299 Queen Street West
|299 Queen Street West|
299 Queen Street West, as seen from the corner of Richmond and John Streets.
|Former names||CHUM-City Building|
|Alternative names||MuchMusic World Headquarters|
|Address||299 Queen Street West|
|Town or city||Toronto|
299 Queen Street West, also known as Bell Media Queen Street, is the headquarters of the television/radio broadcast hub of Bell Canada's media unit, Bell Media located at the intersection of Queen Street West and John Street in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The building previously served as the headquarters of CTVglobemedia until Bell Canada acquired CTV in 2011 as well as CHUM Television, a division of CHUM Limited, until CTV acquired CHUM in 2007, and was once known as the CHUM-City Building.
With its 1913 neo-Gothic terra cotta façade, the building is designated as a heritage property by the City of Toronto's Heritage Preservation Services under the Ontario Heritage Act and has served as a broadcast facility since 1987.
The building serves as the official headquarters of Bell Canada's media unit, Bell Media, as well as the home of various Bell Media television properties, most of which were originally owned by CHUM, although some properties that CTV already owned prior to 2007 have moved some or all of their operations here since then as well. Current occupants include Bravo, BNN, CP24, The Comedy Network, Comedy Gold, E!, Investigation Discovery, M3, MTV2, MuchMusic and Space. In addition, selected CTV programs, including eTalk and The Marilyn Denis Show, are produced at the building.
Despite a large CTV sign on its east façade, the CTV network itself and its Toronto station, CFTO-TV have relatively little presence at the Queen Street facility, apart from the aforementioned eTalk and Marilyn, as well as CTV Toronto's downtown bureau. The primary studios for CTV Toronto, and the CTV network's national operations are located at 9 Channel Nine Court at Highway 401 and McCowan Road in Scarborough, where most of the other Bell Media's co-owned channels such as CTV News Channel, Discovery Channel Canada, TSN, and their respective offshoot channels, as well as the master controls for the CTV stations in Eastern Canada, are located (see below).
Tours of the facilities are held regularly.
History and architecture
The five-storey building was originally constructed as the headquarters of the Methodist Church of Canada in 1913 by Burke, Horwood and White. The Methodists joined with two other denominations to form the United Church of Canada in 1925, for which the building served as the headquarters until 1959. By this time the Ryerson Press, originally the publishing arm of the Methodist Church, had grown to occupy the entire building. The building was purchased by CHUM in 1985, and was re-opened in May 1987 as the new headquarters for the company and its various outlets, including Citytv Toronto (which was previously located at 99 Queen St. East).
The building's east wall is decorated with an actual older style news truck seemingly bursting out of the building; the front tires of the truck can be seen spinning from time to time. The truck previously bore the old "CityPulse Live-Eye" decal; has been overhauled with the "CP24 Breaking News" decal following the acquisition by CTVgm.
Previously, the northwest corner of the building used to contain a Speakers' Corner videobooth, where for a dollar anyone could record two minutes of oneself. The booth was removed as part of renovations and upgrades to the MuchMusic studios in 2010, and the space where the video booth was located has since been enclosed and is used as production space for the network.
While the outside facade has been restored and remains intact, the building's interior has been modernized into one of the world's most innovative media complexes. 299 Queen Street West was designed to have no TV studios: the entire building was rigged for audio and video. The building has been engineered so that public space, working areas, offices, and even the parking lot may all be used as optimal shoot locations. Many television shows produced by the various outlets operating out of the building, such as Citytv's Breakfast Television, CityLine and the former Electric Circus, were filmed live on the ground floor. The ground floor features giant glass sliding partitions so that the building can be open to the street. The annual MuchMusic Video Awards show is held as a street party that takes place in the parking lot, rooftop, as well as Queen and John Streets adjacent to the building.
299 Queen Street West served as the national broadcast headquarters for the 2007 Live Earth concert, with several CTVgm-owned media outlets and personalities collaborating to broadcast the live event nationally for 28 hours. The building also served as the headquarters for CTV's multi-platform coverage of the 32nd Toronto International Film Festival in September 2007, acting as the launching pad of red carpet coverage, galas, film parties, film premieres, festival breaking news, and other related events. Various corporate divisions, such as eTalk, Star!, MuchMusic, MTV Canada, Bravo!, FashionTelevisionChannel and Canada AM, collaborated on the event coverage.
Although acquired by Bell Media together with other CHUM entities, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission required CTVgm to sell Citytv Toronto and four other Citytv stations in Canada to Rogers Media in 2007. Since then, the Citytv signage at the front building was replaced with an eTalk logo; the Citytv logos on the landmark mural behind the Virgin Mobile at Much store were replaced and overhauled with various logos of Bell Media's co-owned television channels, as well as the logo for CTV's entertainment news program eTalk shown one dish; and the main Citytv signage on the building's east façade was replaced with a CTV logo and a private balcony, looking out from the company's boardroom. Citytv Toronto officially moved out of 299 Queen Street West into its new home at 33 Dundas Street East on September 8, 2009.
Other Bell Media facilities in Toronto
Alongside 299 Queen Street West, other Bell Media properties are operated from other facilities in the Toronto area:
- Several other Bell Media television channels, including CTV's flagship station, CTV Toronto, along with CTV News Channel, TSN, TSN2 and Discovery Channel, as well as the master controls for the CTV stations in Eastern Canada (including Winnipeg, Southwestern Ontario, Northern Ontario, Ottawa and Montreal) as well as some of the technical operations for TSN Radio 1050 are operated from 9 Channel Nine Court in Agincourt located at Highway 401 and McCowan Road.
- Studios for Bell Media's Toronto-based radio channels including TSN Radio 1050, 104.5 CHUM-FM, Newstalk 1010 and 99.9 Virgin Radio are currently located at 250 Richmond Street West at Richmond and Duncan streets which is adjacent to 299 Queen Street West.
- MTV Canada's studios are located at the Masonic Temple at Davenport Road and Yonge Street, but the station is in the process of moving to 299 Queen Street West.
- City of Toronto's Heritage Property Search. Accessed online March 10, 2010.
- BNN Wakes Up To Opening Bell Today In Brand New Toronto Studio at CTV’s Iconic Queen Street Headquarters
- "CFRB to leave landmark St. Clair offices for Queen West". Toronto Star. July 30, 2013. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
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