Haute Vitrine

PHOTOGRAPHS by LESLIE HOSSACK

Tag: vintage

The Canary, Toronto: another lost icon

The Canary, Toronto 2007

© Leslie Hossack

This photograph was taken just a few months after The Canary closed its doors for the last time in April 2007. Today, nothing is left on the exterior of the building to remind passersby of this well-known Toronto diner, and the interior of the restaurant has been gutted to the walls.

The Canary operated here, at the corner of Cherry and Front Streets, from 1965 until 2007. The restaurant originally opened in 1960 at Dundas and University, where it remained until moving to its second and final location in 1965. The Canary endured for almost half a century, and during all that time it was run by members of the Vlahos family.

Construction of the hybrid building shown in this photograph started in 1859 with the Palace Street School, which was the section on the right. It operated as a school for 45 years and then became the Irvine House Hotel, the Cherry Street Hotel, and various other establishments. Later, General Steel Ware occupied the warehouse addition on the left side of the structure. Eventually, The Canary joined the mix in 1965, occupying the building smack dab in the middle.

The Canary, with its 1960s diner atmosphere and Maple Leafs paraphernalia plastered on the walls, has been a Toronto favourite for a cheap and cheerful breakfast or lunch, drawing everybody from truck drivers to hockey players. www.thestar.com/News/article/198401

In 2007, I photographed more than 30 diners, both vintage and contemporary. These include classics such as The Templeton in Vancouver and lost icons such as The Canary in Toronto. This is a study of retro diners from Atlantic Canada to the Pacific Coast.

Tomorrow Haute Vitrine celebrates 100 posts in 100 days.

Bens Deli, Montreal, 1908 – 2006: a lost icon

Closed for Good, Bens Deli, Montreal 2007

 

The barstools can still be seen through the union posters pasted to the windows. CTVNews/Canada/20061215/montreal_deli

 

Vacant Stool, Bens Deli, Montreral 2007

© Leslie Hossack

These two photographs were taken the month after Bens officially closed in December 2006. Today, nothing remains of the famous Montreal institution; the building was completely demolished in 2008.

Bens Delicatessen & Restaurant was in operation for almost a century. At 98 years of age, it was the oldest deli in Montreal when it closed. Originally founded by Ben and Fanny Kravitz in 1908, the restaurant was passed to their son, Irving. After he died, Bens was run by Irving’s widow, Jane Kravitz, and her son Elliott.

The building that housed Ben´s Delicatessen was constructed in 1950 at corner of Metcalfe and de Maisonneuve. This was the restaurant’s third location. Here the furnishings and the long deli counter were reminiscent of a classic postwar diner. For more information about this mid-century building please visit heritagemontreal.org/en/bens-delicatessen

Bens was famous for its smoked meat sandwiches and its celebrity cliental, including Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and poet/musician Leonard Cohen. However, in the final years of its operation, it was mainly die-hard regulars and nostalgic ex-pats who visited the 1950s-style diner.

In 2007, I photographed more than 30 diners, both vintage and contemporary. These include classics such as The Templeton in Vancouver and lost icons such as Bens in Montreal. This is a study of retro diners from Atlantic Canada to the Pacific Coast.

Public spaces and familiar items from previous generations fascinate me. I love the way the camera allows me to attribute elevated status to everyday objects and places, to portray the inclusive as exclusive – even diners.

best diner stools found in summer snack bar

Coffee Break, Hotel Kenney Snack Bar, Jones Falls 2007

© Leslie Hossack

Located about 130 kilometers west of Ottawa, Hotel Kenney was built in 1877 on the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. www.rideau-info.com/canal/world-heritage For decades the hotel was operated by four successive generations of the Kenney family. They sold the property a year after this photograph was taken, but the new owner seems to cherish this historic summer hotel as much as the Kenneys did. The vintage snack bar pictured here has acquired a new foundation outside and a new tile floor inside; but it still retains the old look and feel, and above all it still has the original red stools.

When I first set out to photograph diners, I needed to identify my own defining characteristic. So for me, a restaurant is a diner only if it has a counter with chrome stools, and the wonderfully unique stools at the Hotel Kenney Snack Bar are my favourite stools of all.

In 2007, I photographed more than 30 diners, both vintage and contemporary. These include classics such as The Templeton in Vancouver, and lost icons such as The Canary in Toronto and Bens in Montreal. This is a study of retro diners from Atlantic Canada to the Pacific Coast.

Public spaces and familiar items from previous generations fascinate me. I love the way the camera allows me to attribute elevated status to everyday objects and places, to portray the inclusive as exclusive – even diners.

checkerboard floors, jukeboxes and ceiling fans

Ceiling Fan, Sodas Diner, Vancouver 2007

© Leslie Hossack

Sodas Diner closed not long after I took this photograph. A well-known 50s style diner, Sodas was located in the Dunbar area of Vancouver for years. It served typical American diner food, including milkshakes, burgers and fries.

