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Why is the MuchMusic/Citytv building festooned with marble gargoyles reading books?

Dear Urban Decoder: Why is the MuchMusic/Citytv building festooned with marble gargoyles reading books? They seem rather out of place among the pop stars and teenyboppers that frequent the joint.—John Davis, The Annex

Once upon a time, before “poets” the likes of Britney and Justin took over the corner of Queen and John, the building was home to one of Canada’s longest-running book publishers. Founded in 1829, Ryerson Publishing House discovered Robert (“There are strange things done in the midnight sun...”) Service, and over the years produced books by such great Canadian bards as Bliss Carman, Earle Birney and Milton Acorn. The company moved into its Gothic digs at 299 Queen West in 1915, and was ensconced there until 1971—by which time the poetry game was no longer paying the rent on carved-marble palaces. Ryerson was sold to an American conglomerate, and the building was left to a series of short-term tenants. MuchMusic and co. arrived in 1987, bringing a different breed of rhymers and lyricists to the space.

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