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Throwback Thursday: Parliament Street businesses from the past

We’ve been visiting the visiting the Toronto Public Library collection and came across these images from Excelsior Pres at 403 Parliament St. (now home to Ultra Pharmacy). They promised “fancy printing of all kinds done well and cheap.” The library collection has several of its trading cards, including this beauty of a lady and dog.

A butcher shop from days of yore (1896), northwest corner of Carlton and Parliament Streets. The propietor, Joseph Weston, is standing in the doorway behind his toddler daughter, Ann Fern Weston. Thanks to the Toronto Reference Library Baldwin Collection!

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Doors Open Toronto: What’s near Cabbagetown

May 26-27 is Doors Open Toronto and there are four points of interest on this year’s tour near our part of the ‘hood: two to the east and two to the west.

Historic Don Jail and Bridgepoint Active Healthcare administration building. Yes, there will be a lineup. But it moves quickly and it is a wonderful set-up inside. Many fascinating details from the former Don Jail have been preserved in this renovation. If you haven’t been already, head over the walking bridge joining Riverdale Park West to Riverdale Park East and take a look on either Sat. May 26 or Sun. May 27, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Building Arts Architects, 324 Broadview Avenue.  Originally built in 1913 by the Standard Bank of Canada. Open Sunday only 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Described as being located in a “Second Empire townhouse” (1876) the Children’s Book Bank at 350 Berkeley Street is open on Saturday and Sunday. “Discover the history of a prominent former resident and his surprising connection with the current use of the building as The Children’s Book Bank.”

Finally, Jarvis Street Baptist Church at 130 Jarvis Street East (at the corner of Gerrard) is open Saturday and Sunday.  In 1875, the church moved to the intersection of Jarvis and Gerrard Streets, the current location of the Gothic style building. The church survived a major fire in 1938 and was rebuilt shortly after with a unique U-shaped sanctuary. The Gothic architecture is unusual for a Baptist church.

Want to know more about Doors Open Toronto? In this case, Wikipedia says it best.

“Doors Open Toronto is an annual event when approximately 150 buildings of architectural, historic, cultural, and social significance to the city of Toronto open their doors to the public for this free citywide event.

“Doors Open Toronto was developed as a millennium project in 2000, by the City of Toronto (developed from a European model) and has since attracted more than 1.7 million residents and tourists. Doors Open Toronto gives people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to learn about Toronto’s history, get involved and celebrate Toronto’s built heritage.

“Doors Open Toronto was the first city in North America to launch this type of program. Many participating buildings organize guided tours, exhibits, displays, and activities to enrich the visitor experience.”

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Cabbagetown is in Toronto Centre riding for 2018 Provincial Election

Mark your calendars for June 7: election day in Ontario. Here in Cabbagetown our riding is Toronto Centre. Our main polling station is at what we know as “St. Martin’s School” – 55 Salisbury Avenue, Toronto, officially described as Monsignor Fraser College, St. Martin Campus.

Polling hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on election day; there are many other early-polling opportunities to vote.

The candidates are, in alphabetical order, according to the official Elections Ontario website:

– KEVIN CLARKE, The People
– JUDI FALARDEAU, Libertarian
– CAMERON JAMES, The New People’s Choice Party of Ontario
– DAN KING, Party for People with Special Needs
– DAVID MORRIS, Ontario Liberal Party
– THERESA SNELL, Stop the New Sex-Ed Agenda
– ADAM SOMMERFELD, Green Party of Ontario

Your Cabbagetowner did a long walk around the neighbourhood and found the following three political sign displayed: if you spot any others, send a photo to and we will add them to this post.

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Summer vacationing ahead? Keep home safe while you’re away

By the CRA’s Safety and Security Expert, Board Director and retired police officer Des Ryan.

Now that the nicer weather has arrived, many of us are looking forward to getting away from the city, whether for just a few days here and there, or every weekend (and beyond!)

Your home insurance company probably has a clause stating that someone must physically enter the premise every 48 hours or so to make sure that some calamity has not befallen your home, such as pipes bursting. While they’re at it, perhaps whomever you have drop by can bring your mail, newspapers, and/or fliers in.

