A Good Festival : Open Streets Toronto

open-streets-to-car-free-day-bloor-street-toronto

No doubt, there are a lot of festivals in this city during the summer, with a myriad of food, booze, music, art, crafts, and cultural festivals to choose from every weekend. I quite enjoy them so have been to many, but this particular one that my friend Meghan and I went to on a recent Sunday, stands out in my mind as one of the best.

Why? It was fun, relaxed, crowd-free, and there was little to no pressure to spend money. I’m talking about the Open Streets TO Festival, where miles of what are usually very traffic-heavy streets were closed to vehicles, so people could walk, cycle or roller-blade in the middle of the road, participating in organized physical activities at designated hubs, or visiting whatever shops strike their fancy.

The streets involved were Yonge Street beginning at Queen Street, going all the way up to Bloor Street, and then also Bloor Street, all the way from east of Broadview to Dufferin, with traffic being stopped between 10am and 2pm. That’s a lot of roadway to cover in 4 hours, so unless you were riding a bike, the best way to approach this festival was by picking a particular neighbourhood that you wanted to explore along the route and heading directly there.

Meghan and I chose Koreatown, which runs from just west of Bathurst over to Christie Pits Park. We met at the Bathurst Subway station and started walking westward.

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We were very nearly convinced to join in on some square-dancing but politely declined …

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A few interesting independent shops caught our attention, one being Hanji, (Hanji is the name of traditional handmade paper from Korea) where one can find all the stationery items their heart might desire. It’s a beautiful shop, a visit to which leaves you wanting to drum up more penpals to send mail to. Meghan picked up a set of cards as a gift for a friend who writes a lot of letters.

It’s good to know that there is a second location of Hanji in my neighbourhood, at 940 Queen Street West.

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hanji-handmade-paper-and-gift-shop-toronto-koreatown

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m-in-shop

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We also went into a vintage shop called Space Vintage and had a good look around.

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space-vintage-shop-bloor-street-west-toronto

I bought myself a gift of some gold-filled earrings that appear to be vintage dead-stock (so they’ve never been worn) from the 70s or 80s …

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We stopped for lunch at Mom’s Korean Food, selecting a seat on the outdoor patio. It was lovely out there, particularly without the noise and exhaust from cars.

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Meghan had Seafood Lettuce Rolls and I had Korean Noodles. Our meal came with an assortment of pickles. All was very good.

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Just as we were finishing up, a truck came by collecting the road barriers that they’d used to keep the vehicles out. It was 2pm and the roads once again filled with traffic.

So, we went back westward, stopping at a side street, Markham, located just before Bathurst, and turned south.

Here is Honest Ed’s, a place that has been a constant in this city for 68 years, since 1948.

honest-eds-toronto-last-summer-before-it-is-torn-down-mirvish-village

honest-eds-toronto-mirvish-village

These are the final shots of this enchanting place that I’m likely to ever take, because it’s being torn down soon, making way for a community of necessary rental buildings, shops and studios.

Honest Ed’s last name was Mirvish, and this part of the city is known as Mirvish Village.

mirvish-village-sign-toronto

The historic buildings on the west side of Markham will be staying, although the current inhabitants will be moved out while all the changes are going on.

But the buildings on the east side will all come down.

buildings-to-be-torn-down-markham-street-toronto-mirvish-village

↑ Soon to be demolished ↑

This house, which is one on the buildings that will stay, is Markam House and was once the art studio of Ed Mirvish’s wife. It is now a gallery.

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There are quite a few art galleries in Mirvish Village, a number of which Meghan and I visited, before continuing on our way southward, and home again.

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painting-by-laurie-skantzos-at-spence-gallery-toronto

↑ At Spence Gallery, by Laurie Skantzos

I’m happy to say that there is a second chance to catch this great festival, as Open Streets TO is on again in a couple of weeks, on Sunday, September 18th. I plan to go and explore lower to mid Yonge Street … I once lived in that neighbourhood but don’t get over there much anymore, so am keen to see how much it’s changed.

Thanks for checking out my blog,
xo loulou

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