Corktown: Past, Present and Future

Aug 10, 2017

Corktown is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city of Toronto, thought to have derived its name from the fact that, in the 1800s, many of the residents were Irish emigrants hailing from County Cork in the south of Ireland. Today, it is an increasingly vibrant and popular area with a spate of new restaurants, stores and cafes, as well as exciting real estate developments in the area. However, for all the changes, Corktown is an area that still retains its original character littered with historical architecture, including streets packed full of 19th century row housing. From St Paul’s Basilica – Toronto’s first Catholic parish, dating back to 1822 – to the city’s first “free” school” on 106 Trinity Street erected in 1848, the area is steeped with history. The iconic bank of Nova Scotia building constructed in 1913 lies on the corner of Queen and Church Street with the Metropolitan United Church nearby. Other architecture of interest is outlined in a map below.

downing street map of corktown toronto

1.      St Paul’s Basilica, 83 Power Street.

2.      Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, 106 Trinity Street.

3.      QRC East, 111 Queen Street East.

4.      Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen Street East.

5.      Berkley Street Wesleyan Methodist Church, 317 Queen Street East.

6.      Richard Bigley Building, 98 Queen Street East.

7.      319 Queen Street East.

8.      Bank of Nova Scotia, 79 Queen Street East.

downing street corktown blog post

However, for all it’s history, there is also a refreshing influx of new design sweeping through this area of the city, ensuring a transformation into a vibrant 21st century community. Downing Street recently acquired one of the areas most recognizable landmarks – the Marty Millionaire building. Ultimately sold to WE (formerly Free The Children), 2017 has been a year of transformation for the iconic project -with a it’s characteristic kitschy veneer being restored to it’s historic beauty as the usage shifts from eclectic furniture store to Global Learning Centre for the international development charity.

Continuing the resurgence of design in the area is the proposed development at 187 Parliament Street. The architectural fabric of Corktown consists of a layering of several heritage styles, including prominent examples of Georgian and Victorian design. This new development finds its inspiration from the Victorian era industrial context of the Corktown neighbourhood with masonry cladding, stone banding and punch windows, fused with the Chicago School style of industrial and warehouse buildings found along areas such as Spadina Avenue on the west side of the city. The Chicago style can be characterized by the large expanses of glazing that creates a grid pattern along facades, creating a texturized exterior while maximizing the potential for natural light. By merging these two design styles, the building both acknowledges historical precedent and integrates the new building into the fabric of the Corktown community. The development will consist of a four storey base containing retail space on the first level and office space from levels two to four with unique live/work units from levels five to twelve. 

Learn more about Downing Street investments and upcoming real estate and development projects here. For more information, please contact Marc Canale
Tel: 416.248.6206 Ext. 267


Back to the top