by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Kevin Stuart
Part of Toronto
We are certainly blessed in Ontario to have many wonderful towns and cities that offer just about anything from history to natural beauty and so much more. Toronto has no problem fitting into that category although many of us tend to think of it as one large sprawling urban mass. Upon further dissection, however, one will discover that, aside from the growing urban side, the city boasts many smaller communities within its borders. One in particular, that I visited recently, was the area known as Old Cabbagetown. The nickname dates back to the mid 19th century when many of the immigrants who settled in that area were fond of growing cabbage in their gardens. While that aspect has been relegated to history, the community has retained much of its heritage look and feel. I accompanied Gary McWilliams, the man behind Ontario Visited,for what turned out to be a most pleasant outing.
Yes, the busy thoroughfares such as Parliament and Carlton Streets carry commuters to places in and beyond, but there is also a very quiet neighbourhood comprising the eastern half of Old Cabbagetown. It is here that the rest of the city seems almost a world away. The roads are narrow, traffic on them is very light and one can actually hear suburban sounds such as birds providing the ambient noise. Many of the residents sit out on their porches and it’s very common to see children playing nearby. One of the crown jewels in this area is Riverdale Farm, the original home of the Toronto Zoo. The convenience of its location offers city slickers of all ages the opportunity to experience a taste of rural life without the drive to the country. The farm buildings house cows, horses, pigs, chickens, goats and other such animals that are always a treat to watch the children interact with. While here you can stroll the nature trails where many types of trees and plants abound. As an added bonus, admission to Riverdale Farm is free!
Heritage and More...
On the heritage front, there is plenty to appreciate. Many buildings and structures here display Victorian era architecture. Gary took several photos which are posted below and are well worth a look.
We had lunch at St. Jamestown Deli on Parliament Street where we enjoyed a fabulous smoked meat sandwich lunch. Some may associate smoked meat with Montreal but to my palate this was every bit as tasty. Of course, whatever you may be in the mood for, you’ll find a variety of eateries to choose from all within a few short blocks. There’s even a Tim Horton’s which blends their iconic sign in with the heritage structure of the building it’s in.
We must also thank Doug Fisher at the Cabbagetown Business Improvement Area office, who present the annual Cabbagetown Festival, held in September. In my view he perfectly represents the personality of the area…very friendly and seemed to know at least half the people that walked by. He is always happy for the chance to talk of the pride of one of the city’s most worthwhile stops. For further information you can always go to www.oldcabbagetown.com. Whether it’s for the festival or just visiting for an afternoon, Toronto’s Old Cabbagetown district is a nice getaway that’s not far away.