Friday, 31 July 2009

Whew - it's history

JAM goes organic …
Av Atikian from JAMCafe (195 Carlton) has just announced that he’s now featuring organically raised quail and squab from CRO Quail Farms in Niagara. High quality, locally raised and organic – a very nice presentation. JAM continues to offer “No Corkage Sundays” – bring your own bottle of wine and JAM will open and pour it for you at no charge.
JAM has one of Cabbagetown’s prettiest patios so plan your visit when it’s a dry, clear summery day.

By the way, Ontario regulations forbid us from bringing our own homemade wines into restaurants for these programs – a real shame for those of us who love our $2 bottles of 2009 Chateau Wellesley.

Diggity Dog
Every month, Marilyn visits Pet Valu (240 Carlton) and gives your favourite pet a pawdicure (nail trimming). She'll be there on Saturday. Just $10 gets this treat for your friends.

Epicure brings in more Niagara cheese
The Epicure Shop (473 Parliament) once again has Niagara Gold Comfort Cream artisan cheese in stock. It’s from the Upper Canada Cheese Company and it’s made with milk from Guernsey cows. Patty also has a new shipment of her seven-year-old white cheddar from Quebec (she had to restock after our purchase!) She’s selling it at $4.99/100 grams - a great price for a great cheese. Epicure is open all weekend so you can handle last minute items even on Monday.

Cabbagetown’s own street food
Elsewhere in Toronto, food carts selling more than just hot dogs and greasy sausages have been popping up here and there on street corners and public squares. No need for them here.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been conducting a personal survey of quick lunches and finger food from our own local establishments. These lunches are outdoor stand-up and bench specials.
With summer’s nice hot weather at hand, here’s a list of our fun lunchtime spots where you can grab a cheap-and-cheery meal, take it outside, find a perch and enjoy yourself thoroughly.
Up at Wellesley and Parliament, Krishna (585 Parliament) has a delicious mixed curry meal – usually four vegetable curries combined with chicken, fish or lamb - plus a crispy pappadom. All sitting on a big bed of rice. Good for two people if you like to share. $6.
Next door at 589 Parliament, Absolute Bakery has sandwiches, soups, curried meat rolls, samosas and baked goods. Various prices, all inexpensive.
In the middle of our area, St Jamestown Deli (516 Parliament) usually has two or three soup choices (very garlicky gazpacho – yummy), a huge range of sandwiches, buns, breads and garnishes. They also have chilled, chopped melon and other fruit in small lunch-size containers. Your appetite is the only barrier against escaping for well under $10. They have a nice outdoor patio.
At 248 Carlton, Daniel et Daniel bring a decidedly sophisticated style to lunch. As a big plus, they also have outdoor benches where you can sit and munch while you watch across the street as the slaves at the BIA work their fingers to the bone. Sandwiches in chewy rolls, soups in three sizes and desserts to die for. About $10.

The Epicure Shop at 473 Parliament has daily lunch specials (soup or tossed salad with your choice of sandwiches in breads or Kaisers) at $5.99. Get a lunch card – for every eight lunch specials, you’ll get one free. And Tuesday is homemade pizza day - $1.99 for a slice.
2-4-1 Pizza (451 Parliament) always has delicious slices ready to go. Lunch business is very brisk so the slices are always fresh. These are big pieces of pizza – about $3. We’re hidebound traditionalists so pepperoni is always the choice. They have lots of others as well.

Falafel is a headliner at Mamma’s Deli (415 Parliament – just north of Gerrard). You can have it as a sandwich or for a bit extra, as a full falafel dinner (about $7.50). We always take the full dinner complete with hot sauce.

Don’t forget Tim Horton’s, Subway, Mr Sub and Pizza Pizza. They’re topics for another day when we’ll work our way through our favourite franchises. We’ll also be doing a detailed study of restaurants and pubs – but they’ll be a winter project.

