Torontonians awoke earlier this week to news that David Mirvish had decided to sell Honest Ed’s, the store founded by his father in 1948 and a Toronto landmark of sorts (featured prominently in the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley). The estimated $100 million dollar property was to include the 160,000 square foot retail store as well as 190,000 square feet of additional property.
Comics aficionados perked up — what does this mean for THE BEGUILING (Harry Kremer and Will Eisner Award Winning retailer) and the affiliate store LITTLE ISLAND COMICS? Both are located on land adjacent to the Honest Ed’s property. Not only that, but older fans will know the area has ties to the comics community that go back to the late 1960’s.
The building that houses the Beguiling is part of the $100 Million land package currently up for sale.
This morning, the Toronto Star confirmed that the 190,000 square feet of additional property does include all of the properties known as Mirvish Village – a series of mostly Victorian era homes that have subsidized rents to arts based businesses and studio spaces for working artists.
Graphic Courtesy of the Toronto Star.
David Mirvish indicated in the Star article that the existing tenants would have about 3 years to relocate.
Little Island Comics – Photo by Matt Demers, by way of the Torontoist blog
While this is not unusual in Toronto – Silver Snail had to relocate from it’s traditional home on Queen Street last year when the building it was in was sold to developers some years prior, and Dragon Lady Comics closed in early 2012 when rising rent was enough of a discouragement for that business’ owner to call it a day (although the new comics side of the business transitioned to the Comic Book Lounge just east of the old location). Even One Million Comix has had to make a couple of jumps over the years, having occupied three different store fronts in 2 decades.
However what is unfortunate is that with the sale of Mirvish Village, Toronto loses an area with strong ties to the comics community that has been virtually preserved since the 1960’s.
Mirvish Village was the home to Canada’s first comic book store MEMORY LANE, established by “Captain” George Henderson in 1967. Memory Lane at 594 Markham Street would survive in the area for almost two decades. The shop closed just prior to Henderson’s passing in 1992.
Mirvish Village was home to one of Canada’s first comic book conventions, THE TRIPLE FAN FAIR in 1968, which included a visit from Marvel Comics spokesman Stan “the Man” Lee and a Tarzan exhibit.
The second Toronto Comic Arts Festival was held in the large parking lot adjacent to Honest Ed’s Alley (behind the Beguiling) in 2005.
Little Island Comics (on Bathurst Street) occupies space that used to be the home of YESTERDAY’S HEROES, which closed in 2010.
As they say in the comics, to be continued….