Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Canary Restaurant/Then and Now

The iconic Canary Restaurant as shot by Bill Wrigley.
The sign has been salvaged and can be found in a warehouse on Wabash Av in Parkdale. Originally built as a school more info can be found below.

The Palace Street School at Front and Cherry Street (1858) is the oldest multi-room school house in Toronto. At the time Cherry Street was called Palace Street and this area was considered "downtown". Fern Street in Parkdale was called Cherry Street.
The red square outlines the original school and the blue outline a later addition known as the Palace Street Hotel.

A well preserved interior classroom window.
The boys entrance.

This view shows the Hotel addition that for many years was known as the Canary Restaurant. These buildings are all owned by the Provincial Government and will be used in the upcoming Pan Am Games.
Looking into the empty hotel a safe can be seen at the back. Legend has it that bootleg whiskey was stored here during prohibition, before being smuggled south of the border. For more detailed information on the Palace Street School click here.

The Canary.
This school on Alice Street, built in 1862, is strikingly similar in design to the Palace School.
Alice Street is no more but it did run east west between Yonge and Terauley (Bay) south of Agnes street (now Dundas).


  1. I think I had an egg-salad sandwich here in the 80s. Don't they (didn't they) use the facade for a lot of film work? I guess they'll rip it down for the games.

  2. The food was dubious at best... And yes there was a lot of filming in that area over the years. I don't think it will be torn down even though everything else around it has been demolished.

  3. Eating at the Canary was a rite of passage, of sorts, for local retrophiles - an unsavoury one, to be sure. I was wondering where the sign ended up - all of the renderings of the West Donlands project I've seen feature the building intact, sporting the sign - are there plans to refurbish it and put it back, or is that all just an architectural firm's flight of fancy?

  4. The signs from the canary are hanging in Addisons salvage on wabash avenue. That place needs to be seen to be believed

  5. The Signs in Toronto at almost all the old building like the Canary are incredible.

  6. This was in a Kids in the Hall Scene from Hoopla.

  7. The Yellow Canary used to have three red four foot coca cola buttons up there which we took down around 1981. Sorry to see a part of my past disappearing.

  8. worked down the street at a freight comp. went there everyday for lunch. greasy burgers and greasy fries.mm

    1. I remember you. andy, from northern ont. I think the year was 74

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  10. Remember Chris and his brother ran the place. Dorothy would yell your order from your table to the grill where Tom would cook, rather than waste time walking over to drop your order ticket. Toasted honey bun, hot hamburger, toast was buttered with a basting brush, anyone else remember this? Bathroom was at your own risk. I worked at Ace Boxes a couple of doors down the street at the railway tracks and later hauled fuel for Gulf where we would all start our shifts at the Canary, tankers parked in a long line on Front Street. The Canary was if not classy, in the right place for all of the businesses in the area. Customers from H.W. Bacon who were the Canad Post contractor, Union Felt next door, and so many others. Considering the architecture and the history of the building it is nice to think that this place will probably outlive most of us. Nostalgic memories for many I'd venture to guess.