Saturday 4 May 2013

Jane's Walk - An Insider's View of Ossington, Toronto, ON

Gord and I did a Jane's Walk at 4:30pm today.

Jane’s Walk celebrates the ideas and legacy of urbanist Jane Jacobs by getting people out exploring their neighbourhoods and meeting their neighbours. Free walking tours held on the first weekend of May each year are led by locals who want to create a space for residents to talk about what matters to them in the places they live and work. Since its inception in Toronto in 2007, Jane’s Walk has expanded rapidly. In May of 2011, 511 walks were held in 75 cities in 15 countries worldwide. 

We did the An Insider's View of Ossington walk which was in our 'hood ... it was just over an hour.  We walked from Queen Street W north to Dundas Street W.

Think you're not 'hip' enough for this strip? Think again! Local bloggers from Ossington Village Blog will take you on a tour of the 'hood - showing you the hot spots you've read about and maybe some you haven't even heard of ... yet. We'll show off all the things that make our neighborhood a hot destination for dining, music, theatre, art, shopping and even more. Ossington Village, where entertainment starts!

Ossington Avenue is named after the ancestral Nottingham home of the Denison family, early landowners in the Ossington area. John Denison's 'Brookfield House' used to stand at the northwest corner of Ossington and Queen Street.

The first section of Ossington from Queen Street to Dundas Street was surveyed not long after the establishment of York in 1793. It was part of the original Dundas road, leading to London, Ontario. It was not until the War of 1812 that the road was built, after the Battle of York. During the 19th century, this section was developed as a commercial street. The Ontario Provincial Lunatic Asylum was opened at the foot of Dundas and Queen Street in 1850.

As Toronto expanded west and other retail facilities opened, the commercial section of Ossington south of Dundas became an area of industrial uses, including automotive repairs and storage facilities. By 2007, the low rents of stores along Ossington became attractive after rents along the Queen Street West increased. This led to an influx of bars, restaurants and stores.

We met at Ossington Avenue/Queen Street W, on the grounds of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Our leaders were Brian Sharwood and Melinda Medley.  They moved to the Ossington neighbourhood about seven years ago.

Just as we were getting started, this guy jumped in and did a short rap ... and then asked for $$.

Sweaty Betty's is one of the original bars on the strip.

This used to be a firehouse ... now it's part of CAMH.

We stopped at Rebecca Street.  There used to be a building here ... now they are building condos.

Apparently there used to be a toll at the corner of Queen Street W/Ossington many years ago ... to avoid it, people used to instead head east on Rebecca Street to avoid it.

Melinda and Brian stopped us along the way to tell us stories.

There is a lot of graffiti on the buildings on the street, as well as in the nearby alleys.  Many are projects of St. Christopher House which is at Ossington/Dundas W.

The House of Horvath makes cigars ... apparently it's cheaper to buy them at the airport than here.

Levack Block is a restaurant/bar.  Gord and I did a fun Havana Club master rum class there a couple years ago.

Here's the Lower Ossington Theatre ... Gord and I have been meaning to go see a play there.

More condos are coming!

Apparently James Earl Ray hid in this house for six weeks after he shot Martin Luther King, Jr.

Apparently Muhammad Ali trained upstairs in what used to be a boxing gym (soon to be more condos) in preparation for his fight with George Chuvalo.

 This was not a welcome site at a butcher's shop :(

Despite all the changes, you can still get Portuguese baking at this bakery.

Gord and I have been to Bellwoods Brewery (we were at the soft opening)... it used to be a garage by day/art gallery by night.

When I first moved to Toronto, there was a gas station/car wash on this site which was knocked down and replaced with condos about ten years ago.

A couple years ago I had a delicious burger at BQM ...

Some trendy popular restaurants have moved onto the street in the last few years.

At the NW corner of Ossington/Dundas Street W, you can still buy fish from a Portuguese fish store.

There's St. Christopher House.

The last stop was the Communist's Daughter (yes, they still have the sign from the former occupant).

It's a small cute spot and there was a band playing.

It was an enjoyable walk.  Melinda and Brian obviously love the 'hood and were happy to share this with everyone on the walk.


Masshole Mommy said...

YOu guys do the coolest things! I would love to take a walking tour like this.

Teresa said...

There is always something interesting going on around where you live. What a lovely weekend to be outside. I see you stepped up your speed reading. I have been unable to grab a book lately and chill. Good for you. Wooohoo for the warm weather and sunshine.