Toronto Star

Former Hells Angels clubhouse demolished

Bulldozers finish demolition at site where chapter’s two-storey house once stood

- BRENNAN DOHERTY STAFF REPORTER With files from Peter Edwards

For the past two weeks, Sohail Shaikh and his family have awoken to the sound of demolition crews razing the former clubhouse of Toronto’s Hells Angels chapter.

“It basically just finished up this week,” said Shaikh by phone on Saturday.

Bulldozers and other machinery remains at the site, he said, but the clubhouse doesn’t. “So now, it’s all gone.” The Shaikh family lives a few doors down from where the yellowed twostorey cinder-block house once stood near Logan Ave. and Eastern Ave. in Leslievill­e.

With steel doors, windows strung with wire and concrete barriers to block police rams, it’s no wonder Toronto media outlets often referred to it as a “bunker.”

It has remained abandoned since 2007.

According to the Beach Mirror, it was sold to an unknown buyer for $885,000 — $235,000 over the asking price — in early 2016.

Despite the noise of the demolition work, Shaikh said he doesn’t mind that it’s finally being removed.

“If they’re getting rid of it and making something more nice — some houses or something — it’d be better than what was there,” he said.

Since 1978, bikers have used it as a watering hole and clubhouse. The Para-Dice Riders Motorcycle Club posted a photo under a phone on the wall that jarred Harry Kopyto, a disbarred lawyer, when he visited.

“I saw a picture of a rat with a knife through his body underneath the telephone,” Kopyto told the Star in 2007.

While the photo was jarring, the clubhouse was painfully tidy.

“It was immaculate, very clean, gleaming,” Kopyto recalled. “It was like a well-appointed den.”

The Angels took over after they absorbed the Para-Dice Riders in December 2000, forming their downtown charter.

Despite the Angels’ tough reputation, they maintained the building well, planting flowers in boxes each spring and decorating it with lights at Christmast­ime.

But the building’s appearance went downhill when the clubhouse’s ownership abruptly changed hands again in the early hours of April 4, 2007, when heavily armed police officers ripped off one of the clubhouse’s walls and stormed it as part of a massive GTA-wide crackdown on the bikers.

The Crown took ownership of the property following the raid and, following a court dispute, put it on the market in November 2015.

Shaikh and his family have lived in the area since 2009. He said the clubhouse’s removal could spur developmen­t in the area.

Developers are already eyeing the neighbourh­ood — the abandoned Weston Bakery nearby is due to be demolished, as is the Red Door shelter.

“It seems like a lot of those legacy Leslievill­e properties that were standing and were abandoned have started becoming developed,” Shaikh said.

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