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Archive for October, 2015

Say Si to Little Italy

Monday, October 26th, 2015

untitledLittle Italy, that area that is sometimes referred to as College Street West, earned its name after the many Italian immigrants who called the neighbourhood home and in spite of the wave of other immigrant populations who also took up residence there over the years.

Today, Toronto’s first Little Italy boasts night clubs and cafes, unique retail shops and small businesses. Thanks to its proximity to downtown, the neighbourhood is popular with young people also because of its vibrant nightlife and amenities.


Little Italy comprises mostly detached or semi-detached single family homes dating back to the early-1900s Edwardian period, with front porches and smaller lots.

A plaza at Grace and College features a statue of much-loved Italian son Johnny Lombardi, who established the country’s first Italian radio station there in 1966. CHIN was Canada’s first multicultural radio station and it launched from studios on the south side of College between Grace and Clinton, on the second floor of Lombardi’s supermarket at 637 College Street. The studio is now located at 622 College Street, and the section of the street has been officially nicknamed Johnny Lombardi Way by the City of Toronto.

Other neighboruhood markers include the Italian Walk of Fame on the sidewalk along College in front of the Royal Cinema. This permanent marker acknowledges the achievements and accomplishments of successful persons of Italian heritage with inductees such as Dean Martin, Phil Esposito, Bobby Curtola and Julian Fantino.

Though more Portuguese now live in Little Italy than Italians, many of whom moved northwest of the city and to areas such as Vaughan and Mississauga, the neighbourhood has long been home to a wide assortment of cultures such as African Americans, eastern European Jews, South Americans and Asians.

The first Italians, though, began trickling into the area in the mid 1850s. Toward the end of that century, many of the Italian newcomers hailed from northern Italy or Genoa and they were often craftspersons, pedlars and service tradespersons.

But prior to the influx of Italians, the area housed a good number of black families thanks to Thornton Blackburn, a fugitive black American slave who made his way to Canada in the 1830s and bought up properties that he rented out to recently arrived black slaves.  The area became known as The Ward, which was an informal colloquialism for St. John’s Ward.

The Ward would see successive waves of refugees, immigrants and persons avoiding persecution in their homelands seeking shelter within the confines of this densely populated slum. It was home to refugees who escaped the European Revolution of 1848, the Irish Potato Famine, the Underground Railroad, as well as refugees from Russia and Eastern Europe.

The Ward became the centre of the city’s significant Jewish community.  By the 1920s, as the Jews became more settled and established, they moved west to Spadina and the Kensington Market area.

While many Italians have moved out of the neighbourhood, it still maintains a distinctly Italian sense thanks to its lively trattorias, outdoor cafes and neighbourhood pizzerias. Gelato anyone?


Fall for autumn this October

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

The crisp fall air is a great time to explore your city, whether you’re into hiking, shopping or just strolling along sidewalk. In the lead up to Halloween, Toronto is a great source for adventure both ghoulish and fun.

Let’s take a look:

International Festival of Authors

Oct. 22 to Nov. 1 — Eleven days of readings, interviews, lectures, round-table discussions, public book signings and a number of special events. For more info, see website.

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Oct. 15 to 23 – If you’re into horror, sci-fi, action and cult cinema this is your festival. This nine-day event screens about 50 new feature films and shorts at the Scotiabank Theatre on Richmond St. W. Enjoy Q & As and social events with filmmakers and the much-loved Zombie Night which sees fans dress as the undead. See Toronto After Dark for details.

Art Toronto

Oct. 23 to 26 – Gaze thousands of artworks from modern masters to contemporary art as well as photography and video at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Front Street W. See Art Toronto for more detail.

Toronto Ghost Walk

Until Oct. 31 — This two-hour walking tour introduces you to the haunted and terrifying history of Toronto’s downtown. Beginning at the University of Toronto, the tour points out where actual murders took place and tells tales of ghosts who are said to haunt their respective homes and buildings.

