Toronto Through My Lens

Category: Stores (Page 1 of 2)

Stackt Market

Stackt Market is a truly unique concept. Located at 28 Bathurst Street at Front Street West, Stackt Market has been awarded “Public Space of the Year” by Designlines Magazine, and is also the winner of “Retail Innovation for Fast Company’s Innovation by Design”.

Opened in the summer of 2019, Stackt Market is built entirely from 120 reclaimed shipping containers which create 100,000 square feet of art, retail, events and public space. The containers are – wait for it – stacked, with those on the bottom retrofitted and occupied by pop-ups, creative incubators, 30+ retailers and food/beverage vendors. The shipping containers up top act as large canvasses for local and international artists, drawing attention to the site from the many surrounding condo developments and office towers. Stackt Market is also home to 300+ annual events and 7 annual festivals which put community at the forefront.

Designed by LGA Architectural Partners’ Janna Levitt and Danny Bartman with Stackt Market founder Matt Rubinoff, Stackt Market inhabits the site of a former smelting plant. The 2.4-acre-lot is roughly the size of two city blocks.

Onsite Art Gallery

Even the WC were container-like…

Stackt Market is strong on community and art. According to their website:

STACKT is on a mission to innovate a new experience where customers, businesses, art and hospitality thrive as one. STACKT is built on the idea that commerce is culture, and culture is community made. The community is made up of innovators, creators, collaborators, and consumers alike.

Come check it out!

A Walk Down Roncesvalles Avenue

I love Roncesvalles (aka Little Poland) – it has such a welcoming village-feel to it and exudes a laid-back yet slightly hip vibe. Roncesvalles Avenue itself stretches for 1.8 km, and is filled with gardens and charming, independent shops along the way. About 15,000 people live in Roncesvalles Village’s vintage buildings.

Known as “Roncy” to the locals, Roncesvalles consists of the stretch of Roncesvalles Avenue from Bloor Street south to Queen Street West.

“They Came From Roncesvalles”
The mural wall which greets visitors. The artists who painted this mural are Spud1, Wales, Random & Cruz.
More of the Mural
Artists: Spud1, Wales, Random & Cruz

A Very Brief History of Roncesvalles

Roncesvalles Avenue was originally owned by Colonel Walter O’Hara who named the street after the Roncesvalles gorge in Spain, where he had won a battle against Napolean’s army circa 1813. British settlers began to arrive in the early 1900’s as residential homes appeared. After WWII large numbers of Polish immigrants arrived and set up all sorts of businesses; that is why this neighbourhood celebrates the Roncesvalles Village Polish Festival every year.

Little Poland

Culturally, the area is known as the centre of the Polish community in Toronto with prominent Polish institutions, businesses and St. Casimir’s Catholic Church located on Roncesvalles Avenue. The businesses along Roncesvalles have formed the Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area and hold the largest Polish Festival in North America, which takes place every September.

Mural Outside “Jimmy’s Coffee”
2210 Dundas Street West. You know the area is urban-hip when there’s a Jimmy’s Coffee in the ‘hood.
The Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Avenue
Built between late-1911 and early-1912, the theatre is a designated heritage site and is Toronto’s oldest standing movie theatre in use for showing movies. When news of its closure became public, a grass-roots community movement sprang up in order to save the cinema. After a great deal of effort, the movement was ultimately successful and the Revue reopened in October 2007. It is now operated by the not-for-profit “Revue Film Society”.

Roncesvalles is very well known for the large number of small restaurants, cafés and specialty food shops of various cuisines. There are several bakeries and delicatessens found along the full length of Roncesvalles.

Patios along Roncesvalles Avenue
One of the many fruit and veg shops along Roncesvalles Avenue
Sweetpea’s Floral & Gift Boutique
This is a floral studio located at 294 Roncesvalles Avenue. It’s widely recognized as Toronto’s Best Florist (Toronto Life, BlogTO).
Another shot of Sweetpea’s
Sweetpea’s was just so colourful and inspiring I had to take yet another shot…
Neighbourhood garage doors, Roncesvalles Avenue
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church
263 Roncesvalles Avenue
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church
Pope John Paul II Monument
The piece was created in 1984 by Alexander von Svoboda. The bronze statue sits outside St. Casimir’s Polish Parishes Credit Union Limited at 220 Roncesvalles Avenue.
The Chopin Restaurant
Polish cuisine, 165 Roncesvalles Avenue
More fruit & veg shops
Old-style barber’s pole on Roncesvalles
In window of Roncesvalles restaurant. Plenty of restaurants in Roncesvalles.
Grafton Community Garden
In Grafton Avenue Park, 23 Roncesvalles Avenue. Resident Walter Ruston painted the mural (on wall behind the garden) of the Sunnyside Amusement Park. This area used to be a neglected scrap of land but was turned into a thing of beauty by local gardening committees.

