Category: Toronto

This category is about Toronto

Toronto’s High Park Cherry Blossoms

It happens once a year for one week... two, if you're lucky. The city's Sakura Trees BLOOM into beautiful flowers. You may know them as, "cherry blossoms."
They brighten up the parks they live in and they invade our Instagram News Feeds. They make us happy, because all of this means patio season (Spring) has finally arrived in our beautiful city of Toronto.

Did you know...? That Toronto Citizens were gifted 2000 cherry blossom trees from the Citizens of Tokyo, Japan. This happened on April 1, 1959 and it was a way for the Japanese citizens to say, "thank you" to those in Toronto who helped Japanese refugees after World War II. Since then, they've planted even more and you can find the trees throughout the park and the city in the spirit of continued friendship between the people of Canada and Japan. 

❤✌

How do you say, “Toronto”?

Riddle me this...

Is there a "right" way to pronounce the name of our big, beautiful city? 

Is it Toronto? Or Turrono? How do you say it? 

Jon and I do not pronounce it the same and it has been an ongoing discussion between us for LITERALLY years and will likely last for years more. 
(You will find a portion of this ongoing discussion in the video below.)

We've come to the conclusion that there is no right way to say, "Toronto" and at the end of the day, it's still the best city in the world!*

(*this reflects our opinion, as we are speaking for ourselves with regards to this statement. Although we know some of you might agree!!)

Toronto Concerts of 2017

It's no secret, we love concerts. 

There's an extraordinary feeling of togetherness that happens at concerts. You may be surrounded by strangers, but the shared experience links you all together in that moment. The band is on stage pouring their hearts out through their music, and the crowd is giving back. Maybe with cheers or maybe by singing every word of every song that is being performed. That feeling is one of the best in the world for us. These moments gives us chills, have us lost in the moment and many times leaves me (Cheryl, not Jon) crying for what I think is no apparent reason. The outdoor summer concert is our favourite of them all, but we'll take any. Cheers to Toronto concerts of 2017. 

Find a selection of the ones we attended this past year in the videos below:

How does Car2Go work?

You may have seen them... those little blue and white Smart cars whizzing around the city. Those are Car2Go cars and they are for everyone to share!

We're busy Realtors in Toronto and driving the city can make one want to tear hair out. We began looking at easier options to get around the city, that wasn't going to cost an arm and a leg such as taxis or Uber. Enter our friend Jayson. One night, while eating hamburgers on a rooftop, Jayson starting telling us about his amazing experiences with Car2Go. Both Jon and I listened to him intently with eureka looks on our face. I believe we may have even had cartoon light bulbs show up over our head. 

Fast forward 2 days and a little bit of research later, we're now members of Car2Go. Within 2 days of using Car2Go, we were hooked.

The pros:

+gas is included +parking in legal street spots or green P's are included +insurance is $1 per use until 90 uses, then it's $0 (we're at $0 already!)
+convenient, they are everywhere +easy to use app +great customer service +Smart cars AND Mercedes CLA and GLAs

The cons:

-some people leave the cars in disastrous states (c'mon people, we're sharing!) -unavailability (cars showing up on the map that aren't there, or no cars at all... it's only happened a couple of times.)

Watch our video review below and wait for the J&C Carpool Karaoke at the very end. We're not very good.

“East Side” – Leslieville

We're trying to thoroughly explore Toronto's neighbourhoods, one neighbourhood at a time. It may take us awhile, but that won't stop us.

Every single day as we walk around our city, we experience that each area offers something different to each person. Our intention is to highlight what we think is great about our city, one neighbourhood at a time.

Enter LESLIEVILLE - our next neighbourhood vlog in this "neighbourhood series". A family friendly district settled somewhere in the middle of Riverside, Distillery District, Greektown, The Beach and the soon to be re-vamped PortLands.

Both Jon and I are "west-enders" by default. (Torontonians know that many times there seems to be 2 factions. The west-enders and the east-enders.) It was time for us west-enders to highlight that Toronto isn't just the west end. The east end offers so many amazing pockets and neighbourhoods that beg to be uncovered and discovered!

We have simply fallen in love with Leslieville. 

