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NEWS: Ten Editions Bookstore calls it a day (Spring 2019)

April 23rd, 2019 · No Comments

Heritage designation of building does not extend to its occupants

By Lena Sanz Tovar 

Ten Editions, a beloved book store at 698 Spadina Avenue, has officially closed after 35 years. The University of Toronto is set to begin its newest residence-building project at the site, and many community members are feeling bittersweet. 

Open since 1984, the bookstore was named after the owner’s ten children – her “ten editions”. The eccentric and romantic vibe of the store has drawn in people from many walks of life, including Ryerson University film students and McDonald’s advertising teams hoping to shoot in the store. After the passing of her mother, Susan Duff took over the store and has been the primary operator for approximately thirty years. 

“My family is all around this place,” she says. “My sister wrote the history of the store on the wall. My nephews did the artwork on the wall at the front of the store. It’s always been a very family affair.”

The Harbord Village Residents’ Association (HVRA) and others in the community have long fought alongside Duff against the store’s closure.  

“No one I’ve spoken with wants the store to close, but bookstores are closing,” says Duff. “You would expect an institution of higher learning to protect one a bit.”

Nearly a decade ago, the University of Toronto purchased the property. Sometime after the purchase the university expressed interest in redeveloping the land. The proposed site will consist of a new student residence, faculty housing, and a coffee shop that will serve as a place where U of T students and members of the community can gather. According to Duff, however, Ten Editions has acted as a gathering place in the Annex throughout its operation. 

“At every meeting we ever went to someone in the audience would say, ‘Well, what about the bookstore? We want to keep the bookstore,’” says Duff. Ten Editions, a staple of the neighbourhood, had been a place where community members gathered and socialized. 

For five years the community has attempted to save the store and the building together, but as the new plans for the U of T residence proves, only the structure of the building will be preserved as a heritage site under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act.

A site is considered for heritage designation based on the cultural heritage value of the building’s physical attributes. Though current and past occupants of the sites considered for heritage designation may be mentioned in heritage impact assessments, their occupancy is not part of the criteria used to designate a building as a heritage site. 

While this project will help address housing challenges for U of T students, it has been a difficult process for Duff and members of the community. 

“I’ve never met one person who was happy about this decision. When we got partial heritage, everybody thought ‘Oh, you can stay!’ But they don’t tell you exactly what this means. U of T has never said anything to me about staying,” says Duff. “You want to believe that your actions accomplished something or at least it’s explained to you why your mindset is so different, but there was never any word of explanation.”


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