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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Blogging the Blaze, part II

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Back in 2002, Kevin Steele became the first Toronto photoblogger I followed with regularity. I’ve always enjoyed his series of photos that are stitched together to show long, horizontal views of street storefronts. Lucky for us, he has put together a series that depicts the Queen West buildings before the fire (above photo). Check out the larger version.

As I posted Thursday, Toronto photobloggers rose to the occasion by thoroughly documenting all the stages of the Queen West fire. Below are more photos of the event and its aftermath. Click on a photo to be taken to a series of photos by each photographer.

See fire photos by Jeremy K

See fire photos by Miles Storey

See fire photos by David Michael Lamb

See fire photos by Erik Twight

See fire photos by Karen Seto

See fire photos by Alfred Ng



  1. I work right around the corner from there but I haven’t been able to bring myself to take any pictures of the destruction. I’m thankful to everyone who has wonderfully documented this area both before and after.

    I had already been feeling like Queen West was like a smile missing a few teeth. The gaps from buildings torn down near Spadina as well as the beginnings of what’s to come in the “triangle” have already changed the face of the street so much.

    The black pits left after this week are hard to conceive of and are just going to look more alien once the demolition and investigative crews have done their work and hoarding goes up.

    It’s a strange and sad feeling.

  2. sometimes its funny, the feelings we have about old buildings and the people who live in them. Soon a new homedepot will make us forget about those feelings.But the memories will still live on, I hope.

  3. Can someone help out an expat and explain how far down the block the damage goes? From what I can gather, the destroyed/damaged structures are from the left of the horizontal photo until the end of the three-story red brick building. Is this correct?

  4. That’s pretty correct. From 609 to 627 Queen were affected. 627 is to the right of the red brick buildings. The Ali Babas is 607, and may have escaped most of the damage.

  5. I would also add that the storefront for 627 was already out of date in my picture. That was Organic by Design at the time of the fire. As well, Room had put up a larger sign. I will look to see if I have later shots of those and be able to construct a final snapshot.

  6. Suspect was torn down this morning at around 9:30am.
    It was disappointing to watch them destroy the sign, especially since I’d read somewhere that the owner had wanted to keep it.

    Anyway, if anyone wants to see photos of the sad event(s), you can find some here:

  7. And a related question, this was printed in Saturday’s Post:

    “Fire officials said they are mindful the charred “evidence” they are sorting through contains articles precious to tenants and will try to salvage what they can. “It is going to be very difficult,” said Wayne Romaine, an investigator with the office of the Ontario Fire Marshal. “We’ll try our best if we see anything that has some value to it, but there is a great deal of fire damage behind this facade.”

    I’m wondering how fire officials determine “value.” So far I’ve read of one resident recognizing a leather case containing his grandfather’s old camera in a pile of debris, and another recognizing her grandmother’s nightgown. How are fire officials supposed to be able to identify objects of “some value” when we often attach sentimental value to the most non-descript things? I’m hoping that residents are being given the opportunity to identify for themselves things of value, rather than leaving it to some fire officials to determine. However, the (seemingly barbaric) way that Suspect was torn into early on a Sunday morning, and without anyone from Suspect on hand (as far as I could tell anyway) does not leave me optimistic…

  8. Er, correction. 627 was/is Organized by Design. In my shot from June 2007 that location is a makeshift storefront called Closet Re-Organizer Co. This seems like it could be the embryonic version of the business that is there now, but I do not know for sure.