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Honest Ed's Marquee Series

The Honest Ed's Marquee series is a scarce set of 8 pieces of Toronto history.

Honest Ed's was a landmark discount store located in Toronto, Canada, known for its eclectic and vibrant marquee sign. The sign was an iconic feature of the store and a beloved part of Toronto's cultural landscape. Constructed in 1984, it featured over 23,000 light bulbs, creating a visually striking display of colours and patterns. The sign became a symbol of the store's quirky personality and drew attention from both locals and visitors from afar.

The pieces available are marked here in green:


Honest Ed's Marquee series


Its owner, Ed Mirvish, along with his wife Anne, first opened the store in 1948. Over the next several decades, the facade of the store changed many times, though the loud, wacky aesthetic always remained. Like any large outdoor signage, the Honest Ed's sign required regular maintenance to replace burnt-out bulbs, address wiring issues, and ensure that it continued to meet safety standards. The process of maintaining such a large and intricate sign was likely a constant effort for the store's management.

Photo via the Toronto ArchivesPhoto: The Toronto Archives

 Over the years, the sign underwent various changes and maintenance efforts. In 2007, a significant restoration project took place, ensuring that the sign's overall structure and electrical components were in good condition. Despite any changes, the sign retained its nostalgic charm.

"I think of businesses as having a life span just like humans, and for a retail store to last 75 years is a pretty healthy lifespan. In its day it was great."          - David Mirvish, (son of Ed)

In 2016, Honest Ed's store closed its doors, marking the end of an era for the iconic establishment. The closure also raised concerns about the fate of the iconic sign. In 2017, the sign was dismantled, leading to mixed reactions from the community. Some saw it as the end of a beloved symbol, while others recognized the need for redevelopment in the rapidly changing neighbourhood.

Honest Ed's Marquee - Photo: Sean Galbraith Photos: Sean Galbraith 
Honest Ed's Marquee Sign - Photo Credit: Sean Galbraith Photo: Sean Galbraith

Following the teardown, parts of the Honest Ed's sign were preserved, and efforts were made to incorporate elements of it into the Mirvish Village development, a mixed-use project that replaced the original Honest Ed's site. The developers worked with the local community to ensure that the spirit of Honest Ed's was not entirely lost. 

Honest Ed's Marquee - Photo: Sean Galbraith Photo: Sean Galbraith

 While the physical sign was no longer present, its memory lives on in the hearts of Torontonians. The removal of the Honest Ed's sign marked a significant moment in Toronto's urban history, reflecting the ongoing transformation of the city's landscape while preserving a sense of nostalgia for the past.

Honest Ed's Marquee No.4 - Matt Durant
Honest Ed's Marquee No.4

In 2017, I was fortunate to get my hands on 8 sections of the sign, of approximately 12 known in existence. I worked for months on trimming, framing, and rewiring to make these rare iconic gems available to the world. Each is ready to hang and is aligned as it originally was set in the overall sign. Framed in ebony-stained wood, plug-in ready, and lit with warm incandescent bulbs that are fully dimmable.

Honest Ed's Marquee No.2 - Matt DurantHonest Ed's Marquee No.2

Honest Ed's Marquee - Collection

Honest Ed's Marquee - Photo: Sean Galbraith Photo: Sean Galbraith


Honest Ed's Marquee - Photo: Sean Galbraith Photo: Sean Galbraith


Honest Ed's Marquee - Photo: Sean Galbraith Photo: Sean Galbraith


Honest Ed's Marquee - Collection

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