The Starbucks at the northwest corner of Yonge and College is housed in a strange red-brick building that looks like an old castle
Dear Urban Decoder: The Starbucks at the northwest corner of Yonge and College is housed in a strange red-brick building that looks like an old castle. What’s the story behind it?—Rena Macrae, Deer Park
That would be Lodge 49 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. With origins in 18th-century England, the Odd Fellows were one of the many Mason-like secret fraternities that flourished into the 19th century, back before the invention of TV. Their goal was never world domination (so they say) but to help out fellow members in times of need, financial or otherwise. For some reason, this required mystical rituals, secret passwords and handshakes, and creepy castle-like digs (Lodge 49 was built in 1891). Today, the Odd Fellows are still going strong internationally, with some 5,000 active lodges worldwide. But they’ve moved on from Toronto, thus making way for the all-powerful Cult of the Latte.