Tag Archives: Cabbagetown

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A WALK BACK THRU TIME IN TORONTO’S HISTORIC CABBAGETOWN NEIGHBOURHOOD

Yesterday was such a lovely sunny day that I decided to down tools and step away from the ‘puter to enjoy a leisurely stroll thru one of Toronto’s historic old neighbourhoods – Cabbagetown. This was where I lived in the late 70’s when, as a starving actor/waitress, I shared a 3 storey semi at the end of Wellesley Street with 3 other actors & musicians, and next door to the fabulous Carole Pope & Kevin Staples of Rough Trade fame (Canada’s edgiest new wave/punk bands of the era).20160415_133443Above left is #445, my old house – I had the large master bedroom on the 2nd floor front – the dormer that jutted out over the front porch was the cosy alcove where I had my bed. Next door at #443 (above at right), I would watch an amazing procession of fabulous celebrity house guests knock on my neighbour’s front door …all manner of music stars would hang out with Carole when they came to town. I remember watching legendary Dusty Springfield wander up the garden path one afternoon – how exciting!  Cabbagetown was a haven for artists, actors, musicians and hippies back then…it was affordable to share the houses, most of which were run-down shadows of their former grand selves. But at the royal sum of $500 a month all inclusive, we still never quite made rent on time…LOL! But walking east on Wellesley yesterday, heading into this charming little enclave (below) brought back so many memories of innocent (but fun) times….come take a walk with me now.20160415_132759The residents association has been busy over the years, creating walking tours of the streets and gardens and they’ve posted all sorts of plaques designating certain homes as historical landmarks. I never knew a member of this famous Hollywood family once lived on Wellesley Street…did you?20160415_132834A couple of blocks south is a street full of picturesque workers’ cottages, now sympathetically renovated to suit their 21st century owners – this is Amelia Street. I always loved walking along here back in the 70’s as although most of these homes were rundown and scruffy, you could see the great “bones” and 19th or early 20th century design elements. Look at these gorgeous little chocolate box homes….20160415_14432420160415_14440420160415_14441420160415_14473320160415_145018I remember wanting to move into this charming 1920’s/30’s apartment building (above) as it looked so cool, even 40yrs ago when it was rather shabby and unpainted. Rent was about $275 to $350 a month back then…now, probably closer to $1500/mo.
This was once a cute handcrafted furniture store (below) when I lived in the ‘hood but it’s now been made into a private residence. Wouldn’t it make a lovely little antique shop or even a cosy tea room?20160415_144847This (below) has got to be one of the cutest cottages on the street, now the home offices for a design firm…20160415_145413…and opposite that is this modern make-over. I love the back-split balconies and the paint colour.20160415_145127Of course, being a vibrant community there are always notices posted about upcoming events as well as pleas for help finding lost loved ones. On one lamp-post I saw this rather sad flyer…I hope Lefty comes home soon!20160415_145154On a happier note, I took a quick side trip to the Riverdale Farm (below) – back when I lived there it was still called a “zoo” as they had all manner of exotic beasties living there including highland cattle and some bighorn sheep…50 or 60 yrs ago they kept a sad assortment of wild animals including bears and big cats in tiny cruel metal cages -I think the old deserted bear house may still be there down the back near the ravine. But yesterday it was all about the cute baby farmyard critters…20160415_141258 20160415_141351 20160415_142218 20160415_142256 20160415_142059 20160415_141708 20160415_141645 20160415_142415Opposite the park and farm used to stand Jeremiah’s Ice Cream Store which served up frozen treats to generations of families. Now the shop has been made into a private home (below) but at least they still operate an ice cream and snack food bar out of the side window. 20160415_141107In the park stands a noticeboard pointing out all the houses that once were home to various leading lights in Toronto and Canadian history (below). These correspond with the plaques posted on each property (like the Walter Huston one). Sadly, I couldn’t find a plaque for one of Canada’s greatest Olympic ice skaters and fine artists, Toller Cranston, who had a home and studio on Winchester near Parliament Street. I remember walking past, looking up into his studio window and seeing Toller busy painting – he would often wave back at me. I think it’s time to make amends and get the 70’s groundbreaking ice skater and avant garde painter properly acknowledged.20160415_143423As I walked out of this timeless village and back into reality on Parliament Street, I walked past Nettleship’s Hardware – this store has been there for decades and I remember when I worked part-time at Tom Foolery (one of the first vintage clothing stores in the city back in the 70’s), the owners and I used to hang out with Donny, the son who ran the shop. I betcha he’s still there. Must make an effort to go in and say hi next time I’m in the neighbourhood.20160415_145927(0)So I hope you enjoyed this little pictorial stroll thru my Cabbagetown. I definitely recommend visiting, esp the first weekend of May when they host a neighbourhood-wide Forsythia Festival. The trees are just now starting to bud and there are a few early spring flowers popping up…so much to see but make sure you look up as well, then you’ll notice antique weather veins such as this one (below) or you may even spot a couple of pink flamingos still dressed in their winter scarves & toques (bottom).20160415_14403520160415_145048

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URBAN GALLERY UNVEILS STUNNING PAINTINGS BY UKRAINIAN-BORN ARTIST JANNA KROUPKO

Oh my, these paintings took my breath away! I arrived this evening just as Urban Gallery was opening its doors, and walking in to the empty gallery I was able to take in the full power and glory of Ukrainian-born artist JANNA KROUPKO‘s colourful exuberant work.

20150709_170352 20150709_170328 20150709_170437Janna arrived amidst hugs and congratulations from a happy group of friends and admirers, one of whom presented her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers (below) to mark the opening of her month-long exhibition titled “Dreamscapes”.

20150709_170239 20150709_173650The paintings in Dreamscapes represent the painter’s vision of a dream-like fantasy world of flora and fauna of the Grand Canyon in America’s southwest.

20150709_173739 20150709_170455Born in the Ukraine and emigrating to Canada in 1997, Janna Kroupko graduated MFA from the Moldavian State Academy of Fine Arts & Design. Her artistic career developed in Kazakhstan working in fibre art (Gobelin), oil and acrylic painting, and interior design. Her works range from miniatures to multi-panel installations, and can be found in public collections, museums, and institutions in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia, and in private collections all over the world.

20150709_174422Fellow artist Olga Nabatova (above right, with Janna) dropped by to add her congratulations, as did artist, poet and performance artist, Brenda Clews (below) with performance artist and painter Philip Cairns.

20150709_182636My personal favourite was this one (below) featuring wild horses galloping, snorting and grazing across the canvas. Stunning in person.

20150709_170425The gallery was all a-buzz when Britney Townsend from snapd newspaper dropped in to snap a few pics (below)

20150709_182156The gallery even hosted a celebrity or two, like Alexa Petrenko of Classical 96.3 FM radio fame, shown below (left) enjoying the art with Olga as Britney snapped them for next month’s issue of “snapd Cabbagetown”.

20150709_181536Janna posed below with gallery curator, Allen Shugar….

20150709_170903…and with some of her closest friends (below).

20150709_180205Gallery director Calvin Hambrook enjoyed meeting Janna’s friends, too (below)

20150709_175742Everyone enjoyed the hospitality and there was lots of interest in her work so hopefully there’ll be a few red dots next to Janna’s paintings soon.20150709_170940

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20150709_171636 20150709_173633Dreamscapes runs through to July 25th at URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto. www.urbangallery.ca
Gallery hours:
Noon to 5pm Monday through Saturday
Noon to 8pm Thursdays
Closed Sundays & Holidays

20150709_174110Thank you for supporting local Canadian artists!