What we've discovered over the past few months is that there's an incredible sense of community in this neighbourhood. Community combined with many parks, trendy shops, restaurants, close to the Don Trail, the lake + one of our favourite Loblaws... (Yes, yes, we judge neighbourhoods by their grocery stores and we have a list of our favourite Loblaws.)

Leslieville was named after "George Leslie" and first came to life in the 1850's. It was home to light industry for decades and since 2000 has been gentrified at a rapid rate. Gentrification brought those trendy cafes, shops, restaurants, bars, places & spaces. For example; Carlaw Avenue's revamped industrial buildings that have been turned into loft and condominium spaces. As well, for those of you wondering, Leslieville does have a little crossover with the Riverdale neighbourhood (think the brand new Broadview Hotel). 

We could go on and on, but now is when you should stop reading and just watch the video: 

Our top 5 of trendy shops and stops that made our do not miss list:

1. Leslieville Pumps (a gas station/convenience store that is not your normal gas station/convenience store)
2. The many cafes and coffee shops (Te Aro, Mercury Espresso to name a few)
3. Culinary gems such as Gare De L'Est, Descendent Pizza, Barrio and Ed's Real Scoop
4. Gerrard India Bazaar (a.k.a Little India)
5. Leslieville Farmer's Market (Sundays, May thru October @ Jonathan Ashbridge Park)
5a. Greenwood Park's off leash dog parks (we love dogs) <-- 5a is still 5, right?

That's all for now.
See you in the next neighbourhood!

Throne Barbershop

For anyone looking to get a haircut in the downtown core, you'll be hard pressed to find a cooler spot than this not-so hidden gem at Gerrard and Yonge. The entrance is an unassuming door off of Gerrard, leading into a martial arts studio. Up the stairs and under the crown (the crown logo is as clean and simple as the shaves and haircuts), you will find Throne Barbershop.

The vibe is Drake meets Marcus Stroman, which makes sense considering the array of Instagram posts on the barbershop’s website. The feed features everyday clients, which include hip hop artists and most of the Toronto Blue Jays. This place is both cool and welcoming at the same time. Help yourself to a bottled water from the Throne fridge and sit back and relax as one of the young hip barbers, cuts and shaves you. A haircut will run you around $35 after tax.

You can book through the interface on the website, check out your barber’s Instagram and get a reminder sent the morning of your haircut. Treat yourself to an old school haircut & shave in a new school establishment. EST 2013.

www.thronebarbershop.com

399 Yonge Street, Toronto

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO BELOW

What to do in Toronto – August 2017

Now that we're into the dog days of summer, you're all hopefully relaxing and enjoying the warmth in the air. (I say hope, because as I type this it is raining. The motif of our 2017 summer so far.)

We've given you a lot to choose from in our To Do lists this summer, so we have decided to pare it down for August. Instead of a big full list of things to do, we've chosen to highlight our Top 5. 

1. CNE Let's Go To The Ex! Oh baby! (Sing it 🎶)
August 18th thru September 4th.
August isn't August without the Canadian National Exhibition. One of North America's largest annual fairs signals the final weeks of summer for many. 18 days of amusement park rides, live entertainment, an Air Show, crazy food, shopping and more. 2 weekends of Wakeboard Championships too!
This year's FREE Bandshell concerts include names such as Burton Cummings to Sam Roberts to Keifer Sutherland to A Tribe Called Red. 
We haven't heard what food choices will be on the menu this year... but you can read about what Jon ate LAST YEAR (everything) in our blog--> HERE.

