Archived Posts

Please note that information in the following posts is NOT being updated and may no longer be accurate. 

BHNA Event Calendar – 2016 

Date Time Event
Tuesday, Mar. 1 7:30 – 9:00 Annual Town Hall
Saturday, May 28 2:30 – 7:30 Planting Day, Food Truck Social
Sunday, Oct. 2 4:30 - 6:30 Fall Fete: Local Food Contest
Sunday, Dec. 4 3:00 – 5:00 Beach Hill Bake-O-Rama

Bake-O-Rama 2015

Sunday 3:00 – 5:00 pm, December 6th, 2015

Beach Hill kicked off the holiday season with another delicious Bake-o-Rama at the Naval Club on December 6. Were you there? Are you over your sugar withdrawal? Much praise to the volunteers who made this happen: Connie Crane, Stephanie MacLean, Teresa Neves, all you bake-sale bakers, the entire BHNA Executive and especially Jason Gilman, who brought our first-ever Half-Baked Cake Auction to life.

..And those auction cakes! A huge mixing bowl full of thanks to those who designed, baked and donated them:
- Ice Master Ray Bernard and his daughters, Rhys and Brin
- Budapest’s Lorie Dichon 
- Entertainer Erin Keaney, and
- Councillor Mary Margaret McMahon
Congratulation to all of our successful auction bidders!
If we had a Spirit Award, it would go to Donna Warrender, who purchased an auction cake and then promptly returned it to the bidding ring where it could be used to generate more funds. Kudos to Mary-Margaret McMahon for duplicating Donna’s magnanimous gesture a little later in the auction. Lovely work, ladies!

...And those auction cakes! A huge mixing bowl full of thanks to those who designed, baked and donated them:
- Ice Master Ray Bernard and his daughters, Rhys and Brin
- Budapest’s Lorie Dichon 
- Entertainer Erin Keaney, and
- Councillor Mary Margaret McMahon
Congratulation to all of our successful auction bidders!
If we had a Spirit Award, it would go to Donna Warrender, who purchased an auction cake and then promptly returned it to the bidding ring where it could be used to generate more funds. Kudos to Mary-Margaret McMahon for duplicating Donna’s magnanimous gesture a little later in the auction. Lovely work, ladies!

Special thanks to this year’s Baking Contest Judges: Andrew Hudson of Beach Metro News, Sara Doiron, Bartender at the Naval Club and Toronto Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon. Imagine having to eat all those cookies and cakes?! Let their selflessness be a lesson to us all this holiday season. And thanks to Lori Brook, local Beach Hiller and a manager at Smucker Foods, we were able to offer stunning food baskets full of Robin Hood and other products well known to bakers. Several were donated to Forward Baptist Church’s Food Bank, proving once again that our little ‘hood is just soaking in the spirit of the season...

And who won the baking contest this year? Bake-o-Rama bragging rights for 2015 go to:
- Kate Tennier - #1, Club Dessert Cakes (Cakes & Pies)
- Hugh Stuart - #2, Lingonberry Ginger Jammy Cake (Cakes & Pies)
- Nancy Botelho - #1 Cheddar Shortbread with Pepper Jelly (Savoury)
- Nancy Botelho & Bridget Botelho - #1, Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Pots de Creme (Parent & Child)
- Hooman Ebrahimi_ #1, Double Chocolate Biscotti (Cookies & Bars)
- Ashley Lewis, #2, Chocolate Chip Cookie (Cookies & Bars)

Have I missed anyone? There’s Geoff Church, who designed our beautiful poster, Victoria Whole Food's Tatiana Lewicka, who once again orchestrated Bake-o-Rama’s kids’ activities. Thanks to everyone who participated: the money raised at this year’s event will be used to fund various neighbourhood projects in 2016 including our spring plantings, benches and signage.

Fall Fete!

A big thank you BHNA members and friends for coming out to our Fall Fête!

Thanks for bringing your sharable feasts, for participating in our contests and for making this autumnal event such a success!

Most nutritious dish went to Amy for her Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese and eggplant "bacon" and runner up Deborah for her Pumpkin Crust Pizza.

Visually decadent dish went to Olivier's Salad and Bandit Coffee went to Karen, Kate and the nice gentleman whose name got lost in the crowd for our "bought local" draw.

