I have always lived in Toronto’s East End.
Three different addresses, all well east of Broadview station. I’ve heard that the West End is the place to be, the place voted hippest, trendiest, [insert another posh adjective here] neighborhood to be by Vogue. When I’m there dining, visiting friends, going to the theatre, shopping, I agree. It is a neat place to be.
But I always say that I’m glad to go home to a place that’s less frantic and more cozy with families going about their day-to-day business and less worried about impressing the world around them. (Check out some of my favorite East End cafes, Tango Palace Coffee Company and The Flying Pony)
And as of this summer, I’ve found many tangible reasons why it’s super fun out here across the Don Mill river valley.
1. Garden @ Kimbourne
I came for the planting of the canoe garden, stayed for the promise of an outdoor church service including prayer through bubbles, and then joined the community garden.
The flora in Toronto astounds me every year and after two failed experiments of gardening in house on my own, I decided to take the plunge when the Garden@Kimbourne needed more volunteers.
Permaculture? I didn’t know much about it and I still don’t, but as long as I can tote a watering can, pluck out a few weeds, and learn by doing, I’m a valuable player.
I already learned that these stains on the sidewalk are from mulberries–which are definitely edible (and delicious).
The volunteers share some of the harvest and the rest of it goes to a food bank.
2. Danny’s Urban Fairies
I love this community art project. One week, I saw signs cropping up at local businesses and the next, I had to do a double take as I walked past Bomb Fitness and spotted this little door.
55 fairy doors all over the eastern part of the Danforth, some inside, some to be spotted from outside store windows. All of them promoting local businesses and a little bit of magic on the Danforth.
They remind me of the leprechaun traps I built in Kindergarten. But those darn leprechaun always got away and dyed the classroom toilet water green! At least they left us chocolate.
I don’t know if I’ll have time to find them all, but I hope I can spot a few more before the fairies fly away.
Check out their website for a map and plenty of activities–like making your own fairy door.
3. Little Free Libraries
On walks around the neighborhood, I’d counted at least 3 of these when a new one sprung up right on the end of my block. Not only are they great for finding new reads and passing on old books to new homes, but they are fun to find.
They’ve been in the East End the whole time, but until I took up geocaching, I didn’t realize just how easy they were to find. With these great walkways off the streets and these great paths coming off the sidewalk, how much easier can it get to take a little urban hike?
In addition, there are a few farmer’s markets I love (shout out to Leslieville’s–you have the best food and HONEY) and plenty of fun geocaches to find on the East End. But those aren’t special to this side of the city or even to Toronto.