Saloons, Sandwiches and Apple Cake: Secrets of 113 Jarvis Street

If you live in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood you’ve probably walked by this unassuming building on the southeast corner of Jarvis and Richmond Street East a million times! Maybe you buy a falafel lunch from Mystic Muffin on occasion and if you do, you are probably greeted by name by friendly owner Elias Makhoul; if you are a first-time customer, you’ll likely be offered a free piece of his special apple cake. Did you know that the building has stood here since 1832? It is one of Toronto’s oldest.

Mystic Muffin

Today, the address of the building is 113 Jarvis Street. When the home was built for Catholic Bishop Alexander Macdonell, the street was called Nelson. (I am not going to get into the history of Bishop Alexander Macdonell, but I will say he was priest-than-bishop of St. Raphael’s Church in South Glengarry in eastern Ontario, which is a really cool site to visit. Be sure to pronounce it “St. Raffles” if you want to blend with the locals!)

Alexander Macdonell house_now 113 Jarvis
Alexander Macdonell’s home, 1913 drawing sourced online via the Toronto Public Library, originally reproduced in Evening Telegram series ‘Landmarks of Toronto’ 11 April 1889, and in Landmarks of Toronto v.1, p.431

When first built, 113 Jarvis looked a wee bit different than it does today. The mansard roof that was added significantly changes the look of the once Georgian home. Second Empire mansard roofs didn’t come into popularity in Toronto until the late 1800’s; then, many Georgian homes were updated with the Second Empire treatment by adding a 3rd storey with the mansard roofline. If you didn’t already know this take note, you’ll start noticing them everywhere on our city streets.

The good ‘ol Bishop (actually, I have no idea what he was like) lived here for seven years from 1832-1839. Fast forward to 1859, when it becomes a tavern/saloon, first owned by John Trebilcock and then taken over by Malcolm Macfarlane in 1862. Malcolm ran the saloon until 1876 when he moved on to bigger-and-better things by buying out his hotel-owning neighbour a few buildings to the south.

malcolm macfarlane directory entry
Source: Fisher & Taylor’s Toronto City Directory, 1876

After Macfarlane vacated 113 Jarvis, the building played host to three different hotels from 1877 to 1895: Edward Campbell ran the Campbell’s Hotel (1877-1881); James O’Halloran ran the Pacific Hotel (1882-1889); then it was called the Exchange Hotel (1890-1895). John Terry, a stove retailer who had been next door at 111 Jarvis for several years expanded into the building in 1895.

Shortly after John Terry left in 1899, a pork merchant by the name of George Puddy, lived in the building for about 3 years. George was one of the Puddy Bros. who owned and operated an abattoir near Bloor and Dundas Street. During the years that George lived at 113 Jarvis (1902-1904), the Puddy Bros repeatedly made first page news for two reasons: they faced community backlash wherever they proposed building their pork business (a proposal to use the Dominion Brewery premises in Corktown for an abattoir was roundly defeated); and they were under investigation for bribing a city alderman (to pave the way for the building of their unwelcome abattoir on Paton Road near Bloor and Dundas). The bribery charges against the Puddy brothers were eventually dropped, an early case of the murkiness between lobbying and bribing. The Puddy Bros is now a division of Maple Lodge Farms based in Brampton.

Don Brewery_Puddy Bros

After George Puddy’s short stay at 113 Jarvis, it was occupied by a few different retailers including three separate grocers, an oil burner company, a typesetter, and two fur companies. It then opened as the Service Sandwich Shop in 1937, operated by Al Pivnik. John Dimson assumed the sandwich shop until approximately 1963-5, when it became the Jarvis Catering Company. In 1993, it opened as Mystic Muffin.

Mystic Muffin in 1972_also Macfarlane hotel
113 Jarvis Street in 1972 advertising Coca-Cola and Teem, from Toronto City Archives


Best apple cake
Most everybody living in the neighbourhood knows Mystic Muffin’s famous apple cake (picture 2018)


Sourced consulted: Architectural Conservancy Ontario’s TOBuilt database entry for 113 Jarvis; Bruce Bell, “Mystic Muffin home was home to our first Catholic Priest“, The Bulletin, January 24, 2014; Toronto City Directories as captioned; photo from Toronto Public Library online gallery as captioned; Toronto Star and Globe and Mail Historical Newspapers via Proquest; 2018 photo right side of banner is mine.


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