Street Level Snapshot:
On a sunny morning in June, the bells of St. Mary’s Church ring out, a counterpoint to the rhythmic thump of construction equipment on the southeast corner of Queen and Adelaide Streets. The urban symphony is punctuated by a shouting cyclist and a honking horn, mingling the sacred with the profane.
Further north, at Queen and Bathurst, there’s a different sort of contrast. On the southeast side, the sleek and shiny design emporium CB2 sits kitty corner to the West Neighbourhood House (formerly St. Christopher House), a non-profit centre that has served new Canadians, low income Torontonians, and an urban Aboriginal population for more than a century.
The space is the site of The Meeting Place, West Neighbourhood House’s drop-in program for socially isolated and poorly housed adults, almost half of whom are Aboriginal, says Maureen Fair, executive director of West Neighbourhood House.
While Fair thinks densification and revitalization along the strip “is wonderful — an important thing”, she hopes that visitors take time to find out about West Neighbourhood House and its programs.
“I think we all need to make more of a connection to how aboriginal people live and how it affects Toronto. We all need to share that,” she says.
Home Decor Hotspot:
Stroll up to the second floor of Design Republic at 639 Queen Street West on any given day, and you may see in one corner a big, burly, bearded fellow, more often than not wearing a Ramones or Sex Pistols t-shirt that shows off his heavily tattooed arms. Cognitive dissonance sets in when you realize that he’s surrounded by luxurious pillows in candy colours — richly embroidered or soaked with glitter — and piles of swatches of gorgeous fabrics. You will be forgiven if you think you’ve stumbled upon a craft corner for bad boys.
With combined experience in textiles, design television, interior design, and print-making, the trio set up shop in the space four years ago. Prior to that, they worked from home offices.
“I would go by this building, and I thought it looked cool, so I went in to see if they wanted to sell our pillows. They basically said maybe you guys can have a little shop within a shop, which we did. We like that the area is a mix, and that there’s still room for independents,” says Briceland.
teb has evolved into a full service interior design firm; they also do custom textiles and furniture, some of which is sold on the floor at Design Republic, which is owned by Craig Stephens and David Wieler, who have their own specialty — custom wood and metal work.
To get a sense of teb’s design aesthetic, you need only take a closer look at one of their pillows. It’s a silky, midnight blue, and is emblazoned with an epithet that can’t be printed in a family-oriented newspaper.
“People come to us because they want something different, something edgier,” says Briceland. “But we can do it all - we’ve done everything from super-conservative spaces to an S&M themed bedroom.”
“We’re, like, strippers, drag queens, race cars, rock ‘n roll. But we also do polka dots, sparkle, butterflies, nice pretty girlie things,” adds Adams.
“Yeah,” says Southgate, “think of us as glittery, but with a touch of profanity. “
A total of 255 units on 17 stories are being built, some of which are 2 stories. Prices range from $331,900 to over $1.3 Million, and footprints range from 575 to 1,849 square feet. Occupancy starts in February 2016.
Where To Play:
The Factory Theatre on the northeast corner of Bathurst and Adelaide has been a fixture on Toronto’s arts scene for four decades, and has been home to some of this country’s most significant playwrights.
If you need respite, spend a few minutes in the beautifully restored St. Mary’s Church. Much has been done to the site, which has been home to a church since 1852. But there’s more work ahead, says Father Fernando Couto, who is planning monuments to Torontonians who died in cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1834, and Alexander Macdonell, the first Roman Catholic bishop of Kingston, Upper Canada.
Annual number of patrons of Factory Theatre.