Since my 2017 has been quite a lot busier than my 2016 was, I’ve been largely inactive on this site lately. I haven’t forgotten about it and do wish that I could spend more time, to be perfectly honest. I expect to have things cleared by early 2018, so I’ll be able then to come back to all of the draft stories I’d like to get out. In the meantime, a little then’n’now with some general observations will have to do.
Last winter, while conducting some research at the Archives of Ontario, I stayed at an Airbnb along the Danforth. On my last day, before picking up a few of my favourites from Left Field Brewery, I took a walk around Leslieville. Although it does not look like much, the intersection of Dundas East and Coxwell caught my eye.
There are three things that stood out to me most: (1) Toronto Police’s 55 Division building; (2) Beckers; and (3) the awkward intersection.
- After nearly 65 years at the location, 55 Division moved from its quarters at Main and Swanwick in 1973 to the commodious (albeit less friendly-looking) modern building at 101 Coxwell. The Main Street building became a community centre shortly afterwards. I don’t yet have an architect for the 1973 facility, but am looking.
- I most strongly associate Becker’s with family vacations in Southern Ontario. As a northerner, we didn’t see much of the Becker’s logo. Aside from the smaller family businesses, in South Porcupine and Timmins, we had Mike’s Mart (owned by Mac’s after 1986) and Pinto, a Loeb brand. No longer quite as fresh and ready as it once was, in 1996, Becker’s was purchased by Silcorp, which was in turn purchased by Mac’s in 1999. After having largely disappeared, the Becker’s logo has been pulled from retirement and a number of more recent stores have received the branding.
On that note, a study I’d like to undertake one day is Toronto’s historic relationship between convenience stores and milk (Update: I have looked into it and am working on something.). It’s not that milk being broadly available is strange, it’s the whole practice of milk-forward branding. Walk around anywhere in the city and the milk jug “7 Days a Week” or “24 Hours” sign remains common. This is to say nothing of the chains themselves, like Mac’s Milk and Becker’s. I haven’t seen anything quite like it elsewhere. In Ottawa, aside from the expected Coca Cola (and Pepsi in certain areas) the most common convenience store branding was Pure Spring, a local soft drink bottler of some legend.
- The awkward intersection of Coxwell and Dundas East is a bit weird, which is the result of the way in which the street was pushed through the neighbourhood during the 1940s and 1950s.