When I wrote this past summer about the closing of Harry’s Char-Broil and its location in Kinhurst Plaza, I was a little disappointed that I was not able to locate photographs of the shopping centre soon after completion, an architect, or some more specific information about the proposal itself. It is also true that when I wrote it, I did not have the opportunity to get into the City of Toronto Archives, which limited the resources available to me.
Recently, the Lord Elgin Hotel celebrated its 75th anniversary. The wartime hotel on federally-owned land couldn’t have been constructed at a better time for a capital that was about to undergo a dramatic transformation. I was recently thumbing through the pages of some back issues of the RAIC Journal for an unrelated project and came across the following from the December 1941 edition.
When I was growing up in South Porcupine, the Tisdale Municipal Building was always an interesting one. The white stucco, though worn by the 1980s, glistened defiantly in the sunlight. When I would walk the single block from my family’s Bloor Avenue apartment with my mom, she’d often point out that my grandfather had worked out of an office in there in property assessment.1Brian Ehman. See Diane Armstrong. “A Proud Community,” Timmins Times, July 27, 2011. When I began to notice the building, it was more than a decade past Tisdale Township’s amalgamation into the City of Timmins2See John Slinger. “1,000 square miles: Timmins biggest city in McKeough plans,” Globe and Mail, June 13, 1972, p. 1; “New challenge for Timmins,” Globe and Mail, October 9, 1972, p. 6. and after hosting the new city’s engineering department for a short period, it was sold off and converted into apartments.
As I recently wrote in a recent story about Le Versailles apartments on Henderson (1964), I find the midcentury apartments in Sandy Hill to be “just slightly a cut above” those in the remainder of the city. Although it may lack the flourish of Le Versailles, Constantine Zourdoumis’ Albany Apartments at 305 Nelson is a tidy example of the style.
Midcentury Modern. Modernism. International Style. Whatever one’s choice term to describe the style of architecture, the road to recognition of buildings in the style as being worthy of preservation on a heritage basis has been a long one and the journey is far from over. Today, most would still take one look at the building above and fail to shed a tear over its 1994 demolition. Even among those who were present to advocate for its preservation, the arguments usually had more to do with who designed it than they did with what it was.
In 2012, Dworkin Furs announced that it would liquidate its stock and close up business after 111 years. Although sales of fur have continued to fluctuate on a global level, changes in how what was once a staple of the Canadian economy is understood means that it is unlikely that the long-established Rideau business would have ever seen the sorts of lines that it did in the 1950s.
The Evans Shopping Centre, located at Evans and Bestobell in Etobicoke, was constructed around 1955.
Universal Appliances, 409 Rideau, and a car painted in a tartan pattern to promote Maytag’s Highlander automatic washer. Unlike the case in a certain movie, it was a popular line and far more than one was produced. Interestingly, the well-known appliance brand does not seem to have been entirely common in Ottawa: it was rarely advertised in either of the local papers when the photograph was taken. Instead, Ottawa was a Connor town, with Inglis, GE, Westinghouse, Easy, Viking, Beatty, and a few others being a common sight in the city’s laundry rooms.
Admittedly, I’ve never been to Harry’s. I’m absolutely certain that the love it earned in Parkdale over its 48 years was both earned and well-deserved. Though I’m not familiar with Harry’s itself, the story is one I believe we’re all familiar with. The family-owned establishment becomes a neighbourhood staple, the owners retire, and a new one comes in with promises not to radically alter what has been established. The promises are often broken as the new owners soon discover that the business fundamentals weren’t as healthy as the community love or that an entrepreneur close to retirement is rarely motivated by future growth. Sometimes, as is the case with Boushey’s on Elgin street here in Ottawa, the retirement means the end of business entirely. For the purposes of this story, however, it is not actually Harry’s that has captured my imagination as such,1Though I do now regret not stopping in at least once on my walks in the area. but rather it is the smart midcentury retail plaza on King West between Jameson and Springhurst that has served as its home that has.
|↥1||Though I do now regret not stopping in at least once on my walks in the area.|
Between 1943 and 1991, the pentagonal lot bounded by Beechwood, Springfield, Bertrand, Vaughan, and MacKay street in New Edinburgh was home to this smart stucco clad concrete building. A project of F.X. Barrette, it was intended to serve as a residence for women and mothers involved in war work and was leased by the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (Wrens) between 1943 and 1946. Today the site is occupied by the New Edinburgh Square seniors’ complex.
Earlier this week, I wrote a short piece about the Andrew’s Manor Apartments at 896 Eglinton East, in Leaside. Today, I transcribed the apartment’s entry in the 1954 Might’s Directory and filled in any missing information from the subsequent year’s edition.