Hollywood Canteen stamps moves to Midtown Toronto

Hollywood Canteena cinemabilia and stamp store owned by Mike Orlando, is moving into its new location at 549 Mt. Pleasant Rd., in Midtown Toronto, later this week.

The move comes as the famed bargain store Honest Ed’s prepares to close its doors forever at the end of this year. It sold in 2013, five years after the death of Ed Mirvish, who opened the store in 1948 and oversaw its operations until 2007. The area known as Mirvish Village, which includes the 160,000-square foot store and another 190,000 square feet of surrounding buildings, will be redeveloped, making way for more condominiums.

Among the businesses being forced out of Mirvish Village is Hollywood Canteen, whose stamp department is managed Ted Wright.

Wright’s shop is one of the few remaining stamp stores in Toronto, and while that’s a feat of its own, he has nearly 50 years of history in the hobby himself. He was formerly part-owner of George Wegg, a stamp store located in Toronto’s philatelic heart – Victoria Street and Adelaide Street East – for many decades. He’s also one part of the Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation Expertizing Committee and an active member of most major philatelic organizations, including the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada; The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada; the British North America Philatelic Society; and the American Philatelic Society.

“I could have retired back in 2008, but I like what I’m doing,” said Wright, who’s 73 years old. “As long as I’m healthy, I’ll be dealing in stamps. So far, things are going well.”

GEORGE S. WEGG STAMPS, LTD.

From 1969-77, Wright and his three partners – George Wegg, Ken Haigh, and another silent partner – built what’s now fondly remembered as one of Canada’s finest stamp stores. Eventually Wegg bought fellow stamp dealer George Lowe’s stock and storefront, which was located at 37 Victoria St. They continued operations there until 1974.

“We got so big that we moved to a larger place across the street, from 37 to 36 Victoria St.,” said Wright, who added the premises was taken over by another dealer, John Talman, who became the third stamp dealer to operate at that same address. “This was the big boom time for stamps – I’d say between ’77 and ’85 – and there were about 13 stamp stores down in that area of Toronto.”

The famed intersection of Victoria and Adelaide was also remembered by Wegg in the January/February 1976 issue of The Canadian Philatelist: “Centred around this corner has been some form of stamp activity for 125 years. During this period, many of Toronto’s most active stamp dealers were located within 100 yards of this corner.”

A GOOD DEAL

Wright said Hollywood Canteen has been at its Mirvish Village location for about three years. Although he has become accustomed to frequent moves over the years, he added it’s “always a bit stressful” going from one place to another.

“Nothing will be as attractive as the rent agreement with the Mirvishes, who are very accommodating,” he said. “We’ll be lucky if we pay double what we pay now.”

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