Friday, 28 August 2009

In memory of a good friend
Those of us who knew the late Winston Sargeant miss him, especially at this time of year. “Sarge” always organized his table tennis matches during the Cabbagetown Festival and he brought crowds of players into our neighbourhood to participate. A skilled player himself, he had started his Cabbagetown Table Tennis Club for kids from Regent Park but that effort sadly was cut short when he died. His wife Joan and his sons Terence and Winston have generously donated $200 in his memory for this year’s Festival events. It’s a thoughtful gift to honour a good friend and a committed member of our community.

A tough week…
Last week ended badly for many Cabbagetown merchants. On Saturday, a 24-hour hydro blackout crippled businesses and residents south of Carlton. Our No Frills store brought in a generator to save its food. Others ended up tossing out their perishables. All of this came on top of a day’s lost income.
During the blackout and after it, we’ve suffered a spate of break-and-enters. The usual approach was a broken front window, a quick entry and then away. One dimwit tried this at The Ben Wicks, couldn’t succeed in the first try, came back again and was nabbed by the police. For the businesses victimized by this harassment, the mess and costs for the damage are as bad as the actual thefts.
Finally, the Winchester suffered a roof fire that was widely publicized in Toronto’s media. Building owner John Bernardo reports that the actual impact was limited. The blaze was started by a short-circuit in roofing equipment left on the roof. Alert people nearby called 9-1-1 and the fire was extinguished without spreading indoors or onto the building’s heritage features. Residents and businesses are enjoying life as usual.
It’s often said that trouble comes in “three’s”. Let’s hope that’s the end of it all for now.

JAMCafe wine tasting
All of this bad news makes us ready for a good wine tasting and JAM (195 Carlton) is ready to go. On Wednesday, September 2 at 6:30 pm, they’re hosting Ecluse Winery and serving selected hors d’oeuvres to match the wines. Ecluse is a small California vineyard that produces award-winning Rhone and Bordeaux style wines. They’re sending a winemaker to comment on each wine and answer your questions. Reservations are recommended: (416) 921-1255.

A Festival preview … Events on Carlton Street
Saturday, September 12 – 9:00 am to 8:30 pm
This year, we have an amazing program lined up for Carlton Street throughout Saturday’s events.
8:30 to 10:30 pm – Blair’s Run.
One of the Festival’s premier events – this 3 km mini-marathon draws hundreds of runners in a massive fundraiser for the Cabbagetown Youth Centre.
10:30 to 5:30 pm – Cabbagetown Artists Event.
The main event in our Carlton calendar features Cabbagetown artists who will display their work in a special block-long area down the middle of the street.
Noon – Nunca Antes drum concert
Following the Parade, Nunca Antes will play for an hour at Parliament & Carlton
1 to 5 pm – Jim Heineman’s Trio
Celebrated jazz musician and Cabbagetown resident, Jim Heineman, brings his trio for the afternoon’s festivities.
1 pm onward? Rumours and suspicions from Pet Valu
We think, but aren’t certain, that Pet Valu will bring back their amazing pet psychic. If that person reads my dog’s thoughts, it’s guaranteed he’ll be dreaming of kibble.
2 pm – Louise Kent Performance
From Free the Children and Me To We, Louise Kent brings her socially conscious music documenting the struggles and victories involved in making a difference in our world.
11 am to 8:30 pm – Brass Taps
This big outdoor patio will serve cold drinks, pizza and other goodies from their kitchen.
11 am to closing – Daniel et Daniel
The Food Shop has a special Festival takeout menu. There will be tables and chairs outdoors so you can watch all the action on the street.
11 am to closing time…
Margarita’s Mexican Fiesta
Escape the hustle and bustle in Margarita’s back patio - a favourite destination for people who want to enjoy great food without the noise and excitement of the nearby streets.
Experience Plum 226
Our newest restaurant has an intriguing Italian-influenced menu. Completely renovated. Their patio is the last stop along the Festival roadway and one of our prettiest places.
One of Toronto's top ten restaurants. This gem offers a great view of Festival life on Carlton from a beautifully designed dining area.
China Gourmet
From egg rolls onward, this is the place for great takeout Chinese food. Get some to enjoy while you watch the performances or check out the artwork.
Healthy Whey
New this year – Healthy Whey will offer biryanis and soft drinks at tables in front of the store.
Mi Casa
Irresistible furniture. Every year, they have sales and specials during the Festival. Don’t miss it.

Welcome to three new restaurants
The Samovar Room at 51A Winchester is in the landmark upper floor of the Winchester. It’s a vodka themed bar. Their food menu ranges from caviar to charcuterie and cheeses. For all the details, visit their website at

Downstairs, The Stonegrill has returned and is a welcome spot in our restaurant scene. They offer dishes waiting for your final touch cooking on the stone at your table or selections from the menu prepared in the kitchen. Sunday brunch includes live jazz from 11 am.
Plum 226 (226 Carlton) is newly opened and offers an intriguing Italian-influenced menu. The site has been completely renovated. The patio still has its pretty setting with historical Carlton Street in the background. More on each of these newcomers when the Festival finishes.

The Epicure Shop
This week, Patty continues her promotions for buffalo mozzarella. She also has 6-year old balsamic vinegar for $3.99 (regularly $6.99). 473 Parliament.

Cabbagetown Art Salon Here’s a sneak preview of a very charming idea that’s being worked up by three people from different parts of Cabbagetown for Saturday evening, September 26 at 6:30 pm. It’s the 2nd Annual Cabbagetown Art Salon. Held in three different homes, you’ll view their art collections and enjoy cocktails, appetizers, a buffet table and desserts during one evening. Following dinner at these homes, the group will travel on to the Ben Wicks for live jazz with composer/pianist Stacie McGregor. The sponsors are residents’ groups from Aberdeen Avenue, Cabbagetown South and Don Vale. So what’s the catch – there’ll only be fifty tickets sold. You can purchase your tickets at the BIA ( or through Cabbagetown South ( $40 for the Art Salon and $10 for jazz at the Ben Wicks.

Friday, 21 August 2009

It’s That Time Again…
Advance Festival Information
Here’s a quick rundown of times and events with links to more information:

Friday, September 11

Art & Crafts in the Park, Riverdale Park, from 3 pm
This is the great art & crafts event held annually in Riverdale Park. It attracts thousands of visitors who wander comfortably through the tents and enjoy the exhibits from 200 artists. It runs from Friday afternoon (1 to 6pm) through Saturday and Sunday (10 am to 6 pm.)

Cabbagetown Short Film & Video Festival, 7 pm

There may be media coverage of that other film festival, but the real glamour happens here.
16 short films from around the world and around the corner. This is always a marvelous evening. It’s funny, exciting, challenging, romantic – wherever the films take us. Space is limited and the tickets are cheap ($15).

Saturday September 12 & Sunday, September 13

Blair’s Run, Cabbagetown Parade & Street Festival

Blair's Run is always happy mayhem. It's the first big event of our program on Saturday morning.

After the Parade, the Sandhill Pipers like to retire and enjoy some adult beverages at The Ben Wicks (424 Parliament.) The crowd gathered there always enjoys their arrival.

Cutting the cabbage officially launches the Festival. Each year a different person does the job. In 2007, Daniel Claret (Daniel et Daniel, 248 Carlton) showed the rest of the world how this job is really done.

This year, our theme is Celebrating Cabbagetown. We’ve got souvenirs, artists and musicians and we’re highlighting Cabbagetown’s personalities. Our weekend is jammed full of stuff – something for everyone’s taste. Outdoor patios and barbeques will be set up on Parliament Street. Long-time Cabbagetown favourites like Go Freddy Go and Danny Marks are joined by newcomers Marinda + Solari. You can get temporary henna tattoos, a personal portrait, balloons for your kids and lots of crafts and goodies from our street vendors.

Go Freddy Go always pack in the crowds at House on Parliament on Saturday afternoon. It's also a lovely patio for people watching and good friendships.

On Sunday, Danny Marks is our feature entertainer at the Cabbagetown Stage at Winchester & Parliament.

And in other news...

JAMCafe has a new wine tasting

These events are always worth the wait. It’s happening on Wednesday, September 2 at 6:30 pm at 195 Carlton.
Six wines from Ecluse are being sampled and paired with JAM’s hors d’oeuvres. Ecluse is a small boutique winery from Paso Robles California that uses classic vinifera grapes for its award-winning Rhone and Bordeaux style wines. The winemaker will be present to explain each wine and answer your questions.
Reservations are suggested: (416) 921-1255.

The Epicure Shop
Patty wants us to remind you about her new website: It's very attractive and easy to use.
This week, she has more buffalo mozzarella from Italy and her bestselling white cheddar from Quebec (on special at $4.59/100 g). She also has her shipment of new jams from Greaves and they’re on special at 3 for $9.99. 473 Parliament.

Weekly catalogues
This is just a reminder. Click on the link on the sidebar Cabbagetown Online Flyers and you’ll find the weekly catalogues from Luciano’s No Frills, Home Hardware and Shopper’s Drug Mart. You may have to add the local store name (eg Luciano's No Frills) to get the appropriate catalogue. These are often big websites and may take a second to download.

