Ghosts Signs of Toronto
By Stephan Petar
Saturday, May 6
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Theme: Arts and Culture, Architecture and Urban Planning, History and Community.
Accessibility: Stairs or other barriers, Breaks encouraged, Busy sidewalks, Dog-friendly walk, Family-friendly walk, There are slow inclines in the area. There is a 10 minute stretch that will take us on a busy sidewalk. To get into the Junction Triangle, if allowed, I recommend going through the Bloor GO station for elevator access.
Get ready to hunt for ghosts and hear some ghost stories! Well…kind of! Have you heard of ghost signs? Back in the late 1800s and up to the 1960s they were a popular form of advertising. These hand-painted advertisements were once vibrant and now they slowly fade from existence. Your tour guide, Stephan Petar, is the creator of @GhostsOfCanada an Instagram documenting this type of signage since 2019. His account has over 200 signs feature and is based off a 2016 Heritage Toronto Awards winning essay on the topic.
On this tour, we’ll go in search of ghost signs, learn about their history, the history of the buildings they occupy, the area and the advertising techniques they used. Come and learn about the advertising medium and hear stories of entrepreneurship and community.
We’ll start at Sorauren Park to talk about The Canada Linseed Oil Mills Limited Company, it strategic positioning and how it brought other businesses to the area. We’ll head to Robert Watson Lofts to discuss its sweet and musical history, then head to Morrow Avenue to see a sign and hear and actual ghost story about former employee. Heading up Dundas to Bloor we’ll see some non-traditional ghost signs and some street level signs. We’ll walk towards the Wallace Pedestrian Bridge to see two signs – one for Ideal Aluminum Products Limited and another for an undecipherable sign…though I have a few theories. We head into the Junction Triangle to speak about the area and end the tour at MOCA/Henderson Brewing, which lives in a building where ghost signs have been restored.
Walk Start Location: Roncesvalles x Junction Triangle. Meet at Sorauren Park (Sorauren and Wabash). Take the 505 or 506 to the Sorauren Avenue stop and walk south.
I'll be wearing a neon pink baseball hat and have a sign.
Walk End Location: MOCA/Henderson Brewing (Sterling Road)