Still an unmistakable Toronto presence at the southwest corner of Bloor and Bathurst, Honest Ed's has been shuttered since the end of December, with Mirvish Village's smaller retailers following suit towards the end of January. Fencing now surrounds the former homes of neighbourhood stalwarts like the Victory Café, Neurotica Records, and The Beguiling, as Ed's itself sits dispiritingly vacant behind those walls of puns and lightbulbs. But while it may be empty, it's not gone just yet... 

November 2015, Honest Ed's in brighter days, image by UT Flickr Contributor A GrNovember 2015, Honest Ed's in brighter days, image by UT Flickr Contributor A Great Capture

From February 23-26, the legendary department store will come alive one last time, hosting a farewell event series called Toronto for Everyone (TO4E). Organized by the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), the four-day initiative will fleetingly transform the 160,000 ft² space, combining a one-of-a-kind party with a diverse selection of community-oriented and artistic programming. Part art exhibit, part community hub, part marketplace, and part party, the varied programming will unfold over the course of a late February weekend, kicking off with the 'Ed Lives!' cocktail gala on Thursday February 23rd. 

Beginning on Friday, February 24th, TO4E's three main events will take place over the course of three days. The 'Amazement' interactive art maze will offer a multidisciplinary labyrinth of art, performance, and beer tasting, letting Torontoninans "get lost one last time." Artists will re-make space will be over the course of a week, taking full advantage of the unique venue. Meanwhile, the 'Good Buys and Goodbyes' marketplace will pay homage to the iconic retailer through a bargain sale, bringing together a wealth of local flea markets, urban growers, and bazaars. 

The event overview, image via TO4EThe event overview, image via TO4E

Alongside the marketplace and maze, the three-day 'Town Hall for All' community hub delivers an eclectic platform for discourse. The community dialogues will cover a wealth of topics ranging from bike lanes to homelessness, youth activism, tech, and retail. T04E's community hub will also feature a number of performances and panel discussions, as well as a Jane's Walk. Like the marketplace, the community hub events are free, though registration is required. 

Taking over a retailer space that offered an affordable and uncommonly welcoming environment for newcomers and Torontonians of all socio-economic stripes, inclusivity is appropriately a pillar of TO4E. Barring part of the 'Amazement' exhibit, most elements of the three-day event series are fully accessible, with an inclusivity committee also established to ensure that the artists, presenters, and participants reflect a wide range of backgrounds and lived experiences.  

Finally, the action-packed weekend will be accented by a marquee party on the night of Saturday, February 25th. The 'Bargain Bash!' farewell party will showcase everything from Afro-Brazilian drumming to soca, reggae, and what's being described as a 'speakeasy dance party.' Spread out across three floors, the massive party is being billed as "a night made for the history books." With the complex destined for demolition, the history books aren't far away...

Closing up shop, image by Stefan NovakovicClosing up shop, image by Stefan Novakovic

Set to be re-made as a new rental community by Vancouver-based developer Westbank Corp., the Honest Ed's site awaits a dramatic transformation. The four-day TO4E offers the last opportunity for members of the public to say goodbye before Mirvish Village changes forever. But it promises to be more than a party. In a rapidly changing city simultaneously on the verge of global eminence and a crisis of affordability and inequality, it's also an opportunity to engage with city-building at a grassroots level. And for one last time, it's an opportunity to score a bargain.

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The CSI event is sponsored by a variety of local organizations and businesses, with a full lists of partners available on the official website. More information—as well as registration and tickets—is also now available on the site, together with a full overview of the programme.