2. Rogers Cup
August 5th thru 13th  
It's the ladie's year in Toronto. Who will you see on the courts? Venus Williams, our Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and back fresh from scandal, Maria Sharapova. And the offerings surpass watching the tennis matches. The Aviva Centre is hosting a festival of sorts with restaurants, patios, shopping, booths, a silent auction, a kids area and more!
Opening Night is only $25 when you book thru the Rogers Cup website (see link above in orange) with Promo Code OPENDAY17

3. Sail in Cinema
August 17th thru 19th  
Year 2 for this unique way to watch movies. Similar to the "movies in the park" we've seen throughout Toronto, except this screen is floating out on the water! ⬇️



The schedule of movies -
August 17: Edward Scissorhands
August 18: Indiana Jones - Raiders of the Lost Ark
August 19: Beauty & the Beast (live action, 2017)

4. Caribana Weekend
Caribana began in July and ends August 6th. 

It's technically not called "Caribana" anymore, but it's also not called the Skydome.
Drake's 8th annual OVO Fest will once again tie into Caribana and ignite the party on the Budweiser Stage, August 7th. The Caribana highlight for many though is the Grand Parade on August 5th. Lakeshore comes to life with the masquerader's dancing and striking costumes.

5. FOOD Festivals. Since we really like food, there are more than one worth mentioning here. 


Tastes of the Danforth
August 11th thru 13th 
Greektown hosts the 23rd year of our personal favourite street festival.
Kebabs, baklava and gyros, mmmmm.

Waterfront Night Market
August 11th thru 13th
Last year's Pan-Asian food festival was held in a large parking lot across the street from the T&T Supermarket on Cherry Street. This year they are taking it one step further by hosting at The Hearn. If you haven't been to the Hearn before, bring your camera. And see you there!

Feast of the St. Lawrence
August 11th thru 13th 
Celebrate Old Town's rich (and delicious) history. Every day of the weekend offers something a little different.
The first night is "Dinner Under the Stars". An exclusive al fresco dining event for charity and tickets must be purchased a head of time. We've not attended this, but it is on our bucket list. Passing by last year had us licking our chops. The set up of a the long family style dinner table brought visions of a beautiful wedding dinner, in the middle of Front Street, complete with candlelight and jazz musicians playing! 
Day 2: Market street (beside the St. Lawrence Market) hosts the day time fun.
Day 3: it's all about family & food in St. James' Park.

It's almost midnight for summer. When the clock strikes 12, it turns into a pumpkin and we have to dust off our parkas again. Enjoy the last full month of summer in the city!

Canada Day Weekend Adventures – Happy 150 Canada!

Happy 150 Canada!
Can you believe it? Canada is 150 years old! 

To celebrate this joyous occasion, we decided to frolic through the city. 
A short run down on our weekend went something like this:

1. The Canada Day Blue Jays game vs. Boston Red Sox (we lost, it was ugly.) 
2. CN Tower's unbelievable Canada Day fireworks display (wish this could happen every year, hint hint.) 
3. A race down to the waterfront for the Harbourfront fireworks 10 minutes later (we made it!)
4. Redpath Waterfront Festival to hang out with the world's largest rubber ducky (it was large.)
5. A wander over to Nathan Phillips Square on multiple occasions where we happened upon free concerts from: Barenaked Ladies, Dream Warriors and dvsn. dvsn happened to have a few special guests (Majid Jordan and DRAKE.) We still can't believe we saw a free Drake concert!! Oh and there were fireworks too. Phenomenal fireworks... overshadowed a wee bit by our Drake shock.

And you know the long weekend wouldn't be complete without poutine and a few beverages like a double double Timmies, a Molson Canadian and a Mott's Bloody Caesar. Yum.

We hope you all had a fabulous Canada Day weekend too.

Cheers, eh!

What to do in Toronto – July 2017

If you thought there was a lot of fun to be had in May & June, just wait for July. We are beginning to hit our summer stride.
We think there are two ways to experience Toronto events in the summer. Some will need planning, while others you can stumble upon while exploring the city. 

Your list of July events to plan for or stumble upon, are as follows: 

July 1 - Canada Day

The city will be erupting with celebrations for Canada's 150th birthday!
The below links will bring you to a breakdown of most everything that is happening around the city for that day. Be forewarned, there is a LOT to choose from! From food & drink to markets & festivals to sporting events & family fun and don't forget to end the night with fireworks!
1. Toronto.ca
2. ToDoCanada.ca

To break down firework timing:

