Slice by Slice to Little India

27 November 2014 — Eastward this time, metaphorically as well as factually, since my planned turning point is the city’s Little India, along Gerrard St. East.  I plonk myself just east of the Don River, and set off.

Toronto being Toronto, I’ll pass through several other ethnic/demographic slices along the way.

First up, Chinatown East — where (Toronto still being Toronto) the first building to catch my attention is a pizza e pasta Italian restaurant. More precisely, what’s on top of the restaurant.

atop Mr Ciao, Gerrard E. nr Broadview

“This is wonderful!” I cry to the fellow taking a quick break beside the resto. He agrees. “Who’s the artist?” Predated these owners, they don’t know. There was a name, they think, but it disappeared when they repainted the wall below.

atop Mr. Ciao Pizza e Pasta

I recognize the artist’s style, but don’t know the name. (If you know, please tell me.)

Pizza to the contrary, this is indeed one of Toronto’s Chinatowns. Even the parking lots know it.

greengrocer parking lot, Gerrard E. nr Broadview

I read the panel linking birth-years to zodiac animals but, alas, I am too old! The sign doesn’t go back that far. So I just photograph the animals I like. This guy, for example.

one of the 12 Chinese Zodiac symbols in the greengrocer parking lot

A different sort of cultural moment soon after, in a pop-plastic kind of way. Neatly lined up on someone’s window ledge …

along Gerrard St. E.

Cranky Black Cat & Disney-smile Pooh Bear both have bobble heads — their little ears are bouncing in the breeze. I stare at them in a mindless way for a moment, find my own head rocking gently on my neck in sympathy, then move on.

Matty Ecklar Park, whose community notice board is currently dripping with messages. No bobble heads here, but all the messages have those tear-off strips at the bottom with contact numbers, and the strips are fluttering jerkily, as gusts of wind pass by.

Matty Eckler Playground

I go snoop the messages, but every one — except for a single “basement apt. to let” notice — is in Chinese characters. What did I expect?

Somewhere around Jones Av. I see a long N/S alley lined with garages & give myself the detour. Maybe some fine garage art to be had?

Only this.

alley W of Jones, S from Gerrard

I take the picture, then argue with myself. Why am I doing this? I decide I just like colour & lines — the yellow door, the russet & black utility pole to the right, the angle of the garage door & echoing angle of the gate door to the left.

Or maybe all that is pretentious babble, and I just like the fact it’s a clapped-out garage, minding its own business & making no statement at all.

(Or maybe it doesn’t matter, one way or the other.)

Down the alley, out to Jones, back north on Jones to Gerrard, and eastward-ho again, Little India still the plan.

I’m into a stretch of Nothing Much, just a line of old homes (“old” in our terms, late-19th/early-20th c.) rubbing shoulders with each other in various approximations of vertical. But, already, the occasional sign of gentrification, a smart destination shop, often in a refurbished corner store.

Barkside Bistro logo

Awhhhhh, so cute! Well, you can’t help it, can you. That pooch is designed to pull you in, and open your wallet.

I like the side of the building even better. This was indeed a corner store, back in the day, and remnants of old ads still warm the brick.

Barkside Bistro side wall

Coca-Cola for sure to the left, but I can’t decipher what’s in front. Something about “every where” and “5”… Cents? Dollars?

March on, cross Greenwood Av., and I’m definitely out of Nothing Much territory.

I’m in Little India, that’s where I am, except that once again — as in Chinatown East — my first stop has nothing to do with India. (Even if early stupid, or simply careless, white explorers applied the name here anyway.)

Tea-n-Bannock, 1294 Gerrard E.

Goodness I love Tea-n-Bannock restaurant. “A taste of aboriginal Canada” is the slogan, and it is all so good. Bison, elk, fish, Three Sisters soup, and more and more, and of course what the name promises: tea and bannock.

Happy memories of an earlier visit in mind, I go in and order just that. No bannock today!

I wail. They explain. A big catering order, just now literally being trolleyed out the door, has cleaned them out. How about fry bread with my Tyendinaga Mohawk herbal tea instead?

Take note: if you are ever offered fry bread because no bannock is available, say YES. Especially if they add wild blueberry jam to the order.

Out again onto the street, warm & happy inside & out, ready for the transition from Native Canadian (not Indian) to truly Indian Subcontinent (in Canada).

a tikka house side wall

I pass right by Celtic Computers, wonder briefly about the name but don’t stop to find out. I do stop in front of this kitchenware store — I’m always fascinated by their pots & pans, always swearing that one day I’ll go in and poke around.

cookware shop Gerrard & Hiawatha

And once again I linger, but don’t enter. Some day.

Even the painted traffic signal box near Coxwell is on-theme.

Gerrard E. near Coxwell traffic signal box

I think of stopping in Lazy Daisy’s Café for lunch, but realize I am still too full of tea-n-fry bread.

So I turn back westward, nod at yet another wall mural …

side wall, Bombay Chowpatty

… and head home.




Leave a comment


  1. Rosa de los Vientos

     /  27 November 2014

    Wow, you just don’t stop walking.. lovely.

  2. Chris Corbin

     /  27 November 2014

    Penny, the Sign just says “Sold Every Where, 5 cents”, possibly with respect to the Coca Cola. Advertising Agency for the painted Ad appears to be Elk Boxes.

  3. i love bannock…lovely post…i feel i am there 😀

  1. Punching Up the Grey | WALKING WOMAN

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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

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