Scientology’s Toronto headquarters on Yonge Street

Discussion in 'Media' started by The Wrong Guy, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    This article about the cult's Toronto headquarters was published today:

    Ghost City: 696 Yonge St. | The Grid TO


    The Church of Scientology calls this Yonge Street building home, but over the years it’s housed some famous food brands and been the site of a dramatic police raid.

    By Jamie Bradburn

    The Church of Scientology’s Toronto headquarters are in the midst of an “Ideal Org” makeover—signalled, last month, by boards nailed to the Yonge Street high-rise. While it remains to be seen whether the move will fracture the controversial faith’s local followers as similar, costly refurbishings have in other cities, the plans are less than modest, indicating a colourful new façade will be placed on the almost-60-year-old office building, along with a new bookstore, café, theatre, and “testing centre” inside.


    The building even enjoyed a brief taste of religious controversies to come when the Unification Church—a.k.a. the “Moonies”—briefly opened an office, prompting questions about indoctrinated converts, growing wealth, and cult-like practices that would mirror those later asked about the Church of Scientology.

    L. Ron Hubbard’s religion, meanwhile, had shuffled around various sites in the city since the late 1950s, from meetings on Jarvis Street to a townhouse on Prince Arthur Avenue. The church’s reputation for defending itself grew as quickly as its membership—by the 1970s, official church statements were guaranteed to appear in the letters section within days of any faintly critical newspaper article. The Church of Scientology bought 696 Yonge in 1979.

    Around 2:30 p.m. on March 2, 1983, three chartered buses pulled up to the office tower. More than one hundred OPP officers, equipped with recording equipment, axes, sledgehammers, and a battering ram, rushed into Scientology’s offices. Acting on the findings of a secret two-year tax-fraud investigation of the church, they removed 900 boxes of material, among them illegally obtained confidential documents from government, medical, and police agencies. The church initially claimed the raid was spurred by attacks from the psychiatric community and believed it was entitled to Charter of Rights protection.

    Hiring Clayton Ruby as its lawyer, Scientology pursued a decade-long fight against the raid and the charges that resulted from it. Some of its efforts were comical: in July 1988, the church offered to donate considerable sums to agencies working with drug addicts, the elderly, and the poor so long as theft charges were dropped. Ontario Attorney General Ian Scott rejected the offer, saying that “there’s no immunity that permits a church or anyone else to commit crimes in the country.” Ruby argued that the legal prosecution of a small religion like Scientology threatened the freedom of all faiths, and that while individual members may be guilty of offences, the whole church should not be held at fault.

    The legal battle appeared over by 1992. When the seized boxes were returned that January, church members celebrated on Yonge Street. While a banner declaring “Scientology Wins after 9-year Battle” was draped across the building, a human chain passed the boxes back inside from a rented truck. Jubilation was short-lived: though acquitted of theft charges, the church and three of its members were found guilty of breach of trust. Related cases lingered for a few more years, including a libel case that earned crown attorney Casey Hill a then-record $1.6 million award from the church and one of its lawyers.

    Even in the midst of its legal battles, the church gradually expanded its presence in 696 Yonge, filling space as other tenants departed. One of the last to go was the Brothers Restaurant and Tavern, which filled a streetfront space with vinyl booths and formica from 1979 to 2000. Operated by two brothers whose last names differed because of the phonetic spelling a government official wrote for one when they moved to Canada, Angelo Sfyndilis and Peter Sfendeles catered to a diverse clientele who appreciated their generous portions of comfort food. As Toronto Life noted in its obituary, “wherever you come from, wherever you’re going, Brothers has been a second home, a sheltering piece of smalltown Canadiana on a big, harsh anonymous street, in the middle of a big, harsh, anonymous city.” The Star praised Brothers’ “honest chicken sandwich,” while NOW included it in its student survival guides for meals like the Little Brother Platter, which contained “eight thick slices of pastrami, eight of roast beef, four slabs of Canadian cheddar, a mound of potato salad, a mess of oil-and vinegar-drowned iceberg lettuce, a quartered dill pickle, and rings of pickled peppers.” When the lease was not renewed in 2000, deli items were replaced with copies of Dianetics.

    More, and open comments, at
    • Like Like x 6
  2. DeathHamster Member

    The Brothers' was an excellent restaurant. Best deli outside of Montreal!

    The OG stayed away from Brothers until they were closing because they were not our personal army deli. It really did feel creepy to sit right in the middle of the org eating a sammich!
    • Like Like x 2
    • Funny Funny x 1
  3. RightOn Member

    "Ontario Attorney General Ian Scott rejected the offer, saying that “there’s no immunity that permits a church or anyone else to commit crimes in the country.”

    and yet they continue to commit crimes daily
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. TorontosRoot Member

    Now all we need is an unnatural disaster or phenomenon to occur where the 696 yonge street morg gets burned down, quaked and the scironbots do stupid shit during construction which will likely cause the fire due to untrained ronbots.

    They need to be kicked out of the 77 peter street temporary rented morg. They need to stop paying rent to get evicted with NOWHERE TO GO.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. DeathHamster Member

    Passed by the org tonight. The only signs of renovation are that the random airconditioners are gone and they finally emptied the room with files to ceiling.
    • Like Like x 4
  6. TorontosRoot Member

    It sure is dead and cleared out. Wonder how 77 peeeeeter street is dealing with (possibly) non-payment of rent from funneled stolen money??
  7. DeathHamster Member

    Back of the org in the dark. I pity the condo owners whose windows are going to be like 6 feet away from the side of the org.


