Wishbone Animal Rights Lab is located at 600 Bay Street in what is historically known as the “McKnight Building”. Designed in 1924 by the architectural firm, Smith & Everett, and first appearing in City of Toronto directories in 1926, the building will soon be celebrating its 100th birthday. For the trivia buffs: The “Smith” in Smith & Everett was Sandford Fleming Smith, the grandson of Sir Sandford Fleming.
This building replaced earlier structures at the northwest corner of the intersection of Bay Street and Dundas Street West (formerly known as Terauley Street and Agnes Street). It is an excellent example of a 1920s office building in Toronto…but now also an increasingly uncommon example of an early 20th century office building in this particular area, which has undergone significant redevelopment.
Earliest tenants included Post Office Sub Station 22; Anselm Wise, a tobacconist; the York Music Company; Drs. Simon Saul and Murray L. Simon, dentists; C.H. Evans, a bailiff; and several corsetry and dressmaking companies.
In the late 1920s, it also hosted the offices of several coach companies, including Gray Coach Lines, prior to the construction of the Gray Coach Bus Terminal to the immediate north at 604-610 Bay Street (which, sadly, shut down in July 2021).
The anchor business these days is Toronto Barber & Beauty Supply, starting out there in 1937 with just one item…the straight razor. After many years, they moved out, but didn’t stray far, going next-door to 108 Dundas Street West, then to 66 Dundas Street West (The Atrium), before returning to their roots in 1979, where they have been ever since.
A Slice of Toronto History
For many years, the basement of the McKnight Building housed the Terminus Baths, a bathhouse that emerged during an era when many surrounding residences did not have indoor plumbing or bathing facilities.
By the 1970s and early 1980s, they became frequented by Toronto’s gay community alongside the well-known cruising sites of the adjacent bus terminal.
Up, Up, and Away!
Take a visit to days gone by and hitch a ride in the “vintage ‘vator”. 600 Bay Street is one of the last addresses in the city of Toronto requiring an operator to take people up and down its five floors in its old-time lift.