2016 Hero: Honest Ed's
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2016 Hero: Honest Ed’s

Nominated for: having something for, and meaning something to, everyone.

Torontoist is reflecting on 2016 by naming our Heroes and Villains—the people, places, things, and ideas that have had the most positive and negative impacts on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until 11:59 p.m. on January 5. At noon on January 6, we’ll reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

Everyone in Toronto has an Honest Ed’s story.

Maybe yours begins when you were 19. New to the city and wandering Bloor Street on a Tuesday night, you found yourself blinded by 23,000 lights swirling across a bizarrely anachronistic marquee. You were mesmerized. Later, you’d take your first girlfriend inside on a rainy Sunday afternoon. You keep the Virgin Mary candle and the corny romance novel she bought you in a shoebox in your closet.

Maybe you raised three children in an Annex apartment, and relied on the store for the essentials. If your Friday night shift had ended early enough, and you got a decent sleep, you’d line up at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning to claim the door-crasher special—whatever it was, you never checked. You’d return home weighed down with cotton briefs, Vienna sausages, a 50-cent mop, and feel relieved that for today, the immediate needs were covered.

Maybe you launched your first play at the Fringe Festival. The show was a flop, and you drank away your disappointment in the pop-up bar in the store’s alleyway. Under strings of white lights, you pulled out your notebook and forced yourself to start writing.

Maybe your story started decades ago, when you dragged your fiancé to that crazy 72-hour dance marathon. “You two should be onstage!” Ed Mirvish had bellowed at you. In 2006, you returned to Toronto, alone, to visit your sister at the new nursing home. On the drive back, you impulsively took a left on Bathurst and pulled into the parking lot. Ambling through the cramped aisles, you were astounded to see that nothing had changed. You burst into tears in front of the dinner forks.

As the sign says, “There’s no place like this place… anyplace.” Come December 31, there truly won’t be.

But we’ll always have our stories.