Torottawalk: Downsview Farmer’s Market and Area

English: map of Downsview

English: map of Downsview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s fitting that a farm is now a farmer’s market.

I’ve been talking about, and planning for, a different walk all week – a “Weed Walk” (far lamer than it sounds) where we walk about an urban area identifying edible, ingestible, drinkable plant life. After gardening for the last month and learning to identify the plants I grow from seed, I thought it would be lovely, forgetting that my sister – an amateur urban farmer, landscaper, florist, and general hippie – would be a great guide along this trip. As it’s too late to invite her for today, I’m pushing a Weed Walk until later.  Instead: Downsview.

Downsview was originally John Perkins Bull’s farm. Bull, a Justice of the Peace who settled in this area around 1842, named his farm “Downs View” as his property was situated on one of the highest elevations in Toronto. [This does not bode well for our 50+ minute bike ride to the flea market, but coming home, I anticipate hitting top speed.] Bull who balanced being a centre of justice with farming, included in the basement of  his farm house built a courtroom addition and a jail.  I’m sure they’ve remodelled extensively for the Nursing Home currently occupying The John Perkins Bull house (450 Rustic Road).

For 100+ years, Downview was its own self-sustaining area, with large post-WWII subdivisions, beautifully built churches, and lovely schools. In 1928 De Havilland Aircraft Company, followed by The Canadian Armed Forces set up military bases during World War Two. Following the end of the Cold War the  land was transformed into an urban park known as Downsview Park.

If you’re interested in learning a lot more about Downsview, check out From Oxford to Ontario : a history of the Downsview community

Today, we’re taking a tour of the over 600 friendly vendors of the Downsview Farmer’s Market offering unique merchandise from around the world.  I’m shocked we haven’t gone before, but I can only assume it’s because it’s so far without a car. Welp, After conquering the North for Torottawalk and Jane’s Walk, we’re pumped to head out on bikes and find bargains in consumer electronics, fashion clothing, jewellery, home furnishings, cosmetics, housewares, food produce and Downsview’s antique market.  

Torottawalk: Laneways and Alleyways

stealing @spacing's laneway's route (

stealing @spacing’s laneway’s route (

Alleyways in Toronto are a favourite stroll point and with Jordyn Marcellus in tow, we’ve crafted this route to explore the phenomenon of laneways and alleyways in Toronto. The spaces in between main streets are filled with the garage art, types of graffiti – from “tags” to “throw-ups” to “pieces”, and converted coach houses.

After a year of change, we’re tracking down the same route – picking up Mr. Marcellus on Bloor and Christie – and trekking to explore the hidden spaces along the way.

follow along on @torottawalk

Supplemental Reading:

On Graffiti Alley:

On Development in Laneways:


Torottawalk: (Shaw, Harbord & Bonus Walk @ 1:00)

English: Philosopher's Walk (Toronto)

English: Philosopher’s Walk (Toronto) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This 3K walk takes us through one of my favourite Toronto streets.

This 3K walk takes us through one of my favourite Toronto streets.

Last week was my birthday, and so, instead of exploring Toronto, I built a snow yurt in my backyard. So today, to make up for it, today I have two walks planned. This first leg is 3K and should take around 30min, passing by parks, small businesses, institutions and beautiful residential architecture.

Starting on Shaw, where the city recently proposed (auspiciously, on my birthday) the installation of a “contra flowbike lane to provide cyclists with a space to legally cycle northbound. I bike year round, and use the northern end of Shaw on my way home at night, and so the proposed installation of a contra flow lane warmed the cockles of my heart. There have been too many poorly lit close calls on that street (which currently operates as an illegal bike highway). Contra-flows are rare in Toronto, and some residents of the community are upset at the idea of more space being legally designated to cyclists. If this cause matters to you – call your Councillor.

Other Interesting history about Shaw Street:

Then on to Harbord Street, where local businesses, the Harbord Collegiate Institute, and one of the best bike lanes in the city, Harbord is one of my top five favourite strips to walk and explore. Hard to believe that it was the centre of a debate 3 years ago where NIMBYs faced off against small business. In addition to the business scenery, there’s also two amazing parks in the area that – depending on the frigidness today – we may take a brief trip through. Art Eggleton Park and Bickford Park, two sanctuary retreats, sandwich the strip at its west end. I’m in love with park-lands that integrate into a community, and these are two great examples.

From there, on to the University and Hoskin. We’ll be walking through campus about a week before winter break, so it could be interesting.

Our bonus walk is the Philosopher’s Walk which – as Wikipedia states – is a scenic footpath in the main campus of the University of Toronto in TorontoOntario. It runs in the north-south direction along the ravine landscape created by Taddle Creek, once a natural waterway that was buried during the Industrial Age and now flowing underground. The path is bounded by several Toronto landmarks, including the Royal Ontario Museum, the Royal Conservatory of MusicTrinity College and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. We should get spit out right at the ROM and be able to cuddle up to some fine bones, if we’d like, and maybe enjoy a quick Red Stripe with c5’s Black History Month menu.