The Mad Mexicans are coming back

Cabbagetown Organics (499 Parliament) tell me that their free sampling this week will again highlight Mad Mexican chips and salsas. They were a big hit last week and so they’ll be featured on Saturday for another visit. When you’re passing the stores, grab a chip and go crazy.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Hanging flower baskets
At long last, we’ve got our flowers to brag about. They’re hanging on thirty poles across the area – test cases to see how they look and to learn what’s involved caring for them. It’s been a long road getting here. We first applied in April, waded through various agency approvals in May and June, endured a strike in July and then in August (when hope had really dimmed), flowers suddenly bloomed on poles throughout our area. Although it’s now late in the season, we persevered. And the result is well worth the effort.
Next year, we’ll add another 30 pots and fill in the gaps. These flower baskets are one of the first achievements that we’ve had arising from our new Revitalization Plan. The installations happened overnight - each basket weighs about 75 pounds.

Free food
I bet that headline gets your attention.
Every weekend, Cabbagetown Organics (499 Parliament) is offering samplings of the fine products on sale in their store. This week, you can try out Mad Mexican salsas and chips – both big favourites at our house. On Saturday, if you’re hungry or curious, drop by, say hello to Sam and try a chip.

Festival Tees
David & Sharon showing off her new Tee-shirt displays
Our retail empire is expanding. Sharon’s (503 Parliament) has agreed to sell our Tee’s for the next month during the frenzied build-up to the Cabbagetown Festival. She has four sizes available: small, medium, large and XL, all at our regular bargain price of $10. Drop in and pick up a few for your family.

Speaking of Tees
These athletic Cabbagetowners took our Tee and our flag to Prince Edward County for a bike trip.
Whenever we get photographic evidence, we’re showing how our Tees have traveled the face of the Earth. Last year’s edition reached into the distant corners of southern Australia and spanned the globe back to Leeds England, journeyed to the Okanagan and of course, blanketed Toronto. So, if you’re on holiday wearing your sophisticated Tee, grab a photo and send it to us.

NOW Magazine ranks Toronto’s best ice cream stores …
Congratulations to Sweet Creamery (521 Parliament). They’ve only been open for a few weeks and they’re already ranked among Toronto’s top ten ice cream stores by NOW Magazine. You can read all about it here:

Mug time
Daniel et Daniel (248 Carlton) have added a sexy line of travel mugs to the Food Shop’s shelves. If you buy one at $9.95, you’ll get a free coffee to fill it and then you’ll get your future coffees for only 95 cents.

Martha Baillie
Martha Baillie's self-portrait
If you visit the Parliament Street Library (269 Gerrard), Martha Baillie will be a familiar face for you. You may not know it but she writes books as well as tending carefully to them in the library. Her latest combines both careers. Her enjoyment of library life has given her the raw material for The Incident Report, a collection of stories about the mad and marvelous patrons at her library. At, you can find out more about her novels and her bio. Get a copy of her book – who knows, you might be in it.

Picnic time
George Smitherman and Bob Rae, our two elected representatives, occupy a spiffy office located between the LCBO and St Jamestown Steak & Chops at 514 Parliament. We’re pleased to have them as members of our BIA. In low-keyed but important ways, they deliver needed help to both businesses and residents in Cabbagetown. On Sunday August 16 from noon to 3 pm, they’re hosting their annual Toronto Centre Community Picnic in Allan Gardens (Sherbourne and Carlton).

Nettleship is on television
For several hours this week, Nettleship’s became a movie set as carpenters, painters, actors and cameras transformed it into “Coopers Hardware” for the television series Flashpoint. Showing on CTV and CBS, Flashpoint is a drama that depicts “the tough, risk-filled lives of a group of cops.” Frankly, when we think about “tough and risky”, Nettleship’s doesn’t usually spring to mind. Instead, we think about Dudley (the household dog) or Don’s expertise with paints or Marg’s lifelong affection for Cabbagetown. This is the real Nettleships - Dudley is the guy on the left.

If show biz is your ambition Number 9 Audio Group (222 Gerrard East) are offering you a chance to learn audio engineering in a professional recording studio. It’s a one-on-one, hands-on curriculum with Bernie Cisternas as your instructor and topics range from drum processing to sequencing and sampling. Get lots more information and contacts at

Lightning strikes
Cabbagetown businessman James Woollatt from Blink Blink (603 ½ Parliament) captured last Sunday’s thunderstorm in a video taken from the twenty-first floor of an apartment that overlooks Cabbagetown and downtown Toronto. His 24-second video dramatically shows the power of a single lightning bolt