Maybe you have an alarm system on your doors and/or windows. If not (or even if you do), consider setting up some lights and/or a radio on a timer to give your place that lived-in look and sound while  you’re away. And don’t forget to ask a neighbour to have an eye while you’re away.

All this is great, but what can we do proactively?

I can’t really speak to any potential plumbing issues you may have, but I would strongly suggest you check your social media posts (and those of your children). As exciting as it all is, posting a countdown until your three-week vacation on Twitter is like taking an ad out in the newspaper advising that your house will be empty. Or, at the very least, you won’t be there. And the Facebook photos that you are posting while you  are away are great, until someone who may not have your security settings reposts them.

We all know that packing the car the night before is a thing of the past. If you are like me and recall those days fondly, having everything that has to go packed and ready by the door for the morning works. Even if you have an enclosed trunk space in your vehicle (which, increasingly, most of us don’t),  packing the night before can be risky business. Popping a trunk is easier than it looks.

Oh, and while we’re on it – the notion that keeping your car key fobs in the freezer will prevent thieves from disabling the auto-locking system? Not true. Read this article if you’re not convinced.

Which leads me to another thing: when you are away, do not leave your valuables lying around. Like the keys to your car. Or your laptop. Or jewelry. Or cash.

If someone should happen to break into your home while you are away and you have a security alarm, there is a five-to-10 minute delay from the time your alarm is activated and the company calls the police. Depending on the number of outstanding calls, there could be another 10-to-who knows? minute delay before officers arrive. In most cases, a burglar is in and out of a home within five minutes, grabbing whatever they can get their hands on as they go.

Best bet? Keep your vacation plans off social media, have a neighbour keep an eye on your place  make sure your alarm is set, pack your family jewels away, and enjoy your holiday.

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Public Open House on new Community Council boundaries

Residents are invited to an open house on Tuesday, May 15 at 7 p.m., Committee Room 2, City Hall, 100 Queen Street West to learn about Community Councils and options for new boundaries.

Toronto City Council must adopt new Community Council boundaries now that the City’s ward boundaries a re changing.The City of Toronto wants your input; You can also submit your ideas online by 5 p.m. on May 25, 2018.

The feedback collected will help inform the City Manager’s recommendations to Council on Toronto’s new Community Council boundaries. Information on population forecasts, past Community Council activities and reviews, and recommendations from the City’s 2017 Ward Boundary Review will also be considered.

Residents are invited to drop by anytime during the open house to learn more about Community Councils and the options for new boundaries and provide feedback.

Why do we need new Community Council boundaries?

Community Councils are made up of groupings of City wards and their membership comprises the City Councillors of those wards. Each Community Council represents a geographic area of the city.

Toronto City Council must adopt new Community Council boundaries because the City’s ward boundaries will change December 1, 2018 – Cabbagetown, for instance, used to be in “Ward 28” and will now be in “Ward 23”, which roughly is the northern half of our former ward, north of Shuter Street. Currently, each of the four Community Councils have 10 to 12 wards; however, the total number of wards is increasing from 44 to 47. The old Community Council boundaries won’t line up with the new ward boundaries and adjustments are needed to accommodate the three new wards.

 Community Council responsibilities include making recommendations and decisions on local planning and development, as well as neighbourhood matters including traffic plans and parking regulations. Community Councils report to City Council but they also have final decision-making power on certain items, such as traffic and parking, fence by-law exemptions and appointments to local boards and Business Improvement Areas.
Find out more about Community Councils.

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City Council Highlights, April 24, 25, 26 and 27

Council Highlights is an informal summary of a selection of the decisions that Toronto City Council made at its recent business meeting.

Plan for SmartTrack stations
Council approved a financial commitment as the City of Toronto’s share of funding for the construction of six SmartTrack transit stations along GO Transit rail lines in Toronto. The City’s funding commitment is based on a detailed financial strategy and Council has set terms and conditions for the agreement with Metrolinx. The planned six SmartTrack stations are identified as St. Clair-Old Weston, King-Liberty, East Harbour, Gerrard-Carlaw, Lawrence-Kennedy and Finch-Kennedy stations.

