Who is Frogley & what role did this Yorkville site play in Loblaws’ origin?

For many years, a row of historic storefronts along Yonge running south from Yorkville Avenue have been kept under wraps as a towering 1 Yorkville condo sprung to life. As part of the development projects the storefronts were restored with the work being unveiled in 2021. With the condo nearing completion, tenants are beginning to sign on to open up shop in one of the gorgeous buildings across from the Toronto Reference Library.

Anchoring the  row is a single building at the southwest corner of Yonge and Yorkville emblazoned with the name Frogley’s at the top. Passing by the building on dozens of occasions since the unveiling, one can’t help but wonder about the history of the name.

Here is what we know.

What is now known as the Charles Frogley Building, at 850 Yonge St., dates back almost to the incorporation of the city of Yorkville, which occurred in 1853. This particular building was built in 1855 for owner George Bostwick.

Bostwick worked as a coal merchant in Toronto, Ontario, until 1884. He died in 1916 on Toronto’s Centre Island. According the a city report, Dr. Arthur Jukes Johnson took over the building in 1875 followed by Charles Frogley in 1883. Johnson continued to occupy the building until 1885, when Frogley apparently kicks old Doc Johnson to the curb to open up a bakery.

The assessed value of the property at this point was a whopping $3,340.

Charles J. Frogley’s chapter in the building’s narrative begins in 1885 when he operated a confectionery and bakery within its walls. It’s a place where the budding baker, George Weston, reportedly honed his skills at the tender age of 12.

Weston bought his own bakery business two years later, and, well, that turned out pretty good for the Weston clan.

Frogley was a long-time baker in Yorkville and upon purchasing the 850 Yonge St. building moved his business to the busy thoroughfare.

According to another historic site, Frogley moved to Toronto from England in 1872.

“In 1874 established himself in business at 497 Yonge Street, where he remained five years, he then moved to 768 Yonge, doing business for another five years, when he bought and took possession of the large and commodious bakery and store at the above location, where he does a large wholesale and retail trade. Runs three wagons, employing five men, also keeps ice-cream and confectionery rooms.”

In 1909, Frogley sold the beautiful building, which a city report describes as follows:

The Charles Frogley Building is clad with brick and trimmed with brick, stone, terra cotta, glass and wood (the materials are now concealed by paint). The structure rises three stories to the mansard roof, which has slate cladding and fire break walls with brackets and, on the north end, chimneys (one of which has been altered). On the east slope, an oversized gabled dormer contains a pair of round-arched window openings with decorative brickwork and terra cotta trim beneath a closed pediment that incorporates the name “Frogley’s.”

In the ensuing years, the building underwent various transformations serving as a grocery store in 1923, a milk bar from 1938 to 1948 during the height of the “milk bar” trend, which was apparently quite de rigueur for the times. More recently, the building was home to The Cookbook Store, which had a 31-year run until closing in 2014 to make way for the condo.

Seems like, it would only be fitting to find a nice bakery to occupy this historic spot as a nod to the history of Yorkville, and the city.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO