What To Expect During Ossfest

ossfest logoOssfest is this Saturday. From 11a-11p, Ossington Avenue will be closed for a music fest and bike race and more. We’ve already detailed those schedules and provided links here. So, what is the “more” I speak of that will be happening on the street? As the big day approaches, we have information on what the local businesses are doing to make Ossfest a one-of-a-kind Toronto street festival.

Sidewalk Shopping and Sales at Ossfest

Food and Drink at Ossfest

  • Boehmer’s front patio will be busy serving special dishes and a view of Ossington Crit
  • BQM already has a great patio, so expect some drink specials like beer or caesars and enjoy the sun!
  • Cote De Bouef is having a front patio where you can get some of their delicious sandwiches and a Pimms or cold beer to go with it; The butcher shop will also co-host oysters and Cava from the patio further down the street at Tiger of Sweden
  • Crafted Coffee is bringing their chilled delivery bike to the sidewalk for some cold brews
  • Golden Turtle – the pho spot’s patio will be even larger for Ossfest and they’ll serve fresh rolls and spring rolls to go on the sidewalk
  • Ideal Coffee – enjoy the smell of roasting coffee beans as you watch the Crit from the patio at Ossington and Foxley
  • Indian Grill – the family run restaurant will have a new location outside Lola Salon this Saturday.  Serving a few of their choice dishes from the sidewalk patio at 200 Ossington, just south of Rolyat
  • La Cubana will be serving hot cubanos and cold drinks on this hot summer day
  • Mamakas Taverna is going all out with a 100 person extended patio on the side alley featuring meats grilled outside on the spit for a real summer barbecue vibe
  • Moliceiro‘s special front patio will be open with full menu and a Portuguese sandwich special
  • Rashers is going to be busy with $5 hogtown sandwiches and free bacon samples this Saturday
  • Reposado will expand next door with seating and drink specials at the Ossington Tire parking lot. Stop by for some buckets of beer in the Sol and Tecate beer tent and expect mezcal specials and a performance by Led Zep cover band Zeppelinesque
  • Salt Wine Bar will make you your choice of a special veggie or chicken chorizo paella and cinnamon churros from their special front patio for Ossfest
  • Union Restaurant is having a special front patio and will feature the usual favorites from one of Toronto’s top kitchens

Art and Kids at Ossfest

  • Stylegarage will feature some custom designed art pieces and a silent auction for CAMH this Saturday
  • Telegramme Prints stands out for parents with their plans for a kids art workshop for 12 and unders! Sounds fun!
  • William’s Craig is setting up a vintage bicycle lounge – fitting for the Crit and likely very instagrammable

Ossfest is tomorrow, Saturday July 23 from 11a-11pm. Shop local and Meet Me on Ossington

Playing Pokemon Go in Ossington Village


Pokémon Go launched in Canada on Sunday, and we’re already hooked and so are many other locals. There are PokéStops and gyms all around Ossington Village. Thanks to a lot of nearby graffiti, churches and parks, you can get a lot of Pokémon Go activity nearby.

Last night, we walked around the back alleys of our neighbourhood, taking in graffiti PokéStops, and meeting other people doing the same thing!


Continue reading Playing Pokemon Go in Ossington Village

Vector Festival Brings New Art to Ossington

Vector-Teaser-2-e1465493775720Do you want to stay current on the coolest digital and new media art in town? Then Vector Festival is for you and it’s happening this week! Hosted by Ossington’s own cutting edge art space InterAccess, the festival features music, video games, lectures, films and more.

We attended several of the events last year, and it’s interesting, eye opening and enjoyable. It’s all very accessible too, with multiple locations in our area. You can buy a festival pass for $25, or pay as you go for individual performances and showcases.

The festival kicks off this Thursday at InterAccess with a launch party from 7-11p. This party is free to the public and should provide a sneak peek at the rest of the fest, with a lot of the attendees contributors to the art.

Many of the Vector Festival’s workshops and shows will be held at InterAccess’ Headquarters at 9 Ossington, including the festival’s main exhibit The Algorithmic Imagination, running there through August. You can also attend a music making workshop at InterAccess on Saturday, with paid admission.

Artscape Youngplace on nearby Shaw Street is another locale for Vector Fest, and notably will be hosting a performance on Saturday night with music, coding, and more. This is a paid event, or included with the pass.

To top it all off, after a weekend of workshops and art, local tequila and music hotspot Reposado Bar hosts the final closing party on Sunday night from 8-11PM, with a live musical performance by Castle If.

The Vector Festival is bringing all sorts of new art methods and viewpoints to Toronto, and Ossington. In addition to parties, there are lectures and workshops, so lots to keep you entertained this weekend in our neighbourhood!

As always, look at our calendar for all the local Vector Fest events and anything else going on nearby.

PED.Toronto – Free Bike Art Tours

A worldwide art and cycling organization PED.Toronto is bringing free bike art tours of the Ossington and Trinity Bellwoods neighborhood. The initiative is based out of Koffler Centre’s summer exhibit at Artscape Youngplace on Shaw.

The PED Collective organizes these community focused bike tours, exposing citizens to different layers of their cities in Buffalo, Rio, Belfast, St. John’s and Chongqing, China. And now we are lucky to have the opportunity to take a ride in our own city, our own neighborhood, all summer.

These free bike tours can be done individually or with a friend. There is no tour guide: you will borrow a bicycle at the gallery which comes equipped with the tour on speakers.

Start the experience at Artscape Youngplace


Ped Toronto Exhibit at Koffler Gallery

Getting There

The experience is pretty simple, actually. Just head over to the Artscape building on Shaw Street, and follow the signs to the Koffler Gallery – it’s straight ahead through the front door. The bikes can be taken out whenever the gallery is open – no need to call in advance. Opening hours are Tuesday to Friday from 12 PM – 6 PM and Saturday & Sunday from 11 AM – 5 PM.

Getting a Bike

The PED Bikes

The PED Bikes

The bikes are all lined up and plugged in. You’ll need to sign a waiver and leave your ID and a credit card as security – you won’t be charged unless you damage or lose the bike – and then you’re eligible to ride!

These bikes are equipped with speakers – you just need to choose which tour you want to take, and turn it on. As soon as you do that, the tour starts on your speakers. There are helmets available to borrow too.


The built-in tour set up

Tour Options

The routes

The routes

You can choose 1 of 3 cycle tours, each about 20 minutes in length. They are called Toronto the Good, Toronto the Better and Toronto the Best and that they go from easy (little road riding) to hardest (mostly road riding). After our tour (we did Best), we learned there is much more to it than that. Each option takes a different route and has a different theme:

  • Good, which covers mostly the CAMH grounds, focuses on Toronto as a location for film and fiction
  • Better travels Trinity Bellwoods and West Queen West and talks about the streetscape and local culture around the gallery
  • Best was an out-there scifi narrative about endangered species and floods. I think. It took us across Queen West to Dovercourt, up to College and back east to Shaw and south back to the Artscape building.

Take Your Tour

Bike Ramp out of the Gallery

Bike Ramp out of the Gallery

Once you’ve chosen your tour route, follow the red dots out of the gallery and the building. Take your time pedalling the route as the tech on the bike recognizes where you are and will cut over some of the commentary to alert you when to turn. We may have missed some of the tour as a result of moving too fast, and there is no way to rewind the recording. There is also no way to change the volume, so while you’re inside the gallery it sounds really loud, it won’t sound that way out on the streets.

On the PED bike on College Street

On the PED bike on College Street

Back at The Koffler

Posing with the bikes in front of Artscape Youngplace

Posing with the bikes in front of Artscape Youngplace

The gallery features exhibits from the other cities where PED tours have been run. The exhibit and tours run throughout the summer at Koffler, until August 21st.

Love Letter to The Great Lakes: Street Art Around Ossington

lovelettertThis week, Ossington is a major location for a new Toronto arts festival. This one brings some beautiful new murals to our streetscape. Love Letter to The Great Lakes as an event runs until tomorrow at Rally Ossington, but the street art will live on our local buildings for a long time.

Today, the team behind the project at Rally led a bike tour of the murals, starting behind their site at 12 Ossington. We stopped at several murals in and around Ossington, the street and alleyways. We checked out the murals as they were being painted, and got to hear from some of the artists. While this was a one-time experience, you can still go for your own walk or bike and have a look for yourself!

I took some photos and notes on where and who.  The website also showcases a map with the sites and bios of all the talented artists working on the project, so you can conduct your own personal self-guided tour in the days to come. Also, Rally is holding a pop-up shop and art exhibit with materials related to the project, so stop in tonight or tomorrow for more information.

Continue reading Love Letter to The Great Lakes: Street Art Around Ossington

Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Lower Ossington Theatre

joesphThe Lower Ossington Theatre was packed with people of all ages on Saturday for the theatre’s newest production, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s biblical family musical, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The production is full of singing, dancing and jokes, which was great for a mixed crowd of little children, teens, couples, and grandparents. The 1 hr 30 minute production (with a 15 minute intermission) flew by, as the songs and dances were lively and fun.

One of the great things about being a regular at LOT productions is getting to see actors reappear from other shows you’ve loved. For example, the narrator, Bianca Heuvelmans, an actress with a beautiful singing voice, has appeared in several LOT productions. Remembered from Avenue Q is the talented Phil Skala, playing Joseph’s brother Levi, who shines with his solo performance of “Angel in Heaven” in this production. Additionally, our standout from Anything Goes, Thomas James Finn, is back as the Elvis-like Pharaoh and a huge hit here too.

We attended the show with friends, including 2 boys, age 12 and 9, and got a wider perspective than just our own. It was unanimous! All of them loved the show and the production. “Go Go Joseph” was a favourite song, and everybody left the theatre happy.

This production of Joseph runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons through July 24th. Tickets are $49.99-59.99 and available online.

Some photos from the production and our friends:

Seanna Kennedy Photography LOT 2016 JOSEPH Promo (57)

Our Narrator (Media Photos by Seanna Kennedy)

Media Photos by Seanna Kennedy

Joseph and his coat (Media Photos by Seanna Kennedy)

Media Photos by Seanna Kennedy

Pharaoh (Media Photos by Seanna Kennedy)

They LOVED the show!

They LOVED the show!

CONTACT Exhibits and Events Near Ossington

c20logoThe CONTACT Photography Festival celebrates 20 years in 2016, with exhibits and events big and small across Toronto. This annual photography festival is open to the public now through early June. The exhibits are not exclusive to museums and galleries, they also take place in restaurants, stores and other public spaces.  There are many chances to experience the festival in the Ossington and Dundas area.

LE Gallery on Dundas West is hosting an exhibition that has already been recommended by Toronto press. We Soon Be Nigh! explores apocalyptic prophesies from the recent past, and is running at the gallery May 6-28.

HuntClub Gallery, also on Dundas West, is participating with an open exhibit about transgender and transsexual sex workers in Buenos Aires titled Hotel Gondolin running May 5-31.


Image from Hotel Gondolin at Hunt Club

Two local restaurants are also contributing their space for photography exhibits this May.  Julie’s Cuban on Dovercourt, fittingly, features photos of Havana street scenes for the show Habana Siempre. Boehmer Restaurant at 93 Ossington will host an exhibit of photographs of India from photographer Misha Masek.


Image from Misha Masek exhibit at Boehmer

The local Shaw Street location of Artscape Youngplace will showcase several CONTACT shows. You can spend at least a couple of hours touring all the photography exhibits on site, including one at Typology Projects called On the Surface, and Over A Distance Between One and Many at Koffler Gallery. There are youth photography projects at Artscape including Our Safe Spaces and Presence from Etobicoke School of the Arts Grade 12 students. Two more exhibits at 180 Shaw Street are women’s collective SOFIA’s Bad Behavior and, happening later in May, Mindset.


Image from Anna Naziri, Our Safe Spaces, Artscape Youngplace

Ellephant, a new gallery at the corner of Ossington and Queen, underneath the Gravity Pope store, will have an opening next Thursday, May 5 and an artist talk for the exhibit Biophilia Reimagined.


Willis photograph from Ellephant’s Bibliophiia for CONTACT

The festival kicks off tonight with an event at the AGO and runs across the city throughout May.


Go See Anything Goes At Lower Ossington Theatre

lot-agCole Porter’s musical Anything Goes is 80 years old, but you wouldn’t know it from the lively performance at Lower Ossington Theatre. This is the first production of this fun musical comedy at our local theatre, and I hope it is not the last. If I had my way, Anything Goes would become one of those musicals, like Avenue Q and Jesus Christ Superstar, that they keep performing year after year.

The musical itself is entertaining, with great Cole Porter songs and a zany story with a large cast of characters. This production doesn’t disappoint, with great performances from the entire cast, most notably from star Chelsey Maclean as Reno Sweeney and  Thomas James Finn as low-level gangster Moonface Martin. The production includes some top-notch dance numbers, including a bravura tap dance to close the first act.

You can see Anything Goes on Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights and Saturday and Sunday matinees until March 20. Tickets are $49.99-59.99 and available here.

