Toronto

It's the end of an era in Toronto as the Honest Ed's sign comes down today

The iconic sign will be removed from the Bloor and Bathurst area storefront, refurbished and is expected to find a new home above Ed Mirvish Theatre.

The Mirvish family plans to refurbish the sign and place it above the Ed Mirvish Theatre

Honest Eds sign above the closed discount retailer at Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street.

A piece of Toronto history comes down Tuesday — the iconic Honest Ed's sign at the corner of Bloor and Markham streets will be removed from the storefront after lighting up the night for decades.

"I don't think I want to be there to watch it," said Mark Garner, the chief operating officer of the Downtown Yonge BIA, where the Honest Eds sign will find a new home.

"I think I'd be very anxious, it's a lot of bulbs."

There were 23,000 bulbs above the famous Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street discount store spread out over 12 exterior signs. The red and gold "Honest Eds" marker will be carefully removed Tuesday with a crane.  

Architect and University of Toronto professor David Lieberman believes it is important to preserve the cultural memory of the sign.

"In many ways it welcomed so many newcomers to what has become the city of Toronto so it's important to remember these things for what they did as a community amenity."

There's a plan to refurbish the nine-metre tall and 18-metre wide sign and place it above the Ed Mirvish Theatre — formerly the Canon Theatre — on Victoria Street near Yonge Street and Dundas Street East. 

This artist's rendering shows what the Honest Ed's sign will look like if the city approves a plan to install it on the Victoria Street entrance of the Ed Mirvish Theatre. (Mirvish Productions)

"It is fitting that a sign from the original store that made it possible for my father to become involved in theatre will now grace the venue that is named for him, explained theatre impresario David Mirvish.

"I'm sure he would be delighted to see two of his great passions — Honest Ed's, which in many ways was a theatrical setting for a grand parade of humanity, and the theatre world, which he loved — finally be joined together." Mirvish added.

The fate of the site that had been home to Honest Ed's for 68 years — which was sold to developer Westbank back in 2013 — has been a hot topic of debate in the city, with calls to preserve the building as a heritage site and concerns about the fate of the bright orange sign.

Earlier this year, Westbank submitted revisions to the plan for the site, which will be home to apartment towers and retail space. The new batch of revisions included plans to save more heritage buildings and to develop a larger public park.

At this point, 23 of the 27 listed heritage buildings on the site, which is bordered by Bathurst Street, Markham Street, Bloor Street and Lennox Street and also includes some parts of the west side of Markham Street, will be saved. The park is set to be 1,150 square metres. 

​The installation of the Honest Ed sign at the Ed Mirvish Theatre still has to be approved by the city, but it is hoped the sign will be in place before the end of the year.

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