We were fortunate to have not only our City Councillor Mary Margaret McMahon as our lively emcee but our local Federal and Provincial Govt Reps and current candidates present!

During the event, Naram Mansour, developer of the 'Beach Hill Residences' at Gerrard and Woodbine gave the following update:

• While the building is still technically a 'condo', his company will retain ownership of all the units and lease them out. He would still have the option of selling them in the future when market conditions could give him the price he feels the units are worth.

• There will be about 3000 square feet of retail in total on the ground floor with tenants still to be determined.
• Watch for all kinds of changes at that corner next Spring as occupancy is anticipated somewhere between March and May of 2016!

Finally, we wish everyone a meaningful Thanksgiving full of great food and thankful thoughts.

2015 Spring Fling a huge success in spite of weather

A heartfelt thanks to all those hearty folks who turned up to plant and weed under less than ideal conditions. And thanks to everyone who donated time and money to make this event possible.

The tree wells along Gerrard near Woodbine are lovely. And we rocked the Naval Club with a lively social afterward!

BHNA Annual General Meeting (Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015) 

 Despite the weather, it was another fabulous turn out for our AGM. We were treated to project leaders who had props, one who almost sang her speech and at the very end (for a few of us stragglers) a Naval Club with no power! Minutes for those who could not attend can be found here: AGM 2015 MINUTES.

A memorable evening to be sure. For those who couldn't attend, minutes will be sent out early next week.

From Kate Tennier: It was a memorable night for me because it was my last AGM as Chair as I will be stepping down at the end of 2015. During this transition year, a number of you have already stepped up to 'own' a small part of this great organization. Kudos and thank yous to you all. Which leads us to ....

 'Five for Beach Hill': This concept, introduced at the AGM (and borrowed from the '3 for Calgary' movement!), is the idea that if we all did 5 things, we'd have a neighbourhood for the ages (or whatever superlative you like). And, we're here with four ready-made suggestions for you:

  1. Buy / renew your membership
  2. Plant flowers at the Spring Fling, May 30th (and stay for the 'Food Truck Social')
  3. Bring 'local' food to the Fall Fete Potluck, September 26th
  4. Bake for the Beach Hill Bake-O-Rama, December 6th

'Number 5' is up to you! There are a ton of local activities and projects - all listed under 'Ongoing Initiatives and Neighbourhood Links' on our site - for which you could volunteer a season, a week, a day or even just an hour of your time.

OR start your own thing and tell everyone about it in our new Beach Hill BLAST.

 Two specific needs still outstanding are a Website Admin and a few designated Camera Men/ Women. Let us know if you're willing and able.

 We invite each and every one of you to continue adding to our great neighbourhood: Do your 'Five for Beach Hill'.

Beach Hill Bake-O-Rama (December 6th, 2014)

The 3rd Annual Beach Hill Bake-O-Rama was once again a great community success!
 • Hundreds of yummy treats!
 • Hundreds of dollars raised for our continued beautification work along Gerrard!
 • And, scores of great conversations with new and old friends!!

BAKING CONTEST And, the winners are ...

 • Third Place: Andrea Williams for her 'Savory Cheddar Shortbread'
 • Second Place: Nancy Botelho for her 'Chocolate Mint Shortbread'
 • First Place: Dallas and Christy Conte for their 'Trollop Cake' (in pic above!):

Winner of the raffle was Nancy Botelho (a successful day for her!)

Thanks go out to so many people: • To all the contestants and buyers but mainly the many Beach Hillers who baked so many great treats for this good cause. • To Marla Good for her donation of the wonderful 'baking gift basket' for the raffle. • To our three judges Kim AntoniusRick Lavelle and Carol Harrison who actually had a tough job when all the entries were so good!

And, once again an absolutely huge shout-out to our three creative Bake-O-Rama ladies, Michelle OstafinConnie Crane and Mary-Ann Setterington for making this the day that it was. Thanks ladies!

BHNA ‘Community Clean Up’ Day!
Sunday, April 27, 2014: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm.
Meet on Gerrard at the top of the Williamson Park Ravine, opposite Fairmount Park. 
Let us know which parts of the ‘hood need cleaning!

Bring work gloves and wear appropriate (can get muddy) shoes – we’ll provide everything else you need!