✫Nathan Phillips Square 10:55pm (this will be an epic 4 day celebration starting June 30, every night ending in fireworks!)
✫CN Tower 10:30pm
✫Harbourfront Centre 10:30pm
✫Mel Lastman Square 10:55pm
✫Humber Bay Park West 10:55pm
✫Scarborough Civic Centre 10:55pm
✫Ashbridges Bay (The Beaches) 10:00pm
✫Centennial Park 10:00pm (part of Toronto Ribfest happening June 30 thru July 3)
✫Downsview Park @ dark

(If anyone is wondering what we will be doing -- we'll be going to the Canada Day Blue Jays game vs. the Boston Red Sox. Afterwards we will be wandering around Harbourfront/Redpath Waterfront Festival/Artisan Market. Followed by setting up somewhere with a good perspective of the CN Tower fireworks & Harbourfront Centre fireworks that will be happening in tandem @ 10:30pm. If we can squeeze it in during the morning hours, the Royal Ontario Museum has free admission on Canada Day. My feet are already tired and looking forward to resting on July 2.) 

Festivals & Events

1. July 1st thru 3 - Redpath Waterfront Festival - this FREE festival happens along the lakefront. You will finally be able to see this HUGE RUBBER DUCK!

2. July 5th thru 16th - Fringe Festival - Inspired by the worldwide fringe movement, Toronto started their's 28 years ago. These 12 days of Toronto theatre is Ontario's largest theatre festival. And ticket prices are lower than most other festivals in the city @ $12 a ticket!
3. July 7th thru 30th -The 29th annual Beaches Jazz Fest - A FREE 10 day music festival staple that takes over the Beach communities on the east side of Toronto. Full schedule of the events, bands and when to expect Queen St. East to be closed can be found in the orange link. 
4. July 8th and 9th - TD Salsa  in Toronto - Get your dancing shoes on for the 13th annual festival. It is one of the largest latino themed festivals in Canada. It happens during 3 weeks in July, but the big talk is when the festival takes over St. Clair Avenue West between Christie and Winona Drive on July 8th and 9th.  
5. July 11 thru the August long weekend -  Toronto Caribbean Festival (We still call it Caribana) - The official city of Toronto launch is July 11, but the Grande parade, King and Queen parade and OVO Fest won't be happening until NEXT month! Click on the orange link for a full run down of events. 

6. July 14 and 15 - 1st annual Budweiser County Fair - The spirit of country will be taking over King St. West! Think country carnival with BBQ, carnival eats & games, Coyote Ugly dancers and mechanical bull rides! 
 

7. July 15 and 16 - 45th annual Festival of India - This was originally scheduled to be a Centre Island event. As of right now, they are working with the City of Toronto to find a more suitable location. The parade will still be held on dry land July 15th @ 11am, starting at Bloor & Yonge and moving south towards Queens Quay. We will update you when we have more information. 
8. July 20 thru 23 - Burlesque Festival - The 10th annual Toronto Burlesque Festival takes over MOD Club and Revival for 4 days this month. If you are looking for a summer festival a little different, this could be your choice.

9. July 22 - Junction Night Market - this fun night time community food event supports a good cause. ALL of the proceeds go towards helping members of their community access fresh and healthy food through local programs. Indie 88 will be there spinning some tunes and handing out FREE high fives!
10. July 22 & 23 - Big on Bloor Festival of Arts and Culture - A city and community-building street festival that celebrates local arts, culture and community. If you live in the area or want to drive that day, remember Bloor West will be shut between Dufferin and Lansdowne. 
11. July 28 thru 30th - Toronto's Festival of Beer - This is the big one! All the beer will be there! The free music on Saturday will be Toronto's own Sloan will be the band on the Saturday and it is already sold out. (Method Man & Redman play Friday and Alan Doyle on Sunday.)
12. July 30th - Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market - We've hit the middle mark for Pedestrian Sundays now. If you haven't gone out to experience one yet, here's your chance! If you have made your way there already... do it again!
13. Live on the Patio - Roy Thomson Hall - Sit on a patio, listen to some music and admire the beautiful Roy Thomson Hall. This is yet another FREE music event that happens in Toronto during the summer. There are 7 dates to choose from in July with different musicians for each date. The line up can be found in the link. Doors open at 5pm and seating is limited. All you have to do is get there before the Bay Street Crowd does after work.
14. Harbourfront Centre - Free music, movies and events throughout the entire summer. Every Wednesdays are Free Flicks, Thursdays are Dancing on the Pier, Thursdays and Sundays there is Summer Music in the Garden and of course don't forget the Paddle boats on Natrel pond. (Who doesn't like city paddle boats!) Full schedule for the summer can be found in the link. (We're waiting for the Hot & Spicy Festival there in September.)

