The Robert Barron Building, today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, is located at 728 Yonge St (at Charles St W on the southwest corner) in the Bay Cloverhill neighbourhood of Toronto.
Built in 1889 for Scottish-born grocer Robert Barron, architect GW Gouinlock designed the three-storey red brick building. At the time it was constructed, the building was worth an estimated $7,000. Mr Barron continued to purchase properties near his original building. One was the property just south at 726 Yonge St, which became his fish store.
The Architecture of the Robert Barron Building
Some of the heritage attributes include:
- The round-arched design, along with the complex brick detailing, is influenced by Romanesque Revival architecture.
- The cast iron columns on the storefront.
- On the building’s northeast corner, there’s an angled edge along with an oriel window with a rounded arch opening on the second floor and a single window with a blind arch and decorative brickwork on the third floor.
- On the third floor of the Yonge St side, there are two sets of three flat-head windows that also feature blind arches and ornamental brickwork.
- The building is topped with an ornate parapet.
The Stable Complex
Mr Barron also bought 81 St Nicholas St, to the rear of the grocery store. In 1895 and 1911, he again hired GW Gouinlock to design the store’s stable complex. Classical in style, the two-storey stable building is clad with red brick and has metal, brick and stone trim. Along the top of the west facade, there’s a yellow brick diamond and cross pattern. Another architectural relic of that time is a piece of wood from the former pulley system over the hayloft door.
Mr Gouinlock was the architect behind some of the beautiful heritage buildings at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. They include the Horticultural Building and the Ontario Government Building. He also designed the North Wing of the Legislative Building at Queen’s Park.
When Robert Barron passed away in 1912, his son George and other family members continued to operate the grocery store. In the 1930s, the grocery store became a Dominion Food Market.
In 1947, Carl Cole purchased Mr Barron’s original building. Along with his brother Jack, they opened a second-hand book shop which later became Coles Books. In late 1978, the company was sold to Southam Press.
The Robert Barron Building Today
The Robert Barron Building received heritage status from the city in 1974. Since the mid-1990s, the historic building has been home to Shoppers Drug Mart.
Robert Barron Building Photos
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 728 Yonge St
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 81 St Nicholas St
- Ontario Heritage Trust: 728 Yonge St
- Ontario Heritage Trust: 81 St Nicholas St
- City of Toronto Heritage Property Research and Evaluation Report #78922 (March 2015): 720 Yonge St
- Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives & Peter MacCallum