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Individuality

Here’s an ad from the January 7 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a grocery store.

I was curious, which caused me to spend rather a lot of time looking things up in the Toronto city directories. First, I looked up Robert Logan, the store owner shown in this ad. He had just taken over this store, as the 1931 city directory listed him as the manager of a Stop and Shop at 2274 Bloor West and living at 39 Howard Park Avenue.

The Superior chain of stores possibly really did pride itself on individuality at the time, or perhaps was too new to have a footprint, as the 1932 directory lists the Robert Logan grocery at 1338 Queen West with no mention of anything Superior. Mr. Logan had now moved down the street to 7 Howard Park Avenue; I have no idea whether this was an improvement in circumstances, as there is now an apartment building where 39 Howard Park used to be. 7 Howard Park is a semi-detached house that is still there.

The ad claims that the Superior chain had brought Mr. Logan “well deserved success”. If it had, it didn’t do so for long, as there is no grocer by that name listed in the 1933 city directory; 7 Howard Park is listed as Vacant. There is a Robert Logan with no specified occupation at 460 Roncesvalles, which is in the immediate neighbourhood of 7 Howard Park, so my guess is that he was not as successful as the ad stated.

In 1933, the store at 1338 Queen West was now owned and operated by one Arthur Cathers, who lived over the store. (As of the latest Google Street View photograph, 1338 Queen West is now a store called Made You Look.) The 1934 directory lists a grocer named Robert Logan with no specified employment location and living at 8 Hewitt Avenue. This is the same neighbourhood as the other home addresses, so I assume this is him. He isn’t in the 1937 directory, at least as a grocer, and his name is too common to trace accurately, so we’ll have to leave him to history at this point.

The Superior grocery chain had a listing in the 1932 directory, but it was just for the head office at 275 King West. The 1933 directory listed at least some of the grocery stores that were part of the chain, with 41 stores listed, including 1338 Queen West. The chain continued to expand in the 1930s, as there were about 90 stores listed in the 1937 directory.

By 1947, there were 29 stores listed under the Superior banner, and by 1952 there were just seven. In 1957, only one remained, at 52 Pritchard Avenue. Its building still stands: it is clearly a store that has been converted to a residential house.

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