Congratulations to Jet Fuel
In blogTO, Dar Mustafa describes our landmark coffee shop as “…rock ‘n roll. Not folky or indie or garagey but like, the old fashioned kind. The kind that drives a Harley.” (519 Parliament) It’s a great review and you can read it here:

This week at Barracuda
Barracuda’s manager, Graham, has a nice line of hand-blown Mexican glassware available in a variety of shapes and colours. Prices range from mugs at $9/each (4 for $32) to fruit bowls at $35. In between, there are juice glasses, shot glasses, wine glasses, martini glasses and various pitchers at moderate prices. Drop in for a quick browse. (527 Parliament)

Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club
Program staff are now being hired for the After School & Evening Teen Program. Applicants must be over 16 years old, have some experience with children and youth aged 6 to 18, show good supervision and planning skills, and possess current first-aid and CPR qualifications and High Five PHCD. There are a variety of positions open at three of the downtown Clubs for the 2009-2010 school year. The Cabbagetown Club is located at 101 Spruce Street. For more information, contact Jessica Lawlor at Send a resume and covering letter by August 7.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Peggy Kurtin

Last week, sadly, we went to Peggy’s funeral. Her passing is a major loss for our community. Many others have already told us their memories and praised her contributions to the protection and enhancement of Cabbagetown’s architectural treasures. A few years ago, she worked with the BIA to protect the heritage qualities of the buildings along Carlton Street. This was no easy task since commercial interests can often run counter to preservation efforts. Despite such potential problems, Carlton became one of the first commercial districts in Toronto to receive a heritage district designation and this designation passed without a complaint from the area’s owners and businesses. It’s fitting that we now have a beautiful street full of Victorian buildings standing as a memento to Peggy’s leadership and hard work.

Both sides now…
Cabbagetown’s “benches” controversy attracted the attention of the CBC this week. As a result, there’s a balanced presentation from both sides in the debate in this audio clip courtesy of Metro Morning. Check it out and make up your own mind: click here and scroll down the page to “Cabbagetown Benches or Not”:

Sweet Creamery
Our Cabbagetown summer sure is in full swing on Parliament, especially here. Emilio and Tom have made their shop (521 Parliament) an inviting place to visit with comfortable seats and a table outside. We’re hearing high praise for their gelato and for the Kawartha Dairy ice cream.
As promised, baked goods are now also available – including a tiramisu cake and a gelato cake. The BIA staff did a taste test on the macadamia caramel chocolate mousse tart – it was terrific. Each flavour stood out without a heavy or cloying sweetness. One tart was just fine for the three of us.

Sofia and Sachi ordered a hazelnut, raspberry caramel ice cream dish and got extra toppings to finish it off. Since they’re sharing, they got a triple. Dancers (they’re students at the CCDT) need the energy.

Save the Jarvis Pool
Young people from across our neighbourhood have used the Jarvis Collegiate swimming pool for years. Now, because of budget restraints at both the City and the school board, the pool faces closure in December. In fact, even now, it’s unused.
You can help to save the pool. It’s possible. Pledges and gifts totaling over $20,000 have already been received to defray the costs of the pool’s operation.
To learn more about this vital effort and to find out how you can help, click here:

Riverdale Farm Calendar
We’ve just added the 2010 Riverdale Farm Calendar to our list of Cabbagetown souvenirs. Published annually, the calendar is a fundraising project organized by the Riverdale Farm Advisory Council and proceeds from its sale are used to enhance the Farm. Twelve striking photographs illustrate life throughout the year at the Farm. You can buy your copy for $10 from our office at 237 Carlton and from the Riverdale Farm office at 201 Winchester.

Farmers’ Market
Fans of organic and locally grown foods have long enjoyed the summer market at Riverdale Farm. During the municipal employees’ strike, the location has moved to the nearby north boulevard along Winchester, right beside the Park. The hours, as always are 3 to 7 pm, every Tuesday afternoon. The market, by the way, continues to operate with the blessing of both the city’s Parks Administration and the Union representing striking workers.

The Epicure Shop
Patty Junior continues her enjoyable feast of Quebec specialties. This week, she has a seven-year-old white cheddar on special at $4.89/100 grams along with wild boar, peppercorn and cognac pates. From closer to home, she has a new shipment from Niagara on the Lake - Greaves jams and jellies on special at 3 for $9.99. Be sure to visit to see more of her goodies. (473 Parliament)

Eclectisaurus summer sale
On Gerrard Street, Leslie is hosting her annual summer sale of art, antiques and brocante, everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Her sale (30% off) runs on Saturday from noon to 7 pm and on Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. Her website at gives you a great overview of her offerings. Eclectisaurus is located at 249 Gerrard Street East.

Hairlift Group
Kiki is searching for an experienced hair stylist to join her salon. You can contact her at
503B Parliament, (416) 924-7891.