Mark the date!
Beach Hill Neighbourhood Association Annual General Meeting

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
The Naval Club, 1910 Gerrard
All in the neighbourhood welcome to attend!

The Beach Hill Bake-O-Rama!
Back by popular demand ...

This year's event takes place on Sunday, December 1 from 2 to 4 pm at the Naval Club, 1910 Gerrard St. E. and is once again three events rolled into one:

  • A Bake Sale 
  • A Baking Contest 
  • And a Neighbourhood Social 
While contributing to the Bake Sale and / or entering the Contest are limited to BHNA members, everyone and all are welcome to buy treats for the season, cheer on contestants and mingle with neighbours over a drink or hot apple cider! (For membership info, click on the 'I'm A Local' icon to the right.)

For more info, or if you have questions about Bake-O-Rama, please drop us a line at:

Fall Planting Day and Food Truck Social!
Saturday, September 21, 3:00 - 8:00 pm

Help plant perennials along Gerrard: 3 pm - meet at the parking lot, 1906 Gerrard.

'Blue Chip Truck': 4 to 6 pm - in the parking lot

Social at the Naval Club: 4 to 8 pm - get dinner from the Blue Chip Truck and head into the Naval Club at 1910 Gerrard to eat, grab a drink and listen to some tunes - we'll have activities for the kids as well. Potluck dessert, so bring one to share! This is a great opportunity to test out your entries for our upcoming Bake-O-Rama!

Non-perishable donations for the Forward Baptist Church food bank and coins for 'Pennies for Pegasus' would be appreciated.

Drop us a line if you have any questions. See you there!

BHNA Summer Softball
Next (and last game of the season!) is Saturday August 31, 2013.

Where: northeast or west corner of Fairmount Park
When: Saturday mornings 9:30-11:00 am
Why: to have fun!
Who: anyone - all skill levels welcome. Come, glove or no glove...we have extras. (Kids can play in the playground or cheer us on!!)

To get on the Beach Hill softball e-list for confirmation of dates and for more info, please contact Jason at

New Sidewalks in Beach Hill!!

The new sidewalks in Beach Hill are almost completed. Next step in beautification will be our fabulous new tree wells and individually named trees!

Below are some pictures of the process taken by several Beach Hill locals. What a process!!

Beach Hill's first ever Spring Fling on May 25th was a fantastic success!

The Social - organized once again by Mary-Ann Setterington with her uniquely retro style on full display - had great eats, great company and good cheer!

Michelle Ostafin and Marietta Fox's beautiful and wide-ranging selection of flowers brought in a healthy dose of much-needed funds for our Gerrard St. Flower Project.

Shelly Baboolall added a vibrant element of fun to the Tree Naming Ceremony with her unique name markers.

Thanks also to:

The Lost Boys for a great afternoon of music: they're going on the road soon so we were super lucky to book them for Saturday!

Reed Russell of East of Eliza for all her support with our Flower Sale. If you're looking for more flowers, drop by her shop at 1960 Gerrard.

Brian Dort - our 'in house' printer and sign maker for his continued support, this time for Bucket Brigade decals and the quite spectacular sign that was on display Saturday.

The Naval Club for being such a great part of the 'hood; to Forward Baptist Church for the use of their parking lot; Ray Bernard for generously lending us his popcorn machine and a very necessary canopy; Anjali Misra for her community safety youth project on display during the afternoon; to Susan Butler, Susan Bennett and Steve D'Souza for their work on our neighbourhood Street Sale (a success by all accounts); to Jane Irwin and Connie Crane and everyone else who baked or helped out.

And, finally, along with Mary-Ann, Michelle, Shelly and Marietta, to the rest of our fantastic and 'always there / always involved' Steering Group: Donna Parisella, Ashley Upjohn and Jason Gilman.

Beach Hill Clean-Up Day - April 21, 2013

North of 60 people showed up for our first annual Community Clean-Up. All corners of the 'hood are noticeably more litter-free!

We had retirees and toddlers; 3rd generation Beach Hillers and those who moved here just a few weeks ago; those who live a stone's throw away and ... someone from as far away as Victoria, B.C.(a local resident's house guest!)

Special thanks to Jeff Good for organizing, to Tyler Good for helping so superbly, to David Livingston-Lowe and team from St. Jude's and to all the many, many others who came out to make our 'hood even that much better.

