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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Lost heritage on Queen West

Photographer Peter MacCallum shares his image of the modest heritage building on Queen Street West that was recently demolished illegally

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According to a recent CBC News report, the gable-roofed wooden commercial storefront at 520 Queen Street West was about 170 years old when its new owner began demolishing it piecemeal last year. By May, 2023, despite its having received an official historic designation, there was nothing left of it.

The photo of the building posted here was part of a series I completed in 2008, documenting selected commercial facades along Queen West, many of which have hardly changed since I first saw them during the 1970s.

I recall that while I was getting ready to take this view, I was approached by a passer-by who claimed to have knowledge of the building. By his account, its upper floor had recently been used as a crack house. The condition of the second floor windows did in fact suggest that something sinister might have gone on up there.

Later views of the building, taken when the ground floor was occupied by a tattoo parlour, show that the facade had been repainted and the upper windows uncovered. Thus, at the end of its life, this modest structure had regained something of the dignity it must have had when new.

Photo  © P. MacCallum, 2008 (petermaccallum.com)

2 comments

  1. This property should be seized without any compensation to the owner, the owner should have to pay for destroying our heritage.

  2. Thank God the heritage hydro infrastructure will never be lost!

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