Friday, September 16, 2016

Sticky Step Twelve: Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front St. W.

While Lucas battles with a giant monster alongside Mother Wonder in front of The Dufferin Street Tunnel and Parkdale Amphitheatre, his parents, Hugh and Lauren Barrett, are at home across town watching a news story covering Hugh's early career as the Lizard-Man, Toronto's "first superhero."

The Fairmont Royal York at 100 Front St. West.

In truth, Hugh was really the founder and one-time head of a local glue manufacturer, Barrett Strong Adhesives, and the Lizard-Man was just a gimmick he'd come up with to sell more of his stock-in-trade. By applying his glue to the gloves and boots of the Lizard-Man suit, Hugh could then effortlessly scale the sides of various iconic Toronto buildings to draw attention and demonstrate the quality and strength of his product.

Hugh Barrett makes a deal with the manager of the Fairmont Royal York.

In an interview during the news story, Hugh recounts the publicity stunt that propelled him to local stardom. He'd made a wager with the manager of the Fairmont Royal York that he could climb the outside of the hotel all the way to the top. With 28 floors and over a thousand rooms, the historic hotel was the largest and tallest building in the city when it was first built in 1929, and the east wing expansion during the mid-'50s increased that room total to 1,600.

The Lizard-Man: triumpant!

So, before the construction of the CN Tower and the proliferation of skyscrapers to follow, it would still have been one of the most prominent edifices along the Toronto skyline in the late '60s and early '70s and would have presented the greatest challenge for Hugh's sticky gloves and boots.
The Fairmont Royal York seen from the observatory level of the CN Tower.

Of course, Hugh was more than up to that challenge and won himself and Lauren a week in the hotel's Royal Suite, traditionally reserved for Queen Elizabeth II and other members of "The Maple Crown" when visiting the city. They then enjoyed a period of celebrity status which included in-costume visits to kids in the hospital, partying with the stars of the day and continuing to scale the sides of famous Toronto buildings, like Honest Ed's during Ed Mirvish's famous thanksgiving turkey handouts.

Honest Ed signs from a bygone era.

Next up: The Human-Lizard takes on a worm monster and then meets up with his parents for dim sum at Golden Diamond Chinese Restaurant (formerly Bright Pearl Restaurant).


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