1042 Queen W 2006

1042 Queen St W, December 2006

About Portraits of Queen West

Revised Sept 18, 2023

This is a project that documents the changing face of Toronto’s Queen West over a decade and a half. I’m now sorting pictures and assembling them into a series of books, and posting to a new site.

You can order the first book Portraits of Queen West: Spadina to Bathurst now at go.blackeye.ca/queenwest.

There’s up to date info and a video at that page. The information below about the book(s) was written last summer but still stands. I have been busy!

Even before this was an official project I took pictures of Queen West and posted them online, first here at my own website starting in 2001. Then in 2005 I started posting at Flickr, and soon I declared this a project. As I continued taking pictures I posted snapshots to Tumblr, and now while I organize my catalog I post to Instagram.

instagram icon portraits_of_queen_west


Buying prints helps support this project. You can order prints (and see many more pictures) at poqw.smugmug.com.

If you have seen a picture of mine somewhere else you are interested in, and it is not on the site, let me know and I will add it to the site. The site has a solid foundation of pictures but I have many more to upload.

About the Book(s) Project

Revised August 18, 2022

Queen Street from University Ave to its West end at Roncesvalles is about 5 km. I’ve travelled it countless times with a camera, collecting thousands of pictures of storefronts. I began experiments capturing complete blocks in 2003.

Currently I’m organizing a geographically narrow sample of these pictures into a book, the first of a series of volumes that will add up to all of Queen West.


619 Queen St W, July 2006

Portraits of Queen West: Bathurst to Spadina

This is my first collection of photographs of storefronts of Queen West. Staring at a map I started to see how the whole street could be carved into smaller chunks, how to turn a huge job into smaller jobs I could actually get done.

For many reasons this book only covers both sides of the 600m between Spadina and Bathurst. This is 1.1 km of storefronts, about 150 addresses. The first block collage I completed is part of this stretch. The linear nature books and the street share creates opportunity for geographic clarity and discover the book’s form.

I’m designing this first volume myself. (With my own words. As few as possible. Mostly addresses and dates.) Having the input and advice of Michel Vrana of Black Eye Books is ample support, though I’m sure a few more people will offer input along the way.

The Whole Street in Your Hands

I’m an artist, not a historian or urban activist. Photography and graphic design are my thing. I love the aesthetics of the documentary style. When digital brought me back to photography, and I started shooting storefronts, a subject available in abundance, I was only emulating earlier photographers.

Eventually I constrained myself to one street to manage scope and create opportunity for documentary value through accumulation, but I take the pictures because I like how they look; it’s fun to capture rectangles and textures.

This volume doesn’t set out to make a statement about gentrification. The classic storefronts that first caught my eye in the 80s were long gone before I started doing this. There is a story here of a street that is constantly changing, and some of the local shops giving way to bigger brands. But American Apparel, one of the first big brands to settle west of Spadina, peaks and dies herein while across the street the Cameron House remains defiantly local.

I’m just setting out to let you hold the whole street in your hands.