Honest Ed’s – The Landmark Discount Store Once in Toronto

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1960s – Looking southwest towards Honest Ed's between Bloor St W and Markham St in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto
1960s – Looking southwest towards Honest Ed’s between Bloor St W and Markham St in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 465)

Honest Ed’s was located at 581 Bloor St W (between Bathurst St and Markham St) in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto.

Ed Mirvish & His Beloved Store

The discount shopping landmark was opened in 1948 by Ed and Anne Mirvish. Starting with one store near the corner of Bloor St W and Bathurst St, the family acquired several properties along Bloor, eventually occupying a city block. The store was constructed using existing homes and buildings, which made it a maze to walk through.

There’s no place….like this place….anyplace!!!

2014 – Looking southeast towards Honest Ed’s in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto
2014 – Looking southeast towards Honest Ed’s in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto (iStock.com/Artist: mikeinlondon)

Along with giving free turkeys away at Christmas and Thanksgiving, Ed was known for his marketing stunts like loss-leader bargains. The store was also known for the hand-painted posters with funny slogans, including:

  • “Don’t just stand there!!! Buy something!”
  • “Come in and get lost.”
  • “Honest Ed is for the birds!!! Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!”
  • “Honest Ed’s a flop! But his prices will make you flip!”

Along with being a philanthropist, Ed Mirvish was also a patron of the theatre operating the Royal Alexandra, Princess of Wales, Ed Mirvish and CAA Theatres. Also a restaurateur, Mr Mirvish ran several restaurants on King St West, including Ed’s Warehouse. It was said that when Ed restored the beautiful Royal Alex Theatre, he started rejuvenating what we know today as the Entertainment District.

Ed Mirvish passed away in 2007. Honest Ed’s continued to operate for 68 years and closed on December 31, 2016.

Mirvish Village Today

January 7, 2023 – Mirvish Village Condo construction at the southwest corner of Bathurst St and Bloor St W, once home to Honest Ed's
January 7, 2023 – Mirvish Village Condo construction at the southwest corner of Bathurst St and Bloor St W, once home to Honest Ed’s

In 2013, the property was sold to Westbank Corp. The real estate development company is building Mirvish Village Condos. It will be a rental-only development with 800+ units and is expected to be completed in 2023.

On Bathurst St, just north of Bloor St W, there’s a parkette dedicated to Ed and Anne Mirvish.

Part of the iconic Honest Ed’s sign is being refurbished, and there are plans to install it at the back doors of the Ed Mirvish Theatre on Victoria St. The sign had over 23,000 bulbs.