A number of nostalgic elements are commonly found in American style diners: checkerboard floors, individual booths, tabletop jukeboxes, milkshake makers, beveled mirrors, and ceiling fans like the one shown above. When I first set out to photograph diners, I needed to identify my own defining characteristic. So for me, a restaurant is a diner only if it has a counter with chrome stools, and Sodas had a number of beautiful stools at the long counter.

In 2007, I photographed more than 30 diners, both vintage and contemporary. These include classics such as The Templeton in Vancouver, and lost icons such as The Canary in Toronto and Bens in Montreal. This is a study of retro diners from Atlantic Canada to the Pacific Coast.

Public spaces and familiar items from previous generations fascinate me. I love the way the camera allows me to attribute elevated status to everyday objects and places, to portray the inclusive as exclusive – even diners.

What makes a diner a diner? Chrome stools!

At the Counter, Bramasole Diner, Ottawa 2007

© Leslie Hossack

“Diners, drive-ins and dives are popular again thanks to faithful baby boomers, a slew of younger fans and a whole new generation of owners.” Hosted by Guy Fieri, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is a popular TV program on the Food Network. www.foodnetwork.com/diners-drive-ins-and-dives/index.html

Originally, diners reflected the style of railroad dining cars. Over time, diners evolved into community gathering places where people from all walks of life shared a home cooked meal in a small and comforting atmosphere. Even today, diners are usually outfitted with a counter, stools, and a food preparation area along the back wall, like a railway dining car. www.americandinermuseum.org

When I first set out to photograph diners, I needed to identify my own defining characteristic. So for me, a restaurant is a diner only if it has a counter with chrome stools. The number of stools is not important, but they must have chrome rims and no backs. The stools in this photograph clearly establish The Bramasole as a diner, according to my personal definition.

In 2007, I photographed more than 30 diners, both vintage and contemporary. These include classics such as The Templeton in Vancouver, and lost icons such as The Canary in Toronto and Bens in Montreal. This is a study of retro diners from Atlantic Canada to the Pacific Coast.

Public spaces and familiar items from previous generations fascinate me. I love the way the camera allows me to attribute elevated status to everyday objects and places, to portray the inclusive as exclusive – even diners.

Is it a diner, a drive-in or a dive?

Chrome Stools, Chez Josée, Îles-de-la-Madeleine, 2007

© Leslie Hossack

How do you distinguish between a diner, a drive-in and a dive? A diner is defined as a small, usually inexpensive restaurant, with a long counter and booths, and housed in a building designed to resemble a dining car, according to thefreedictionary.com

When I set out to photograph diners, I needed to establish my own defining characteristic. So for me, a restaurant is a diner only if it has a counter with chrome stools. The number of stools is not important, but they must have chrome rims and no backs.

The stools in this photograph clearly establish Chez Josée as a diner, according to my own personal definition. Chez Josée is located in Îles-de-la-Madeleine, an archipelago in the middle of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, over 100 kilometres across the sea from Prince Edward Island.

In 2007, I photographed more than 30 diners, both vintage and contemporary. These include classics such as The Templeton in Vancouver, and lost icons such as The Canary in Toronto and Bens in Montreal. This is a study of retro diners from Chez Josée in Atlantic Canada to Sodas in Vancouver.

Public spaces and familiar items from previous generations fascinate me. I love the way the camera allows me to attribute elevated status to everyday objects and places, to portray the inclusive as exclusive – even diners.

The Templeton: quality food, snappy service

Milkshake Maker, The Templeton, Vancouver 2007

© Leslie Hossack

The Templeton Diner is located in Vancouver at 1087 Granville Street, where Adele’s Cafe operated in 1934. In 1956 it was sold to Top Chef Cafe and renamed Top Tops. Forty years later, in 1996, it was sold once again and renamed The Templeton, a diner with the slogan: quality food, snappy service.

The interior design has been largely preserved. Many of the furnishings, such as the booths, the stools, and the jukeboxes at individual tables, date back to 1950’s or earlier, while the mural on the end wall by Bruce Eriksen dates from the late 1960’s. The milkshake maker in this photograph, patched together with adhesive tape, appears to be from the same era. The Templeton today reminds me of Fred Herzog’s photographs of Vancouver in the 1950s and 60s. To view his images visit http://www.equinoxgallery.com/artists/portfolio/fred-herzog

In 2007, I photographed more than 30 diners, both vintage and contemporary. These include classics such as The Templeton in Vancouver, and lost icons such as The Canary in Toronto and Bens in Montreal. This is a study of retro diners from Atlantic Canada to Vancouver.

Public spaces and familiar items from previous generations fascinate me. I don’t live in the past, but I do feel a strong sense of time running through my photographs. I hear a narrative in every series and I see a story in every image.

Throughout my life I’ve had a tendency to eschew conventional status symbols. Consequently, I love the way the camera allows me to attribute elevated status to everyday objects and places, to portray the inclusive as exclusive – even diners.