Nearly 175 years after the Upper Canada Rebellion, residents in the Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue area returned to the battle site to protest the potential sale of Canada Post Station K.
On July 30, around 75 residents gathered to show what the building at Yonge Street and Montgomery Avenue means to them at a rally organized by Eglinton-Lawrence MPP Mike Colle.
“This building is historic in that it’s the only building in Canada and one of the few in the entire world that actually carries the insignia of Edward VIII,” said Michael Burgess, who lives on Montgomery Avenue. “It’s an iconic building.”
The site was also once home to Montgomery’s Tavern, which was used as headquarters for William Lyon Mackenzie and the rebels during the uprising of 1837 and saw a brief skirmish that ultimately resulted in the loyalists defeating the rebels and burning the tavern down.
Canada Post built a post office there in 1936, but is planning to move its operations from the building at 2384 Yonge St. as part of a modernization effort, which means possibly selling the building. They’re also looking to relocate their 1780 Avenue Rd. location.
Colle said he values the site not only for its role in the formation of Canada, but also for its local connection.
“This used to be the hub of the town of North Toronto, this was the centre,” he said. “This is like our town square here.”
The post office has a large open space at the façade, complete with benches and sitting areas. Keeping that space public is important to North Toronto resident George Butterwick, who has lived in the area for four years and was a firefighter here for 35.
“I’m here every day, it’s become a part of my home,” he said.
When asked how he felt when he learned the building could be sold, he told the Town Crier “You wouldn’t be able to print it.
“It’s just not right,” Butterwick said. “It’s hurting a lot of people. There are a lot of elderly people around here, myself included, and they remember this place for what it was and what it is … It’s a landmark.”
Colle said the ultimate aim of the rally was to send a message to Canada Post that it’s wrong to sell the building without public consultation.
“This building was built with taxpayer dollars and belongs to the people of Toronto,” Colle said. “So before you sell something that belongs to the public, the public should have a say in it.”
Canada Post spokesperson John Caines said the agency sent out a request for proposals in April and is currently reviewing bids, but added it would be premature to say the building is for sale.
Canada Post is considering selling the properties but only if the purchaser provides a suitable replacement property.
Colle anticipates that if sold, the Yonge Street site would be used for condo development.
“The only people that could afford to buy the land on Yonge Street are condo developers,” he said. “And we’re not talking small ones.”
Colle said he would support the building being sold to a buyer who would maintain the current structure for a different use.
“We don’t want to lose this,” he said. “It’s the space, the history, the beautiful building … Let us keep something.”