Sanagan’s Meat Locker is open for business at 176 Baldwin Street in the Kensington Market. It has been a highly-anticipated event for those who shop in the area. Viewing the interior of this store, which specializes in quality products, there is a comfortable feel that will remind shoppers of the European Meat Market that previously occupied the premises. The former location of Sanagan’s Meat Locker was 206 Baldwin Street, where Max and Son Meat Market used to be located. If this sounds like a game of musical chairs, the pictures below should clarify matters and bring back a few memories for those who are familiar with the Kensington Market.
The above painting is from the summer of 2002. The building that contained Max and Son was built in 1930, but its storefront resembled the 1920s, with its thin wood frames that supported large glass windows. Originally, the store was the poultry shop of A. Prussky, and in 1932, Sam Chalkin operated a similar business from this location.
Max and Son Meat Market occupied the site for many years. Established in 1955, it was one of the few stores from the days when the market was predominantly Jewish. Many aspects of this shop reminded the customers of former days—the sawdust on the floor, two large wood butcher blocks, meat scales against the east wall, and large meat hooks hanging in the right-hand window. The white refrigerator formed a counter and displayed the meats. It was a store like our grandmothers visited and knew so well.
Max’s son, Solly, operated the store for many years, having worked in it since 16 years of age. He retired in September of 2009. He was one of the last Jewish shopkeepers remaining in the market. When he departed, it was the end of an era. One of the city’s news stations sent a TV crew, and newspapers featured articles about the event.
This is the shop at 206 Baldwin Street in August of 2011. Sanagan’s has vacated the premises, but the sign for Max and Son can be seen in the upper left-hand corner.
This is the site at 176 Baldwin Street when the European Meat Market operated on the premises. In 1959, “European Meats” arrived in the Kensington Market, but only occupied the premises at 178 Baldwin Street. In 1985 the business expanded into the other shops (#176, #174). The famous meat market was eventually contained within two of the old row houses, and the original site (#178) was used as the cutting and preparation room. Its windows were covered over.
The store’s methods of operation reminded a person of the old days of the Kensington Market. Transactions were conducted in metric and in Imperial Measure. It required three members of staff to complete a transaction. Customers took a number from a dispenser located on the right hand side, near the door. They carried the ticket with the number on it to the counter and handed it to an employee, who lined them up, and shouted the numbers in the order in which they were to be served. When a customer’s number was called, it was then handed to another employee, who filled the order. When completed, the customer walked to the front of the store to the cashier, who accepted the money and placed the meat in a plastic bag. The transaction was now complete.
This system was indeed a part of the Europe of earlier years, but it was amazingly efficient. Sign language was often employed by the customers to denote the numbers of pounds or a half pound, as on a busy day the store was so crowded that it is impossible to be heard above the clamorous voices.
Now the store is occupied by Sanagan’s Meat Locker and a new tradition begins.
Interior of Sanagan’s, early on a Wednesday morning in August 2012.
To view other posts about Toronto’s heritage.
The 1847 Farr House at 905 Queen St. W, tucked in beside a modern condo.
St. Mary’s Church at Bathurst and Adelaide Streets
The Wheat Sheaf Tavern at Bathurst and King Streets.
The site of the George Weston Bakery at Peter and Richmond Streets
The Cameron House at Queen and Cameron Streets, a block west of Spadina
The Balfour Building at Spadina Avenue and Adelaide Street.
Tall narrow building at 242 Queen Street
The Beardmore House at Dundas St. W. and Beverley Streets (left) and the Beardmore Building on Front Street (right).
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