WINNER: Mary-Setterington who organized the 50/50 Raffle reports that 8 year old Sebastian won for guessing '26' bags. It pays to come and help clean up the 'hood!

The BHNA Tent with refreshments and treats for volunteer

Volunteers at Williamson Park Ravine

Receiving instructions from our esteemed leader Jeff Good

Mary-Margaret McMahon and our tree team rep.

Families cleaning up the environment!

Dad and son teamwork

One neighbour even dragged his house guest from Victoria!

Michael Prue helping out

 First Annual General Meeting

There was a fantastic turn-out for our first Annual General Meeting - many memberships were renewed and new members joined.

A huge number of people presented great ideas for Beach Hill in 2013. As mentioned, here are the contacts:

Sunday, April 21 Beach Hill Clean-up (11:00 to 3:00)
Jeff Good;

May 25 Beach Hill Planting Day & Flower Sale
Michelle Ostafin;

Gerrard Adopt (and Name)-a-Tree Initiative
Kate Tennier;

Beach Hill Saturday Morning Softball League
Jason Gilman;

May 25 Street Sale (Glenmore & neighbouring Beach Hill streets)
Susan Butler;

 Friends of Wildwood Park
Michelle Bourdeau;

Social Committee
Mary-Ann Setterington;

Fairmount Community Centre Advisory Committee
Kyle Duncan;

Beach Hill Bench Project (Phase Two)
Ashley Upjohn;

Community Safety Coordinator
Anjali Misra;

BHNA Tree Teams & March 19th tree meeting (All trees not on Gerrard)
Antony Upward;

Beach Hill Boys' Night
Steve Crane;

Knitters / Crafters Group
Karen Careng;

Farmers Market Planning Committee
Kim Antonius;

April MacInnes;

Business News:

Chiropractor Dr. Shannon McEwen is opening the Upper Beach Health and Wellness Centre at 1937 Gerrard, 2 doors west of Woodbine. It will grow to include massage and physiotherapists as well as other health care practitioners.

Andy Kovacs, owner of the GTA's first Sun Life Financial (1918 Gerrard) passes on an invitation to connect and potentially share referrals with his local chapter of the Business Network International which meets Tuesday mornings from 7:30 to 9:00 at the Naval Club. Andy can be reached at 416-342-7460 or

BHNA Knitting Group

A nice little group gathered on a few Sunday mornings in February at The Bandit for some knitting lessons under the tutelage of Beach Hiller Karen Careng. If you'd like to learn more about these lessons, please email Karen at

(Pictured: Michelle, Debbie, Stacey (at back), Karen (brown sweater) and Carol. Claire and Clare are seated).

Beach Hill Bake-O-Rama

The first ever Beach Hill Bake-O-Rama was such a fantastic success that plans are already in the works for next year!

Over 40 BHNA members baked for the event & close to 20 contestants entered the Bake-Off!

All ages came out to enjoy cider, treats, stocking up for the season, chatting with new and old friends. There were crafts for the little ones, drinks for the big ones and of course everyone got to watch the great spectator sport that is 'competitive baking'!

$860 was raised and several new members joined. This will mean more funds for beautification and events in the 'hood in 2013.

The Bake-O-Rama ladies want to thank the many, many people who baked for the event and particularly for the smash-up job they did with the packaging which created such a visual 'pop' that it was one reason sales were so high. They also have a big 'thank-you' for dropping off treats on time. It went like clock work which made the event fun, even for the organizers!

A special thanks to ...

Jane Irwin for her 'behind the counter' help

Shelly Baboolall for being our in-house photographer once again

Susan Singh - for always being where we need her - this time (wo)manning! the membership sales

Claire Ostafin for taking charge of the kids craft table

The 3 Lafferty boys - one older (Kevin), two younger (Ben and Max)! - for handling the all important check out station.

Steve Crane and Richard Ostafin for their behind-the-scenes help.

And, the stellar judges - Gwynne Giles, Bertrand Soalhat and Melissa Kittmer. (Surveying all the entries, it's quite possible there will be a line-up next year to be a judge!)

Drum Roll....

And the winner(s) of the first ever Beach Hill Bake-O-Rama Bake-off are:

1st (tie): Adrienne Bairstow for her Gluten-free Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Sauce

1st (tie): Tara Zwolinski for her 'Raccoon Poop' (you'll have to attend next year to see what it is!)

