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481-483A Church Street

LAST UPDATE: October 1 2021

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481-483A Church Street, Toronto - 21 November 2020 - Photograph by Adam Wynne

481-483A Church Street, Toronto - 21 November 2020 - Photograph by Adam Wynne

AT RISK INFORMATION
At risk status:
This building is at risk

Info:

481-483A Church Street should be considered under increased threat of demolition, as they are part of an ongoing land assembly project by KingSett Capital at the northeast corner of Church Street and Maitland Street. No applications for re-development at the northeast corner of Church Street and Maitland Street have been made publicly available as of the time of writing this (late September 2021), although steps should be taken to ensure the preservation and protection of 481-483A Church Street in the future. 

BUILDING INFORMATION
Name & Location
481-483A Church Street
481-483A Church Street
Church-Yonge Corridor, Toronto

First Occupant:
481 Church Street: Charles Thomas Whatmough, Charlotte Emma Whatmough, and Family / 483 Church Street: D. D. (Daniel) Savage

OTHER IDENTIFICATION
Notes:

Description: 

481-483A Church Street are located on the east side of Church Street just north of Maitland Street in the Church-Wellesley Village neighbourhood of Toronto. 481-483A Church Street consists of: 481-481A Church Street, a 2.5 storey Second Empire house constructed in 1870; and 483-483A Church Street - a 2 or 2.5 storey house - perhaps originally of a Georgianesque or Italianate Workers' Cottage style - also constructed in 1870. 481-481A and 483-483A Church Street were consolidated together with the addition of a shared 2-storey storefront during the early-to-mid 20th century. 481 Church Street originally appears to be a frame building in Fire Insurance Plans, although appears as a masonry building by the 1913 edition. 

 

481-481A and 483-483A Church Street were both originally residential properties that were converted to have ground floor commercial uses in 1914/1915. Information on early occupants - both residential and commercial - has been included below. The upstairs spaces remained residential for much of the 20th century, although had been converted to commercial spaces by the late 20th century and are presently used as office space. 

 

481-483A Church Street is situated on former Park Lot 7. Park Lot 7 was granted to John McGill on 4 September 1793. The McGills sold sections of the Park Lot off over time. In the early-to-mid 19th century, Alexander Wood (1772-1844) - a regional merchant - purchased a parcel of land that bisected sections of Park Lots 6, 7, and 8. This parcel of land - bounded by present-day Jarvis Street to the east; Maitland Street to the north; Carlton Street to the south; and Yonge Street to the west - became known as the Alexander Wood Estate / Molly's Wood. 481-483A Church Street is situated near (just north of) the historic northern boundary of the Alexander Wood Estate / Molly's Wood. 

 

Following the death of Alexander Wood in 1844, his lands were subdivided and sold off for redevelopment. Church Street north of Carlton Street to Bloor Street East was opened to the public in May 1847. While some blocks of this section of Church Street were developed in the 1850s and 1860s, the east side of Church Street between Maitland Street and Wellesley Street East remained as undeveloped vacant lots until 1868/1869. Constructed in 1870, 481-483A Church Street are representative of the earliest development of this particular block of Church Street and are also representative of broader 19th century development in the Church-Wellesley Village neighbourhood.

 

Prior to 1890, 481-483A Church Street was known as 399-401 Church Street (1870-1873) and 427-429 Church Street (1873-1889). The present day addresses of 481 and 483 Church Street have been used since 1890. However, the properties were subdivided into 481-481A and 483-483A Church Street - as to demarcate upstairs spaces separate from the ground floor shops - during the 1920s and 1930s. 

 

481-483A Church Street were identified as potential heritage properties in the North Downtown Yonge: Toronto Urban Design Guidelines - OPA 183 (September 2013).  

 

481-483A Church Street were renovated in 2019/2020.  

 

Addition of Consolidated Storefront:

During the early-to-mid 20th century, a 2-storey storefront addition was added to the Church Street (west) elevation of 481-483A Church Street. This resulted in the consolidation of the 2 buildings. The storefront may have been constructed in 1941 per building permit records, although this requires further research to verify the date with certainty. While the ground floor storefronts are separate spaces, the upper floor offices have been combined together and are a shared space spanning the 2 buildings.

 

First Occupants (Residential): 

 

481 Church Street: 

The first occupants of 481 Church Street were Charles Thomas Whatmough (1837-1885), Charlotte Emma Whatmough (1842-1906), and family. The Whatmough family resided at 481 Church Street between 1870 and 1907.  In Toronto, Charles Thomas Whatmough ran a hardware, house furnishing, and lighting business known as C. T. Whatmough from 1872 until his death in 1885. This business was considered the pioneer in its field in Toronto as of 1886. C. T. Whatmough was based at 126 King Street East. Prior to 1872, Charles T. Whatmough was involved with Sorley & Whatmough, who were the proprietors of the Ontario Packing House at the corner of Front Street East and Sherbourne Street. Following Charles T. Whatmough's death in May 1885, C. T. Whatmough was transferred to his brother Isaac A. Whatmough (1842-1911) and became known as J. A. Whatmough [I. A. Whatmough]. An 1886 description of J. A. Whatmough [I. A. Whatmough]. has been included below.  

