Fire and changing uses have altered this block significantly. A fire on July 22, 1883, known as the Johnny Hatch Fire, burnt what is now the CIBC corner. The Canadian Bank of Commerce occupied the north west corner of Queen Street and Grafton Street since approximately 1910, when an impressive building “finished in terra cotta and Ohio brick…with a base of Pictou greystone” was constructed on the site. The Bank was demolished in 1981, after a great outcry from a concerned citizens group, and the present modern brick facility was built.
A number of brick buildings along this section of Queen Street, that housed a wide variety of businesses – including insurance brokers, banks and Chinese restaurants – were replaced by businessman, Harry O’Connell’s modern, O’Connell Building, in 1996.
Next door, in behind what was once called the “Farmers Arms”, a blacksmith once practiced his trade. Further north, the Currie Block was constructed in 1934. The Currie Family has had their shoe repair business in this area since 1903. Frank Currie began the business, called Shoe Doctor, a short distance away from the current site. He, and his friend, Joe Hennessey had been employed at a local shoe factory, however when Currie decided to strike out on his own, Mr. Hennessey went to work for him. Frank would eventually pass the business to his son, Vernon and in turn, he passed it to his son, David. Joe Hennessey’s son, Joe Jr. also went to work for the business and stayed for 50 years. Currie’s Shoe Repair operates from the building to this day, along with a variety of businesses, including the Bookman, which has been in business since the 1970s and at this location for the past twenty years.
On the south west corner of Queen and Kent Streets, where Morton Dew is presently located, sits another Currie Building. A notice in the Guardian of June 22, 1949, indicated that the building on the old Terlizzick property was being torn down and a new building of LaPrairie brick was expected to be built in its place. Designed by James Harris and built by William Hennessey it was completed by March of 1951 and occupation was soon underway. Robinson’s Supplies, auto accessories and electrical appliances, were on the ground floor, while office space was on the second floor. Later occupants included Morton Dew Limited.
The block of buildings across the street are part of the Confederation Court Mall Complex. Beginning as a group of largely wood framed buildings, that contained a mix of retail and restaurants, they were gradually replaced with brick structures in the 20th and 21st centuries. The oldest building on this section of Queen Street and the only wood framed building left, is the c.1850, 156 Queen Street. Next door, the c.1930 Brace Block replaced another building that was struck by fire. In 2009, the building that Shoppers Drug Mart is currently in, replaced a brick structure that was part of the Confederation Court Mall, as well as an empty lot that was once home to Corney’s Shoe Store. Corney’s had moved to the west side of Queen Street after fire destroyed their former shop.