Sam the Record Man exposed

Walking by the old Sam the Record Man location on Yonge Street on the weekend I noticed the the double record  sign facade has been finally taken down (the neon has been removed for a while) revealing the original building below. It was such a cavernous store, and so thoroughly  renovated and re-renovated (in a particularly unrenovated-looking style inside), it was a surprise to see hiding underneath is a fairly standard Second Empire building, quite common along Yonge Street. The front windows have been bricked up and the dormers on the left have been sheered off and covered with sheet metal. It’s quite rough, but compelling. A brief vision of old Yonge Street half-preserved, half-decayed.  Compare with the Sam’s we knew better, below.

Bottom photo by ocad123.


  1. Thanks Shawn I have always wondered what was behind those platters.

  2. As noted here as well. There’s a link to an archives shot from the 50s of the same building, too.

  3. I’m still hoping to find one from earlier; the architecture and style date the building at almost 130 years if I’m not wrong. I haven’t had time yet to scour the archives for generic Yonge St pics, but I’m sure there’s a glimpse or two of 347 in there somewhere.

    Thanks Shawn.

  4. Before Sam’s expanded and double-disked, the left side remained exposed into the 80s, bookended by Sam’s and A&A’s. (It can be seen in Patricia McHugh’s “Toronto Architecture: A City Guide”–it still had its dormers and iron cresting.)

  5. What exactly is a “Student Learning Centre”? Is it anything like a Teacher Instruction Place? Farmer Agricultural Area? Tailor Clothing Establishment? Diner Eating Emporium?

  6. Seeing how i never walk down “tourist-slum-alley” Yonge Street anymore, it’s good to see what others observe while walking down there. Thanks Shawn!

    Imagine what it’ll look like when Loblaws escavates MLG(*on its way to building it’s grocery/parking lot)

  7. You should walk it — I walk Yonge just about everyday and “tourist slum alley” are words that never occur to me.

    Like saying I never walk in Parkdale because it’s crackdale-slum-torso-murders.

  8. Good point Shawn. I may have been a little harsh in selecting my words, i appologize. But it still doesn’t deter me for pointing things out that need fixing in this city.

    Aside from shopping(*if that), i wouldn’t take relatives or out-of-towners down to Yonge St(*from Gerrard to Dundas and Queen to Front) if you paid me.

    I know that’s just a small portion of Yonge ST(*supposedly the longest street in the world?) but it’s the most visible to tourists. Aside from shopping, it should offer more. Maybe more green/public space? Open it up a bit?

    I wonder if they’ll ever make University Ave. a “world” avenue?(*a la Champs Elysees?GASP!) I hate thinking that Yonge ST. is our “main” street to take visitors to. It may not be though, i don’t know.

    Anyway, i’m off topic. This post’s about Sam’s.

  9. “Imagine what it’ll look like when Loblaws escavates MLG(*on its way to building it’s grocery/parking lot)”


    a) That project is dead in the water. (Though the city kindly installed traffic lights at the proposed entry halfway up the block.)

    b) MLG isn’t on Yonge and there are some substantial buildings between it and Yonge.

    c) The idea was to keep the shell so the “look” wouldn’t have changed much anyway.

    Ryerson (back to them) is having a referendum for a new sports & rec building. Maybe they could make use of MLG without much alteration.

  10. ID, it’d be great to see MLG stay an arena, but Ryerson has said before they probably couldn’t use it. (Sheldon Levy in The Star: “It would be, I think, enormously expensive to retrofit that building. We are such a long shot. We are better to put our time and energy in something that is more feasible.”)

  11. Thanks Matt L. I read the same article. Ryerson’s chances of buying MLG are a longer shot than Loblaws(*still) retrofitting this place to be a mega-grocery store.

    I also don’t know where ID is getting his sources from. Converting MLG into a mega-store(with possibly indoor parking) is not dead in the water. Their intent is still to make it a grocery store but they’re buying time to make a good proposal to Heritage Toronto(*or the City, i can’t remember which) to approve it.

    However you slice it, converting a Toronto(*no, canadian) landmark into a grocery store, is insulting enough.

  12. Last i heard the MLG project was on indefinite hold due to financial concerns. I was pretty sure the project was approved, so long as exterior modifications to the facade were not made, but then money became an issue for Loblaws.

    And on the the topic of the Sam’s Site, and the “Student Learning Centre” is going to be an expansion to the Library structure with bridges over the Alley way (O’Keefe Lane). Basically a Library/Study area, lots of open space, study space, computers, classroom space and very few books. I’m sure the name will be changed to something Rogers related when their family forks over a couple more million to the university (jokes). Total estimated cost of that project $45 million.

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