mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Wrætlic is þes wealstan, wyrde gebræcon

'Wondrous the wallstone; the fates broke it down.'

OK, yes, I'm glad those little houses tucked around the corner on Sultan St won't be torn down when the next godless highrise goes up. Those houses are invisible from anywhere but the other side of Sultan St, which is a one and a half block long street with cul-de-sacs at both ends. East of St Thomas it's stopped by the buildings on Bay; the west half-block is cut short by Victoria U's playing fields and the back drive/ entrance to TO's first mixed use downtown apartment conglomerate, the Colonnade. It's a tiny end of the world where cars have to edge to pass each other, and it was until recently a lovely little backwater of the past. A friend lived on Sultan in the late 60s; round the corner on St Thomas was Le Provencal, one of the first and best French restaurants; Theatre Books still sits on the corner in one of the old houses. (And I wish I could remember where they were before then.) After Yorkville went super-rich and the Gerrard St village vanished, this was the only place I could get a hint of what 40s and 50s Toronto had felt like when there was an art and literature scene among people who weren't, then, rich or famous-- Morley Callaghan, Albert Franck, Marshall McLuhan, Northrop Frye.

But as you see from the illustration, the development already has a monster condo complex in worst faux-Palladian Georgian style sitting right back of it, destroying the north side of Charles St east of St. Thomas St while another destroys it to the west. (The one mentioned in the article, that took out several heritage houses.) Meanwhile a third is going up to dominate the south side of Charles and the whole Vic campus. And what's not said is that all the condos in this area are luxury-- $700,000 to 2.5 million. My heart is not bleeding for the developer who's had to wait to put up his six storeys; nor for the shills who'll pay through the nose to look at their neighbours' windows; but my heart bleeds a little for friendly homey Charles and St Thomas streets, with their brick buildings and trees and small presses and undergrads, that is now all vast stone frontage and no people anywhere.

(Of course memory doesn't preserve all things. I just discovered an old postcard online showing Le Provencal's 60s' decor. And yes, I guess it did look like that. Oh dear.)
Tags: place, rl

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