Why I Loved Toronto
Global Village Backpackers Hostel
It seems that 2014 is starting off as the year of the goodbye. We said goodbye to LeVack Block last week and we are preparing our goodbyes for The World’s Biggest Bookstore, Sears and the Chapters in the old Runnymede Theatre.
The best thing about those goodbyes was that we were given time to prepare ourselves. We let out our outrage on Twitter and Facebook and we were/ are (in some cases) able to plan a visit to say our last goodbye. That is not the case for Global Village Backpackers which abruptly announced Saturday, via Facebook, that they would be shutting down today. Below is the message posted by the establishment,
"Unfortunately…due to extreme unforeseen circumstances we will be closing our doors as Global Village Backpackers for the last time on Monday 20th January. If you have a reservation with us past this time please contact us before Monday for recommendations for alternative accommodations, or contact your booking agent for deposit refunds.
Thank you to everyone who has made this place the icon it is today - We love you all, and as individuals we wish it wasn’t ending so soon! Come and see us this weekend for a last goodbye!”
I visited their website Sunday after I read the post and there was no indication of the closure at all other than the Twitter feed on the side. The building is over 100 years old and has been through numerous incarnations. As the Spadina Hotel it saw the likes of Leonard Cohen, The Tragically Hip and The Rolling Stones. It had rooms dedicated to Toronto and Canadian culture such as the Degrassi Junior High room, The Rolling Stones room, the Spadina Hotel room and the Toronto Maples Leafs room. It had gone through numerous name changes including the Richardson House, Hotel Falconer, Zeigler’s Hotel and the Spadina Hotel. It was even the largest hostel in Toronto.
According to CTV the owner Global Villages had passed away in December and his wife no longer wanted to run the company. It was also reported that former staff at the King Street building “raided the bar before trashing the building, kicking in walls and smashing TVs.”
Below I have included the original Why I Love Toronto post in its entirety if you are interested to read Why I Loved this establishment.
Why I Love Toronto
Global Village Backpackers Hostel
As you may or may not know I spent the first two weeks of May in Ireland. While I was in Dublin I was lucky enough to stay with my biker friend Ariel, but as we branched out to different parts of the country, where Ariel did not live, we had to rely on hostels. When we got to our first hostel in Belfast I was reminded of how much I enjoy them as they are a great place to meet people and an interesting mix of demographics.
Toronto, believe it or not, has a hostel right on the corner of King and Spadina and the building surprisingly has sat on the property since 1873. Built in multiple phases by Samuel Richardson, phase one saw a two storey frame erected, followed by a third floor addition which included the buildings famous mansard roof in 1875. A decade later the complex would expand further with the addition of the four-storey building located directly behind on Spadina Ave. The complex that Richardson built over three phases served as a hotel and tavern for businessmen in the city. The hotel was known by the locals as the Richardson House and was famous for providing hot water heating and special rates for weekly boarders.
The building kept its name until 1906 two years after Richardson had passed. Since then it has gone through numerous name changes including Hotel Falconer (1906), Zeigler’s Hotel (1914), Spadina Hotel (1916) and Global Village Backpackers (1997).
Spadina Hotel was probably the longest serving name for the hotel and a google search of Spadina Hotel or Richardson House (along with its current name) will bring up the most results on the property. The reason the Spadina Hotel comes up in many of the searches is simply because the establishment took steps to restore and attract a new crowd to the hotel. In the 50’s the hotel became a major hub for artists, mostly students of the Ontario Art College (now OCAD), with the opening of the Cabana Room. There was also a restoration of the dining room on the first floor to reflect its original grandeur in 1883.
Also many notable celebrities stayed in the facility including Leonard Cohen, The Tragically Hip and the Rolling Stones. It is even rumoured that the tavern was constantly occupied by Ernest Hemingway when he worked for the Star.
It was in 1997 the building became home to the Global Village Backpackers Hostel. With over a 190 beds the hostel is the largest in the city. It has some common European hostel elements such as common rooms with couches, billiards, a kitchen, picnic tables, a patio and even a lounge/pub. There are also themed rooms dedicated to Canadian/ Toronto culture like the Degrassi Junior High room, Rolling Stones room, Spadina Hotel room and the Toronto Maples Leafs room.
With its blue façade the building is truly eye popping and easy to find for those who are coming to Toronto for the first time. It is truly a historic and iconic building and is Why I Love Toronto.