    (You can see more detail if you view just the image without the WWP white border.)
    • Like Like x 3
  8. OTeleventy Member

    Lively. Exactly the kind of lively I want to see.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Anonymous Member

    A little brightening and sharpening...

    Back TO Org Edited.jpg
    • Like Like x 3
  10. TorontosRoot Member

    Looks torn to pieces and the windows look to be broken in spots. :eek:
    • Like Like x 1
  11. RightOn Member

    it was an eye sore when it was open
    now it's time for Toronto to say, ok..... now WTF?
  12. DeathHamster Member

    I don't know why they'd want to renovate that building. They could Idealize the temp building in no time!

    (^^The building extends back at least twice as long as you can see in the picture^^)


    • Like Like x 3
  13. TorontosRoot Member

    That's what I have been curious about... Why not "idle" it? :D

  14. DeathHamster Member

    They have a piece of paper in the window for FREE OCA Personality Tests. I doubt many people will want to walk up to the third floor.
  15. TorontosRoot Member

    I wouldn't even want to. That is, unless I wanted to enturbulate them like they do in dublin. :D
  16. The Wrong Guy Member

    Photos and videos of the Recon of the Scientology mOrg at 696 Yonge Street in Toronto

    Brightened-up video. If it's grainy, don't blame me. I didn't use the camcorder this time. :D

    Man, it needs to be demolished already. Looking more like READY TO TUMBLE than being renovated.
    • Like Like x 4
  17. DeathHamster Member

    I passed by the org on Friday (July 19), and there were no external signs of renovation.

    Condition of apathy or is David Miscavige still trying to bleed the members for more money?
    • Like Like x 3
  18. BigBeard Member


    • Like Like x 2
  19. TorontosRoot Member

    Defo both.
  20. DeathHamster Member

    No visible change.
    • Like Like x 2
  21. Kilia Member

    What an absolutely disgusting cult!!
    • Like Like x 1
  22. Quentinanon Member

    It surprises me that scientology maintains a presence in Toronto, because OSA Canada and OSA Toronto used to privately deplore the city government for allowing gay people to parade on Gay Pride Day. According to Hubbard, they are supposed to be "disposed of quietly and without sorrow."
    • Like Like x 3
  23. TorontosRoot Member

    Scientology needs to GTFO of the country.
    • Like Like x 1
  24. DeathHamster Member

    Meh. They'd get along with mayor Rob "doesn't smoke crack" Ford, who's done lame excuses for not attending the parade for years.

    /sitting across the street from the org, having a Guinness.
    • Like Like x 2
  25. Quentinanon Member

    True. The federal and provincial governments generally tolerate the cult, but would rather see them go away, in part because of their criminal history. I think most Canadians who know about scientology view them as a weird, undesirable spillover from the U.S. I think Canada will be the first North American country where the cult will fold. They make very little money here.
    • Like Like x 2
  26. DeathHamster Member

    There's still the mystery of where the money came from for the AO property, that CLO place nearby and the Cambridge Idle Org.

    They might have a fanatic whale or two left in Ontario, but in that case, why is the Toronto "renovation" in limbo--as it has been since 2005 or so when they last did an attempt at that? (Replacing the windows is useless due to structural problems since before Scientology bought the place.)

    For that matter, who did they tap for the Quebec City Idle Org? (Does anyone have shots of the old org there? I bet it was a hole-in-the-wall like Kitchener and Ottawa.)

    Scientology has been expending in Canada and
  27. DeathHamster Member

    Blarg, I forgot to bring my mouse.
    expending in Canada and there's no obvious local source for it.

    Davie's master plan?
  28. DeathHamster Member

    The only other North American options are US, Mexico and France (not that CoS has a presense on their islands). Safe bet!
  29. DeathHamster Member

    One change that I noticed, done by the company building the condo behind the org, is that they've reopened the alleyway and roofed it with scaffolding. That's where the org used to keep their garbage cans and where they could keep a dumpster for trash if they were doing a wimpy internal tear down. There was no sign of any of that, but it's something to look for.
  30. Enturbuleak Member


  31. DeathHamster Member

  32. Enturbuleak Member

    Actually, I was trying to find that old image from a Sea Org mag of LRH with his bizarre grouping of continents, but gave up and posted the more widely known Scientology Continents .jpg.
  33. Quentinanon Member

    The moolah may have come in from outside Canada. Sea Org Reserves is a suspect.
  34. Quentinanon Member

    They had great sandwiches. I avoided them at lunch hour because I did not want to be recognised by any morg staff.
  35. DeathHamster Member


    Soon to be dwarfed by the condo.


    It looks like some panels have fallen off the sign.

    View attachment 210657

    The crusty back alley. It wouldn't be fun to snake a dumpster in and out of that.
    • Like Like x 1
  36. DeathHamster Member

  37. TorontosRoot Member

    Now if toronto ever gets an earthquake, none of the new condos will stand up to it. I doubt the building codes were put in place with quakes in mind, toronto never gets quakes amirite?
  38. DeathHamster Member

    • Like Like x 2
  39. Anonymous Member

    Been at least one since I've lived here. Only small, though.
  40. TorontosRoot Member

    Cannot imagine what a big one would do.

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