Eli Lilly Canada bids farewell to southwest Scarborough after more than 70 years at Danforth Avenue and Birchmount Road facility

This aerial shot shows the Eli Lilly Canada facility at the northwest corner of Birchmount Road and Danforth Avenue in the 1960s. Lilly is saying farewell to the site and selling it after more than 70 years.

By ANDREW MERRICK

After more than 70 years at the corner of Birchmount Road and Danforth Avenue, this fall the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly Canada will move our offices back to downtown Toronto.

Lilly’s work in Canada began in 1938 when we partnered with University of Toronto researchers Dr. Frederick Banting and Charles Best and helped transform a fatal illness into a manageable condition.

The current facility was built in the late 1940s on a farmer’s field on the outskirts of Toronto. The large trees that led up to the original farmhouse still stand at the southwest side of the property. Over the years, the building was used for manufacturing, packaging, warehousing and distribution, chemistry and microbiology, quality control, the management of clinical trials, and our corporate functions. We even housed the work of the cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden, which was owned by Eli Lilly and Company for a time.

As times change, so do the needs of business. We now find that the space at the Danforth site far exceeds our needs. Our move will bring us closer to our collaborators of the past and the future — to hospitals, universities and research facilities — and into a purpose-built office that fits our current size while providing flexibility for us to grow.

Our business is built on innovation. Every day, we work to expand the realm of what’s possible in managing some of the world’s most debilitating diseases.

The people who work at Lilly have dedicated our careers to making life better for people by inventing and commercializing innovative medicines. From the first stages of discovery, through the years of clinical testing, to the detailed and difficult work of securing approval to call a new molecule a medicine, our team is focused on delivering safe, effective treatments to the people who need them.

Here in our community, Lilly has sponsored scholarships at local high schools, collected items for the hampers given out by the Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, and welcomed students as interns and guests. Members of our team have volunteered for local organizations; some even helped build Habitat for Humanity homes in the area.

Recently, a group of Lilly staff, retirees and guests gathered to say a formal farewell to the building and to thank the community that has hosted us so warmly for so many years. As we leave to start a new phase of our company, we recollect the instructions of our founder, Colonel Eli Lilly: “Take what you find here and make it better and better.”

In that spirit, it is our hope that the property at 3650 Danforth Ave. continues to provide value to the community even after it is sold.

After decades of making memories in Scarborough, it is with mixed emotions that we say a fond farewell to the building and the community that have hosted us so well and for so long. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this vibrant community.

Andrew Merrick is director of patient access and a 31-year employee of Lilly Canada.


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