Then Versus Now : Queen Street West

It is safe to say that my favourite neighbourhood in Toronto is the one in which I live now, known as Queen Street West. In fact, this is the 4th time I’ve lived here. Well actually, the 5th if you count the short-term (1 month) boarding house type of rental Nick and I lived in before our first apartment together was ready for us to move in.

My first time here was the three month summer-break between 3rd and 4th years of university, when my friend Kathy and I rented the basement apartment in the house my brother and his fiance were living in then. I returned to the neighbourhood for a couple of years after graduation, renting an apartment in the only highrise building in the area at the time. I remember how out of place it looked in comparison to the rest of the buildings around it, but at the time it was perfect for me, as the area was considered to be rather sketchy back then and this building was secured with front lobby guards and was an easy walk to where I had found a job.

Then I moved away to another part of the city. I see the years away from the neighbourhood as my “less happy” years and was quite pleased when Nick and I found our first apartment together, right down the street from my old place. (In fact, when I met him he was living less than a two minute walk from that highrise apartment I had once lived in, so he knows the area well too.)

During our year and a half of living in our apartment together we got married and then found our own home, again, just down the street. This is where we remain, very happy, to this day! We both love it here, with its artistic bohemian live-and-let-live vibe, and we have no plans to move out soon. This is home.

And now to the photos! Longer term readers will know that I love an opportunity for a ‘Then Versus Now’ look at buildings. And I have two for you in this post!

First there is this block of buildings (located at Queen West and Portland) that by chance includes one of our favourite restaurant in the area, The Epicure. These buildings would have been built around 1900. I love that by 1958, when the historic shot was taken, the landlords thought the old girls needed some sprucing up, with a fake front on part of the block, and a neat art deco awning on another.

These two added features are no longer there, so clearly sometime in the last 50 years someone realized the old buildings were very pretty as they were and the fake fronts were removed.

The second ‘Then Versus Now’ series is a bit further to the east, just east of Spadina. The historic photo, taken in 1916 shows a time when the buildings would have been quite new. To give you a feel of what you’re looking at … the large black building in my recent photo (below), is #318. See the same number on the awning at the right hand side of the historic picture? The white vehicle in my recent picture is parked right in front of where these people were.

It’s freaky to think that the little toddler in the picture would be about 94 years old right now. It is interesting to see that while people age, the buildings they inhabit can live a very long time after they are gone.

Here are some more shots of the buildings along Queen Street West, between University Avenue and Bathurst Street.

This next one is of the building right across the street from the ones in the first set.

Here is a shot of the Cameron House. It is now a bar and performance space with two stages. The rooms upstairs are apparently rented to artists and musicians. Having been opened as a rooming house way back in the early 1900s, it is a Queen West institution. As the story goes, it was owned and run for many years by a group of artists and musicians who, as is bound to happen, eventually had to retire from the business. So it is now managed by the son (nephew?) of one of the former owners, who basically grew up there.

The rest of the shots are more taken along Queen Street West.

Oh yes, and since this post includes a photograph with a heart in it, and discusses something a love a lot, it qualifies for distinction as a “Loving Lately” post. Though, in truth I guess this is more of a situation of loving forever, rather than simply loving lately!

Thank you kindly for taking a look. I hope Wednesday it treating you well. What are you loving lately? I’d really like to know!
xo loulou