Queen Street West Toronto offers the Weird & Wonderful. Discover art, fashion, antiques, boutiques, hotels, gifts for creative people.
Taxidermy and trendy furniture: it's not an obvious combination of goods for a shop. But that's what you'll find in Morba, a weird, crammed-pack store on Queen Street.
Above: A "cool cat" watches the world go by on
Queen Street West in front of the colourful shop, Tin Taj.
Morba shouldn't really shock you, though. After all, it's part of Queen Street West, a district is known for its quirky character (and "characters"). So this funky store at #665 is really just conforming to expectations. Perhaps a little strongly, but…
Are you visiting Toronto and itching for a little shopping but want something unique? Queen Street West Toronto is the place to go if you prefer something less predictable than your average big chain stores. Here you'll find art galleries, funky up-and-coming fashion designers, textile stores, antique stores, quirky gifts, chic furniture, bookshops, cool bars, cafes, diners and restaurants.
Note: The old trendy part of Queen Street West ran from University to Bathurst. It's still there (of course) but a lot of chain stores have moved in and pushed the artsy independent shops who can't afford the higher rents further west. So if you're looking for something less mainstream, more creative, check out the stretch between Bathurst and Gladstone, an area now known as the Art & Design District.
Tip: Many of the shops, especially those further west, only open at noon, so an afternoon shopping spree might be your best bet.
Above: Where else can you buy a barbie doll featuring the leading lady from the Hitchcock movie "The Birds"?
There are HUNDREDS of shops on Queen West. Every shopper will have their favourites. I'm listing mine below. I hope they'll whet your appetite and get you started on your journey.
Red Indian Art Deco - 536 Queen Street West – Features the proverbial "everything-but-the-kitchen sink. Looks small from the outside, but it goes back FOREVER. Jewellry, furnishings, décor items, toys, rotary telephones, ashtrays shaped like tires. Almost as quirky as Morba (see below). Things from your childhood (am I really antique?).
Morba - 665 Queen St. West – Modern furniture. Knife holders shaped like bodies (I'm not making this up). Cases of bugs. Stuffed deer heads, birds, other animals. Antique exercise machines, typewriters, globes. A noir-film-maker's dream. Your motto when you enter: Expect the unexpected.
Ten Thousand Villages - 709 Queen Street West – Fair trade products for the home. Hand-embroidered tablecloths and runners, candle-holders, mirrors, carpets and the like.
Helmutt's Pet Supply - 865 Queen Street West – Toys and treats for the pampered pet.
Timmie Dog Outfitters - 867 Queen Street West – Where all the smart dogs on the street shop. Clothing, toys, gourmet cookies, dog-beds that cost more than some people-beds.
Type Book Store - 883 Queen Street West – Independent book and magazine shop.
The Paper Place - 887 Queen St. West – Beautiful wrapping paper, unique cards, weird books, pretty file folders etc. Everything for the office-supplies-addict.
The Tin Taj – 913 Queen Street West – An incredibly crowded little place with a zillion toys and décor items. And one beautiful resident cat.
Woolfit's Art Supplies - 1153 Queen Street West.
By the way, if you're into vintage shopping, here's a great directory of vintage shops in Toronto. Note: Shops are always opening and closing, so call in advance if you're making a special trip! Vintage Shopping in Toronto.
Some places for "happy hookers" (and crafters)
World Sew – 1000 Queen Street West – Yarn shop.
Americo - 456 Queen St. West
In these yarn shops you'll find not just materials but finished products as well, like the quirky hand-knitted doggie coat I saw in a window on my last trip.
Between Bathurst and Spadina you'll find lots of textile shops supplying crafters of all kinds.
The Prague - 638 Queen Street West – Part deli, part diner. Family business going back 40 years. Delicious schnitzel, potato pancakes and dessert palacinkys (thin crepes) that make you want to lick your plate clean.
Dufflet Pastries – 787 Queen Street West. One word: YUM.
Craving Ethiopean tonight? Try Addis Ababa Restaurant at 1184 Queen Street West. Just one of the MANY international cuisines you'll find on this street.
Gladstone House (1214 Queen Street West) and The Drake Hotel (1150 Queen Street West) are in beautiful old renovated buildings. They are hotels. Their bars are great places to party. When you're done for the evening, just stumble upstairs to your room.
This list, like the shops, isn't complete, but here are a few:
The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art - 952 Queen Street West
Edward Day Gallery – 952 Queen West, Ste 200
Stephen Bulger Gallery – 1026 Queen West
Thrush Holmes Empire - 1093 Queen West
Gallery 1313 – at 1313 Queen West
Queen Street West is an old neighbourhood, dating back to the 1800s, and you'll find many century-old buildings along the way. The typical style looks like this:
Queen Street West Toronto is also known as the home of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, formerly known as Queen Street Mental Health (aka 999 Queen). The number has changed (it's now 1001 Queen Street West) but the institution is still the same: a massive block, merciless to the eye.
Across the street from there is Trinity-Bellwoods Park, a large city park that stretches from Dundas Street to Queen Street. It used to be the grounds of a college, and the gates to the college still stand here, now serving as the Queen Street entrance to the park:
Near Yonge Street, you'll find Toronto City Hall, Campbell House, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, and entrances to the Hudsons Bay store and the Toronto Eaton Centre.
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