Honest Ed’s Photos

2014 - Honest Ed’s in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto
2014 – Honest Ed’s in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto (iStock.com/Artist: benedek)
Between 1983 and 1989 – Looking southeast towards Honest Ed's from Bloor St W and Markham St in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. The discount shopping landmark was opened in 1948 by Ed and Anne Mirvish
Between 1983 and 1989 – Looking southeast towards Honest Ed’s from Bloor St W and Markham St in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. The discount shopping landmark was opened in 1948 by Ed and Anne Mirvish (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, File 515, Item 3)
1960s – Looking southwest towards Honest Ed's between Bloor St W and Markham St in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto
1960s – Looking southwest towards Honest Ed’s between Bloor St W and Markham St in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 465)
2014 – Looking southeast towards Honest Ed’s at night in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto
2014 – Looking southeast towards Honest Ed’s at night in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto (iStock.com/Artist: mikeinlondon)
2014 – A view down Honest Ed's Alley at night in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto
2014 – A view down Honest Ed’s Alley at night in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto (iStock.com/Artist: mikeinlondon)
Between 1983 and 1989 – Looking southwest towards Honest Ed's at Bloor St W and Bathurst St in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. The sign had over 23,000 bulbs
Between 1983 and 1989 – Looking southwest towards Honest Ed’s at Bloor St W and Bathurst St in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. The sign had over 23,000 bulbs (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1465, File 515, Item 11)
2014 – Looking southeast towards Honest Ed’s in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto
2014 – Looking southeast towards Honest Ed’s in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto (iStock.com/Artist: mikeinlondon)
Circa 1960 - Looking west on Bloor St W from Bathurst St towards Honest Ed's on the right and the Alhambra Theatre on the left
Circa 1960 – Looking west on Bloor St W from Bathurst St towards Honest Ed’s on the right and the Alhambra Theatre on the left (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 100, Item 263)
April 16, 2023 – Looking west from Bathurst St along Bloor St W in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. Mirvish Village Condos, an 800+ unit rental-only development, is being constructed on the site that was once home to Honest Ed's
April 16, 2023 – Looking west from Bathurst St along Bloor St W in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. Mirvish Village Condos, an 800+ unit rental-only development, is being constructed on the site that was once home to Honest Ed’s
November 17, 1944 – Looking southwest toward Bloor St W between Bathurst St and Markham St. The photo shows the Santa Claus Parade passing by Peter's Lunch, Fuller's Ladies,  Shop, Witkin Optical Co and other shops, which would become the location of Honest Ed's
November 17, 1944 – Looking southwest toward Bloor St W between Bathurst St and Markham St. The photo shows the Santa Claus Parade passing by Peter’s Lunch, Fuller’s Ladies, Shop, Witkin Optical Co and other shops, which would become the location of Honest Ed’s (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 93437)
December 20, 2006 -  Chris McCarthy on police horse Honest Ed at Bathurst St and Bloor St W
December 20, 2006 – Chris McCarthy on police horse Honest Ed at Bathurst St and Bloor St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 540, Item 254)
2022 – The Mirvish Village plaque photo was taken during the construction of the Mirvish Village Condo at the southwest corner of Bathurst St and Bloor St W.
2022 – The Mirvish Village plaque photo was taken during the construction of the Mirvish Village Condo at the southwest corner of Bathurst St and Bloor St W. The site was once home to Honest Ed’s
Circa 1982 – Looking northeast from Markham St in Mirvish Village towards Honest Ed's
Circa 1982 – Looking northeast from Markham St in Mirvish Village towards Honest Ed’s (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 50, Item 5)
Between 1983 and 1985 – Looking southeast towards Honest Ed's from Markham St just south of Bloor St W in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto
Between 1983 and 1985 – Looking southeast towards Honest Ed’s from Markham St just south of Bloor St W in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 514, Item 20)
Circa 1982 – On Markham St between Bloor St W and Lennox St in Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto
Circa 1982 – On Markham St between Bloor St W and Lennox St in Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 6, Item 11)
2019 - Honest Ed's mural by Mike Moism on David French Ln
2019 – Honest Ed’s mural by Mike Moism on David French Ln
2021– The heritage plaque reads:

The Ed & Anne Mirvish Parkette

Humanitarians, Retail Innovators, Arts Advocates

"Ed and Anne Mirvish, two of Toronto's most beloved and celebrated citizens were married in 1941 and through a strong commitment to family, enjoyed 66 years of marriage. Ed (Honest Ed), an entrepreneur and Anne, an artist and performer supported, encouraged and inspired each other and with their generous human spirit became a strong driving force in the support of community, the arts, worthy causes and entrepreneurial endeavours.

Together, they founded Honest Ed's in 1948, Canada's first discount retail store at Bloor and Bathurst Streets, one of Toronto's most recognized landmarks, rescued Toronto's historic Alexandra Theatre from demolition in 1962, created a theatrical renaissance in Toronto, pioneered Toronto's vibrant entertainment district, and developed Mirvish Village-Art Colony.

At Honest Ed's store they hosted two long-time traditions in the city of Toronto: Ed's annual and free public birthday parties, attended by thousands, and the giving of free turkeys to thousands of families at Christmas time.

On the day of Ed Mirvish's funeral, July 13, 2007, the lights of Broadway in New York were dimmed; the first ever such honour given to a Canadian.”

Through Their Passion, Vision And Dedication, They Created A Lasting Legacy In The City Of Toronto Which Has Enriched The Lives Of The Citizens Of Toronto And Visitors Alike.

Mayor David Miller, Toronto City Council on behalf of the People of Toronto in Gratitude and Appreciation Dedicated this Parkette September 22, 2008

The plaque is located on Bathurst St, just north of Bloor St W
2021– The heritage plaque reads:

The Ed & Anne Mirvish Parkette – Humanitarians, Retail Innovators, Arts Advocates

“Ed and Anne Mirvish, two of Toronto’s most beloved and celebrated citizens were married in 1941 and through a strong commitment to family, enjoyed 66 years of marriage. Ed (Honest Ed), an entrepreneur and Anne, an artist and performer supported, encouraged and inspired each other and with their generous human spirit became a strong driving force in the support of community, the arts, worthy causes and entrepreneurial endeavours.

