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MY TOWN // Leanne Presents Toronto

February 3, 2014

“My Town” is a feature wherein friends and family of Brownswood, from around the world, give us the lowdown on their home town – favourite bars, restaurants, record shops and more. Forget Time Out – this is the only city guide you need.
On This occasion we travel over to Toronto for a wonderfully intricate insight into everything from cake to BadBadNotGood.
Leanne is a Canadian artist/designer and dj. She lived in London from 1991-2004 and in that time worked behind the counter of Honest Jon’s Records and on Patrick Forge’s Kiss 100 Radio show. As one half of Wadada she designed the t-shirt line inspired by iconic musicians, as well as record covers and brand identity for luminaries like Talkin’ Loud/Innerzone Orchestra, Bebel Gilberto, People Records / Main Squeeze, 2000 Black, Bugz in the Attic, the mighty Coop Sessions (West London Massive stand up), Charlie Dark’s Blacktonica, Benji B’s deviation and of course, Brownswood Recordings.
TORONTO GUIDES is a great resource and also includes gig listings. 
For me, chilling out usually involves being outside (there are some great parks in Toronto – High Park, Trinity Bellwoods, Harbourfront, Evergreen Brick Works) or spending real time in a gallery. Some of my favourite galleries in Toronto are: Angell Gallery, Diaz Contemporary, MOCCA, The Power Plant, The Art Gallery of Ontario (check out work by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven – Canada’s brilliant impressionists) and there’s a whole slew of smaller contemporary galleries on Queen St West and Dundas Street West like the Cooper Cole Gallery.
There’s a real range of nights in Toronto:
Pressure Drop - a heavy, monthly reggae session at the Magpie
Shindig - a great shake-a-leg at this monthly, vinyl-only soul/r&b party
Queen West and Dundas West once again is a hotspot for venues, smaller bars and clubs like The Great Hall/Blk Box, The Hoxton, Wrong Bar, Drake Underground, Bambi’s, The Yukon

Poetry Jazz Cafe , This intimate spot in Kensington Market is a favourite place to go for a ‘pre-drink’ where young, emerging jazz musicians are given an enthusiastic audience to play to.

Great cocktails too (recommended – Bitches Brew).
Another great little spot (923 Dundas West). Fantastic cocktail concoctions and a beautifully curated interior
Toronto is a true multi-cultural city which also means we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to food. I could eat for hours, so here’s a hit-list of some of my favourite spots:
A-okcool,friendly canteen-style, asian mash-up on Queen West
Bent, Lee - for fancy asian, Susar Lee is the don
Fresh - really yummy veggie restaurant – has locations around the city
veggie chinese in kensington
Odd Seoul - great for a late Korean snack, drinks and sometimes dis (Ossington)
416 Snack Bar - a bit of everything (Bathurst St)
Big Crow - for a taste of open-fire Canadiana
Vietnamese: both Pho Tien Thanh and Golden Turtle on Ossington are good for vibe and pho
TEALISH - toasty almond tea!!! (Queen West)
DuffletCAKES! their Belgian Chocolate -ok, pretty much ALL of their cakes are amazing. Three locations around the city to feed your addiction.



Cosmos Records - not cheap but worth a flick through Aki’s overflowing selection of jazz, soul, latin, house, hip hop etc
Play De Record - a staple stop on Yonge St
Planet of Sound - also a tad expensive and also sells sleek equipment for audio design geeks (Queen St East)
Kops on Bloor – dusty, old school emporium, huge selection of 7′s
There’s a triangle I always walk on Ossington Avenue:

Jonathon and Olivia - a boutique for both the boys and girls (labels like Acne, Isabel Marant, PAM, Surface to Air)

Miss You - nicely curated vintage
Parlour - if you’re in need of a trim, this is one of the friendliest salon’s I’ve ever encountered; and they’re really good too (ask for Jay!)
For The Boys:
Uncle Otis - in swish Yorkville (we used to sell Wadada tees here)
Lost and Found: otherwise known as ‘coffee and clothes’ because they sell coffee and well, clothes (Ossington Ave)


For The Girls:
Imelda - 10 points for guessing what kind of shop it is (Roncesvalles Village)
Love of Mine: fantastic bespoke costume jewellery (Queen West)
69 Vintage - Queen West

Toronto Only Experiences
Bike culture is big in Toronto. In June, July and August this art/bike crawl sees over 300 people on bikes touring specially curated performances and galleries across the city – one of the bikes even carries a full-on sound systerm.  ().
In the winter, ice skating on outdoor rinks seems like a typically Canadian thing to include. There’s a great outdoor skating trail at Colonel Sam Smith Park that weaves amongst trees and the rink at Harbourfront enlists some great dj’s (like the Footprints crew – General Eclectic, Stuart Li and Jason Palma).
This international, multi-arts festival takes over Toronto for 10 days in June (June 6-15, 2014).
Sum up your town in 3 words?
Friendly? It might be a bit of cliche, but I do think it’s true – we’re generally pretty nice.


LOCAL DELICACY: Mmmmaple  Syrup


Be sure to check output from my good friend Koray Ozel’s label: Istolethesoul Records. He’s always championing quality, emerging Canadian talent.
Leanne Wright: