Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Flowers: On the Street...

I lived in Toronto for six or seven years of my childhood and adolescence moving away from the big city just before my sixteenth birthday. My friend Lesley and I spent many Saturdays on the subway system, exploring the downtown, riding the elevator to the top of the Bank of Commerce building (the CN Tower had not yet been built), visiting the Royal Ontario Museum or having lunch at the counter of Eatons Annex. We enjoyed a lot of freedom and our parents did not worry as long as we were home for dinner. Our family's church was located near Danforth Avenue and I was very familiar with the streets in the area.

Last weekend, Lesley took Becka and I back to Danforth Avenue, the first time for me in over 30 years. It is now known as GreekTown and small shops and numerous restaurants line both sides of the street. The outdoor patios of the eateries were not yet open for the season, but a few places had moved some of their merchandise into the fresh air and sunshine. The flower shop above featured many bright spring blooms for Easter weekend and the prices were very reasonable. I would have purchased a couple of pots if home had been closer.

Many cities have languishing cores and their suburbs lack character and community. Toronto has a number of ethnic and eclectic neighbourhoods and shopping districts, each with their own unique flavour. I would love to be able to shop at a small produce store, bakery or variety store within walking distance of my home. My parents grew up in a small town north of Toronto and I lived there for a couple of years too. Grandma shopped at the next door butcher shop and around the corner at Mary's fruit and vegetable store But the main street died when the indoor mall and large grocery stores were built just outside the town core.

Places like GreekTown are the best part of big cities, here in North America or around the world. Toronto is very clean and safe compared to other cities its size, even more so than when I walked its streets in the 1960's.

What big city neighbourhoods have you enjoyed visiting?


  1. Cuppa lived near The Danforth. It's an amazing street where the shops go on for mile after mile.

  2. I'm not a city kind of guy but you make it sound interesting.I do like the types of stores that you speak of.-Actually-I like some of the streets that I've visited in Boston though.-Lots of good seafood places and markets.

  3. That's pretty much my current neighbourhood (just north/east of Greektown), although I tend not to head down Danforth too often 'cause it's usually so busy. Great for a stroll in the summer, though.

  4. Anonymous1:07 am GMT-4

    Would have liked to join your tour, There are so many changes in the past 32 years we have lived in Mexico.
    Your pictures are wondeerful and I think Dad can almost see and smell the maple syrup. remeber taking our fry pan and going at night to the Martin sugar bush. Fabulous !!!!!!

  5. Those shops are so charming, and it's so wonderful that they can thrive there in the neighborhood. There is a huge resurgence of these kinds of shops along the north shore in the neighboring City by the River as well and it's created a housing boon down town as well.

  6. I'm such a small town girl, but I'd love to see Toronto again. I was there a kid and too young to appreciate its charms.

    Like, Larry - I find Boston very interesting.

  7. I wish Baltimore were as safe and as clean as Toronto.

    My home town - Baltimore - is very ethnic - markets and living are devoted to Greeks, Italians, Jews, Germans, and Polish. The seafood and bakeries are wonderful :o)

    My Dad used to bring fresh bread and buns from "Jew Town" on Sunday mornings. I'll never forget the peach cake.

    Shopping districts aren't the same as they were 30 years ago. I remember pinning my cash to the inside of my coat and getting a 15 cent ride on the transit bus to the shopping district with my friend. We didn't worry about safety much back then.

  8. Anonymous9:17 pm GMT-4

    How much fun has that have to be to visit your old homestead! It's been forever since I have visited Toronto!

  9. Ruth,

    I grew up in rural southern Ontario and when we came to town we shopped at small stores. We had Kresge's and Woolworth's, the Metropolitan and the Right House, Eatons and small butcher and produce shops.

    Like the town where you lived, these stores closed when the first mall was built. What a shame. I dislike malls and love shopping at family Mom & Pops.

    Toronto is a city of culture. I do enjoy visiting once in a while but seldom get there anymore.

    Thanks for stopping by for a visit. I do hope you plant some snowdrops. They are lovely and the first of the spring blooms.


  10. AC- Ottawa is also a beautiful city that is pedestrian friendly. I have only been there in bad weather though, but still enjoyed it.

    Larry- Boston is a place I would like to visit. The American cities near the Canadian border are not inspiring at all in my experience, but I may not have known where to look.

    Seabrooke- You are in interesting mixture of city and country. People like you will ensure that the city maintains its natural areas.

    Mom- Toronto and area has changed a lot, not only in the past 32 years but in the years since you and dad lived there as newlyweds. I would like to check out Toronto Island where Grandma grew up.

    Jayne- I think city planners everywhere know that creating interesting and safe pedestrian neighbourhoods increases the appeal of urban environments. Your neighbouring city is only known to me as a big airport!

    Cathy- There is nothing wrong with being a small town person. The big city is nice to visit, but I am glad I don't have to work there.

    Mary- The movie Hairspray takes place in Baltimore but was actually filmed near this area of Toronto. I love ethnic shops and restaurants.

    Monarch- You share our Great Lakes and can even see Toronto across the lake at times I believe. The border hassles keep me on the CDN side more than ever lately.

    Mary- I remember those stores as well as Stedmans 5 and 10 Cent stores. And we think dollar stores are great now!


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