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William H. Temple, "Temperance Bill," Ontario General Election, June 7, 1948. Image: City of Toronto Archives, G&M Fonds

T. A. Lytle & Co. advertisement in the Canadian Grocer, June 1895. Source: One Gal's Toronto

T. A. Lytle and Co. Factory, now the Drake Commissary and Henderson Brewing Co., built 1908, March 20, 2021.

Former T. A. Lytle & Co. / Scythes and Co. Ltd. factory building, built 1908, March 20, 2021

  • The ghost of prohibition

    Despite its long-standing dry neighbour to the west, the Junction Triangle has been a hub for beer lovers for many years. Many of the neighbourhood’s former industrial spaces have made perfect homes for craft breweries, and visitors to the Junction Triangle can now enjoy a pint at Henderson Brewing Company (128 Sterling Road) or Halo Brewery (247 Wallace Avenue), among many others nearby. The legacy of prohibition, and its unwitting martyr, live on in the neighbourhood too. In 2017, Henderson Brewing released a limited edition beer called “The Ghost of Prohibition”, after the nameless victim and neighbourhood ghost.

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  • T. A. Lytle and Co.

    Other popular Junction Triangle “ghosts” refer to the signs still visible on the building at 128 Sterling Road. Rather than the presence of a ghostly figure or spirit, ‘ghost signs’ are the remnants of advertisements that were hand painted onto the exterior walls of buildings. Often dating to the late 19th or early 20th century, these ghost signs can remind onlookers of a particular time in a building’s past.

    The original tenant of 128 Sterling Road was T.A. Lytle and Co., owned by Thomas Alexander Lytle. Lytle moved to Canada from Ireland in 1871, and began working at William Wilson’s Vinegar works, one of the only two vinegar operations in the city. Lytle eventually decided to open his own competing operation, producing not only vinegar but also catsups, jams, jellies, and pickles. The products were a hit and by 1908, the company had moved into a large plant at 128 Sterling Road.

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  • The end of an era

    T.A. Lytle died suddenly in 1911 at age 66, at which point his sons took over the business before shuttering operations in the 1920s. In 1920, the building was sold to Scythes and Co., which produced canvas and cloth at the location for almost a century. Today, 128 Sterling Avenue features ghost signs from these two previous occupants, advertising T.A. Lytle and Co.’s condiments as well as Scythes and Co.’s ropes and flags. Scythes and Co., rebranded as Flying Colours International in 2001, left 128 Sterling in 2014, marking the end of a long period in the building’s history. When the factory was purchased by its new owners, Tram Developments, in 2010, the new owners had the ghost signs restored to celebrate the building’s heritage. Such “ghost signs” can be found throughout Toronto today.

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  • Sources

    Ben Johnson, “A brief history of booze in The Junction,” blogTO, Feb. 28, 2012.

    Jamie Bradburn, “‘Temperance Bill’ Temple Keeps The Junction Dry,” Jamie Bradburn’s Tales of Toronto, April 11, 2019

    K. Taylor, “The T.A. Lytle Story,” One Gal’s Toronto, Oct. 15, 2016.

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