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2005 07 25
51 Bulwer Street

Unlike many other streets in Toronto, vestiges from Spadina Avenue's history remain clearly visible today. South of Front there are the railway lands. On Clarence Square there's an enclave of 19th century row-houses. From Adelaide to Richmond, the loft buildings which house a large portion of Toronto's creative community are legacies of Toronto's industrial past.

Then just north of Queen, steps away from Spadina, there's 51 Bulwer Street. One can easily walk by Bulwer without even realizing it is a street; it seems it is just the back alleyway for the storefronts along Queen. But standing out from the trash bins and graffiti is a lone, freestanding 3-story building which curiously has a "London Fog" sign on it.

The building was originally the home of the Humphrey Bicycle Shop in the 1930s and they operated there until the 50s. The current owner's father purchased the building in the 70s and modest attempts were made to restore it. His son, Stan Gold took over the building in 1980 and since then there have been 2 major restoration attempts; the last restoration was completed in 1996.

With its roots as an industrial building, much of the building's original elements have withstood time and heavy use. The oak floors, tin-tiled ceiling, and manually operated freight elevator are all in great condition. 51 Bulwer is definitely an example of how they sure don't build 'em like they used to.

Although much of the original building remains, its occupants have constantly changed in step with the times. The original bicycle shop made way for various garment-trade companies, then into the 90s 51 Bulwer was a showroom for the London Fog clothing company (the current owner decided to keep the sign outside), and today it provides a half dozen studio spaces for creative professionals.

Starting next week I'll be the building's newest tenant.
[email this story] Posted by Gilbert Li on 07/25 at 03:04 PM

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