Unique Attractions & Events

July 14 thru 16 - Honda Indy - Insider Tip: the Friday is practice and qualifying races. And FREE!

July 14 thru 16 - Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition - Nathan Phillips Square becomes a juried art exhibition over these days in mid July. Go to browse, buy or do art tours with beer chats. More information in the orange link.

AGO:
July 6 -  First Thursday this month is called "Future Perfect"  celebrating the diversity of the Canadian experience.
+ Georgia O'Keefe ends this month. We've attended this exhibition and definitely recommend it. If you enjoy art, she's well worth the trip.

Remember ☝︎ if you attend First Thursday, entry into Georgia O'Keefe is included. If you are an AGO member, Georgia O'Keefe is FREE and there is a member's discount for First Thursday!

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada:
Friday Night Jazz on July 14 is Juliet Dinn

Casa Loma After Dark:
Soul in the City continues every Monday
Symphony in the Garden continues every Tuesday
+ the Escape Series continues

Movies Under the Stars 


We've listed all of the parks and rec. centres that are hosting one OR more movie nights in July. And the best part? Most are doing it for FREE! All you have to do is show up, bring your blanket to sit on and maybe some nibbles. Click the orange link above for more details on the movies that will be featured, dates and times. If you live nearby any of these parks or can make the trip, we highly suggest you checking it out!

Regent Park
Corktown Commons
CityPlace's Canoe Landing
Christie Pits
St. James Park
Trinity Bellwoods
Downsview Park
Harbourfront Centre

Food Markets & Food Tours

There are many regular area Farmer's Markets popping up all over the city.
Our select few are below: 

Artisan Market HTO Park every Saturday  
+ Trinity Bellwoods Farmer's Market every Tuesday
+ Adelaide Eats - You originally saw this group at Union Station 2 years ago. The've moved locations and give you great options with places like Tacos 101 and Chimney Stax to tempt your tastebuds
+ David Paecut Square's INDULGE (market/entertainment) every Thursday
+ Brookfield Place every Wednesday
+ Nathan Phillips Square Farmer's Market every Wednesday

We've also noticed Food Tours & Culinary Adventures are becoming more popular. There are many tour providers and we have chosen a selection (see below) from Savour Toronto and Culinary Adventure Co. They all require tickets. Ticket prices range from $50 - $150. 
Kensington Krawl  
Old Chinatown Food Tour
Best of the West Food Tour
Coffee & Pastry Food Tour
Tastes of Little Italy 
St. Lawrence & Old Town Culinary Adventure

Active

July 8 - Bubble Run - Get exercise and play in the bubbles! Jon and I came across a Bubble Run in Marseille, France. We didn't participate and we had no idea what we were witnessing until afterwards. All we knew is this: everyone looked like they were having so much FUN!

July 15 - Night Nation Run - A running music festival that takes you thru a 5k running course laced with lights, lasers and DJs spinning electronic music. This looks like it may be even more fun than the Bubble Run!



July 23 - Toronto Triathlon Festival - Voted the best Triathlon in Canada last year, this "festival" celebrates human endurance and tenacity. 

