Saturday, July 14, 2018

Trekking Toronto - Ossington Avenue

July 2018 - Toronto ON

Summer in the city is wonderful. We each have our own hobbies but at least once, sometimes more, a week we pick a spot/neighbourhood to explore.
This week we decided on Ossington Avenue, between Queen St. West and Dundas West.

Click here to see what Ossington used to look like.

Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know Ossington Avenue is named after the ancestral Nottingham home of the Denison family, early land-owners in the Ossington area. John Denison's 'Brookfield House' used to stand at the northwest corner of Ossington and Queen Street. Area streets Brookfield Street, Denison Avenue, Dovercourt Road, Heydon Park Road and Rusholme Road are all attributed to the Denison family.

We boarded the 501 streetcar at Lake Shore/Humber Loop and stepped off at Ossington.

Today Ossington is considered to be one of the more hip neighbourhoods, not yet populated with high-rise condos, a night-life district with numerous bars and restaurants.

As part of a 2012 city beautification project, nearly 20 artists got together to paint garages in the alleyway along the west side of Ossington between Queen and Humbert streets. The initiative brought the community together, with a weekend of painting by professional artists and some youth. Murals by Peru143 and EGR can be found here.

Speaking of murals, click here to see the first Jimmy's Coffee mural we found last summer.

 Mural by by Caratoes (aka Cara To), a street artist based in Hong Kong.

BirdO is instantly recognizable here.

Only You - a work in progress.

 Lots of fun photo opportunities.

But only a few short years ago, it was a forgotten corner of the city – a strip of auto mechanics, empty storefronts, derelict houses, storage facilities and industrial buildings. Much of that has changed. Local artists, entrepreneurs and restaurateurs have moved in and taken the diverse and forgotten buildings that make up the neighbourhood and given them new life.

The one truly notable building on the street which modern entrepreneurs have more thoroughly evolved is at the northwest corner of Humbert Street. This is the home of Levack Block, a heritage block building with fantastic brickwork and design, including a bay window on the second floor that looks southwards on Ossington.

These homes have a lot of character on the side streets.

VdeV carried a lot of "stuff" that I lusted after, a Frida Kahlo cushion, coasters.

Candles with local nieghbourhood names.

Kuya Spirit has six murals on the sides of restaurants there. His self titled style of painting Ancient Grafuturism is defined by his use of mixed media and designed symbols, deities and representations of self.

Bobbie Sue's is Toronto's first all-mac and cheese eatery tucked away on Foxley just off Ossington.

Schmaltz Appetizing is set in an old pharmacy, you can get all your Chubchubs and other Jewish bagels and premium smoked fish to stay or go.The pharmacy around since the forties (when this area was primarily Jewish) is in a building actually owned by the Waltman family. 

Thought this was going to be an ice cream shop...

As we read this a young guy walked up and said he lived in the condo now on this spot and his father had told him about this fight.

Muhammad Ali’s 1966 visit to Toronto is commemorated at the former home of the Earl Sullivan’s Toronto Athletic Club on Ossington Avenue.

The plaque celebrates the life and explores this portion of the late legendary boxer’s career during his historic visit to Toronto. It was at 109 Ossington Ave that Ali trained for his fight against Canadian heavyweight champion George Chuvalo. They fought in Maple Leaf Gardens in a gruelling 15 rounds. Ali later admitted the fight was the toughest of his career during a time when Ali himself was having a tough time. The World Boxing Association had stripped him of his title for joining the Nation of Islam and was facing intense criticism for his objection to fight in the Vietnam War.

We had lunch at Pizzeria Libretto, so far the best gluten free pizza crust. But it was hot out so a shared key lime ice cream was on the menu from Bang Bang.

Just a little bit further south, across from 41 Ossington at the south side of Rebecca Street is this by Bruno Smoky. Click here for more detail from 2017.

These are in a parking lot next to Jimmy's Coffee at Ossington and Queen.

Valinas, from Mexico, painted his first mural in Toronto.

What an odd shaped building, it is the Toronto Western Hospital Withdrawal Management Centre Men's Detox.

It was a fire hall from 1878 and included a clock tower until the late 1980s.

 A bit of a P.S. these photos of murals on Ossington were taken last summer.

Toronto local Jon Todd


A work by Peru143 evoking shipping lanes.

1 comment:

  1. The former fire hall particularly stands out.

    I've never been in that part of the city.


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