mississauga, on April 10, 2015. I had previously visited the building on April 6, 2015 to attend a Sledgehammer Ceremony which I’ve highlighted in a previous post:

A well-organized Sledgehammer Ceremony was staged on April 6, 2015 at the Small Arms building in Mississauga

I have visited the building many times over the years. Canada’s First Aerodrome was located a five-minute walk to the west of the building.

Click here to access Heritage Mississauga overview of Small Arms Ltd. story >

Debbie Brown ensured that I wore the correct safety equipment

Volunteers with Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga have been demolishing the interior of the south end of the Small Arms building. As soon as I signed in at the site, I was met by Debbie Brown, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer who on that day was the hospitality person for the site.

I had arrived with my own steel-toed boots, hard hat, and face mask. Debbie made sure I signed in, and that I added a safety vest to my outfit for purposes of visibility, and safety googles.

Dennis Silva reviewed key safety precautions

I next met with Dennis Silva, a volunteer who asked me if I had ever been at a construction site before. I answered in the affirmative. He then reviewed the key safety precautions with me:

  • Avoid standing in an area where something may fall on top of you
  • When you move around, ensure you don’t distract people or interfere with their work
  • Be aware of asbestos which is encased at certain locations, so that you don’t end up dislodging it
  • Sign in and sign out. If you’ve left the building, but haven’t signed out, what could happen? In the event of an emergency, emergency personnel would need to spend time searching for you, even though you would not be in the building.
Areas where asbestos is incapsulated are clearly marked at the demolition site. Jaan Pill photo

Areas where asbestos is encapsulated are clearly marked at the demolition site. Jaan Pill photo

When someone calls your name, you attend to what they have to say

Dennis also ensured that the front and back of my hard hat had a label attached to it, with my first name clearly printed in capital letters. If somebody had to warn me in a hurry, about a safety issue, they would call me by my name. That would increase the chances that I would pay attention.

When I was at the site, I chose when to use the flash on my camera, and when to avoid using it. I moved with care, to ensure I did not get in the way. I was at the site for a brief period.

Jump photos of Rick Sirisko from Oakville

One of my photos, as it turned out, involved a picture of a Habitat for Humanity volunteer jumping into the air at a garbage dumpster.

I was out at the back of the building, taking pictures, when one of the volunteers said, “Hey. how about a shot of me jumping in the air?”

I thought that was a great idea.

Click on photo to enlarge it. Click again to enlarge it further.

Rick Sirisko from Oakville in flight, April 10, 2015. Jaan Pill photo

Rick and

Rick Sirisko and Eric Monkman, April 10, 2015 at south end of Small Arms building. Jaan Pill photo

Q & A with Rick Sirisko

Jaan Pill asked:

  • Is it okay if I post the photo at my Preserved Stories website?
  • Would the posting of the photo be okay, in your judgement, with Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga?
  • If it’s okay to post it, can you please let me know your full name, and any other details about your volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity that would be good to possibly share in a caption.

Rick Sirisko responded:

“Sure feel free to post/ use/ in any way you wish if it helps get anybody interested in Habitat that would be great.

“I know that Habitat will be fine with that as well so no worries.

“My full name: Dr Rick Sirisko from Oakville.

“Retired dentist (30 years in practice in Mississauga) sold my practice a few years ago & have been volunteering over a year with Habitat Global Village – been to El Salvador / Hawaii on world builds and presently a crew leader with Habitat Halton: working so far this year at the Milton site and will be also at the new Burlington build.”

[End of Q & A with Rick Sirisko]

History of Small Arms building

I’ve described the history of the building in a recent post:

Long Branch Rifle Ranges, Small Arms building, and the Arsenal Lands

Sunday, May 3, 2015 Jane’s Walk will focus on Small Arms building, Lakeview Waterfront, and Hanlan Project

Ward 1 Councillor Jim Tovey will lead a Jane’s Walk at the Small Arms building from 12:00 noon until 2:00 pm on Sunday, May 3, 2015. The walk, which will start at the front yard of the Small Arms building, will include a tour of the building and a walk to and from the Lake Ontario shoreline. Hope you can join Jim Tovey for this great event!

As it turns out, for the Jane’s Walk I’ve opted for the Small Arms Building as the preferred spelling, as that works better for titles of events. Otherwise, I do stick to Small Arms building as my preferred spelling.

Ward 1 Councillor Jim Tovey leads Jane’s Walk in Lakeview (Mississauga) at 12:00 noon on Sunday, May 3, 2015

Click on the images to enlarge them. Click again to enlarge them further.


By way of maintaining balance in my reporting, I would emphasize that the Habitat for Humanity story can at times demonstrate aspects that are not as inspiring as some other aspects of the organization.

A June 19, 2015 CBC article is entitled: “Habitat for Humanity team leader accused of sexual harassment: Inappropriate text messages to multiple female volunteers came from India project’s build leader.”


2 replies
  1. Debbie Brown
    Debbie Brown says:

    So many people coming together for the good of a community based project that both preserves our history and educates. I am looking forward to seeing the completed project.

  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Based now what I have seen to date, the thought that has gone into the Small Arms project is readily evident, as is the quality of the project management. I too look forward to seeing the project – along with the Lakeview Waterfront Connection Project and Lakeview Inspiration Project – unfold.

    One of the reasons I’ve been following the above-noted projects in Mississauga (including the Hanlan Water Project) with interest is the fact that all of the communications related to the projects – such as from the Credit Valley Conservation Authority and the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority among other sources – is consistently of the highest quality. I have an interest in communications, and when it’s done well, I attend to it closely.

    Clarity in communications strongly appeals to me. It’s inspiring to read updates from sources that have the capacity to develop a vision and share it effectively with the public. I’m also aware that input from the public is a key ingredient in the ongoing development of the projects and that, as well, is a strong source of inspiration for me.

    All of the players in the projects centred in Lakeview also demonstrate the capacity to work together with a wide range of stakeholders – most definitely including area and regional residents, as well as all levels of government – in taking a good idea and over a period of many years turning it into a lasting source of inspiration for everybody including present and future generations living in the GTA and beyond.


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