1943 — Ed and Anne Mirvish opened The Sports Bar, a small women’s clothing store near Bathurst and Bloor streets. The monthly rent for the five-metre wide store was $55.
1946 — The store underwent its first expansion, after the Mirvishes purchase a stretch of buildings on Bloor. The shop was renamed Anne & Eddie’s.
1948 — After a further expansion into the adjacent stores, the shop began to sell general household items and was again renamed, this time to Honest Ed’s.
above: parade early 1950s before Mirvish owned Markham Street
1952 — The Mirvishes purchased their first property on Markham Street, directly behind their Bloor Street façade. They quickly proceeded to purchase seven more homes on Markham Street.
1958 — The Honest Ed’s store expanded west to Markham Street, encompassing 6,000 square metres of retail space.
1962 — After plans to build a parking lot along Markham were scuttled, Anne Mirvish established the area as an artists’ enclave, and moved her own studio to the house on corner of Markham and Lennox Streets, most recently occupied by the Victory Café. Christened Mirvish Village, Markham Street evolved into an eclectic mix of galleries, artists’ studios, restaurants, book stores and other independent retail businesses.
above: “Totem pole” on Markham Street, 1967
above : mural painters on Markham Street (Mirvish Village) 1969
1974 — In Mirvish Village, David Mirvish opened an art bookstore, DM BOOKS as an outgrowth of David Mirvish Gallery. Since the 1960s the gallery had exhibited abstract artists and colour field painters and sculptors including Jack Bush, Frank Stella, Anthony Caro, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Tim Scott, Hans Hofmann, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons and Milton Avery.
For more information on the history of Mirvish Village see “A Village Grows on Markham Street” by clicking here: : http://torontoist.com/2010/08/historicist_a_village_grows_on_markham_street/
above : The Bathurst flank of Mirvish Village, part of “Blackhurst”. To see more about Blackhurst click here: http://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/shared-values/when-bathurst-was-blackhurst-the-black-history-of-mirvish-village
above: Honest Ed’s pharmacy window, 1975
above: the much debated, candy-coloured, “Brotherhood Totem Pole” in Mirvish Village ,1977 .
To see other Honest Ed’s Bargain flyers : http://honesteds.flyerify.com/
1970 to through 1980s. DM Books sold the Sunday New York Times at a discount, ran weekly specials on new and overstocked books, and featured hard-to-find material on art, design and literature as well as cookbooks and travel books – always with an aim to sell good quality at good value in the tradition of the parent store, Honest Ed’s. When The Museum for Textiles was a part of Mirvish Village – before it moved to its permanent home on Chestnut Street – the DM Books installed textile exhibitions.
Five Cent Daze at Honest Ed’s
above; facade of Honest Ed’s in the 1970s before the “big sign”
1980 — “West Ed’s Annex” viewed from Bathurst Street looking north during reconstruction of the streetcar tracks
1984 — The Honest Ed’s store completed its last expansion, adding another 5,000 square metres of retail space, spanning Markham Street to the east and Bathurst Street to the west. The Honest Ed’s sign, hailed as the largest marquee outside of Las Vegas, featuring 23,000 flashing light bulbs, was completed the same year. Popular TV star, Mr. T , visited Honest Ed’s for a book signing, one of many in a long line of promotional stunts orchestrated by Ed Mirvish.
above: customers await the store opening under the the scaffolding to erect the new sign.
above: “new” facade of Honest Ed’s in the 1984. For more on the relocation of the sign to the Mirvish Theatre on King Street, click here: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/02/08/honest-eds-sign-will-move-to-ed-mirvish-theatre.html
above: 1984. Crowds on the street following the book signing by the popular Mr T.
Above : crowd outside Honest Ed’s await the annual Santa Claus parade along Bloor Street.
1987 — Ed Mirvish hosted the store’s first turkey giveaway, a tradition that would continue every Christmas until 2015. For more background : https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/12/13/end-of-an-era-as-honest-eds-28th-annual-christmastime-turkey-giveaway-comes-to-an-end.html
2007 — One of Toronto’s most colourful characters, Honest Ed Mirvish, died at 92 years old. A memorial was placed in the store’s front window. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Mirvish
2009 –– A unique enterprise, David Mirvish Books, closed. See: http://spacing.ca/toronto/2009/01/16/news-david-mirvish-books-to-close/
2013 – Anne Mirvish, artist and contributor to the success of Mirvish Village and Honest Ed’s died at 92 years old. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/theatre-and-performance/anne-mirvish-widow-of-honest-ed-mirvish-dies-at-94/article14442961/
Honest Ed’s and the surrounding Mirvish Village were put up sale for (an unconfirmed) $100 million. In October, the property was purchased by Vancouver developer, Westbank Corporation.
above: Honest Ed’s window display
2017 – Westbank submitted to Toronto City Planning the third version of their proposal to develop the site.
You can view BlogTO’s photos of “abandoned” Mirvish Village here : http://www.blogto.com/slideshows/abandoned-mirvish-village-toronto/11570
For more about An Honest Farewell for Ed’s see: https://nowtoronto.com/art-and-books/goodbye-ed-s-hello-t-o-s-diverse-future/
For the new addresses of the businesses formerly located in Mirvish Village see: http://www.blogto.com/city/2017/03/where-all-businesses-mirvish-village-moved/
To watch the Toronto Star’s coverage of the removal of the Honest Ed’s sign click here: https://youtu.be/RNBwO7R67vA
** A special thank you to VINTAGE TORONTO on Facebook for their fantastic on-line archives of photographs.