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Curry's endures after more than a century in Toronto

Curry's Artists' Materials has 10 stores scattered throughout southern Ontario. But this family-owned retailer has been on Yonge Street for more than 100 years.

However, that century-old legacy is about to come to a close as Curry's gets ready to close its 490 Yonge St., store later this spring.

Like many storefronts along the Yonge Street corridor, it has to leave because the building it's situated in will be demolished and it'll eventually be replaced with a 38 storey condo.

"That little hub of Yonge Street has been home for us for a long time," says JM Ghent. His great-grandfather Fred Curry opened the first Curry's store at Yonge and Bloor in 1911.

By the 1920s, Curry had three locations in Toronto and he specialized in framing. During the Great Depression, however, he had to shut down his two satellite outposts but he and his daughter kept the store open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and scraped by.

After World War II, Ghent tells me, most of Curry's framers never returned home after serving in Europe, so they closed the framing department and moved into supplying drafting supplies for the burgeoning airline industry and later, they got into graphic arts.

In the 1990s, Ghent says Curry's pivoted again and decided to focus its identity on being a specialty store for artists. It moved into its current Yonge Street location in 1992 and opened its West Queen West flagship in 2014.

The arts supply store watched Toronto grow and develop over the course of more than 100 years and it changed along with the city. "It comes down to that willingness to adapt and that willingness to evolve," says Ghent of his centenarian family business.

Lead photo by

ant_tor


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