Toronto Loft Conversions

Toronto Loft Conversions

I know classic brick and beam lofts! From warehouses to factories to churches, Laurin will help you find your perfect new loft.

Modern Toronto Lofts

Modern Toronto Lofts

Not just converted lofts, I can help you find the latest cool and modern space. There are tons of new urban spaces across the city.

Unique Toronto Homes

Unique Toronto Homes

More than just lofts, I can also help you find that perfect house. From the latest architectural marvel to a piece of our Victorian past, the best and most creative spaces abound.

Condos in Toronto

Condos in Toronto

I started off selling mainly condos, helping first time buyers get a foothold in the Toronto real estate market. Now working with investors and helping empty nesters find that perfect luxury suite.

Toronto Real Estate

Toronto Real Estate

For all of your Toronto real estate needs, contact Laurin. I am dedicated to helping you find that perfect and unique new home to call your own.


Four Square Blocks: Toronto

Between a Loft and a Hard Place

Julie Lasky – New York Times

First came the manor houses, then the mental hospital, then the stockyards. By the end of the 19th century, the part of Toronto known today as Queen West had had more reversals of fortune than an entire season of “Dallas” (the original or the new version).

That was before industry and immigration billowed in the 20th century, before this neighborhood west of downtown grew seedy and unpredictable, before a gangland double murder was committed in a karaoke bar in 2003.

And long before the poles reversed again, and Queen West became one of the most appealing places in Toronto.

Today, more than a mile of the road called Queen Street West, from Bathurst Street to Gladstone Avenue, has been declared Toronto’s Art and Design District. Exploring this area last month, particularly Queen from Shaw to Dovercourt and north on Ossington Avenue to Argyle, I saw a neighborhood caught between the twin attractions of latte and graffiti. (That comprises more than four blocks, but some of those blocks are so small and irregular as to be better thought of as chips.)

It’s the usual story: In a superheated real estate market, Torontonians are embracing the comforts of specialty shops, farm-to-table cuisine and loft apartments, while regretting the flight of artist-pioneers and the loss of affordable housing. They are drinking microbrews and nurturing their rough patches.

Queen Street West
But despite these clichés of gentrification, the neighborhood is like no other. It has charming exaggerations: a retired Victorian fire station (now a drug treatment facility) with a tower like a pilgrim hat; a boutique called Crywolf selling candles scented with “Canadian” odors like Muskoka campfire and Up North S’mores; a cocktail paraphernalia shop called BYOB with 160 varieties of bitters.

“This is probably the most fertile creative area in the city right now,” said Nelda Rodger, editorial director of Azure, a design magazine she founded in Toronto in 1985.

It is also one of the oldest. In the late 18th century, Queen Street was known as Lot Street, after the narrow 99-acre parcels that John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, bestowed on his military confederates as a way to create a loyal landed aristocracy.

By 1818 a manor house called Brookfield, the estate of the Denison family, stood at the northwest corner of present-day Queen and Ossington, where the Canadian film director Atom Egoyan opened Camera, a screening room and bar, 186 years later. Directly south, the Provincial Lunatic Asylum was opened in 1850 on the current site of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health.

Queen Street Mental Health Centre
As lot owners sold off their lands, and the area became populated and industrialized, the parcels crumbled into small blocks with little coherence. They are “helter skelter,” said Benj Hellie, the spokesman for the Ossington Community Association, which has pushed to have the neighborhood declared a heritage conservation district. In his proposal, Mr. Hellie, who is also a philosophy professor at the University of Toronto, described cattle being driven from Ossington along tiny Bruce Street in the 19th century on their way to the slaughterhouse.

The application for heritage status was recently turned down, Mr. Hellie said, on the grounds that the district was “not sufficiently intact.” In some ways, his proposal can be read as a memorial to the many neighborhood buildings that have been demolished and the historical layers buried. The oldest existing structures he identified on Ossington appear to date from no earlier than 1871. One is a modest shingled house at No. 91, now home of Crywolf.

Still, the neighborhood throbs with historical echoes. Not two blocks north of Bruce Street, where cattle marched to their doom, is Côte de Boeuf, a butcher that provides meat to Union restaurant, a sister business at 72 Ossington. The Candy Factory Lofts, on the south side of Queen, east of Shaw, is a relic of local industry, as is the 1970s former textile factory that houses the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, or Mocca, diagonally northwest.

Candy Factory Lofts
Ms. Rodger dates the area’s revival from the Candy Factory (1999-2000), one of Toronto’s first loft conversions. (The mid-naughts renovations of the Drake and Gladstone Hotels farther west on Queen were also important catalysts, she said.) But residential real estate development also poses threats to the neighborhood fabric. Soon – the date is uncertain – Mocca’s building will be demolished to make way for luxury condos. David Liss, Mocca’s artistic director, said his lease ends in June of next year. He declined to say where the museum may go after that, but hinted that the neighborhood had grown too expensive for it to remain there.

At the same time, the Ossington Community Association fought to prevent a condo loft development at 109 Ossington from rising to its proposed six stories. The group succeeded only in reducing the 70.5-foot height by about five feet and in halving the 10,800 square feet of ground floor space designated for commercial use, to discourage occupancy by a big-box store. The project, 109OZ, hasn’t yet broken ground; the few available apartments are still being sold through a brightly painted presentation center, a former auto body shop on the site, where concerts and parties have been staged to lure young buyers. Renderings show a lobby painted in a variety of hot colors and strung with pendant lamps like a line of fringe.

Mr. Liss does not appear to be perturbed by these circumstances, possibly because he sees his museum as contributing to the change. Art has made Queen West more magnetic and now everyone is piling on. “Culture,” he said, “is the shock troops of gentrification.”

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.


Four Square Blocks: Queen Street West in Toronto
Article Name
Four Square Blocks: Queen Street West in Toronto
Today, more than a mile of the road called Queen Street West, from Bathurst Street to Gladstone Avenue, has been declared Toronto's Art and Design District.