Toronto’s architectural gems— vanishing 19th-century store fronts


Until a few years ago, the delightful facade of this small shop at 320 Queen Street West had survived from the latter days of the 19th century. The plate glass windows and the leaded glass panels above them, as well as the cast-iron window fames, hearkened to a time when the shops on Queen West were patronized mainly by those who lived within walking distance. In the modern era, people frequent the street from all over the city.  They enjoy the unusual shops, perhaps one of the reasons being that some of them are quaint and unusual. However, because of the rising rents on trendy Queen  West, many  merchants have been unable to survive and the small individually-owned stores are disappearing. Each time one changes hands, the new owners often modernize the store fronts. The shop pictured above was one of them.

Those who occupied the premises after “Twinkle Toes,” demolished the historic store front and replaced it with one that was more modern. This store did not last long, and was soon replaced by another occupant, who interestingly, attempted to recreate the appearance of an old-fashioned shop as the company had been established in 1895. A store front that appeared to belong to the previous century was advantageous for marketing. Pity that the “real thing” was destroyed before this company rented the premises.


             The present-day occupiers of 320 Queen Street West.


Another shop that possesses a store front that has survived for over a hundred years is at 463 Queen Street, a short distance west of Spadina. It was vacant when I photographed it. It was formerly a shop that specialized in “once-loved” (second hand) clothes. It too has its original cast iron frames around the windows and leaded panes of glass above them. Because the shop was unoccupied, I feared that the store front might be demolished when it was rented again. This was why I photographed it in detail.


The shop is one of several stores in a three-story building, each store possessing an apartment above it.


The detailing on this store front is exquisite. The trim has dentils, the modillion containing a stylized fig leaf and scrolls. The bright red paint enhances the silver-coloured trim.


The trim on the shop (containing dentils) and a close-up view of the leaded glass panes above the plate glass window.


The trim on the cornice of the building and the charming bay windows of the apartments above the shops can be seen in the above photograph. The week after I photographed the shop, I discovered that my fears about the front of the store being demolished were unfounded. The shop is to become a hamburger outlet, “Priest’s Burger,”and they appear to be preserving the store front. With the arrival of another hamburger restaurant near the corner of Queen and Spadina, there is now a hamburger outlet near all four corner of the intersection. I previously placed a post on this blog about the hamburger outlets near Queen and Spadina. For a link to this post :


This is the shop at 463 Queen West, after being repainted for an outlet of “The Burger’s Priest.” (April 17th 2013) 


Another store front that recently captured my attention is contained in the building that today houses a branch of the CIBC. Along the west facade of the building there are small shops. For a link to the history of this building on the northeast corner of Spadina and Queen Street, follow the link :


This is the CIBC building as it appeared during the early days of the 20th century. There were many shops, each with an awning, along the west facade facing on Spadina Avenue. I recently photographed the shop at the north end of the building (far left-hand side of the photo).


It is another shop that has retained its facade from yesteryear. However, the reason that I noticed this particular shop was because on the left-hand side of the entrance is a small mural that was painted by Uber5000, who is probably the best graffiti artists in Toronto right now.


This is the mural on the left-hand side of the entranceway. It was created Uber5000, who also painted the enormous murals that adorn two facades of a multi-storey building in a laneway near Queen and Bathurst Streets.

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Murals by Uber5000 in the laneway east of Bathurst, between Richmond and Queen Streets. Rick Mercer often employs this laneway as background when he gives his “rants” about various issues. For a link to this post:

To view the Home Page for this blog:

To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

St. Stanislaus Koska RC Church on Denison Avenue, north of Queen West

The historical St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst Streets

The Bishop’s (St, Michael’s) Palace on Church Street, Toronto

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

The Ed Mirvish (Pantages, Imperial, Canon) Theatre, a true architectural gem on Toronto’s Yonge Street

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

The Art Deco Bank of Commerce building on King Street West.

The Postal Delivery Building, now the Air Canada Centre (ACC)

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

Spadina Avenue – sinful, spicy and diverse

The Reading Building, a warehouse loft on Spadina Avenue

The Darling Building on Spadina Avenue

The amazing Fashion Building on Spadina Avenue

Toronto’s architectural gems – the Tower Building at Spadina and Adelaide Street

The Balfour Building at 119 Spadina Avenue

The Robertson Building at 215 Spadina that houses the Dark Horse Espresso Bar

An architectural gem – Grossman’s Tavern at Spadina and Cecil Streets

History of the house that contains the Paul Magder Fur Shop at 202 Spadina

An important historic building that disappeared from the northeast corner of Spadina and College

Historic bank building on northeast corner of Spadina and Queen West

History of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King and Spadina

Hamburger corner – Spadina and Queen Streets

Lord Lansdowne Public School on Spadina Crescent

The Victory Burlesque Theatre at Dundas and Spadina

The Dragon City Mall on the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina

Buildings on the west side of Spadina a short distance north of Queen Street.

History of the site of the Mcdonalds on northwest corner of Queen and Spadina

A former mansion at 235 Spadina that is now almost hidden from view.


Military hero of the War of 1812 lived near corner of Spadina and Queen West.

To view other posts about Toronto’s past and its historic buildings:

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

Campbell House at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue

A study of Osgoode Hall

Toronto’s first City Hall, now a part of the St. Lawrence Market

Toronto’s Draper Street, a time-tunnel into the 19th century

The Black Bull Tavern at Queen and Soho Streets, established in 1822

History of the 1867 fence around Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West at York Street

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

The opening of the University Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bay St.

122 persons perish in the Noronic Disaster on Toronto’s waterfront in 1949

Historic Victoria Memorial Square where Toronto’s first cemetery was located, now hidden amid the Entertainment District

Visiting one of Toronto’s best preserved 19th-century streets-Willcocks Avenue

The 1930s Water Maintenance Building on Brant Street, north of St. Andrew’s Park

Toronto’s architectural gems-photos of the Old City from a book published by the city in 1912

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

Toronto’s architectural gems – the bank on the northeast corner of Queen West and Spadina

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

A history of Toronto’s famous ferry boats to the Toronto Islands

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