Seanna Kennedy Photography LOT 2016 ANYTHING GOES PROMO (24)

The Last 5 Years at Lower Ossington Theatre

Lower-Ossington-TheatreThe Lower Ossington Theatre, also known as LOT, is becoming a mainstay in the Toronto local theatre scene. They are mostly known for recurring productions of several popular musicals: Avenue Q plays there a few times a year, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rocky Horror, Spamalot, and Cabaret have all returned more than once.  For 2016, they’ve produced a new show: The Last 5 Years.


While The Last 5 Years may not be as well known as the others mentioned, it was successful enough Off-Broadway to have a movie version made with Anna Kendrick. The stars of LOT’s version, Victoria Scully as Catherine and David Light as Jamie, are not as famous, yet they are two very talented singers. And singing is all they do in this musical about the deterioration of a relationship.

Before you go, be prepared. This is not a traditional musical. The cast is only the two stars playing Catherine and Jamie, and they don’t speak. The entire musical is sung and most of the time, except for one scene in the middle, the actors are not singing to each other. Catherine is telling the story backwards from the end of their relationship, while Jamie is starting from the beginning after the two first met. It is a challenge sometimes to follow it; it’s not uplifting, either. Thankfully, the performers have great voices and keep your attention.

The LOT always puts on unique productions, utilizing the small spaces they have to good effect. In this case, the stage is a long strip in the centre of the theatre and audiences sit on either side. The sightlines are very good for this general admission show.

The Last 5 Years is running at LOT until February 13, and tickets are available here. And Avenue Q is still on too – through April.

2015 Look Back: Openings and Closings on Ossington

2015In the years we’ve written this blog, one thing is constant: change. There were a lot of changes on the street this year, with plenty of new restaurants, retailers and services opening on Ossington and Dundas. With those new openings, there were also some closings, notably in the art gallery scene as they move further west. So let’s look back at 2015’s changes in our neighborhood.

After building up clientele from the back of Lost & Found, Town Barber opened it’s own spacious location on Dundas West just east of Ossington, serving men’s grooming needs from 1114 Dundas since January 2015.

Hanmoto also opened in late January, and the tiny Japanese snack food venue on Lakeview just north of Dundas has been filling seats and getting good reviews ever since.


junked windowFebruary brought more restaurant openings, including Junked Food Co at Dundas and Dovercourt, and the long-awaited second site of La Cubana. Both seem to be keeping busy so let’s hope they keep serving us delicious snacks and more!


The closings began in March, with Philip Sparks moving his shop from Foxley Street into his studio in the west end, and long-standing salon Lush and Lavish closing for good.


La Saucisserie, which opened in May, brought sausage and beer to Ossington. Recently they changed their name to LAS.


In June, Indian Grill opened, bringing a small family run business to the space which used to hold Amaya Express.


July saw the opening of a local jewellery store: Anice Jewellery, expanding from Kensington Market, now offers Ossington crowds unique and custom jewellery and workshops.


Sustainable seafood restaurant Fishbar closed in July, and in September Return to Oss opened and then closed by mid November in the same location.


The Grow Op, a juicery and eatery, opened on Ossington in August, and Omaw, a southern food restaurant, soft opened at around the same time.

We saw some new openings in September: Bobbie Sue’s Mac and Cheese, which is serving the masses with creative takes on the comfort food dish.


Also in September, O’Born Contemporary, a top gallery focused on photography which had been open since 2010, closed it’s doors for the final time.


The last few months have been very busy, with businesses moving, closing and opening.

c54In November, Saucy Pierogi opened in the former Quinta and Essen space on Dundas West, Community 54 opened an outpost on Ossington selling sportswear and sneakers; Lola Salon revamped the Lush and Lavish space on Ossington, and Jimmy’s Coffee opened on the south end of the strip. Imperial Tattoo moved from Ossington to the corner of Dundas and Dovercourt.


Sam James and Stussy are being moved out of the Ossington and Queen corner at the end of the month to make way for an American retailer, and Pop Up 120 already moved out from corner of Argyle and Ossington.

Crooked Star closed last week and will hopefully open again soon after their renos.

Today, December 31st, is also the last day of vintage shop Vintage Mix One. So, once again we realize that the world of retail and restaurants is a fickle one and everything changes.


What was your favorite opening and/or least liked closing of the year? Let us know in the comments, and Happy New Year!