Bathurst Station Bids Goodbye to Honest Ed’s

Honest Ed’s bargain store has been on the southwest corner of Bloor & Bathurst Streets for as long as most people in Toronto can remember, and it shares my birthdate, 1948.

The site was sold by the Mirvish family a few years ago and will be redeveloped with a mix of commercial and residential buildings. The store closed on December 31, 2016.

As a marketing phenomenon, Honest Ed’s had a style all its own that was not the staid sort of thing one would see downtown at Eaton’s, and definitely not a few kilometres to the east near Bay and Bloor in what has come to be called the “Mink Mile”.

In honour of the long-standing role of the store near Bathurst Station, the TTC changed much of the signage to match the Honest Ed’s style, using Ed’s own sign painters to design the very un-TTC like update to an otherwise grey station from the mid-1960s era of the original Bloor-Danforth subway line.

For the benefit of those who didn’t get to the station, and for out of town readers, here is a gallery of Bathurst Station as it appeared on January 1, 2017.

And a Happy New Year to everyone!

[Note: There appears to be some problem between WordPress and Firefox in that the gallery below will not open properly if you are reading this article from the main URL. However, if you click on the article title so that this is the only article displayed, the gallery will work properly. This problem has been reported to WordPress.]


21 thoughts on “Bathurst Station Bids Goodbye to Honest Ed’s

  1. It would be nice if they could leave this as a long term look for the station but as with all things it will eventually become dated much like College Station has the Habs and Leafs facing off at platform level. As you know College stations artwork was intended to pay homage to the gardens which at the time was nearby. Now that the leafs have moved on, the artwork makes no sense unless you know what USED to be there.

    The only reason that this works at museum station is because the ROM still exists. With Honest Eds gone eventually people will start wondering the station is representative of if this becomes permanent.


  2. When did the signage change to the Honest Ed’s theme? I seem to recall being at Bathurst 4 or 5 years ago and don’t remember it. It’s very creative and uncharacteristic of the TTC.

    I would argue that it is a tad too extensive that a tad more consistency, at least indoors, would improve wayfinding, but the there’s so much inconsistency in the TTC in general, it wouldn’t matter.

    Steve: It was only for the end of 2016 as Ed’s was about to close. The signs are supposed to come down soon.


  3. Answering my own question, the TTC applied the Honest Ed’s theme on 1 November. There are actually clues from the photos, given the inclusion of newer TTC wayfinding elements.


  4. Looks great! I hope they leave all of the signs up for a few weeks at least. Then, leave permanently the direction signs etc. They look fine and people will know or learn that the style of lettering was Honest Ed’s style.


  5. Some people consider the Bathurst Station makeover “art”. Others consider it “ineptitude”.

    Should this makeup stay up for 50 years? Yes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am happy that the TTC stations are starting to representing the community that they are based in. They should make it permanent as it is a piece of Toronto history. The issue is that they do not have any photos of the building and the history of that store. People in Toronto knows what it is now, but what about a South Korean tourists visiting? I hope an historical society will work with the TTC to get some information in that station.

    Here is an example of what a station in Yokohama looks like which shows its history. The station is the site where foreigners gathered and conducted trade. The station designer worked with the local historical achieves to get postcards, photos and drawings from the 19th century. The site is Japanese, but the photos are easy to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “The only reason that this works at Museum station is because the ROM still exists.”

    Not really. The main entrance to the ROM is now over by St. George station.

    Steve: Well, yes, the entry through the carbuncle is at Bloor and Avenue Road, but the Museum is at least physically still there on Queen’s Park, unlike Ed’s that will soon vanish.


  8. From bill r: “What this city needs is a good budget minded public transportation system!”

    Depends upon one’s definition of “good”. The TTC has been underfunded for decades, if not years. To me “good” means not having to beg and genuflect before the city (and the province and Ottawa) for the needed subsidy it (and all transit agencies) need to operate.

    To the non-transit users, “good” means no subsidies of any kind. No streetcars. Left turn automobile priority at signal intersections. Lots of free parking. And lots of expressways.

    John Tory’s demands for a cut in the 2017 TTC budget is just not realistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The original text of this comment has been deleted because it is racist, in a continuation of a form that shows up here regularly from the same person.

    Tonight he is using IP address which is registered to eHealth Ontario, a common source of his posts (I spare readers from his bilge). Nice to know how our tax dollars are being spent.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I noticed the strange lettering from the train at Bathurst station at some point this fall (I rarely get off there, so I didn’t see the upper-level makeover) and wondered what it was all about – at first I thought they were temporary signs due to construction (being handwritten and all), then after they stuck around for more than a month I figured it was part of some subway art project. Didn’t think of Honest Ed’s, though I had a strange feeling I’d seen the lettering style somewhere else previously. Now it all makes sense 🙂 thanks for the photos, Steve.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Steve said: “Well, yes, the entry through the carbuncle is at Bloor and Avenue Road, but the Museum is at least physically still there on Queen’s Park, unlike Ed’s that will soon vanish.”