Keeping our street clean
We owe a huge thanks to Richard Silver, John Englar from Jet Fuel (519 Parliament) and a crowd of volunteers who have been cleaning litter and debris from Parliament Street every Sunday for the past three weeks. This isn’t an easy job but they’ve kept at it and the street looks so much better because of their efforts.
Week 4 in the clean-up campaign happens on Sunday July 26 at 10 am. Come to Jet Fuel at 519 Parliament and bring a broom, a dustpan and gloves. Your one-hour effort will polish our streets and keep them livable through these difficulties.
Thanks as well to Matt McAllister who has been attacking the mid-week litter on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Yoga Festival Toronto
Dennison from Renaissance Yoga (391 Ontario) wants us to remind you that the Yoga Festival is taking place on August 21, 22 and 23 and that events and classes are starting to fill. You’re urged to register as soon as you can.
This grassroots yoga event brings all of Toronto’s major studios together. You can learn more about the Festival and its participants at
Cabbagetown is well represented this year. Much of the work organizing the Festival is being handled by Dennison and Matthew at Renaissance Yoga. Maggie O’Connor at The Union (242 Carlton) is the Arts Coordinator.

Friday, 10 July 2009


Many people have heard about a recent controversy about public seating at three street corners in Cabbagetown. We’re writing to tell you our side of this story.

We’re planning three new park areas on the northeast corners of Parliament at Winchester, Carlton and Spruce. These places are currently rundown and shabby. They have great potential for gardens and trees because they receive constant sunshine all year round. They’re also big enough to accommodate seats and tables. Because our sidewalks are very narrow, we can’t put public seating there and our restaurants can’t add the charm of street-level patios. We do have room on these boulevards.

Some residents are worried because they see these seats as an incentive to people who want to loiter, panhandle or conduct criminal acts. This is especially true at Winchester.

The development of the bench areas on the north side (of Winchester) needs to be discussed widely with residents in order to reach a community consensus before this plan is started. - Excerpt from the Board's Minutes, May 13.

We’ve taken those worries into account. Here’s our plan:

1) We suggest a “test case” at Carlton and Parliament. This boulevard is currently being torn up by construction for the new commercial building. When the landscaping starts, we’ll help with trees, seats, interlocking brick and a place to put public art. The seating will be designed so that people can’t sleep on it.
This is a pilot project. If it works, we’ll all enjoy these facilities. If a problem develops, we’ll try to fix it. If we can’t fix the problem, we’ll remove the seats.

When the sidewalk areas are repaired after the construction finishes, Carlton will be a good place for our first test case. We can try out our ideas here and if nearby residents or businesses find problems, we can fix them or remove the furniture.

2) We’re going to phase in our new plans. Nothing will happen overnight. In fact, the project at Winchester won’t happen for several years. Before we start there, we’ll want to know what happens at Carlton. Then we’ll need detailed plans, public consultations, a budget and possible partners to share the costs. All of this will take quite a while.
At Winchester we’ll again be testing everything. If something goes wrong, we’ll remove it.
The same will be true at Spruce.

3) We’ll be talking to you, our neighbours, before each phase starts. We made this commitment at our May 13 Board of Management meeting. It’s a commitment that Councillor Pam McConnell expects us to meet. It will be a requirement from the City of Toronto before we get permits.

The crumbling infrastructure at Winchester - with new bricks, gardens and the existing trees, this area can be a lovely place to sit and a great gateway into the nearby residential streets.

We’re going to be practical and flexible. We’re going to take our time and go ahead step-by-step, learning as we go. We want the final results to benefit everyone.

The ideas for these boulevard parks come from our new Streetscape Revitalization Plan. Seating is one small element in a series of big improvements for our shopping areas on Parliament, Gerrard and Carlton. Other changes include hanging flower baskets, special bike racks, bumpouts into the street at strategic locations, more trees and greenery, uniform logos to identify Cabbagetown and interlocking brickwork on the sidewalk.

At Spruce Street, we can see the basic elements that will make some of these changes work - good sunshine for plants and a wider boulevard for gardens, trees and furniture. The other corners also have these benefits. This corner presently experiences unpleasant social issues and so anything that we try here must be done carefully. Changes here will happen many years in the future. Local residents have a good track record cleaning up the problems and their opinions will be very important parts of any decision-making.

We think that Cabbagetown is changing. Many of the disruptive and criminal activities that occurred here have disappeared. For example, look at the success of the Carlton and Parliament corner where criminal activity used to happen virtually every night. Or look at Winchester where the beautiful building and the Tim Hortons have replaced a tired old tavern that caused constant problems. As Regent Park is rebuilt, similar benefits will come at Spruce. In addition, the police at 51 Division are now more visible with street patrols and bike patrols and we’re getting regular help with street people from the highly effective Streets-to-Homes Program. All of this is good news.

