Banner photo is of 237-243 Queen St E in 2013. Photo by K Taylor.
Distracted by the prospect of a hot sandwich at the Schnitzel Queen – and who wouldn’t be – you could almost miss the curious building that houses the restaurant and the neighbouring beauty supply.
Nestled between Sherbourne and a little alley named McFarren’s Lane, 237-243 Queen St. E. is of a brick breed most rare these days. Stand back a little ways to admire the stained glass windows, dormers and decorative shutters and you stand before the flour and feed store opened by Andrew McFarren in 1870. This was not the first home of his business, as he had kept shop on King Street for twenty years prior, but this would be where he settled to ride out the rest of his years.
Having come to Toronto from Ireland in 1847, when he was just 21 years old, he spent his first working years here as a teacher; a year in a classroom above the Golden Lion Hotel on Yonge Street and another way out in Scarborough. But the feed and flour world beckoned and he set up what must’ve been quite a tidy business. When he first moved his store north to Queen Street, the alley that rambles south of his storefront was called Walker’s Lane; today it is named for the man himself.
NOTE: I originally wrote this piece in August 2013 for Paperthawalls. I’m sorry to say that the future is not looking bright for this wonderful old building. Over the past winter both businesses (and I suspect tenants) have been evicted. The store fronts are now completely boarded up and the windows above darkened. I’m afraid the next step will include demolition and the raising of yet another glass tower. Fingers crossed I’m wrong this time.