I’ll begin this post describing a memory of something that occurred some time ago … I was walking westward King Street West, when I passed a very dapperly dressed gentleman, who tipped his hat at me as he passed. I remember it distinctly because that was the only time I’ve ever had a hat tipped in my direction, but also because the man was Honest Ed himself, Ed Mirvish!
He was a Toronto businessman and the person behind this magical store I am going to show you photos of today, located on the south-east corner of Bloor Street West and Bathurst. He was also the owner of several restaurants and a couple of theatres on King Street West. Ed Mirvish is credited with being the person to revitalize the theatre scene in the city, and probably the reason the area known as our ‘Entertainment
District’ is located where it is.
Born in 1914, the son of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, Edwin came to Canada from the United Stages in 1923. Losing his father at the age of 15 he was left to support his family, so he dropped out of school to manage the small family grocery store. Evidently, the man simply didn’t stop, as at the time of his death at 92 years old in 2007, he had accomplished a wide variety of achievements and garnered much respect in the city, where ‘Ed Mirvish Day’ is celebrated every August 12th.
A visit to his flagship store, located at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor, and opened in 1948, is an experience one never forgets. The place is a combination of amusement park, museum and retail. I’m pretty certain that every item of stock that ever entered the store in the 64 years and counting of it’s existence is still there unless it was purchased along the way. Spanning two multi-storied buildings connected by a passage way, it takes forever to see it all.
The major premise of the store is that prices are kept very low, and unavoidably the quality of some of the merchandise reflects the low price-tag, however I can attest to the fact that there are some very decent bargains to be found at Ed’s, namely kitchenware items. In fact, we use a covered enamel pot purchased there daily as our indoor compost reservoir! I like it because it was unused-vintage and something I would never have found anywhere else.
The walls of the place are plastered with theatre posters from the shows that ran in Ed’s theatres, autographed photographs of many celebrities (that’s a picture of Engelbert Humperdinck near the stairs!), and many curiosities throughout. I definitely recall seeing that huge cuckoo clock hanging in the lobby of one of the restaurants on King Street.
On my visit, not wanting to raise suspicion by just walking around taking pictures and looking at stuff, I bought a cute black and white polka-dotted belt ($4.99) and 4 cotton dish-clothes with nice patterns on them ($.79 each).
But the real take-away from my trip to Honest Ed’s were the pictures I took and the opportunity to share this remarkable, interesting and fun place with you!
^ Off to one side, there’s a little gallery showcasing the unique hand-drawn posters, that have always been used in the store. ^
^ The two buildings that make up the whole of Honest Ed’s are connected by a tunnel. This was taken from within that tunnel. ^
^ Looking south, again, taken from within the tunnel. ^
Thanks very much for dropping over. I hope your Monday is a good one.