We can take advantage of these benefits by making our neighbourhood more liveable for you. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a place to meet your friends? A place to sit while you’re shopping. A place to eat your lunch or simply to watch other people. Our goal is to improve our neighbourhood and to make it friendlier for everyone.

We don’t have to run away from opportunities because we’re afraid. We can, instead, create and embrace opportunities and then deal with problems if and when they happen.

This plan is our vision for the future. It includes you: consultation is a basic ingredient in our approach. It’s flexible: it can be changed as we decide to change it. It’s long-range: there are no pressing deadlines.

The Board of Management
Cabbagetown Business Improvement Area

For more information, please go to and click on the Cabbage image. The plan can be seen there.
For weekly updates about Cabbagetown events, visit
For specific names and links, visit

Friday, 3 July 2009

Friends and neighbours are pitching in …

Many thanks for everyone’s help during the current civic strike. People really seem to understand how hard it is to keep our area clean and they're ready to pitch in with their help when it's needed. George Smitherman and his staff have offered, for example, to put together a volunteer team and attack garbage pile-ups in the neighbourhood.

Richard Silver is organizing a Sunday morning clean-up along Parliament Street. Bring your own brooms and other equipment and he’ll supply biodegradeable bags. Join Richard at Jet Fuel (519 Parliament) at 10 am on Sunday. When you’re finished, John Englar will use his truck to cart the bags to the dump.

In the meantime, the BIA has hired Matt “Sweeps” McAllister to clean our streets twice a week for the duration of the strike. Sweeps started on Friday and he’s been attacking the big problem areas first. He’ll soon be on top of the worst and then he’ll be able to do smaller litter on the walks and near the curb.

Thanks as well to Don Taggart at Nettleships Paint & Hardware (576 Parliament). He helped us find some equipment that’s making Sweeps' work a lot easier.

When Sweeps has filled his bags, they’ll be taken to the dump by Ryan Taylor from Fair Trade Jewellers, the new store that’s currently under construction at 523 Parliament. Ryan is doing this as a contribution to the international charity, War Child. All of the fees that he’s collecting will be used to help child soldiers who have been rescued from armies and warlords around the world.
Ryan’s project has caught the attention of The Star. They profiled his project at

Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star

And please, don’t do this.

Nettleship’s new mural
And speaking of Nettleship’s, they’ve just finished a new mural on their small southern wall. If you want more information about the artist, Justin Wilson, you can contact him at

Johnny G’s gets a facelift A spiffy new coat of paint is just the first step in Johnny G’s renovations. Betty tells us that they’ll soon be sporting a new awning and that new furniture and a paint job will be added to the interior. Their windows and seating arrangements give the restaurant a patio feel that’s very welcome throughout the summer. 478 Parliament.

Welcome to A+ Academy
A+ Academy has just opened its doors at 566 Parliament. They’re offering tutoring services in a wide range of academic subjects from kindergarten through high school and they have a variety of music specialties. For more information, call Jeyarajah at (416) 432-7405 or Bridget Susi Antony at (416) 579-3696

Trim those nails
Marilyn from Diggity Dog is back again this Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm at Pet Valu (240 Carlton). She’ll give your pooch a pawdicure (trimming nails) for only $10.

T Shirt time
Once again, we’ve got our signature black and green Tee’s waiting for you. Last year, we sold them to a world-wide audience and our cabbages sprouted up from southern Australia to northern England. Of course, most of them were sold and worn right here and we’re ready to fill your needs again.
Shirley, Chris and James found that wine in the Okanagan Valley goes down a lot better in a Cabbagetown Tee. Chris is the proud designer of our unique wardrobe item.

Krishna’s curry
Anyone (like me) who loves curry will welcome the little outlet at Krishna (585 Parliament). For only $6, you can buy a takeout lunch featuring several vegetarian curries and a topping of either chicken or lamb curry, all on a generous bed of rice. $1 gets you three delicious samosas.

Music on Parliament
Our annual springtime series of mini-concerts on Parliament has ended. We had an extra run with six weeks instead of our usual four and that seems like a good idea for the future.
Last Saturday afternoon, we featured jazz favourites from Ian Hamilton (right) and his group at our Winchester area.

At Spruce and Parliament, Snooky Tynes and his family played a special tribute to Michael Jackson.