Best Things about “The Junction” district Toronto

English: Looking east down Dundas Street West ...

Encompassing the Dundas street west and stretching from DuPont west of Wallace all the way east over to High Park , this originally heavily industrialized section of Toronto was home to the massive Foundries and Factories that supported Toronto’s burgeoning¬†turn of the century Rail network. As you would expect in an area born out of the industrial rail era, The Junction’s main artery – Dundas Street West – has antique, bric a brac and architectural salvage stores all competing in the lineup with the Victorian era red brick buildings that dominate this upcoming and hip part of town. More like an old fashioned British high street than a suburb of Toronto, the boom in church and factory loft restorations in the area has led to an influx of super cool loft dwellers that has ensured a ready market for these businesses and their support acts: the kitschy and quirky coffee shops, delis, brew pubs and restaurants.

Wallace &Co
Still has quirky store signs all over window so bizarrely the first thing you notice is the “Soda comic books” sign on the main window of the corner front of this diner/espresso bar
Full of Junction trendies in this upcoming part of the city
299 Wallace Street

Curry Twist
Tiny and designed inventively – on a shoestring, this was a hard-earned find.
Now it’s on our radar and its deliciousness etched on our taste buds we won’t be going to any other Indian restaurant on Toronto – EVER

Check out the following too:
Cafe Neon– Wallace Street – great coffee, breakfast in cool urban loft space
The Farmhouse Tavern – interesting tractor/all things farm decor: oysters a speciality : enticingly inventive cocktails and good patio. Check opening times as these vary.
The Pie Shack on Annette – pies, pies and just pies (and coffee/tea) Best home- made pie in town. Cute interior space with some board games – tiny apron of outside space for a couple of tables and a doghouse (and why not!)

Cafe Creme
Cool hand of a girl
Crema Coffee
Amani Earls

Indie Brewing company
3030 on Dundas West (Bring your creativity with you here for boardgames/drawing/quiz nights/vintage pinball machines).

Post & Beam Reclamation
Forever Interiors


Over and Out


Almost Hogwarts – Farewell Nicholas Hoare Bookshop

Nicholas Hoare

Nicholas Hoare (Photo credit: PinkMoose)


The website description reads:
“Elegant bookshops, predominantly British offering a broad selection of carefully chosen books of all kinds. The best of fiction, current affairs, biography, food and wine, with design,travel and unusual books for children”
I recognize the formal if faintly snotty wording of a person from the British privileged classes ……
Read on….
As a Brit I am used to seeing – through visits to the Stately/Heritage Homes of the UK – libraries containing magnificent floor to ceiling wooden shelves groaning with the weight of dusty tomes, their titles unreadable from the visitor’s perspective – A bit like “Trajan’s Column” – with its cartoon relief depiction of Trajan‘s victories and conquests spiralling all the way up to the top where only the Gods could bear witness to his marvellous achievement, so these out-of-reach inaccessible books below ceiling level were really just for show.

Whilst the elegant stately bookstore of Nicholas Hoare can’t be accused of that, there are some similarities: sky-high quality bookshelves – with sliding ladders for accessibility frame the interior space.
Nicholas Hoare – the owner – describes the interior of his stores thus:
“Suffice to say the benevolent, panelled influence is perhaps visible in our manicured stores, each of which was built, to our own design, by a family firm of cabinetmakers to exacting standards, which still obtain today”

It needs to be mentioned at this point that Nicholas is from the UK, was raised in an Elizabethan Mansion and educated in centuries-old public schools. He also hails from the prestigious British Banking family – Messrs Hoare & Co.

Back in the store..
Off to the side is another “Stately Home” touch – an unexpected “hanging” galleried side section (lined with vintage 70’s cash registers).

Further nods to a bygone more gracious age – a fireplace in the centre of the store with slouching sofas, armchairs and huge book-strewn coffee table all vying for your attention. Many a book will have been purchased during a moment of quiet unhurried repose – the “reading” area is not a thoroughfare unlike the big bookstores who position their hard-on-the- bum chairs along aisles of heavy traffic. In our fast paced internet/IPad/Kobe world, the chance to experience book shopping old school is alluring and effective.
Case in point, I had not intended to buy any books – I bought three!!

Not for this institution the stack-em high sell-em low best-seller/discounted book displays of the big-box bookseller. There’s no spine jostling on these shelves. Neither does Hoares adopt the usual marketing gambit of displaying only hot sellers cover side out. ALL carefully procured titles are artfully displayed covers facing out whether on the top or bottom shelves.
The “less is more” inventory means that every book gets an equal chance to scream “pick me, pick me!

Despite the lack of any obvious
signage directing you to a specific genre, the books seamlessly flow out of one subject and into another. An artful trick as browsers who go in to look at books on a particular subject i.e.. science and invention, find themselves browsing the next genre without even noticing the transition. Books ordinarily off your radar are suddenly in front of you, now this is “browsing”. Displayed like this books offer an open invitation “pick me up; leaf through my pages”. There are no worries either about trying to slot an unwanted book back into the place you prized it out of.

Sadly this – the last of three Hoare bookstores will be closing its doors forever on April 1 as Mr Hoare is retiring.
And with that, the demise of one of the most “magical ” book shopping experiences in town.

Check out the “different as chalk and cheese” experience offered by Qspace on College. it also is independent; offers espresso and “knit your own muesli” teas plus pastries and snacks alongside faintly battered shelving crowded with titles. Formica tables and chairs and the ubiquitous WiFi/- nowhere to slouch in this bookstore!
And then there is the gorgeous “Mabel’s Fabels” children’s bookstore on Mount Pleasant.
In the meantime I will leave you with Nicholas’ own words on his inventory

“Nicholas’, hand picked selection of both current and classic titles of particular interest and merit”

You get the picture…..

Over and out

Twelve Toronto Days of Christmas


So over the run up to Christmas I will be showcasing some festive soundbites.

If you’re gonna get “stuck” anywhere over Christmas.
If you can’t be with your family somewhere far away, you will have plenty to distract yourself – with a host of many fabulous festive events held across the city.

Over next few weeks why not try some of the following:

Twelve Trees at the Gardiner Museum

Kitchener Christkindl reflects the enormous German population of this area and is Christmassy in a way that only a German Christmas Market can be! Look out for Gluhwein, the corresponding mugs; traditional wooden decorations including revolving candle holders and table decor; Bavarian imports, oktoberfest sausage and oompah bands.

The Distillery Christmas Market

Carol Singing at Montgomery House

Christmas at Bovaird House Brampton

Christmas at Dundurn Castle Hamilton

Christmas Afternoons at Colborne Lodge

Jerome Godboo’s Christmas party at The Rex

The Nutcracker Ballet at ThE Four Seasons Opera House

“The National Theatre of the World” Christmas “farce” at The Pass√© Muralle theatre.

Mozart Magic at “Casa Loma”

The One of a Kind Show

Unfortunately we didn’t make it to:
The Santa Clause Parade

Lighting the tree at Nathan Phillips Square (although we are getting the benefit of the Christmas Lights festooning villages all over the city – we even have Xmas music blaring out of speakers on St Clair west which makes waiting for the streetcar jolly).

We won’t get to see;:
Russ Petty’s annual family show – akin to a good old British pantomime!

Handel’l sing-along Messiah

Handel’s Messiah by Tafelmusik baroque orchestra

Over and out