King Street West underwent a major facelift over the last few decades. What was once home to some of Canada’s top manufacturers is now one of Toronto’s trendiest neighbourhoods to live and work in. King Street West comprises the entertainment district as well as an innovation hot spot, with the financial centre of Canada just a few blocks East. It’s rather fitting that creative industries, such as tech start-ups and advertising agencies, are housed in these old, creative spaces. It’s safe to say King Street West has transitioned from manufacturing products to manufacturing ideas. Welcome to the new creative economy.
King Street West is one of Toronto’s oldest streets, and was named after King George III in the 19th century. King West housed mainly textile manufacturers (anyone remember the McGregor Socks factory at Wellington and Spadina?) and warehouses to support the rail yards close by.
Boomers will refer to King Street West as the ‘entertainment district’ – still an accurate title, with TIFF Bell Lightbox, home to Toronto’s International Film Festival, and David Pecaut Square- where major events Luminato, Toronto’s Festival for Arts and Creativity, and Toronto’s Fashion Week take place. Ask any local where the best restaurants or patios are, and he or she might respond with 10 recommendations all on King Street West. The TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre will host our SMWi Toronto attendees on Tuesday, June 7th, where you will hear from special guests and industry leaders like Norm Kelly, Jesse Brown, Shelby Walsh and many others in its beautiful main cinema.
Gen Y and X increasingly think of King Street West as a hub for many creative companies – from PR and advertising agencies (big and small) to tech startups and more established tech companies like eBay. These historic brick buildings house some of Toronto’s top creative talent. BrightLane, one of our core venues for SMWi Toronto, positioned at King and Portland, is a collaborative co-working space for many of entrepreneurs who all share a passion for building creative businesses. Pinch Social, host of SMWi Toronto, is based out of Brightlane. The Exchange Room, a grandiose auditorium on the first floor hosts numerous events multiple times a week. The upper 4 levels consist of fishbowl-type spaces that host teams of 1 – 10. Down the street, you will find BrainStation, another key venue space for SMWi Toronto. BrainStation consists of multiple floors of learning, hosting classes focused on technology, design, product management, and marketing. From weekend workshops, to part-time or full-time courses that will equip the next generation with the tools they need to create and innovate.
We are thrilled to be hosting SMWi Toronto in this booming neighbourhood which we also call home. Attendees will be getting a glimpse inside some incredible spaces, tour innovative partner offices, and participate in photo walks highlighting the fantastic architecture and street art in the neighbourhood.