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Retail & Commercial

Dixie Lee Nut Shop Gets Cracked

This view didn’t make it into the day’s paper. Image: City of Ottawa Archives CA004757.

Here is another short one from Vanier.

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Retail & Commercial

The El Ropo Restaurant

The corner of Beechwood and Charlevoix wasn’t always one to fuel up on. It was once home to the El Ropo Restaurant. Image: July 2013

Though it may not seem like it today, certain parts of Vanier North and New Edinburgh were at one point a site of industrial activity and the sort of rough living that is often associated with it. Given its location at the corner of Beechwood and Charlevoix in Vanier (then Eastview), close to Betchermann Iron and Steel and the Dominion Bridge Company (to say nothing of the other nearby industrial organizations), it’s probably not a surprise that the El Ropo would attract a tougher clientele.

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Retail & Commercial

Thorncrest Shopping Centre, 1955

Thorncrest Shopping Centre (Plaza) from above in 1957, shortly after completion. Image: City of Toronto Archives, Series 12, Item 100.

It all depends on how you slice and dice it, though it would not be unfair to at least entertain Thorncrest Village’s claim to be Canada’s first planned community. At least not Canada’s first post World War II planned community. To be certain, comprehensive community plans existed previous to the war and, honestly, claims to “first” tend to obscure the realities of invention and innovation. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, after all.

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Retail & Commercial

New Edinburgh Laundry, c. 1922-72

28 Crichton was once home to the New Edinburgh Laundry. Image: Google Maps, May 2016.

This weekend Kathleen and I went out to take in the sights and the deals at the New Edinburgh Garage sale. It was an interesting walk for my own part. About four years ago, I moved back to Centretown from Vanier North and have not spent so much time wandering around the area, so this was a bit like visiting an old friend.

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Retail & Commercial

Norm’s Open Kitchen, 1973

Norm’s Open Kitchen in 1973. Image: Keith Beaty / Toronto Star / Toronto Public Library, Baldwin Collection Item TSPA 0114771f.

We’ve seen it happen a few times recently here in Ottawa. A business attracts a clientele that the neighbourhood feels is a threat and works to have the business removed through regulatory measures. In Toronto, Norm’s Open Kitchen was one of those establishments.

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Retail & Commercial

Danforth’s Sidewalk Protest, 1934

A sandwich man protests the sale of fruit from the sidewalk along Danforth, October 1934. Image: Toronto Star / Toronto Public Library, Baldwin Collection, Item TSPA 0113093f.

’twas ever thus. So long as we’ve gathered into cities, there have been disputes – both major and minor – over the appropriate and proportionate use of public space.  Sometimes, such as our perennial arguments over the patios installed on Elgin street here in Ottawa during the summer months, it’s an entirely legitimate exercise in negotiating the use of space. Other times, such as the pitched battles between restaurants and food trucks, it’s more a matter protecting revenues by limiting the range of choices in the immediate area. In the case of the photo above, it was more of the former, but with some drops of the latter added to the mix.

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Retail & Commercial

Under the ‘N’… NO

Pacific Avenue residents show the Toronto Star’s Ken Faught their opposition to the Kingsway Pacific Bingo plan to open a large Bingo hall in a former Loblaws. Image: Ken Faught / Toronto Star / Toronto Public Library, Baldwin Collection, Item TSPA 0011943f.

Admittedly, one of my favourite articles in the last little while has been one that was run in Toronto Life called “People with their arms crossed in front of things they’re against: A taxonomy of the Star’s favourite visual cliché“. To be certain, it’s a light and fluffy piece, but I was happy that someone did put it out there. The arms-crossed-and-scowl (or look of deep concern) visual language that communicates opposition is common to newspapers all over.

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Retail & Commercial

Update: Kinhurst Plaza (1961)

Kinhurst Plaza, May 2016. Image: Google Maps.
Kinhurst Plaza, May 2016. Image: Google Maps.

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.

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Retail & Commercial

Can There Be Only One?

Universal Appliances, 409 Rideau Street. January 24, 1954. Image: City of Ottawa Archives CA042915.
Universal Appliances, 409 Rideau Street. January 24, 1954. Image: City of Ottawa Archives CA042915.

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.

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Retail & Commercial

Parkdale’s Kinhurst Plaza (1961)

Kinhurst Plaza, May 2016. Image: Google Maps.

Harry's. Image: omgrealestate.ca.
Harry’s. Image: omgrealestate.ca.

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.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Though I do now regret not stopping in at least once on my walks in the area.