For decades, the Honest Ed’s sign lit up the Annex and — although the store is permanently closed — part of the iconic sign could be given a new lease on life.
Mirvish Productions announced on Wednesday that part of the sign may be moved to the Ed Mirvish Theatre.
David Mirvish feels that adding the sign, which stands 30 feet tall by 60 feet wide, to the theatre tells the story of his family.
“It tells a story of how we started and how we were in a corner of Bloor and Bathurst in a little store and eventually we ended up with four theatres and doing business all over the world,” he explained.
“I think it’s a good Canadian story and hopefully other people recognize the opportunities that there are here.”
Mirvish admitted he was trying to be objective, not nostalgic, when discussions began about the future of the sign. But it was the people of Toronto who swayed his decision to give it a new life.
“At first I thought, ‘We’ll move on.’ But the more I thought about it, I thought it really would be wonderful to keep it,” he said.
“People were so warm and supportive as we closed the store. They bought our hand-painted signs as memories, they came in and told me great stories about my parents … I guess I turned to mush.”
The installation of the sign has to be approved by Toronto City Council.
If approved, the sign will be installed outside the theatre on Victoria Street near Yonge-Dundas Square.
But taking down the iconic sign won’t be an easy feat.
“It has to be taken down very carefully because it’s been there since 1984 and it holds the building up. The sign itself is quite fragile and this part comes in six big sections,” Mirvish said.
Once taken down, the sign would then be taken to a factory where it can be fully restored and the spaces where the dozens of light bulbs once twinkled, would be filled in. At its new location, the sign would be lit from the canopy.
“It’s quite a lot of work,” he said. “I would expect it may take a couple months before we can get it back up there. When we’re ready, we’ll have an event.”
A timeline will be announced for its erection and unveiling following city council’s approval.
The Toronto landmark at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor streets closed on Dec. 31, 2016. Ed Mirvish first opened his store in 1948.
In November, the city unveiled a temporary art installation at Bathurst Station, which included art work and signage inspired by the massive discount store’s famous bright red, yellow and blue hand-painted signs.