Toronto’s Fake Houses


From the outside, it looks like any other house in the neighborhood. The lawn might seem a little unkempt and you'll never see any cars in its driveway, but it blends in nicely. Go closer and you'll hear the vibrations of a low, steady hum. That’s because this house is one of Toronto's residential substations — fake houses built by Toronto Hydro to conceal what's inside: a transformer that converts raw, high voltage electricity to a voltage low enough to distribute throughout the city. Identified only by a subtle warning sign on the door, there are currently 90 substations in the city that were designed to blend in seamlessly with the neighborhoods they were built in. Ranging from red brick Cap Cod-style homes to mid-century modern structures, these substations are as much a study of Toronto's infrastructural past as they are a peek into the city's architectural history. According to Toronto Hydro, residential substations are no longer being built.