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RSS FeedsEdward Keenan: Is there any entertainment left in the Entertainment District?
(The Star Books)


21 july 2019 19:01:52

Edward Keenan: Is there any entertainment left in the Entertainment District?
(The Star Books)

Cards on the table here: I don’t have a bank of fond memories of Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant. The place opened in 1993, the same year the greatest hockey player who ever lived, my childhood hero, high-sticked Doug Gilmour and then scored a goal to end the Leafs’ greatest run of my lifetime, and then didn’t even have the decency to go win the Stanley Cup afterwards. I was bitter about it then and I’m bitter about it now and maybe it poisoned me on Gretzky and his memorabilia-filled sports bar. I’ve been a few times. It was fine, I guess.But when it was announced this week that it will be closing next year to make way for condo construction — along with the Second City theatre and improv school that shares its building — a friend and colleague pointed out that it has been among the last holdouts of a time I can still get misty about. Gather ’round, children, and I’ll tell you about the days when the neighbourhood we call the Entertainment District still had entertainment in it. It’s an era that’s mostly gone — the big movie theatre on Richmond is scheduled to close, too — and I’ll be darned if I have to wait until Hooters turns out the lights to mark the occasion.Before, it was Clubland.Well, even before that, it was an industrial district. In between, it could seem to this city that it was nothing at all. You had the Queen West strip, which has been the Queen West strip for a long, long time (gentrifying and losing beloved bars every decade), and the theatre strip along King near Simcoe, but in between, in the blocks along Richmond and Adelaide and Wellington between University and Spadina, a wanderer in the 1980s and early 1990s found big abandoned warehouses between some single-family homes. How deserted did it feel right next to the Financial District and the rest of downtown? Well, as I’ve written before, in 1993, an enterprising heritage architect could buy the fou ...
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