Sunday, July 15, 2012

Parkdale like you’ve never seen before!

I’m a greeter with the City of Toronto’s TAP into TO program. Through this program, I've taken guests from around the world on visits of Toronto neighbourhoods over the last three years.

Today was a special day, as one of the greeters, Alma Handzic, gave ten other greeters a captivating and inspiring visit of the Parkdale neighbourhood!

Alma, extreme right, with curious greeters. Am I the only one who didn't wear shades?

It was a muggy morning as I ventured out to #DufferinQueen to meet the group. We met at the newly constructed open space on the north-west corner.

Public space with evidence of use by skateboarders and graffiti artists

I learned so much on this visit; and it started by finding out that the TTC stop at the south-east corner of #DufferinQueen is the busiest one in the city! Who knew? And, residential construction is underway in Parkdale too.

These new lofts under development are expected to retain Parkdale's character

Alma mentioned to us that artists prefer the Parkdale area because of lower rents compared to other studio locations in the city. Here's one that she encouraged us to check out!

Studios 1266 building

As we started walking west on Queen Street, we encountered a collection of popular bars that certainly get busy in the evenings.

Clockwise from top-left: Parkdale Drink, Stones Place, Rhino and Cadillac Lounge

Next, Alma invited us in to check out The Mascot cafe, which is a cool little space with funky decor.

Pictures from The Mascot; I couldn't resist getting on the rocking horse

In contrast to the hustle and bustle on Queen Street West, the intersecting streets are tranquil with impressive greenery.

Elm Grove Avenue (ooh, I wonder what's down Milky Way?)

Beaty Avenue

People need a place to live and with homes (not condos) becoming scarce in Toronto, some neighbourhoods are building infill housing. Here's an example.

Example of modern infill housing

Parkdale is a very ethnically diverse neighbourhood and is also home to a large Tibetan diaspora. Here are some more photographs of the neighbourhood:

Man and dog hanging out outside the Made You Look jewellery store

Really narrow building housing a yoga studio. Nice wood paneling!

How about these funky bicycle stands!

This globe used to be a fountain; now it's just a globe!

Someone was having a lot of fun with paint!

Community Garden on Cowan Avenue

Cool, old-style balconies

As we were admiring this old building called Edmond Place built in 1912, Leslie Miller, a resident came up and gave us an impromptu story about it. We learned that the building was taken over by the City, abandoned for over ten years by a landlord and then rebuilt by the Parkdale Area-Recreation Centre. Now it houses those who are recovering from mental health and addiction issues.

Leslie Miller, left, advocate for social change

Another view of Edmond Place at #DowlingQueen

As we continued walking west towards #RoncesvallesQueen, we were presented with an interesting mix of restaurants, bars and vintage stores.

Parts & Labour - formerly a hardware store, now a hip and happening resto-bar.

Those poles just needed some decoration. Knitting to the max!

The Pinball Cafe, which provides arcade games for hours of enjoyment!

Spooky antique shop called Hideaway Antiques

Finally, we reached #RoncesvallesQueen and near the end of our tour! Alma informed us that the building of the Gardiner Expressway in the 1950s changed the demographic composition of Parkdale from an upscale neighbourhood to lower income as rooming houses were built.

Overlooking the Palais Royale and Lake Ontario in the background

We're at the end of our tour and Easy Restaurant is making me hungry!

And, a final reminder, from Wrongbar, when you plan to go out and party in Parkdale:

Hope you enjoyed this virtual visit! Are you inspired to check out Parkdale now?

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