    Is Museum station the least-used station on Line 1? I pass it daily, yet there seems to be usually just 1 or 2 people (often none) entering/leaving the car I am in (whereas at St. George, Queen’s Park, and all the stops to the south there are tons of people coming in and out). Except during March break of course, with all the schoolkids going to the Museum – then it’s packed.

    Makes it really easy to appreciate the ROM-themed station makeover – there’s hardly anyone there to block the view.

    Steve: Although Museum is not hugely busy, it is fourth from the bottom with Glencairn, Rosedale and Summerhill ranking lower. But Bessarion on the Sheppard line handles only a quarter of Museum’s load. Midland, Ellesmere and McCowan on the SRT are also low, but this line has less service and the figures are not directly comparable, and the outdoor SRT stations were not as expensive to build.

    See TTC subway station usage stats for the full list.


  12. The QUEEN subway station does have murals that includes depictions of the Eaton’s and Simpson’s Department Stores. Not good depictions, but they are there.

    Personally, I would like to see the Eaton’s Department Store colours on the DUNDAS subway station, in whatever decade they will be “repairing” the current wall tiles in.


  13. Steve,
    Thank you for all your detailed and informative writing from 2016. It is just amazing the level of detail that you bring to your readers. Thank you and best wishes to you for 2017.

    Steve: Thanks to you and to all of my readers. All the best for the new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for posting that Steve. Now that I’m out west I don’t have much chance to back get to Toronto. I shopped at Honest Ed’s on a number of occastions in the past as well as going to the David Mirvish bookstore. I hope whatever is built there reflects the legacy of Ed Mirvish. It would be nice if any more permanent update to the Bathurst Station including some photos and history of Honest Ed’s


  15. Thanks for another great post Steve. I can’t help but wonder if the demolition work will become a temporary attraction, more so than a regular demolition project, due to how much the redevelopment project will change the neighbourhood.


  16. Well, getting off at Bathurst Station will never be the same but now that Honest Ed’s is now gone, like it or not, I just hope the new development there is good for the subway, streetcars and buses.


  17. The three historic schools comprising the southwest block at Bloor/Dufferin are going down. One of them will be 110 yrs old when it is torn down next year.

    The Toronto Catholic District School Board wanted to purchase but (of course) the TDSB sold to the highest private sector bidder.

    The falling attendance had nothing to do with the upcoming demolitions. It is the only TDSB property (and very large too) right next to a subway station entrance and not just at the major intersection but comprising one whole block thereof and hence, very valuable. If falling attendance was the reason for the closures, then TCDSB should have been allowed to purchase the properties but TDSB wanted to sell to the bidder with the deepest pockets which was (of course) a private sector developer. And look at the madness – they want to demolish three schools just to build another one at the same site and (of course) lots and lots of very tall glass boxes full of condos. Kent School, in particular, is very beautiful in terms of architecture with some much needed greenery but nobody cares about the greenery, architecture, or history anymore. So much unnecessary pollution and waste will be created by the completely unnecessary demolitions.

    Steve: The TCDSB chose not to purchase the land because (a) there was no funding available formula-based cost (below market) which they were entitled to use under Ministry Regulations, and (b) other schools nearby had sufficient capacity for their needs. See the TCDSB report on this subject.

    The sale to the private sector occurred after TCDSB had been offered the site and turned it down. The total TDSB capacity on the site is far more than they require, and the existing buildings are not in the best of shape. Unfortunately the school board has neither mandate nor funding for historic preservation. If you don’t like it, complain to Queen’s Park who control how school boards work.

    As for schools right beside rapid transit stations, I should point out that City Adult Learning Centre sits at the east end of the Prince Edward Viaduct as close to Broadview Station as Bloor Collegiate is to Dufferin. But for it’s being landlocked by the DVP ramp from Bloor, it would make a lovely condo site. There is also Rosedale Heights School of the Arts (aka Castle Frank) on the other side of the bridge directly across from Castle Frank Station. Central Tech is a short walk south of Bathurst Station. There are more, but I hope you get the idea that the Bloor site is not unique.

    One reason TCDSB already has space near Dufferin is their school at Dundas and Bloor, the former West End school of TDSB which was sold to TCDSB years ago and is now Bishop Marrocco Shool.


  18. There is now a permanent tribute to Honest Ed’s on the concourse level of Bathurst Station. It’s in the passageway leading to the streetcar/bus platform. The five panels show nostalgic images in memory of the department store.

    Steve, your photos don’t show the permanent tribute; thus, I suspect it was erected after your visit, perhaps when the temporary display was removed.


Comments are closed.