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addled architecture: bloor & bathurst shop fronts

May 6

Sometimes while out and about my eye lingers just long enough on a detail in the urban landscape to take note of something unique, an architectural detail, or an oddity. Such was the case while at the intersection on Bathurst Street at Bloor Street in Toronto while running errands one Saturday afternoon. I do love the old architecture of Toronto, and despite having lost many gems in the name of urban renewal during the last century, some lovely Victorian examples still exist. But some have trouble existing with any original beauty through ‘improvements’ through the years. Such is the case of  these four shop fronts along the north side of Bloor, east of Bathurst, the facades of which are now as varied as the cuisine the restaurants in each offer.

Only the two right units of  this quite substantial three-story structure still hint at the original design elements of grandly arched stained glass windows and intricate brick detailing, albeit struggling to do so under layers of paint. However, not as heavy a weight as the stucco and faux stone on their siblings’ fronts.

This City of Toronto Archives photo from 1911 shows these four store fronts were actually part of a bigger block of seven units. This photo also shows an impressive parapet running higher than the roof line of today. Even the building on the corner to the west of this block of buildings was once a far grander element in the intersection than the demure and disappointing bank that is there today, as shown in this shot below, taken from the middle of the intersection by the roaming Googlemobile. Funny how even Google Street View is a documentation of history, as it shows the now stone-clad  facade as simply painted.

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