 

Charles Thomas Whatmough was married to Charlotte Emma Whatmough (née Charles) in Toronto on 22 February 1864. Charles and Emma Whatmough had 8 children - 3 daughters and 5 sons - between 1865 and 1884. Charles Thomas Whatmough was originally from Manchester (England), whereas Charlotte Whatmough was born in Ontario. Photographs of the Whatmough family at 481 Church Street have been included in this entry. 

 

By 1900, Charlotte Emma Whatmough had converted part of 481 Church Street into a nurses' residence while also residing on site. The head nurse in charge of the residence was Mary Middleton. Charlotte Emma Whatmough died at home on 12 August 1906. Following the death of Charlotte Emma Whatmough, 481 Church Street was the home of her son Arthur Whatmough until 1907. 

 

M. G. Bixby & Company's Industries of Canada: Historical and Commercial Sketches of Toronto and Environs (1886) provides the following description of J. A. Whatmough (formerly C. T. Whatmough):

 

"J. A. Whatmough [I. A Whatmough, formerly C. T. Whatmough], Dealer in and Importer of House Furnishing Hardware, 126 King Street East. — The Queen City being a commercial city, numbers among its most important industries large House Furnishing Hardware establishments, amongst which the store located at 126 King Street East should be mentioned favourably, as this handsome store contains a large and valuable stock of all grades of goods in the way of children's carriages, stoves, ranges, iron bedsteads, mangles, cutlery and plated ware, lamps, tinware, and wooden ware. The business was originally established at 83 Yonge Street by Mr. Hiram Piper, nearly 60 years ago, and is therefore the oldest in the city, in this line. It was then known as the firm of H. Piper & Brother, and in 1872 Mr. C. T. Whatmough purchased out the business, and afterwards removed to the present location, 126 King Street East, which he carried on until his decease in 1885. It was then transferred to his brother, J. A. Whatmough, who had been associated with him for some years. He employs 10 hands and the premises cover an area of 30 x 200 feet where tinsmith machinery of all kinds is manufactured. Mr. Whatmough's Improved Filter, invented by him, has a world wide recognition, and he was the first who brought out the Dry Air Refrigerator and the Gem Oil Stove. He was born in Manchester, England, in 1842 and came to this country in 1863. The preceding firm's enterprise, coupled with the present proprietor's energetic and high commercial standing, has secured a large and increasing share of the public's patronage second to none in this city." - page 133.

 

Please note that M. G. Bixby & Company provides the company name as J. A. Whatmough, whereas other sources provide it as I. A. Whatmough [Isaac A. Whatmough]. Notably, the brother's name was Isaac A. Whatmough.

 

483 Church Street:

The first occupant of 483 was D. D. Savage. D. D. Savage was a salesman and resided at 483 Church Street in 1870. An examination of City of Toronto Directories indicates that D. D. Savage was likely Daniel Savage, who was a salesman at Robert Walker and Son - a clothing and dry goods business based at 35-37 King Street East and 18 Colborne Street in Toronto.  

 

First Commercial Uses:

 

481 Church Street:

John A. Allan - John A. Allan's butcher shop was the first commercial use of 481 Church Street and first appears in the 1914 City of Toronto Directory. 481 Church Street remained in use as a butcher shop under various shopkeepers until 2017. For more information on 481 Church Street's historic role as a neighbourhood butcher shop and meat market, please see below.

 

483 Church Street:

Robert Bell - Robert Bell's grocery shop was the first commercial use of 483 Church Street and first appears in the 1915 City of Toronto Directory, although Robert Bell resided here as early as 1914. 483 Church Street remained in use as a grocery shop under various shopkeepers until 1937. For more information on 481 Church Street's historic role as a neighbourhood grocery shop, please see below.

 

 

Other Former Occupants and Uses: 

Please note this list is not exhaustive and aims to provide a general overview.

 

Captain John Charles Bell:

Captain John Charles Bell (1839-1909) - a Military Officer in the British Army - and his family resided at 483 Church Street between 1871 and 1872. Captain Bell was born in Penang, Malaysia in 1839 and spent time in India as a youth. He later moved to Toronto and married Jesse Eleanor Wilson - the daughter of Scottish-Canadian immigrants - on 1 December 1870. The Bells had 1 child - a son named Oswald G. W. Bell - who was born in Toronto in 1875. The Bell family then emigrated to Scotland around 1875/1877. 

