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King Street’s Silver Lining

By: Sydney Loney

King Street’s Silver Lining - FeaturedImage_570-King-Street-West-in-Toronto

From Industries of Canada: Historical and Commercial Sketches of Toronto and Environs, Its Prominent Places and People, Representative Merchants and Manufacturers, Its Improvements, Progress and Enterprise. (Toronto: M.G. Bixby, 1886) 195;

If you were married in Canada in the late 1800s, you may well have unwrapped a silver tea set on your wedding day. Or an ornate silver butter dish. Or an elegant silver serving platter. And there’s a good chance that all these shiny, Victorian-era gifts would have been forged in a rectangular red-brick factory at 570 King Street West in Toronto.

Also known as the Silver Plate Building, the factory was built in 1882 and was home to the Toronto Silver Plate Company, which employed more than 100 men and women by 1888. The company manufactured both silver and silver-plated products that made their way into Canadian homes by way of travelling salesmen.

At the time, the factory was lauded for being the first (and only) of its kind in Canada to manufacture silver products using raw materials; now, the building is recognized as one of the earliest surviving factory complexes in the King West neighbourhood. The property was added to the City of Toronto Heritage Register in 2005, thanks to its classic four-storey rectangular shape, red-brick cladding with stone trim, arched window frames and slate gable roof. Although the factory stopped manufacturing silver and silver-plated products in 1929, you might come across goods bearing the Toronto Silver Plate Company stamp in antique shops across the country.

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