Robert Barron Building – Built in 1889 & Designed by GW Gouinlock

2021 – The Robert Barron Building, once Coles Books and today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, is located at 728 Yonge St and Charles St W on the southwest corner in the Bay Cloverhill neighbourhood
2021 – The Robert Barron Building, once Coles Books and today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, is located at 728 Yonge St and Charles St W on the southwest corner

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.

Barron Groceries

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

Between 1930 and 1935 – Looking south towards the Robert Barron Building, once home to Dominion Food Market at Yonge St and Charles St W
Between 1930 and 1935 – Looking south towards the Robert Barron Building, once home to Dominion Food Market at Yonge St and Charles St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 4138)

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.
1971 - Looking northeast towards the former Robert Barron Stables complex on St Nicholas St, just south of Charles St W. The building received heritage status from the city in 1974
1971 – Looking northeast towards the former Robert Barron Stables complex on St Nicholas St, just south of Charles St W. The building received heritage status from the city in 1974 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 2, Item 33)

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.

1973 – Looking south towards the Robert Barron Building, once home to Coles Book Store at Yonge St and Charles St W
1973 – Looking south towards the Robert Barron Building, once home to Coles Book Store at Yonge St and Charles St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 2, Item 8)

Coles Books

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

Between 1930 and 1935 – Looking south towards the Robert Barron Building, once home to Dominion Food Market at Yonge St and Charles St W
Between 1930 and 1935 – Looking south towards the Robert Barron Building, once home to Dominion Food Market at Yonge St and Charles St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 4138)
2022 - The Robert Barron Building, once Coles Books and today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, is located at 728 Yonge St and Charles St W on the southwest corner in the Bay Cloverhill neighbourhood of Toronto
2022 – The Robert Barron Building, once Coles Books and today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, is located at 728 Yonge St and Charles St W on the southwest corner in the Bay Cloverhill neighbourhood of Toronto
2007 - Looking west towards the Robert Barron Building prior to the structure's restoration. Today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, the heritage building is located at 728 Yonge St and Charles St W in the Bay Cloverhill neighbourhood of Toronto
2007 – Looking west towards the Robert Barron Building prior to the structure’s restoration. Today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, the heritage building is located at 728 Yonge St and Charles St W in the Bay Cloverhill neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1581, Series 2196, Item 12, Peter MacCallum – photographer)
2021 – The Robert Barron Building, once Coles Books and today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, is located at 728 Yonge St and Charles St W on the southwest corner in the Bay Cloverhill neighbourhood
2021 – The Robert Barron Building, once Coles Books and today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, is located at 728 Yonge St and Charles St W on the southwest corner in the Bay Cloverhill neighbourhood
1973 – Looking south towards the Robert Barron Building, once home to Coles Book Store at Yonge St and Charles St W
1973 – Looking south towards the Robert Barron Building, once home to Coles Book Store at Yonge St and Charles St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 2, Item 8)
2021 – Looking west towards the Robert Barron Building, today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, located at 728 Yonge St and Charles St W
2021 – Looking west towards the Robert Barron Building, today home to Shoppers Drug Mart, located at 728 Yonge St and Charles St W
1908 - Robert Barron Groceries at Yonge St and Charles St W, southwest corner. Today the building is home to Shoppers Drug Mart
1908 – Robert Barron Groceries at Yonge St and Charles St W, southwest corner. Today the building is home to Shoppers Drug Mart (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1268, Series 1317, Item 0967)
2021 - Looking southeast on St Nicholas St, just south of Charles St W towards the former Robert Barron Stables complex
2021 – Looking southeast on St Nicholas St, just south of Charles St W towards the former Robert Barron Stables complex
1971 - Looking northeast towards the former Robert Barron Stables complex on St Nicholas St, just south of Charles St W. The building received heritage status from the city in 1974
1971 – Looking northeast towards the former Robert Barron Stables complex on St Nicholas St, just south of Charles St W. The building received heritage status from the city in 1974 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 2, Item 33)
2021 - Looking east towards the former Robert Barron Stables on St Nicholas St, just south of Charles St W
2021 – Looking east towards the former Robert Barron Stables on St Nicholas St, just south of Charles St W
1972 – Looking south on St Nicholas St from Charles St W. The building that was home to the Tree of Life and The Cafe was originally the Robert Barron Stables complex
1972 – Looking south on St Nicholas St from Charles St W. The building that was home to the Tree of Life and The Cafe was originally the Robert Barron Stables complex (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 66, Item 17)
2020 - The former Robert Barron Stables complex at 81 St Nicholas St, just south of Charles St W. The north portion of the building was constructed in 1895, and the south in 1911. Today, the heritage-designated building is a mixed-used structure
2020 – The former Robert Barron Stables complex at 81 St Nicholas St, just south of Charles St W. The north portion of the building was constructed in 1895, and the south in 1911. Today, the heritage-designated building is a mixed-used structure
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