2nd: Claire Ostafin (all of 10 years old!) for her now famous Shortbread

3rd: Hugh Stuart for his Pear Frangipane Tarts

Finally, the biggest 'thank you' of all goes to the 'Bake-O-Rama' ladies themselves - Mary-Ann Setterington, Connie Crane and Michelle Ostafin. These three BHNA members went above and beyond, creating a fantastically enjoyed event that not only raised funds for next year's projects but one that will be fondly remembered for years to come and very much anticipated this time next year!

A fantastic night!
September 8, 2012

Potluck Social to announce the new Neighbourhood Name

Over 90 people attended the neighbourhood's first Potluck Social at the Naval Club, with several more dropping by for the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT. A smoked turkey, out-of-the-oven dinner rolls and home-made chili were just some of the great dishes served up - not that I had any as they went fast!

Special thanks to:
Member of Parliament, Matthew Kellway for gracing us with his presence and for local historian Gene Domagala and Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon for announcing the winning name.

Mary-Ann Setterington for doing a smash-up job with the kids' activities and for once again creating great signs using her trademark retro font.

Gwynne Giles of the Beach Studio for doing such a great job organizing the food.

Ed Zwolinski from one of our 'local' bands, the Bread Boys, for his expert drum rolling.

For the many people who helped clean up.

And, the VOTE TEAM, Bill Andersen, Steve D'Souza and Shelly Baboolall, for all their hard work counting and recounting the tallies for our Ranked Ballot Vote. Which leads us to...
The 'Name':

Beach Hill was the name that received the most votes, growing in popularity with each ballot.

All 4 finalist names would have been great ones for the 'hood.

The hope is that the name will grow organically. I entered 'Gerrard Woodbine Village' but, like many, the 'Beach Hill' neighbourhood is something that grew on me with each ballot.

Call our neighbourhood whatever you like - as long as you call it home!

Mary-Margaret McMahon and Gene Domagala making the Big Announcement


  • Steve D'Souza
  • Shelly Baboolall
  • Bill Andersen

Our June 9th Launch!

Historical Walking Tours and Membership Drive

Old BHNA Pics

1910 Map of the area

Toronto Golf Club, Year 1895 Gerrard St., East of Coxwell

Vintage shot of Woodbine looking north from Gerrard.

Vintage shot of a house, southwest corner of Woodbine and Duvernet

Bowmore School in the 1920s

1971 photo of the Gerrard Streetcar, from the R.Hill Streetcar Photo Gallery
Toronto Transit website

1971 Streetcar at Woodbine and Gerrard from the R. Hill Streetcar
Photo Gallery, Toronto Transit website

View of the CN Tower from Gerrard and Woodbine

Corner of Kingsmount Park andGerrard

A model of the Gerrard Woodbine neighbourhood !

Another great model from another young person!

From the June 9th Launch:

Bill Andersen's Blog

Original drawing of north side of 1941 Gerrard, formerly the Bank of Nova Scotia Building.
Courtesy of Jim Strasman, Strasman Architects Inc.

Original drawing of north side of 1941 Gerrard, formerly the Bank of Nova Scotia Building.
Courtesy of Jim Strasman, Strasman Architects Inc.

For more information about each business, click on the appropriate red category heading.

For Jeff Maddison's Business Write-ups please scroll down.

Grocery & Variety Stores
  • City Jug Milk Variety Store
  • YES Food Fair
Places to Eat & Drink
  • Budapest Restaurant
  • Good Time Coffee
  • The Naval Club
  • Beach Hill Pub
  • The Bandit Coffee Group
  • Today's Menu (take home)

Music, Art & Flowers
  • KS Piano Studio
  • 1999 Piano Studio (Pauline Potter)
  • Beach Studio
  • Colin's Guitar School
  • Wayne Campbell Gallery
  • East of Eliza Flower Shop and Garden Centre
  • Forward Baptist Church
Home Repair & Furniture Services
  • Soft Options Upholstery
  • ATOP Appliances & Repair
Computer Service
  • BC Computer
  • KSTS Computer support & IT Services
Wellness, Beauty, Pharmacy
  • Cuz of You Spa
  • Zara’s Pharmacy
  • Atisha Buddhist Centre
  • DJL Therapy
  • Upper Beach Health and Wellness
Other & Unique
  • Beach Hill Residences
  • Residential & Commercial Painting
  • J.K. Hoffmann Real Estate Brokerage
  • SAI – Strasman Architects
  • Sport Sewing Shop
  • Refined Electronic Lifestyles
  • UK- Halsey Toronto Sail Makers
  • Peek-A-Bears Child Care
  • Colin the Magician
  • Daycare Connection
  • Car Repair: The Mechanic

Beach Hill Business Write-ups!