 

Butcher Shops and Meat Markets at 481 Church Street:

For over a century — between 1914 and 2017 — 481 Church Street housed a butcher shop and meat market in its ground floor storefront. Former butchers who were based at 481 Church Street include: John A. Allan (1914-1938); Miller's Market (1939-1941); Safeway Meat Butchers (1941/1942-1945); Hanley's Meat Market (1946-1953); Maple Ridge Farms, which was also a grocery shop (1953-1954); Simon de Groot (Simon de Groot's Dutch Meat Market) (1954-1993); and Cumbrae's (1994-2017). Prior to the late 20th century, the upstairs space of 481 Church Street - known as 481A Church Street - was used residentially and housed various occupants over time. 

 

Of these, John A. Allan and Simon de Groot have particular significance through being long-term neighbourhood businesses. Simon de Groot was an intergenerational family-run business that was established by Simon de Groot, a Dutch-Canadian immigrant. Simon de Groot holds historical significance to the Dutch-Canadian community. Tony Ruprecht notes in Toronto's Many Faces (2011, 5th edition) that Simon de Groot was "one of the first Dutch establishments in the city" and was originally "surrounded by a large Dutch settlement" which later moved to the suburbs (page 123). One of the Simon de Groots also ran as an aldermanic candidate during the 1994 City of Toronto Municipal Election, although lost to the incumbent Kyle Rae. 

 

Grocery Shops at 483 Church Street:

Between 1915 and 1937, 483 Church Street housed a grocery shop in its ground floor storefront. Former grocers who were based at 483 Church Street during this period include: Robert Bell (1915); the Grove Brothers (1916-1918); Annie Gray (1919-1920); Samuel Himel (Samuel Himelstein) (1921-1924); a branch of the Dominion Stores Ltd. (1925-1931); and the Handy Fruit Store (1932-1937). 483 Church Street was the target of 2 armed robberies during the 1920s: the first occurred on the evening of 29 December 1921 and resulted in Samuel Himelstein and his messenger boy Samuel White being robbed by armed burglars and tied up in the backroom; whereas the second incident occurred on 14 December 1925 and resulted in an armed burglar robbing the Dominion Supermarket's till. 

 

Following use as a grocery shop, 483 Church Street was the home of a delicatessen and confectionery & tobacco shop between the late 1930s and mid-1950s. This delicatessen later evolved into a bakery during the late 1950s (see below). Further research is also required to determine if the delicatessen was linked to the adjacent butcher shop and meat market.

 

De Jong's Bakery, The Amsterdam Café, and Church Street Café:

During the late 1950s through 1980s, 483 Church Street was home to De Jong's Bakery, which later became The Amsterdam Café and had expanded into neighbouring 485 Church Street by the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Amsterdam Bakery went bankrupt in 1982 (potentially following a move to a new location) and the space at 483 Church Street then became home to the Church Street Café. Further research is required to determine how long the Church Street Café was in business here. 

 

Art Custom Tailor: 

Circa. 1983, Art Custom Tailor was based at 483 Church Street (potentially in the upstairs space). An advertisement from Art Customer Tailor has been included with this entry.

 

This Ain't the Rosedale Library:

Between 1986 and 2008, 481-483A Church Street was home to This Ain't the Rosedale Library. This Ain't the Rosedale Library was an incredibly important alternative, independent, and LGBTQ bookstore. The bookstore was founded by Charles Huisken on Queen Street East in 1979. Dan Bazuin and Charles Huisken's son Jesse Huisken were also involved in its operations. On 1 April 1986, it moved to 483 Church Street. This Ain't the Rosedale Library was "one of Toronto's original indie bookstores" and specialized "in books on books on music, poetry (New York school, langpo, beat, surrealist, symbolist etc.), modern classics, obscure and hard to find fiction, beat literature, modern art books, small press literature, politics, cultural studies and a whole lot more." At their Church Street location, the bookstore had a retail space in the ground floor storefront of 481 Church Street and a gallery, performance, and workshop space in the consolidated upstairs space of 481-483A Church Street. In 2005, the United Kingdom's Guardian newspaper declared This Ain't the Rosedale Library the best independent bookstore in Canada and the 8th best bookstore in the world. In 2008, This Ain't the Rosedale Library moved to 86 Nassau Street in Kensington Market, but unfortunately shut down in 2010 due to financial-related issues. The connection of This Ain't the Rosedale Library to 481-483A Church Street offers significant cultural value to the site. Potential onsite heritage commemoration of the bookstore should be explored in future redevelopment(s).

 

All the Best Fine Foods and Eyes on Church:

During the late 2000s through mid-2010s, 483 Church Street's ground floor storefront was divided into 2 spaces, which were home to All the Best Fine Foods - a specialty grocer; and Eyes on Church - an optometrist.

