Toronto News ~ Toronto Focus

House of Lords Closing - Vintage CFNY Ad

In the mid-to-late 90s, I lived at Charles Street and Yonge for a couple of years. I was going to school down the street, so it was awfully convenient. During this period of my life, I got every haircut at House of Lords at 639 Yonge Street..

As a young man, House of Lords seemed very cool. They played loud music, had a funky creative vibe and the price was right. I think it was $14 a cut back then.

House of Lords is closing for good this October after 51 years. They're blaming increasing property taxes.

Here's a great old ad for House of Lords that aired on CFNY back in the day.

House of Lords

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Humber Bay Driftwood Sign for Toronto

If you bike, jog or walk the waterfront trail just west of the Humber Bay Arch Bridge, you've likely seen the new Toronto sign that's been erected this week. Local artists Thelia Sanders-Shelton and Julie Ryan built it from driftwood that washed up on a nearby beach.


It's only driftwood, so I suggest you see it while it's still standing. I just love shit like this.


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Toronto Duck Tweet Now My Most Popular Tweet Ever

I actually prefer this pic of the Toronto Duck I took from a little west of HTO Park


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Humber's Historic Tunnel Tours - Doors Open Toronto

The southern campus of Humber College is where the old Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital stood before it shut down in 1979. Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital was its final name but it had several other names between its opening in 1889 and closing in 1979. Here's the full list:

  • Mimico Branch Asylum
  • Mimico Insane Asylum
  • Mimico Hospital for the Insane
  • Ontario Hospital, Mimico
  • Ontario Hospital, New Toronto
  • Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital

Today, as part of Doors Open Toronto, I took a tour of the old tunnels that linked up the cottages. In addition to learning the fascinating history of the hospital, there were glimpses of the original architecture and brickwork.

Here are some pics I took of the historic tunnels.







Fun fact: part of Suicide Squad was filmed in this tunnel!


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Exhibition Stadium Bases Memorialized at Exhibition Place

I loved going to Blue Jays games at Exhibition Stadium. Some called it the mistake by the lake, but to me it was where my Jays played and that was everything. George, Damaso, Ernie, Jesse, Lloyd, Dave, Alfredo, Tony, Willie, Rance... so many memories.

At the precise spots where the bases used to be, they've put cement markers. I think this is very cool. Even though it's a parking lot now, it's neat being able to see where our Blue Jays played before the dome.

I biked over today to snap some pictures and step on home plate.

Me touching home plate



1st Base

2nd Base

3rd Base

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There's a New Tourism Toronto Ad (and it doesn't suck)

Heck, I dig it.

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Preserving the Blockbuster Quick Drop

I regularly walk past a building that was once a Blockbuster video store. Most recently it was a dollar store and is now being converted into a gym, but I know it was once a Blockbuster because it still has a Quick Drop slot.


With it currently being gutted and remodelled as a gym, my fear is they'll get rid of the Quick Drop slot. It's far too young to be considered historical, so every day I walk by to see if it survived the day.

Today I saw they had built a new wooden box on the inside, a sure sign the Quick Drop slot is here to stay.



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Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

A decision should be announced today with regards to the fate of the beloved Honest Ed's sign. Honest Ed's is no more with the 1.8-hectare location on Bloor and Bathurst Streets soon to be repurposed. Demolition is scheduled for May.

I once wrote it's not the buildings we love, it's the signs. The iconic CHUM sign was saved, the Sam the Record Man sign was saved and now there are many wanting to save the Honest Ed's sign.

I can see both sides of this argument. On the one hand, the sign only dates back to the 1980s, so it's not really that old. And it is just a giant cheesy sign for a private discount store. I know that's sacrilegious, but it's true.

Snowing. Walking by Honest Eds

But then again, it's the Honest Ed's sign, an iconic sign closely identified with this city. Why destroy it if it could be preserved somewhere for fellow nostalgists to gawk and smile?

Does the sign turn to rubble with the building or should it be saved?


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HMV Canada Closing

My kids have no appreciation for record stores. They strictly consume music via digital channels and have never purchased a compact disc.

When I was a teenager, record stores were vital. My weekends would revolve around trips downtown and I would visit Sam the Record Man, A&A and HMV at 333 Yonge Street, not necessarily in that order. The store with the lowest price for the disc I was buying would get my business.


I have many good memories of visiting HMV at 333 Yonge, sampling albums at the listening stations and digging through new hip-hop in the basement. I remember the thrill of being checked out by the actress who played Kathleen on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High and the joy of bumping into Kish while he shopped for 12 inch singles.

Although I never worked at HMV I used to play for a slo-pitch team formed by HMV colleagues. These guys and gals would assemble monstrous CD collections and I'd borrow them by the dozens and rip them to MP3. This transfer to digital was the beginning of the end.

Yesterday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approved an application to place HMV Canada into receivership. All 102 locations have to shut down by April 30.

It's the end of an era. Digital killed the record store.

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McLaughlin Planetarium

I remember countless school trips to the McLaughlin Planetarium when I was in primary school. It was an amazing place to learn about the stars, planets, and cosmology.

I watched La La Land yesterday and there's a scene in a planetarium that took me back to the 80s when we all took our planetarium for granted. The McLaughlin Planetarium, located just south of the ROM, closed in 1995 and is currently slated for demolition.

An article on suggests the McLaughlin Planetarium could be saved afterall.

Spearheaded by Jeff Balmer, an ex-pat professor of architecture at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, the efforts to prevent its demolition are rooted not just in its architectural pedigree, but also its use-value.

"In a perfect scenario, U of T would work to resuscitate the Planetarium to its original purpose," Balmer explains. "During its decades-long period of operation, [it] was highly successful, both in terms of its educational mission... and in terms of its financial performance."


La La Land, by the way, is excellent.


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