Toronto Coffee Shop Date : At and Around Wallace Espresso on King Street West

Hello! I was happy to have coffee and a snack with Julie at a new independent coffee shop in my own beloved Niagara neighbourhood of Toronto.

Wallace Espresso opened at 848 King Street West six month ago, in the middle of a strip of restored row houses located west of Bathurst near Niagara Street.

The lover of vintage architecture in me really appreciated the view through the bay window, of an Art Deco/Art Moderne building. “Chr. Hansen’s Laboratory” was built in 1934 to house the Canadian arm of a Danish bioscience company which developed enzymes used in the food industry.

Interestingly, they’re still in business today, and were recently designated “the most sustainable company in the world“. Wouldn’t the founder of such a highly regarded enterprise, Christian Hansen 1843-1916, be pleased to know this, and to see that a structure specifically built for his company stood the test of time and is still there today?

This is a nice example of my favourite style of modern construction, where the new melds with the historic. Today, some lucky people get to live in there, as it became part of a small and classy condo development called “The Perfume Factory Lofts, which opened in 1998. The name is thanks to the fact that an essential oil company took over the building about the biosicence company moved out in the mid-50s.

There are two parks just steps away from Wallace Espresso, so if their pretty marble tables are all occupied, you can take your coffee with you to be enjoyed there.

↑ There’s a retired canoe planted with native flowers on the north side of King, there to welcome local bees and butterflies. It’s part of the David Susuki “Butterflyway” effort. ↑

The parks straddle King Street, and are situated over-top of a river that used to run down through the city and into Lake Ontario. Garrison Creek became polluted in the late 1800s and so, was routed through concrete pipes which were then covered with soil from all the residential basements that were being dug at the time. Back then, the building of this sewer was considered the most advanced engineering feat of its kind. A large bridge that used to go over the river is, in fact, buried completely intact under part of Trinity Bellwoods Park, near Shaw and Dundas. So, the river is still there today, flowing beneath the parks and streets through some very old pipes. (I wrote about the buried river one of my very first posts – found here, if’d like to read more about it.)

↑ I sure do like the new streetcars that glide along King Street like something from a sixties futuristic sci-fi ↑

West of the park, on the south side, sits a cool looking row of houses that were built in 1903. They appear not to have changed at all in over a hundred years.

So, while Wallace Espresso is located on a lesser traveled block of King Street West, when compared to the booming section between Spadina and Bathurst to the east, there are many interesting reasons to head over. Reasons in addition to their lovely interior, friendly barista and delicious coffee and snacks, of course!

Thanks for reading, xo loulou