Together, they founded Honest Ed’s in 1948, Canada’s first discount retail store at Bloor and Bathurst Streets, one of Toronto’s most recognized landmarks, rescued Toronto’s historic Alexandra Theatre from demolition in 1962, created a theatrical renaissance in Toronto, pioneered Toronto’s vibrant entertainment district, and developed Mirvish Village-Art Colony.

At Honest Ed’s store they hosted two long-time traditions in the city of Toronto: Ed’s annual and free public birthday parties, attended by thousands, and the giving of free turkeys to thousands of families at Christmas time.

On the day of Ed Mirvish’s funeral, July 13, 2007, the lights of Broadway in New York were dimmed; the first ever such honour given to a Canadian.”

Through Their Passion, Vision And Dedication, They Created A Lasting Legacy In The City Of Toronto Which Has Enriched The Lives Of The Citizens Of Toronto And Visitors Alike.

Mayor David Miller, Toronto City Council on behalf of the People of Toronto in Gratitude and Appreciation Dedicated this Parkette September 22, 2008

The plaque is located on Bathurst St, just north of Bloor St W
2023 – The plaque reads:

"Honest Ed" Mivish, a beloved Torontonian on the occasion of his 90th Birthday

"For his outstanding contributions and service to the city of Toronto and its people. He exemplifies the nobility of the human spirit and has made a difference in many lives.

Mayor David Miller, Toronto City Council and the People of Toronto, in Appreciation and Gratitude hereby dedicate this plaque July 24th, 2004."

The plaque is located at Bloor St W and Bathurst St
2023 – The plaque reads:

“Honest Ed” Mivish, a beloved Torontonian on the occasion of his 90th Birthday “For his outstanding contributions and service to the city of Toronto and its people. He exemplifies the nobility of the human spirit and has made a difference in many lives. Mayor David Miller, Toronto City Council and the People of Toronto, in Appreciation and Gratitude hereby dedicate this plaque July 24th, 2004.”

The plaque is located at Bloor St W and Bathurst St
2009 - Looking southwest towards the corner of Bathurst St and Bloor St W in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. Honest Ed's opened in 1948 and was in that location until December 31, 2016
2009 – Looking southwest towards the corner of Bathurst St and Bloor St W in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. Honest Ed’s opened in 1948 and was in that location until December 31, 2016 (Google Maps)
February 2018 - Looking southwest towards the corner of Bathurst St and Bloor St W in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. Honest Ed's opened in 1948 and was in that location until December 31, 2016
February 2018 – Looking southwest towards the corner of Bathurst St and Bloor St W in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. Honest Ed’s opened in 1948 and was in that location until December 31, 2016 (Google Maps)
June 2021 – Mirvish Village Condo construction at Bathurst St and Bloor St W. The site was once home to Honest Ed's
June 2021 – Mirvish Village Condo construction at Bathurst St and Bloor St W. The site was once home to Honest Ed’s
March 2021 – Mirvish Village Condo construction at Bathurst St and Bloor St W. The site was once home to Honest Ed's
March 2021 – Mirvish Village Condo construction at Bathurst St and Bloor St W. The site was once home to Honest Ed’s
October 16, 2022 – Looking southeast from Bloor St W and Market St towards the construction of the Mirvish Village Condo, once home to Honest Ed's
October 16, 2022 – Looking southeast from Bloor St W and Market St towards the construction of the Mirvish Village Condo, once home to Honest Ed’s
January 7, 2023 – Mirvish Village Condo construction at the southwest corner of Bathurst St and Bloor St W, once home to Honest Ed's
January 7, 2023 – Mirvish Village Condo construction at the southwest corner of Bathurst St and Bloor St W, once home to Honest Ed’s
May 27, 2023 – Looking southwest from Bathurst St and Bloor St W in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. Mirvish Village Condos, an 800+ unit rental-only development, is being constructed on the site that was once home to Honest Ed's
May 27, 2023 – Looking southwest from Bathurst St and Bloor St W in the Mirvish Village neighbourhood of Toronto. Mirvish Village Condos, an 800+ unit rental-only development, is being constructed on the site that was once home to Honest Ed’s
1950 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Anne & Eddie’s ladies wear
1950 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Anne & Eddie’s ladies wear (Toronto Public Library)
1955 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address, and phone number of Honest Ed's Famous Bargain House
1955 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address, and phone number of Honest Ed’s Famous Bargain House (Toronto Public Library)
2018 - An artist rendering looking north to the future Mirvish Village
2018 – An artist rendering looking north to the future Mirvish Village (Henriquez Partners Architects for Westbank Corp)
SOURCE



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