Expanded gaming at Woodbine Racetrack
Council supported moving ahead with plans for expanded gaming at Woodbine Racetrack, subject to the execution of a Community Benefits Agreement. Council made the decision after considering a report on the social and economic conditions, including local employment, which Council had identified earlier as a requirement. Adoption of this item included motions addressing matters such as the provision of child care, the sharing of gaming revenues, the participation of local area labour and the provision of funding to support educational efforts pertaining to gambling addiction.

Changes to City incentive program
Council voted to direct staff to prepare a new Community Improvement Plan bylaw for the City’s existing Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology Program. This new Community Improvement Plan bylaw will provide greater clarity for applicants and provide new eligibility requirements and conditions. The program provides incentives in the form of grants to support the new construction or major renovation of buildings in targeted employment sectors.

Development charges bylaw
Council approved a revised bylaw on development charges and a related background study. The action was taken after the City consulted extensively with the public as well as with the building industry and other stakeholders. Development charges play an important role in how the City pays for infrastructure and services needed to support new growth. Council also asked for a report on the feasibility of reducing development charges outside the downtown and midtown areas.

Innovation in municipal government
Council supported taking steps for the City’s adoption of a model known as Civic Hall Toronto as a way to promote innovation through technology in Toronto’s local government. Civic Hall Toronto will supplement the efforts of the City’s existing Transformation Office and Civic Innovation Office, resulting in better public services. Many City divisions and agencies have indicated interest in becoming members of Civic Hall Toronto.

Smart City and digital literacy
Council agreed to ask the Ontario government to designate the last Thursday in May of each year “Provincial Digital Literacy Day” starting next year. Council also called for the inclusion of a digital infrastructure plan in the City’s work on Smart City. The federal government launched Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge last year to encourage communities across the country to come up with bold ideas that improve residents’ lives through innovation, data and technology.

Filling councillor vacancy
Council declared a vacancy in the office of Councillor, Ward 33 Don Valley East and will hold a special Council meeting on May 22 to fill the vacancy by appointment. The City has advertised a May 14 deadline for applicants to submit the required forms. Shelley Carroll, who resigned as the Ward 33 councillor, was also Council’s Deputy Speaker. A vote by City Council members made Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker the new Deputy Speaker.

Blue bin recycling
After discussing Toronto’s blue bin recycling program and related challenges, Council authorized staff to explore the possibility of introducing new or enhanced waste-diversion efforts that include ways to process contaminated recycling. In addition, the City will ask the federal government to establish a national strategy addressing plastic pollution, with regulations that include, for example, requiring that products and packaging can be recycled practically.

Pilot project on alternative dispute resolution
Council voted to establish a one-year pilot program starting June 1 supporting alternative dispute resolution as an additional tool to address certain property-related bylaw complaints arising from disputes between neighbours. The Municipal Licensing and Standards division’s initial focus for the pilot, drawing on community resources/expertise in mediation, will be disputes that involve noise, fences and right of entry.

Free-floating car sharing
Council approved plans to test free-floating car sharing in Toronto. An 18-month pilot project will apply interim operating rules. Car-sharing arrangements in which members begin and end their trips at the same location are well established in Toronto. The free-floating model, now becoming popular, enables car-share service members to take one-way trips, beginning at one location and terminating at another. Regulation is needed largely because of implications for on-street parking.

Additions to the cycling network
Council authorized the installation of bicycle lanes on Thorncliffe Park Drive, Gateway Boulevard, Grenoble Drive and Deauville Lane in the Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park neighbourhoods as part of Toronto’s overall cycling network. The installations will improve safety and mobility options for residents, including children and youth. The project will also provide better access to Leaside Park, E.T. Seton Park, the West Don River Trail and the Lower Don Trail.

Master plan for public art in Scarborough
The Scarborough Centre Public Art Master Plan was approved by Council as a guide for prioritizing public art sites, whether publicly or privately owned, to make the most of opportunities for public art in Scarborough Centre. It’s the first City-led public art master plan for Toronto. City planners will use the master plan to assist in identifying and pursuing opportunities for public art as part of the planning process.

Procedures of Local Appeal Body
Council voted to request procedural changes to improve the way the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) operates. The TLAB was established in 2017 to hear appeals of minor variances and consent applications in Toronto land-use planning matters.

