This week, I had the pleasure of attending the launch event of Rexall’s newest location in one of Toronto’s most iconic buildings, The Brunswick House. With plenty of my own memories made there with friends throughout the years, truth be told, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I walked through those front doors on Thursday morning.
For many Toronto locals, especially those living nearby, The Brunswick House at 481 Bloor St. W. was nothing short of a neighbourhood hotspot. With a history of live music and many jazz and blues music legends having played on its stage, including Etta James, Buddy Guy, Jeff Healey and many more throughout the mid to late 1900’s, “The Brunny” was and forever will be a landmark in Toronto’s Annex.
After The Brunswick House closed its doors and served its last drink in early 2016, Rexall acquired the iconic building and has since transformed it (truly!) into a new neighbourhood pharmacy for locals to admire. From the outside, the building’s structure is just as I remember it, however the new teal sign above the front door, window awnings that span around the corner, and the fluorescence from an “Open until Midnight” sign that extends high above heads walking underneath very quickly tells you that the building has been revived.
As you walk through the front doors, you immediately feel the history of the building, and can only imagine what its 4 walls have seen. With the grocery section to your left, cosmetics to your right, and a full pharmacy down the stairs (or accessibility ramp straight ahead), you begin to realize just how much work has gone into restoring this Bloor Street landmark.
Rexall’s team made sure to incorporate many of the building’s original features in their remodel, such as the tin ceiling, the exposed brick walls, the original keg barrel bar, and the ever so popular “Ye Olde Brunswick House” sign that now hangs above the freezer section. There are so many hidden gems and intricacies that have been left to discover, with every section of the store you venture into, you’re guaranteed to notice something new.
My personal favourite were the beautiful archways in the foyer, and noticing how incredibly preserved they were to give the store that extra touch of character.
After all of the attendees had a chance to walk through the store, Alan Cross, Curator for the Rexall Brunswick House Music Artifacts Exhibition took the stage to provide us with a historic run through of what this building used to be known for and without a shadow of doubt, from a saloon, to a stagecoach shop, a hotel, a pub, a dancehall, a music venue, and now to a pharmacy, the character of The Brunswick House really is something to see!
In attendance were relatives of the The Brunswick House’s original founder, as well as relatives of musicians that had played there and generously donated items for the grand opening. For a limited time, you are able to view a handful of display cases that showcase the history of the building and I highly recommend you do so to get a better idea and respect for its history.
Visit Rexall Brunswick:
481 Bloor St. W.,