Queen St. W. and Roncesvalles Ave., spring 2002, glimpsed through the net of overhead streetcar wires.

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THE EDGEWATER HOTEL would have a lot farther to fall before this photo was taken. By the early 90s, addicts and hookers had replaced the travelling salesmen, and for a year or so one of its two bars was home to a dingy alt-rock club that was conveniently close to my apartment, so I became, briefly, a regular at the Edgewater. Like most rock joints, though, it was poorly managed, and once closed, the Edgewater's two bars, once a "lively" neighbourhood fixture, never opened again.

The bus terminal had closed by the early 90s, and a nasty beater bar took over the space once occupied by the B&G Coffee Shop, which was itself replaced by a McDonald's when the bar was finally, gratefully closed. Appalled by the state of the Edgewater, the McDonald's management successfully lobbied to get the Edgewater shuttered.

While the Edgewater went to hell, the adjacent neighbourhood had undergone a transformation since an antique district had flourished on Queen, just near the hotel. While some locals weren't pleased to see the infamous fast-food chain open in the old bus station, the truth is that the golden arches probably saved the Edgewater by arresting it's freefall into crack house status and, eventually, arson victim.

Days Inn bought the hotel and veneered its exterior with an unfortunate stucco panelling, while they stripped the rooms down to the joists and floorboards, desperate to evict all traces of the former guests. Suddenly, though, Parkdale had a decent hotel again after nearly fifty years.

The best thing about the McDonalds is that they left the bus terminal's structure intact, and there are hopes that, when they finally move on, a more "enlightened" tenant will take over and restore the sleek little corner building. Personally, I'd love to see the return of the snazzy chrome sign and the bold deco stripes showcased on the B&G Coffee Shop and Milk Bar in the photo below. It's hard not to look at a photo like this and sigh for the days when this corner looked fresh and new and right.

As for the Edgewater, at least the neon sign is still there - unlit, and overshadowed by a looming billboard that turns its back on the neighbourhood to face travellers heading east on the expressway.

Edgewater Hotel, 1941
Queen & Roncesvalles, 1941; the Edgewater before its trademark neon sign.
Next door, the B&G Coffee Shop in its full splendour.
(photo courtesy the TTC Collection #13813)