Heat in apartment buildings
Council supported a proposal for addressing a situation that can arise when older apartment towers’ central air conditioning is off and the heat system on during spring or fall months, when the weather is normally cool. Spells of unseasonably hot weather in that circumstance can result in very hot apartment conditions for tenants when there is minimal building ventilation.

Review of City’s noise bylaw
Council directed staff to report to the Licensing and Standards Committee in 2019 on recommended changes to the City’s noise bylaw. Municipal Licensing and Standards staff who are working on the complex issue of managing urban noise will take into account work on a public health action plan addressing long-term exposure to ambient environmental noise. Meetings of a working group on noise and other consultations have provided input from a wide range of stakeholders as part of the review of the City’s current noise bylaw.

Dog waste in parks
Council supported a motion to ask staff to report on the feasibility of installing dog-waste containers in City parks and dog off-leash areas, including options for conducting a pilot project for the in-ground containers. Large amounts of dog waste currently end up in landfills and also contaminate bins of material intended for recycling. Several nearby cities have had success with the use of dog waste containers, delivering the waste collected to organic waste plants.

Toronto Botanical Garden’s master plan
Council authorized next steps in implementing a master plan with the goal of expanding Toronto Botanical Garden programming throughout Edwards Gardens. A fundraising initiative is part of the plan. The non-profit Toronto Botanical Garden operates on 1.8 hectares of land in Edwards Gardens, a 14-hectare City park in North York’s Lawrence Avenue and Leslie Street area. The Toronto Botanical Garden has a long history with the Edwards Gardens site.

Protection of pollinators
Council adopted a pollinator protection strategy for supporting native pollinators in Toronto, particularly native bee and butterfly species. The strategy aims to create and protect habitat that pollinators need to survive and thrive. Bees provide the invaluable service of pollination, enabling plants to reproduce. Pollinators are under increasing stress due to habitat loss, invasive species, diseases, pesticides and climate change.

Read the City Clerk’s formal documentation of this meeting

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New police reporting option for non-emergencies

Are you experiencing/witnessing an ongoing, non-emergency such as trespassing or other nuisance issues? Toronto Police Services Divisions 51 (that’s us in Cabbagetown) and 55 have set up an easy online reporting form.

Choose “Division 51” on the online form and try to provide as much detail as you can (descriptions, clothing, make, model, colour, etc.) and include your full contact information so that an officer can follow up with you if they have questions.

By using this form, says Staff Sergeant Brian Maslowski, “you are helping Toronto Police Services in 51 Division better understand our community and our needs. Keep in mind that TPS resources are allocated according to calls, so the more you call or submit complaints, the more officers will be allocated to your area!”

Police Division 51 online reporting form

As well, in a recent with local Business Improvement Area leads, including the Cabbagetown BIA, Maslowski said the division will be taking a “less in the cars, more on the street” approach with our local officers who are out on patrol and not responding to emergencies. Crew Officers will be spending less time in their cars and more time walking, biking or travelling by TTC.

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Engage Yellow Awesomeness – Forsythia Festival No. 47 on Sunday, May 6

We’ve waited all winter for spring weather to arrive and on Sunday May 6 we will welcome the season with open arms as neighbours gather to celebrate at the 47th Annual Cabbagetown Forsythia Festival at Wellesley Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This annual Cabbagetown tradition has not only grown in enthusiasm over the years, it has grown in size. We are happy to welcome new sponsors MWM Fish Co., which will be setting up an oyster table in the beer garden. Please check out our complete list of sponsors, without whom the Festival would not be possible.

Buds & Blossoms will be setting up a glitter tattoo station and Blooming Planter will be setting up a flower crown-making station. Do come to the festival hungry, as well as thirsty. Our Gold Sponsors Mark Michelin from St. Jamestown Steak and Chops will be there barbecuing his signature burgers (beef and portobello mushroom) and Erin Gamelin from Stout Irish Pub will be on hand to pour you some of her quality craft beer. (And yes, wine will be back!)

The festival will be full of free activities for kids of all ages: there is face painting, a craft station, bean bag toss, parachute game, piñatas, Pizza Pizza bouncing castle, Cycle Solutions bike tune-up station, photo booth, dangling doughnuts, and more.

