By Jacob Dubé
My earliest memory of Toronto was seeing Honest Ed’s for the first time.
I’d traveled from the suburbs to Sonic Boom, the huge record store that occupied a chunk of Ed’s main floor. I like to think I went there because of the selection, but the real reason (at least at first) was because I saw it in a movie.
Every time I came out of Bathurst station and saw the huge lights, the crazy signs, and the deals on shitty merchandise in the windows, I knew I was at a special place. Honest Ed’s defined Toronto for me—it was mine. Like an anchor, it served as a starting point that I used to explore the rest of the area and learn about its quirks.
But this year, Honest Ed’s is scheduled to be demolished, along with the iconic comic and video shops around it, to make way for a shopping plaza with condos.
I haven’t been in the neighbourhood since. It doesn’t feel the same, and probably never will.
Toronto, in a desperate attempt to capitalize on its skyrocketing real estate prices, is closing down historic venues, stores and restaurants quicker than Blockbuster could shut its doors in 2011. And the city is losing its lifeblood because of it.
What really did it this week was the announcement that the Hard Rock Café at Dundas Square is being turned into a Shoppers Drug Mart. Sure, the restaurant is part of a huge chain, but it was a staple of the square where I used to buy guitar-shaped gifts for old girlfriends. And, there’s already another Shoppers across the street.
If the city keeps erasing its landmarks, everything will be pristinely boring. We’re headed towards a future where other long-haired, bright-eyed kids from the suburbs will walk around Toronto, shrug, and never come back. Because there will be nothing there for them.
A couple years ago, there were plans to build a Walmart right next to Kensington Market, which would have sucked the local business owners dry.
Luckily, more than 90,000 people signed a petition condemning the operation, and the developers backed down.
So if you have a place you love, go visit it, support them, buy something, and fight like hell if anyone tries to take it away from you.