If you live or have lived in Toronto, you likely know of the popular discount department store called “Honest Ed’s”. You know the one… at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst, with all the saloon style marquee lights. The one that you go to for good deals on fabric, furniture, your dishwashing detergent. It’s only been there for uhhhh, 68 YEARS!
As of December 31 this year, the chapter will end. Honest Ed’s, an iconic landmark in Toronto, will be closing it’s doors for good. But not before we went for one last jaunt around the place. And by jaunt, I mean JAUNT. We walked around the outside of the building a bunch of times (for our Fit Bit steps and Jon wanted to see how long it would take me to freeze in the +5C temperatures.) Then we walked around the inside of the of the massive two-block building a bunch of times. We wanted to discover Honest Ed Mirvish and his legacy one last time (and I needed to warm up). It was fun. And we bought a sign.
In all of our fun writing and filming for this blog, we also learned quite a bit about the late great Ed Mirvish and how his era began.
We learned that he lived and breathed his business until he passed away in 2007, at age 92. We learned that he cared about his community and his city, like it was an extension of his family. We learned that he had once said that he wanted his ashes to be put into an hourglass so that an employee could sit on a throne in the middle of the store and turn him. You know, so that people could see that even after he died he was still working in the store.
Honest Ed was a character, like a dad, Toronto’s dad. His vision seemed parental. He wanted to take care of us in the city and create an inclusive environment for all. Like when the city of Toronto reneged on permission for Ed to create a parking lot and he decided to build Mirvish Village instead. [Mirvish Village: an area of homes, shops and studios. Affordable studios for artists to create. Dare I say, a safe space?]
He thought outside the box and was a master at free publicity. He held 72 hours dance marathons at the store to defy Toronto’s closing hour laws. He had a Noah’s Arc Sale with live animals. He sold Robert Goulet as a dream date for 0.79¢. He hired picketers to picket his own restaurants on King Street. He was a character of the best kind.
Before we say our final goodbyes and the building is being replaced with a “reimagined Mirvish Village”, there will be one more event. Maybe not so much of an event as a ‘public experience’. It’s called, Toronto for Everyone. It will be a three-day community festival running Feb. 23-26, 2017. (For more information on this event, click HERE!)
Maybe saying goodbye isn’t a bad thing. Maybe it’s time for a change? Maybe he would be happy that we are evolving as a city. Either way, his spirit will live on and he will never be forgotten.
“None of us own anything,” Ed once said. “We’re only caretakers. I have two million bosses who keep me straight. If I don’t satisfy the people of Toronto, I’m in trouble.”