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On This Spot: 299 Queen Street West

It seems like CityTV has occupied this building forever. In fact, the very idea that the network could move from the building stirred up emotions around the city. However, this was not the case. There was once a time in Toronto when, shocking as it may seem, there was no CityTV! Over 90 years ago the neo-Gothic landmark had quite a different vibe to it.

The building was originally built in 1913 by the Methodist Church of Toronto as its headquarters and publishing centre. The exterior of the building had primarily the same look as it does now, standing as a regal structure in the growing city of Toronto. Of course, there was a little bit more Jesus and a lot less Avril Lavigne back in those days.

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Photo: Toronto Archives

Queen Street itself was still home to a wide variety of shopping options. Instead of Roots and the Gap, you had Rogul's Confectionary and United Clothing Stores. There was also the usual assortment of cafes and restaurants. A stroll down Queen Street in the early 1900s would be quite the experience, filled with the sights and sounds of shoppers taking in the newest fashions and enjoying a meal or a snack, much like it is today.

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Photo: Toronto Archives

Years later the Canada Life Building, minus its now iconic weather beacon, would be built just down the street. Those walking east on Queen Street from the Methodist book room would find several sights that are still easily recognized today: Osgoode Hall, looking startlingly the same as it does today, Old City Hall (at this time just called City Hall, of course) and the Eaton's and Simpsons flagship stores, which have now become Sears and The Bay. The area was also home to Toronto's Polish and Ukrainian communities for many years.

Looking at the historic building, you have to wonder if the Methodist church would have allowed Fergie to shake her ass in their building, like she did last night at the MMVAs? My guess is no.


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