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Past STORIES / 8 Iconic Toronto Fonts and Their Origins

8 Iconic Toronto Fonts and Their Origins

1. The TTC font

Opened in 1954, the Toronto Subway brought the city and the surrounding areas into the modern age. Etched into the walls of each subway station, the Toronto Subway font is based on Futura, but contains some unique elements, like circular C’s, G’s and sharp edges on V’s and M’s. Quadrat, a local design firm who repurposed the font for online use, describes it as “very mechanical, almost naive, yet still having a certain amount of elegance.”

2. The Tim Hortons font

The Tim Hortons logo has changed several times over the years, but the typeface of the logo has remained virtually identical. That’s because it is based on the original signature of Tim Horton, the former Toronto Maple Leaf and Stanley Cup winner who died tragically in a car accident shortly after founding his iconic coffee-and-donut chain.

3. The Toronto Maple Leafs

A Toronto institution since 1917 (When they were known as the St.Pats, and before that, the Arenas) The font from the iconic Toronto Maple Leafs logo is known as Kabel Black, a typeface designed by Rudolf Koch in 1927. Koch is a famous designer from the Klingspor Type Foundry, an institution that used hot metal typesetting to create their typefaces.

4. Sam the Record Man

(Image Source: City of Toronto Archives)

Toronto’s “late-night record shop” emblazoned Yonge Street with two giant, bright red discs and was once the largest record store chain in the country. Recently, a designer created a custom font based on the ‘SAM’ portion of the signage, describing the typeface as “Very bold and slightly primitive. Sam The Record Man closed in 2007, but the sign remains in Yonge and Dundas Square”.

5. 3D Toronto Sign Font

To usher in the 2015 Pan Am Games, The City of Toronto added a three-dimensional sign to Nathan Phillips Square. Arrayed with 1300 LED lights, the 3-metre tall, 22-metre wide display is in Azo Sans Bold, a font designed by Rui Abreu from Portugal-based design foundry R-Typography.

6. Roots

(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Few brands are as synonymous with Canadian fashion and culture as Roots, the Toronto-based apparel brand founded in 1973. Designed in-house and named after graphic designer Heather Cooper, the Roots logo’s “Cooper Font” continues to appear on Roots clothing to this day. In 1985, designer Robert Burns added a beaver to the logo.

7. Honest Ed’s

A Toronto institution for decades, the eclectic and imperfect Honest Ed’s once lit up the Bloor and Bathurst corner with its giant neon signs and crowded window displays. As unique as the store itself, the hand-drawn sale item panels located around the store began with Wayne Reuben, a graphic designer who started drawing the red and blue labels in 1967, and continued to do so with a small team at the store until its closure in 2017. In 2016, The Toronto Transit Commission paid tribute to the typography by adding fake posters on the windows at the station entrance.

8. Drake’s With My Woes font

On February 13th, 2015, Toronto native Drake released a mixtape called “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late”, its cover containing the words scribbled in an almost childish fashion. The lettering inspired the creation of the “With My Woes” font based on the title, which you can download online. A rapper and entrepreneur, Drake also runs the Toronto-based October’s Very Own clothing brand.

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