I’ll leave you with a couple of sites to explore it you’d like to learn more about Roncesvalles:

From Destination Toronto:
An excellent post on their website

Roncesvalles BIA:
Local info found here

City Walk on a Foggy Day

This post was originally from a couple of weekends ago when the weather was not cooperating. I am reposting this one as I don’t believe it was published recently given all my trouble with my automated sender.

This post is one-part city walk mixed with two-parts photography experiment.

Does anyone remember what sunshine looks like?

It’s a distant foggy memory, much like the weather we’ve had recently. Given that, I thought it would be interesting to take a walk in the fog/darkness and shoot in black and white to emphasize the moodiness.

I love shooting in black and white; it makes everything look so different and dramatic – details stand out, creating emotions. In addition to shooting in soft black and white I used a diffusion filter which removed much of the “digital edge” from modern digital cameras, leaving a soft B&W treatment looking like it was shot on film. The shots are intentionally dark and muted, and the fog enhanced the effect.

Condo on Jarvis Street, below Gerrard Street East. Taken from Mutual St.
Mutual Street below Gerrard Street East
Condos at Jarvis Street & Dundas Street East. Shot from Mutual Street
St. Michael’s Hospital, Shuter Street
Fran’s on Shuter Street
Diamonds on Shuter Street

Inside OctoZone

Located at 247 Yonge Street, across from the Eaton Centre, is OctoZone. OctoZone is a huge claw machine-themed gift shop. The interior is very Asian-styled, infused with copious amounts of bright turquoise and hot pink neon (the effect lost, of course, in my black and white shots). I’ve passed this place several times and have always wondered what it is; this time I decided to take temporary refuge from the fog and drizzle, go in and check it out. It’s quite an interesting place: click here if you’d like to watch a short YouTube video about OctoZone.

Later, Back On Yonge Street…

Looking north on Yonge Street. Shot from Yonge-Dundas Square.
The electronic billboards of Yonge-Dundas Square in the fog
“I see you”: Eaton Centre in the fog
The Aura condo in the fog. Shot from Yonge-Dundas Square.
The World Food Market at 335 Yonge Street, below Gould Street
336 Yonge Street, below Gerrard Street
Ryerson, from Gould Street
The corner of Church Street & Carlton Street

Next stop: home, where it’s warm and dry! 🙂

RC Coffee

RC Coffee (short for Robo Café) kiosks are popping up around Toronto.

So far in my travels I’ve come across two locations – one near the St. Lawrence Market area, and the other at 475 Yonge Street, above College Street.

Automated coffee cafe at 36 Church Street, north of Front Street East
RC Coffee automated café at 475 Yonge Street, just above College Street

So what are they, exactly? RC Coffee’s website proclaims themselves Canada’s First Robotic Café – Fully Automated Coffee Kiosk, Open 24/7. Serving coffee without a live person present is the name of the game here. From their website:

RC Coffee is filling a void in the market for high-quality unattended coffee kiosks. We’re looking to change the perception of self-serve with sophisticated technology that brews coffee up to the standards of seasoned coffee connoisseurs. No more drip, no more pods. RC Coffee taps into the potential of the latest Eversys Cameo espresso machine technology to rival the coffee from any café.

Here at RC Coffee, we understand that it’s more than just great coffee that keeps people coming back. Our robots delight users with their speed of service and accuracy. Our simple mobile app makes it easy to find the closest Robo Café, remotely view the menu, and load an account via credit card. Next time, you can load your previous order or select from saved favourites, selecting personalized blends at the touch of a button.

So much for the personal touch. Oh well, automation marches on, I guess.

Other RC Coffee locations in Toronto are at:

Toronto General Hospital, 200 Elizabeth Street
Kensington Market, 160 Baldwin Street
Little Italy, 550 College Street
Lyndhurst Centre, 520 Sutherland Drive
Dundas Station, 1 Dundas Street West
St. Joseph’s Hospital, 30 The Queensway
Bickle Centre, 130 Dunn Avenue

You can learn more about Robo Café here on their website.

Honest Eds

This will bring back memories for a lot of people. These shots are from February 2017, so they’re too new to fall into my From the Vaults category, but too old to be considered new cityscapes (if that makes any sense).

Ah yes, Honest Ed Mirvish’s little empire of kitsch at 581 Bloor Street West. This photoset was taken on the last weekend that Honest Eds was open to the public. The store had been emptied and closed prior to this date, but reopened on this particular weekend only for a couple of farewell parties and a massive art installation which took up the entire store. After that weekend the store closed permanently and the demolition began. A new condo building now sits on that famous corner of Bloor and Bathurst, and yet another piece of Toronto history has sadly died.

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