Pumpkinland and Harvest Festival

Sept. 24 to Oct. 31 – A sea of orange awaits you at this festival that honours fall’s most showy squash. Enjoy tractor-drawn wagon rides, mazes and other Halloween themed fun. Head to Whittamore’s Berry Farm near Steeles Ave. East in Markham. See Whittamore’s Berry for more details.


Until Oct. 31 – Meant to horrify and frighten this Halloween tradition takes over the CNE grounds with haunted houses, mazes, monsters, creatures and much more scary stuff. Don’t forget to check out the Vampire Lounge, the Slasher Wax Museum in addition to an arcade and carnival rides. Click here for more details..

Toronto Chocolate Festival

Oct. 17 – Nov. 8 – From a chocolate high tea to a chocolate show at Roy Thomson Hall to the annual chocolate ball, this 10th annual event has something for every cocoa lover.  See Toronto Chocolate Festival for more details.

Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen

Oct. 30 – Jan. 24 – The TIFF Bell Lighbox presents this exhibit featuring the personal collection of Andy Warhol. Get a glimpse of the artist’s celebrity obsession thanks to his collection of Hollywood artifacts and memorabilia, artwork, film, video and photographs.

Cedarvale: Hemingway and Irony

Monday, October 19th, 2015

It is the colour of a neighbourhood that gives it its sense of purpose and its ethos. Colour is a feature that lends an interesting quality to something. In neighbourhoods, it can come from its people, institutions, commerce, architecture, nature and so much more.


Does it not strike you a tad ironic that the Cedarvale neighbourhood — once home to literary heavyweight Ernest Hemingway – does not possess one single public library? Certainly, Ernie would have seen it that way. But back in the 1920s, before he gained fame as a great American novelist, he was simply a newspaperman for the Toronto Daily Star. During his time here, Hemingway lived in an apartment in Cedarvale in what was then called the Cedarvale Mansions. Located at 1597-1599 Bathurst Street, the building is known today as The Hemingway and it is now a condominium.


Book worms need not fear, though. Cedarvale residents can access libraries nearby at the Oakwood Village, the Maria A. Shchuka, the Wychwood, the St. Clair-Dufferin or the Forest Hill public libraries.

The neighbourhood’s defining feature is the Cedarvale Ravine, which cuts a wide diagonal swath through the middle of Cedarvale. The 35-acre Cedarvale Park is nestled within the ravine and offers numerous recreational opportunities. Hemingway, by the way, is said to have frequented the park’s path, which back then was used as a cattle path.

A creek once ran through the park but now is completely buried. The ravine in this tony neighbourhood was slated for the development of mansions in the 1920s and ‘30s, but the Great Depression dashed that plan. Interestingly a few decades later, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there was support for the Spadina Expressway, a highway that would be built right through the park. But strong opposition, led by former Cedarvale resident Jane Jacobs, halted the project.

The neighbourhood is known for some of its very good schools, the Reform Jewish day school, Leo Baeck,  St. Michael’s College School, a private, all-boys’ school and Forest Hill Collegiate, whose elite reputation among Toronto high schools has led parents to get caught cheating in an effort to get their children enrolled.


Cedarvale has a vibrant Jewish population, with Jews comprising two-thirds of the neighbourhood, and is home to the Holy Blossom Temple, founded in 1856, which is the oldest synagogue in Canada. There is also Holy Blossom Temple, Beth Tzedec Synagogue, The Village Shul and Beth Sholom Congregation.

While we can’t be 100 per cent certain, it’s said Cedarvale is home to some of the country’s notables such as Loblaw grocery king Galen Weston, singer Nelly Furtado and musician Drake.

An active community that cherishes the environment, Cedarvale residents established the innovative Families in Nature program which focuses on a grassy wetland habitat found in the centre of Cedarvale Park. Aided by over 300 volunteers, the program has helped plant trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses and provided education for young and old.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.