In the heart of Corktown—on the southeast corner of Parliament and King streets—once stood the Derby Tavern.
The tavern was built in 1846.
Its final years saw the Derby deteriorate into just another dive—in a city full of dives—before it was ultimately torn down in the early 1990’s.
But for over 140 years, the shamrock-inspired Derby Tavern served generations of dreamers. To have heard an Irish ballad sung decades ago in that tavern by someone who had just arrived from Ireland after leaving his home (his land, his mother, his brother…) and deliver it with such utter despair and hope for a better world beyond this one must have been mesmerizing.
The Derby Tavern was as much a part of our heritage as Fort York or St. James Cathedral. Today the tavern site on the southeast corner of Parliament and King is home to the Derby Lofts.
All photos are courtesy of Toronto Public Library.