East Parkdale: A small bite of an emerging hood, minus the hoodlums


By Guest Writer Marjorie Malpass

Scared to go under the Dufferin overpass into the darkness of Parkdale? That means you haven’t been here since the 80’s when drugs, gangs and bikers dominated. The neighbourhood has undergone a tremendous shift, with the lick of condo developments rising on the eastern side. The drugs are still there, just harder to find.

For this article, I’ll focus on the hub of places in Parkdale that are located only 3 blocks away from the neighbourhood Vogue Magazine in 2014 called “the 2nd coolest neighbourhood in the world”. That being, West Queen West. Of course, we came in 2nd! How typically Canadian.

Yes,the restaurants in this stretch between Dufferin Street and Brock Avenue are amazing: Grand Electric, Chantecler, Electric Mud, Small Town Food Co are all delicious. Miss Thing’s and The Commodore have great buzz. So go to eat! What I also know is what to do before and after you eat at one of these places.

Where to Coffee

Tempered Room
Oh for the love of carbs!
This patisserie is the best place to write your screenplay while sipping excellent coffee and eating an authentic croissant. The baked goods are fantastic and the service retains the Parkdale air of tattoos and piercings while being refined at the same time. It’s the new, Post-Hipster era.

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Photo courtesy: Viktor Radics
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Photo courtesy: Viktor Radics

Where to Play

Pursuit OCR
Let’s play! This is a newly opened indoor obstacle course (with 19 obstacles) run by P-dale locals. This 10,000 square foot space is located just north of Queen Street West on Dufferin. It’s Canada’s largest fully indoor obstacle course training & movement centre and cryosauna in Toronto. Classes and general playtime work up an appetite. It’s a huge place, and feels like an adult playground.

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Photo courtesy: Pursuit OCR

Where to Shop

Community54
Only want a coffee and some hip menswear that prove you are in the know? Head to Community 54. This is the Toronto outpost, named after the sister store in NYC. They host events as well, art and music shows.

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Made you Look
This jewellery store has been around forever. It and the Cadillac Lounge were prescient that these blocks would boom. Canadian Designers who work in the back here means that your dollar has a shorter travel time and more impact. This is what shopping local means!

Photo courtesy: Made You Look

Shopgirls
Canadian Designers only in this shop opened in 2007, where they encourage you to “shop your shape”, instead of your size. I hate shopping, so I go there to have someone pick my clothes and tell me the truth. They host parties with the designers they carry, if you sign up for updates you will be invited. You can shop and drink, the perfect ladies night out! By the way ladies, if a shops-person says “it looks cute”, that is code for dumpy and frumpy. Don’t do it!

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Where to Drink

Duggan’s Brewery
Local Microbrewery with a big heart. They sell beer to-go until 11pm, and the crowd is loud and fun.

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Motel 
I almost didn’t want to write about this bar, as it is my local. It’s a tiny Winnipeg bar and I have an odd love affair with ‘the Peg’. Didn’t you have a crush that made no sense? They play all the Jets hockey games and that’s the only sporty thing about this artsy boite. Come in and feel like you live here. It has that neighbour feel of a local and is one of the only bars in town I feel I can go to alone as a member of the fairer sex. There is often live music and always a sit down video game with vintage favourites.

So enjoy taking a night out in the tough part of town. If you get lost, just head east until you hit the Drake Hotel.

About Marjorie

Marjorie Malpass is a professional actor, writer and corporate coach who co-founded the Toronto acting studio Malpass Park.

She has toured shows around the world, from Finland to Winnipeg in February. Writing highlights include comedy content for “The Irrelevant Show” on CBC, HGTV’s “She’s Crafty”, The Huffington Post, and the satirical newspaper, The Onion.

She is horrified every time she takes off her rose-coloured glasses and chooses to live a champagne dream life. www.malpasspark.com

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