 

Craig's Cookies:

Since 2019/2020, 481-483A Church Street has been home to Craig's Cookies. Craig's Cookies is a LGBTQ-owned bakery that was established by Craig Pike in 2013 and now has 4 locations across Toronto. The bakery has a storefront on the ground floor of 483 Church Street and uses the consolidated upper floor spaces as office space. Craig's Cookies is an important and popular LGBTQ-owned business within the Church-Wellesley Village neighbourhood.

 

Fire and Flower Cannabis:

Fire and Flower Cannabis - a cannabis dispensary - was in operation at 481 Church Street in 2020. The dispensary was short-lived and has since closed. The storefront is now for rent as of September 2021.

 


KingSett's Land Assembly - Northeast Corner of Church Street and Maitland Street: 

481-483A Church Street should be considered under increased threat of demolition, as they are part of an ongoing land assembly project by KingSett Capital at the northeast corner of Church Street and Maitland Street. No applications for re-development at the northeast corner of Church Street and Maitland Street have been made publicly available as of the time of writing this (late September 2021), although steps should be taken to ensure the preservation and protection of 481-483A Church Street in the future. 

 

Research by Adam Wynne.

Year Completed:
1870, with a storefront addition added in the early-to-mid 20th century.

Map:
Loading Map

Companies:
No data at this time

BUILDING DATA
Sources:

Sources

  1. Toronto´s Many Faces (5th Edition)
    Author - Tony Ruprecht
    Date - 2011
    Page - 123
    Notes - Discusses Simon de Groot´s butcher shop at Church Street and Maitland Street.

  2. John Charles Bell
    Author - Ancestry.ca Library
    Notes - Genealogy entry for Captain John Charles Bell.
    More information

  3. This Ain’t the Rosedale Library in jeopardy
    Author - Steven W. Beattie
    Date - 21 June 2010
    Notes - Quill & Quire article on This Ain´t the Rosedale Library. 

  4. History of This Ain´t the Rosedale Library
    Author - This Ain´t the Rosedale Library
    Date - n.d.

  5. Determined Robber Holds Up Merchant
    Author - The Globe (Toronto)
    Date - 14 December 1925
    Page - 9
    Notes - Describes 1925 robbery at 483 Church Street.
    Document - Determined Robber Holds Up Merchant

  6. Charlotte Emma Whatmough - Death Notice
    Author - The Globe (Toronto)
    Date - 13 August 1906
    Page - 12
    Document - Charlotte Emma Whatmough - Death Notice

  7. Mrs. Whatmough of 481 Church Street has assigned to Mr. E. R. C. Clarkson
    Author - The Globe (Toronto)
    Date - 10 October 1896
    Page - 8
    Document - Mrs. Whatmough of 481 Church Street has assigned to Mr. E. R. C. Clarkson

  8. Executor´s Notice in the matter of the estate of Charles Thomas Whatmough
    Author - The Globe (Toronto)
    Date - 19 May 1885
    Page - 4
    Document - Executor´s Notice in the matter of the estate of Charles Thomas Whatmough

  9. Church Cafe: A Bargain-Priced Binge, Without the Ballerinas
    Author - The Globe and Mail
    Date - 12 March 1983
    Page - A1
    Document - Church Cafe: A Bargain-Priced Binge, Without the Ballerinas

  10. Grocer Held Up, Bound, Robbed by Armed Thugs
    Author - The Globe (Toronto)
    Date - 30 December 1921
    Page - 10
    Notes - Describes 1921 armed robbery at 483 Church Street. 
    Document - Grocer Held Up, Bound, Robbed by Armed Thugs

  11. Historic Gay Bookstore at Risk of Closing
    Author - Sarah Boesveld (The Globe and Mail)
    Date - 31 May 2010
    Page - A10
    Document - Historic Gay Bookstore at Risk of Closing

  12. Literary: Radical Rosedale
    Author - Ian Daffern
    Date - 3 February 2006
    Page - R27
    Document - Literary: Radical Rosedale

  13. This Ain´t the Rosedale Library - Moving Sale
    Author - The Globe and Mail
    Date - 22 March 1986
    Page - D16
    Document - baa078c5fbd751e5dfd4f8aef41cc68b.pdf

  14. Bookstore Battle Close to Claiming Another Victim
    Author - Karen Howlett
    Date - 21 June 2010
    Page - A8
    Notes - Discusses This Ain´t the Rosedale Library.
    Document - Bookstore Battle Close to Claiming Another Victim

  15. Vanunu Concert now a protest
    Author - Michael Valpy
    Date - 21 April 2004
    Page - R1
    Document - Vanunu Concert now a protest

  16. Why Independents Matter: Local Bookstores Struggle With Rent, Debt, and Discounts
    Author - Kristin Schwartz
    Date - 2009

  17. Whatmough Family Photos
    Author - Ancestry.ca Library
    Date - n.d.
    More information

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