Concerts & Music Festivals

July 1 - Electric Island continues with July's installment @ Woodbine Beach
July 7 - Bud Light Dreams Festival @ Echo Beach
July 7 - Ed Sheeren @ Air Canada Centre
July 6 - Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull @ Air Canada Centre
July 8 - Violent Femmes @ Massey Hall
July 8 - Linkin Park @ Budweiser Stage
July 10 - Gorillaz @ Air Canada Centre
July 11 - Joan Jett and The Blackhearts & Boston @ Budweiser Stage
July 14 thru 16 - Ricky Gervais @ Massey Hall
July 15 - Iron Maiden @ Budweiser Stage
July 15 - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers @ Air Canada Centre
July 16 - Metallica @ Rogers Centre
July 18 - Take Off, Eh? @ Second City - This is a ONE NIGHT ONLY, ALL-STAR Benefit. Bob & Doug McKenzie and Jiminy Glick will be there! It's expensive, but click the link and you'll see why.
July 18 - Muse & 30 Seconds to Mars @Budweiser Stage
July 19 - Chicago & The Doobie Brothers @ Budweiser Stage
July 20 - Elvis Costello @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
July 25 - Kendrick Lamar @ Air Canada Centre
July 25 - Korn @ Budweiser Stage
July 26 - Blondie & Garbage @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts 
July 28 thru 30 - 3rd annual WayHome Music & Arts Festival @ Burl's Creek Event Grounds - look at that lineup! 😍

Major League Sports

Rugby: Toronto Wolfpack RLFC (Lamport Stadium)

July 1 vs. York City Knights RLFC
July 15 vs. Hemel Stags RLFC

Baseball: Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)

July 1 & 2 Boston Red Sox
July 6 thru 9 Houston Astros
July 24 thru 27 Oakland A's
July 28 thru 30 LAA

Soccer: Toronto FC (BMO Field)

July 22 vs. Colorado Rapids
July 30 vs. NYC FC

Football: Toronto Argonauts (BMO Field)

July 24 vs. Ottawa Roughriders

“Mini Toronto” – Kensington Market

Unique. Eclectic. Colourful. Vibrant. Diverse. Charming. Artistic.
Community. 
Kensington Market.


Those who know this neighbourhood, know those words don't even begin to encompass the experience that is Kensington Market. 

Colourful Victorian houses, old synagogues, vintage shops, cafés & restaurants, a "garden car" and so much street art. Add in a pedestrian only party in the streets once a month, and it is easily one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Toronto.

For the short and sweet history of Kensington and it's diversity ☞
The 1880's brought the Irish & Scottish labourer immigrants, followed by eastern European & Italian Jewish immigrants. After the second world war there were Portuguese immigrants fleeing the Azores from political conflict and a wave of both Caribbean and Eastern Asian immigrants. Then there was the American political refugees after the war in Vietnam. The Chinese immigrants joined in as next door neighbourhood Chinatown grew too large. The 80's & 90's brought in groups of immigrants from Central America, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Iran, Vietnam and Chile. 
Jon and I noticed that it seems with each diverse group that immigrated to Kensington, they didn't take over the area to call it their own. Each group and era it came in added a layer beside the already existing layers. As you look around today, you feel each and every immigrant community who once called the streets of Kensington Market home. 

In saying all of this, you can see how all of your senses will be at work as you walk around the world in these few city blocks. And there is literally something for everyone and anyone. Beside an organic vegan café may be a Tibetan restaurant. Next to the Italian pizzeria is a vintage clothing shop. Beside one of the many cannabis dispensaries is a Mexican tortilleria.  You want a good Jamaican patty or a Chilean empanada and then go shopping for your fresh produce and meats, we know a few places.  Do you like to people watch? Dog watch? Street musician watch? You can do all of it on practically every street corner. 

But I digress, let's get back to this pedestrian party I mentioned earlier. 
The last Sunday of every month, from May until October, Pedestrian Sundays happen. From noon until 7pm there is a party in the streets that you won't soon forget. The streets are closed to any car traffic and then becomes a great rolling sea of people. Most of the shops and restaurants set up outside on the street to tempt you as you walk by, while musicians and artists litter the areas to entertain. From the Pedestrian Sundays we've been to, you also never know when you might find a flash mob or an unexpected parade erupting. I will put a disclaimer here *do not attempt Pedestrian Sundays if you don't like crowds*. It is the perfect opportunity to people watch until your eyes bleed, but for some that isn't their cup of tea. For those who try to stay away from crowds, mid-day during the week is when it's the calmest.

I could type for days about the history and feel of the Market, but since we are only aiming for a prologue sized blog (and not a novel) to add to our video, I will now glide into this segue ➟ watch our next vlog below! The first in our "Toronto Neighbourhood Series" — Kensington Market.