Toronto is an ever-changing city and things go up as quickly as they come down — well, except for the Eglington LRT.
The point is, a lot of old gems in the city have been removed to make room for shiny new builds. Funny how demolition works.
2014 in particular was a rough year for Toronto as we said goodbye to several iconic landmarks, some of which are on this list.
Gone but not forgotten, here are six Toronto spots we miss dearly.
The city was shook when news broke that the iconic department store was going to be taken down to make room for a high-rise back in 2017.
Honest Ed’s, which opened in 1948, officially closed for business on December 31, 2016, and thousands of customers lined up to stock up on signs and other souvenirs. And ever since then, Torontonians look elsewhere for 99-cent bags of pasta.
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The World’s Biggest Bookstore
Before big box stores tried to suck the soul out of bookselling, the World’s Biggest Bookstore in Toronto was an oasis, a big store with a big heart. I always left with an armload of amazing finds I never could have expected. pic.twitter.com/CnM5AdDXUH
— ⚛️ Paul Vermeersch ⚛️ (@PaulVermeersch) August 30, 2020
Encompassing over 64,000 square feet of space, the massive store on Yonge Street near Edward Street was every bookworm’s dream.
The World’s Biggest Bookstore opened in 1980 and stuck around for locals and tourists alike until 2014. The store had these large bins everywhere with half-priced books on every subject imaginable. Although we still have Indigo (and a wide range of indie bookstores) it’s just not the same.
Fun fact: in terms of square footage, the world’s largest bookstore is now Barnes and Noble located at 105 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Are you really from Toronto if you don’t remember Speakers corner or Electric Circus pic.twitter.com/LdWHmDxfRq
— H (@callmehannan) October 7, 2018
Any ’90s kid that grew up in Toronto knows Speakers Corner all too well. Long before social media took off, Torontonians with things to say had to visit the Speakers Corner booth outside the Much Music building at Queen Street and John Street.
By inserting a loonie, people were able to air grievances, rave about their favourite restaurant, propose to someone, and even sing a song that would then be broadcast on Citytv.
Fun fact: back in 1991, the then-unknown Barenaked Ladies got their big break after playing “Be My Yoko Ono” on Speakers Corner.
When it comes to cheap eats in the city, nothing beat the cheesy, delicious ‘za from Big Slice on Yonge Street.
After 45 years of serving university students until the wee hours of the morning, Big Slice hung its apron up for good in 2016 to – gasp! – make room for condos.
Another location popped up, this time on St. Clair Avenue, but failed to make an impact the way the Yonge Street location did.
Sam the Record Man
Sam the Record Man, 347 Yonge Street, 1961-2007.
(When Sam closed, the neon sign was kept, and now sits atop the Toronto Public Health building at Yonge-Dundas Square.) pic.twitter.com/vu6qrZLtTn
— Alan (@GammaCounter) March 19, 2022
Toronto’s iconic Sam the Record Man sign was just as illuminating as Honest Ed’s. Located at Yonge-Dundas Square, the store quickly became a mecca for music lovers after opening in 1959.
Mayor John Tory was a fan of Sam the Record Man and once referred to it as “being in a candy store” when speaking to media.
Sadly, the store closed at the end of 2007 but the landmark neon sign remained, albeit for a short time, thanks to then-Ryerson University’s commitment to re-install the sign back in 2017.
Hug Me Tree
Toronto’s ‘Hug Me’ tree. Consider yourselves hugged! :)) pic.twitter.com/w8atNJyo
— Cathy Weseluck (@CathyWeseluck) October 7, 2012
The colourful “hug me” tree was a Queen Street West staple before it was suddenly removed last year, leaving pedestrians with absolutely nothing to wrap their arms around.
The tree was designed by Sheridan College grad Elicser Elliot over 20 years ago. According to reports, the artist had to paint it several times over the years due to people touching it, drawing on it, and even peeing on it.