This week's Then and Now turns the clock back to 1960, when Modernist design and suburban expansion were shaping the municipalities surrounding what was then a much smaller Toronto. A view of the Bathurst and Lawrence intersection, then on the border between North York and Toronto, looked northwest from an Esso gas station on the southeast corner towards the 1953-built Lawrence Plaza. The shopping centre was then anchored by Morgan's, which had started out as a Montreal-based department store with locations all over Ontario and Quebec. Morgan's occupied a standalone building fronting the intersection, divided from a lengthy two-storey, L-shaped plaza of retail and offices by a large surface parking lot.
60 years later, and the buildings shown in the photo above remain, but significantly altered. In the foreground, the gas station is still an Esso location, sporting an updated look. In the background, decades of modifications have altered the former department store's Modernist presence over the intersection. Henry Morgan & Company was purchased by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1960, and Morgan's locations across Ontario were rebranded as The Bay in 1964, four years after the photo above was taken. Years later, the building was split in two to become a grocery store under various banners—currently a Metro—and a Winners.
Over the intervening years, many changes have been implemented on the building's exterior. Windows along the Lawrence Avenue frontage have been bricked up, and walkways replaced with grass, eliminating any relationship the building previously had with the intersection. Brick features at grade have been painted over, and all street-fronting entrances are gone in favour of ones facing the parking lot to the north and west, as the surrounding area's car-dependency became evident. Other changes are evident in the background, where taller residential developments now populate Bathurst Street.
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