Back by popular demand is magician Scott Dietrich, who will be holding court with his magic show at noon. While at the festival, do follow the line of green bins to our newest attraction: The Mechanical Raccoon. You read that correctly. You will have a chance to take on Toronto’s unofficial mascot by riding on the back of a mechanical raccoon. Be sure to have your photo taken after and hashtag your friends and family: #Forsythiaraccoon2018

Do bring your refillable water bottles as the City of Toronto’s H2OtoGo will be onsite to supply drinking water. Don’t forget that we now accept credit cards for purchase of food and drink.

Be sure to join us for the Forsythia parade through the neighbourhood before the festivities at Wellesley Park begin. We gather at the corner of Sumac and Winchester streets, starting at 10 a.m. Yellow poms will be handed out and we encourage everyone (pets included) to dress in their best in the colour yellow! Parade will depart at 10:30 a.m., led by the amazing Heavyweights Brass Band, loop around the block, and end at the park.

Come one, come all … the festival is free for everyone to attend and it really wouldn’t be the same without you there. Think Spring!

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Throwback Thursday: April 1916

We begin this edition of Throwback Thursday by reaching back 102 years to April 1916, when Canada was at war, and any open space that was big enough might be called upon to serve as a drill field, or at least a photographic backdrop. Former CRA board director Keith Lawrance sends us this from his new perch at Toronto City Hall. He notes that the view extends from Geneva Street on the left, through the Zoo as it then was, as far as Broadview Avenue.

The photo is of the 180th “Sportsmen’s” Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Here it is  again in three sections, from left to right of the formation, so that details are more easily visible.




Local amateur war historian John Thompson of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, tells us that “Sportsmen’s Battalions” originated in the U.K. as part of the Pals & Battalions of 1914/15, usually reruited among star athletes from football, cricket, rugby and other sports teams, and then using them to draw supporters of those teams into the battalions. (The “Pals” system of  recruiting led to entire neighbourhoods of young men being slaughtered in the battles of 1914-15 – one reason why the Canadian Reserves of today are never committed as full units).

For this reason among others,  Canadian recruiting worked differently. Local militia regiments would continue to recruit men until 1917. Men would go into the drafts of the numbered battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The Sportmen’s Battalions in the U.K. were emulated by two Canadian battalions, the 180th and 202nd. The 180th Sportsman’s Battalion was recruited in the Toronto area in the winter of 1915/16, sailed for the U.K. in November 1916, and was absorbed into the 3rd Reserve Battalion on January 6, 1917. It had one commanding officer, LCol R.H. Greer.

It continued recruiting through most of 1916, playing up its “Sportsman” image to reach its full authorized strength, which probably explains their appearance on a Cabbagetown sports field. Other than this, the unit did nothing that history remembers it for, but the men it recruited and trained would have been at Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Amiens, and on through the 100 days that broke the back of Germany’s armies.

This photo shows a little over 500 officers and men. Mr. Thompson notes that if the normal ratios held,some 20 per cent of the men in the photo would have been killed in action or died of wounds, and 40 per cent would have been wounded at least once.

Technically, the photo is a remarkable example of a panoramic group photo. The panoramic technique was pioneered in 1844 and there are still panoramic cameras being made, though the smartphone is probably fast replacing them. The panoramic cameras of the early 20th century used a geared lens turret, which allowed even exposure. In graduation photos, it also allowed the class wise guy to appear at both ends of the group if he was fast enough. (This practice was discouraged in military photography.)

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Filming at 650 Parliament Street in May, exact dates TBC

There ba-ack … film crews once again return to Cabbagetown.

We get these notices through the City of Toronto and this is one of the more open-ended and vague ones – if we get better details in future, will update this post. As is usual, if anything is amiss, contact the location manager.

Show: Streets of Yesterday, a TV series

Location Manager: Shaun Cengiz

Location Manager Cell #: 416-566-6271

Filming Location(s) & Times: Location: 650 Parliament St, two separate dates between May 9, at 7 a.m. and May 25 at 11 p.m.

Parking Locations: The company has asked for a hold from May 9 to May 25 for the following locations, but promises this will be reduced one the shoot dates are firmed up

– Parliament Street east side between Welllesley Street East and Bloor Street East
Parliament Street west side between Wellesley Street East and St. James Avenue
Bloor Street East, south side, between Sherbourne and Parliament streets

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