Friday, 13 November 2009

Two Toronto Addresses

All three of the largest Canadian paperback publishers in the 1940s/early 1950s were Toronto based.

Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada Ltd. and their White Circle imprint were initially at 70 Bond St., then 53 Avenue Road, both central Toronto. The Bond street building is still there - a lovely example of an early office building built in 1910. The Avenue Road address was an old house around the corner from Yorkville Avenue and long gone. Export Publishing Enterprises Ltd. and their News Stand Library imprint were first at 3079 Dundas St. West and then at 240 Birmingham Road in New Toronto, a town then west of Toronto. New Toronto was long ago swallowed by Toronto. The Dundas St. two story building still exists; the New Toronto building burned down in 1950. The last publisher, Harlequin, had offices in Winnipeg and Toronto. The corporate, manufacturing and distribution side was Winnipeg. But the editorial offices were in Toronto on Carlton Street next to Maple Leaf Gardens.  

Nearly all Collins and Harlequin books were reprints of American and British novels. So very few books were original and virtually none were based in Toronto. Export had more originals but again few could be identified with Toronto. However two books announced their Toronto locale with Toronto addresses on the front cover. The first is Raymond Holmes (actually Raymond Souster) and his The Winter of Time.

The street sign says 5?1? Bloor at the corner of Bloor St. West and Lansdowne Ave. The corner exists but the numbering is around 1300. Further research needed to see if the laundry existed.

The other is Hugh Garner's Present Reckoning, White Circle C.D. 517. The address here is 399 Bay St. This is the corner of Bay and Richmond St. West in downtown Toronto. The illustration is accurate because on the left one can clearly see the large flag (Union Jack - this was 15 years before Canada's current flag) covered Simpson's department store at the north-west corner of Yonge St. and Richmond. So the view is looking east from the south-east corner of Bay and Richmond. The store is still there but now part of the Hudson's Bay chain. The sign on the post at left is for King's Highway 2, one of over a hundred King's Highways in Ontario at the time. King's Highway 2 was the major east-west highway through Ontario from Montreal to Detroit. Long superseded by the "401" it was decommissioned in the 1990s. The theatre in the centre is unidentified.

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