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Sherbourne and Bloor E, 1982 and 2016

“For an active Canada.” 1982. Image: David Cooper / Toronto Star / Toronto Public Library, Baldwin Collection, Item TSPA 0003817f.

It was made effective April 1, 1982. The federal government designated Metropolitan Toronto as a bilingual service area. With a bit less than two years beyond it and the 1980 Quebec referendum, the government’s decision to take out some of the billboards en français seulment – in Toronto of all places – was seen by some as a political move. While it was to some degree, it was also a move that also recognized the presence of a Francophone community in the Toronto area.

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Queen East and Sherbourne, 1981 and 2016

The former Canada Tavern at the southwest corner of Queen East and Sherbourne, 1981 and 2016. The stories some have shared at Vintage Toronto are pretty well expected. Though clearly on the dive side of the establishment ledger (and Moss Park had long been mixed), it was at least enough on the up to be the site of the Star’s New Years’ reporting in the late 1970s.1”First baby greets New Year,” Toronto Star, January 1, 1978, A1; “Sunday goes with a swing in hotels and taverns,” Toronto Star, January 3, 1979, A3. By 1999, however, fortunes had waned, and the corner became better known for poverty and substance abuse.2Catherine Dunphy, “Crack corner: Drugs are turning a vibrant slice of Toronto’s downtown into an urban wasteland,” Toronto Star, February 20, 1999, B1, B4.

In more recent years, it was slated for replacement-by-condo, but things have since quieted on the site and it has been boarded up for years. Much like Norm’s Open Kitchen, the Canada Tavern has figured into the memories and imaginaries of Toronto writers.

Notes   [ + ]

1. ”First baby greets New Year,” Toronto Star, January 1, 1978, A1; “Sunday goes with a swing in hotels and taverns,” Toronto Star, January 3, 1979, A3.
2. Catherine Dunphy, “Crack corner: Drugs are turning a vibrant slice of Toronto’s downtown into an urban wasteland,” Toronto Star, February 20, 1999, B1, B4.