Yorkville was once a separate village, but was gobbled up decades ago by the City of TORONTO. It’s now surrounded on all sides by high rise glitz.
If you enjoy shopping, sitting in cafes, visiting art galleries, exploring narrow laneways, admiring gingerbread architecture or just whiling away an afternoon – this is a stroller’s paradise.
Within Yorkville you’ll find – Mira Godard Gallery, the new Four Seasons Hotel, antiques along Davenport Road, Hazelton Lanes high-end shopping, the 50-year-old Coffee Mill, Cumberland Street park and the famous Yorkville Rock.
Nearby – the Annex neighbourhood, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Conservatory of Music, Koerner Concert Hall, Bloor Street West shopping, Philosopher’s Walk, the Hyatt Rooftop bar, and the Gardiner Ceramics Museum.
Subway stop - BAY
YORKVILLE was the epi-centre of TORONTO’s youth and hippie culture back in the sixties. And the RIVERBOAT COFFEE HOUSE was the epi-centre of Yorkville. All that remains of this famous establishment is a plaque in front of a new five-star hotel. Some of the biggest names in music – Canadian and otherwise – played at the Riverboat: Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Dan Hill and Neil Young, among others.
The cafe is immoralized in ‘Ambulance Blues’ by NEIL YOUNG, shown below in 1965 performing at the RIVERBOAT. <PHOTO – Manfred Buchheit>
Back in the old folky days
The air was magic when we played.
The Riverboat was rockin’
in the rain
Midnight was the time
for the raid.
Oh, Isabela, proud Isabela,
They tore you down and
plowed you under.
You’re only real
with your make-up on
How could I see you
and stay too long?
Street artist SPUD – who actually is quite talented – must desperately need attention.
To really know TORONTO, take a stroll or bike ride through its laneways. There’s a vast network of them downtown and, by choosing the right one, you can learn a great deal about the city’s history.
Opposite - a simple carport on Flos Williams Lane, which runs behind Parliament Street. It has a past. The sign reads “this carport is built of recycled materials. The wood rafters were floor joists in the old Toronto Aethenium Club, 169 Church Street at Shuter, which was built in 1891 as a gentlemen’s club. It became the Labor Temple from 1904 to 1967, and has recently been redeveloped as the 28 storey ‘Jazz’ condominium building”
The sign – created by the carport’s owner – goes on to say that the siding, fence and roof decking are Douglas Fir and Hemlock, and were salvaged from the Joseph Seagram Distillery in Waterloo, Ontario.
As for FLOS WILLIAMS, she was born and raised in Cabbagetown, wrote three novels and numerous short stories, moved out west and became one of Western Canada’s strongest women writers. Her novels dramatized the experiences of immigrants building new lives in the harsh Canadian rural environment.
. . . and a subway runs through it.
Get off at ROSEDALE station, walk east, and explore downtown’s version of Beverly Hills. Spring is a good time to reconnoiter this neighbourhood. It’s foliage-free at the moment, allowing unobstructed views of mansions, bridges and ravines.
A city bus circles the area, and subway trains pass by every 2-3 minutes. Perfect hiking terrain. Two cafes opposite the subway station.
Writer JODY ROSEN, and photographer ANDREW ROWAT have published a three-page story with accompanying pictures in the March/2013 issue of the New York Times ‘Style Magazine’. This kind of publicity you can’t buy – especially if you’re running a smallish bookshop several kilometres from the centre of TORONTO.
The article focuses on The Monkey’s Paw, “an oddly modern antiquarian bookshop next door to a laundromat” in the West End. “It’s a tiny shop, specializing in the arcane and the absurd, and may just be publishing’s great new hope” in the face of BigBoxMerchandising and the internet.
KANSAS CITY native, STEPHEN FOWLER, 48, says “this isn’t the store where you’ll find the book you were looking for. It’s the store where you’ll find the book you didn’t know you were looking for . . . You have these hip 26-year old downtown TORONTO kids – they’ve actually never been to a bookshop. They come here and they’re like: ‘It reminds me of a scene in Harry Potter.’”
During her visit, Ms. Rosen checked out the BIBLIO-MAT, which has been photographed countless times. It’s Mr. Fowler’s experiment in randomization. You put a $2 coin into the slot, there’s a buzzing sound, a bell rings and out pops a book. The idea being that even the cheapest book can offer pleasure.
You’ll find The Monkey’s Paw at 1229 Dundas Street West, one of several independent bookshops in our city – miraculously still doing business.
<PHOTO – Andrew Rowat/New York Times Style Magazine, March/2013>
It’s only a few blocks long, but McCaul Street has its share of interesting buildings and places to see. It was named after JOHN McCAUL (1807-1887), a Dubliner, who moved to TORONTO in 1838, and went on to become the principal of Upper Canada College and president of the University of Toronto.
A devoted musician, JOHN McCAUL was also president of the Toronto Philharmonic Society from 1845-47.
Between Dundas and Queen Streets – St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, the Malabar Theatrical Costume Store, the Village Idiot Pub, the restaurants of Baldwin Street, Grange Park, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU). BELOW – OCADU’s Sharp Centre for Design (construction photo – David Richardson); architect – Will Alsop.
<PHOTO BELOW – looking up McCaul from Queen Street West, by megananne/wikipedia>
COGS CYCLE, an independent bike (and coffee) shop, has put some pizazz into ramshackle Gerrard Street East. Once a Newfoundland grocery store, Cogs is now the place for bike repairs and accessories in Riverdale and Chinatown East. Around the corner – some of TORONTO’s most expensive real estate.
The geographic centre of downtown TORONTO is devoted to politics, medicine and education. The Ontario legislature and provincial government buildings, a complex of 5 hospitals and scientific research facilties, and the University of TORONTO occupy several city blocks north to south, east to west.
The University of TORONTO was founded by royal charter as King’s College in 1827. It was originally controlled by the Church of England, but is now a secular institution made up of twelve colleges.
U of T was the birthplace of insulin and stem cell research, the site of the first practical electron microscope, the development of multi-touch technology, the identification of Cygnus X-1 as a black hole, and the theory of NP completeness. By a significant margin, it receives the most annual research funding of any Canadian university.
Some facts and figures:
12,000 faculty members
66,000 undergraduate students
Domestic tuition $5,695 – $13,203, depending on the program
International tuition $16,886 to $48,293
3 art galleries
Winter or summer, the St. George Campus, downtown, is a wonderful place for urban explorers.
SUBWAY STOPS: Queens Park, St. George, Museum