Below is a list of write-ups on Beach Hill businesses by Beach Hiller, Jeff Maddison. New ones are added from the top as they get written. Scroll down to check out all the write-ups.

ATOP Appliances
1999 Piano Studio
Blacks Adventure Outfitters and Sport Sewing Shop
Wayne Campbell Gallery and Frames
The Bandit Coffee Shop
UK Halsey Sailmakers

ATOP Appliances

It started quite unceremoniously when my 10-year old daughter brought to my attention a slightly soft ice cream bar she had just taken out of the freezer last Friday and ended as a great adventure with one of what I like to call our “hero” proprietors in Beach Hill.

I had bought the ice cream bars a few hours earlier, and although it’s been pretty warm lately (quite the understatement), I got the treats in the freezer very quickly so I had one of those “that’s a bit strange” moments, but didn’t do anything about it (I guess I wouldn’t be a very good detective). Then, at dinner I had a bit of chocolate for dessert however the weird thing was, it was sweating profusely. The mystery deepened, but of course I simply went downstairs with another glass of wine to watch the next episode of Homeland.

By the next morning (Saturday), pretty much everything in the freezer was thawed out, and everything in the fridge was only slightly less than room temperature. Yuk! Quickly, my wife and I tried to salvage what we could and considered next steps. One was to see if Leon’s, the Brick or Bad Boy had any good deals on that weekend. Hate the commercials but you can get good deals at times.

Grinding our teeth at the possibility of dishing out big bucks for a new appliance, I had the brainwave (I have about one a year) of going over to the appliance shop (ATOP Appliances) at our great (and getting greater) corner. Sure enough, Gohar (the owner) was there, and although he was getting ready to go home for the weekend (it was about 2pm), he offered to come and take a look. At least 1.5 hours later (including another trip to the shop to get the needed part), Gohar had us up and running again, no doubt saving us considerable financial expense (not having to pay Mel Lastman and his son a visit), and while I could see that the heat was making Gohar perspire about as much as my chocolate, he did it all with a smile on his face. Yea to the neighborhood hero!

With Gohar’s professionalism (15 years in the business), commitment to customer service and sincerity, why look elsewhere for help when appliances break or… when we have melting icecream?!

Pauline Potter – 1999 Piano Studio

Many of you will know her shop by the massive old Coke signs attached to the former confectionary storefront Pauline and her husband recently renovated at 1999 Gerrard Street, at the top of Devon Rd. (one street east of Woodbine) . Thank God, or whoever/whatever you believe in: for six years I walked by that old decrepit shop hoping someone would fix it up and now Pauline and Steve have.

Not only did it get fixed up and turned into a music studio and apartment, but as many have noticed by the signs in her window, Pauline is a Conservatory trained, Associate Level (means she has a teaching diploma) piano teacher whom we are lucky to have in Beach Hill.

Pauline started playing at the age of 8, has always wanted to have a career in the music business, and has now been teaching for about 25 years. After living in North York for the better part of her life, Pauline recently moved with her husband to find a different ‘hood to hang in, and liked what they saw in the Beaches, and in particular, the Gerrard/Woodbine area. Part of the attraction, and critical to her business, is that there were lots of children in the area.

Now I’m not saying I’m ready to go on tour yet, but I did recently have the pleasure of taking a series of lessons from Pauline, and found that she very quickly and instinctively knew how to get me playing and enjoying all kinds of music that I never thought I would be interested in. I went in hoping to bang out some Elton John, and came out happily playing some blues, classical and even Eastern folk music.

As the first line of William Congreve's play The Mourning Bride (1697) says, “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast" (no, it was not William Shakespeare), and when left in the very capable hands of Pauline Potter, in my opinion, the whole experience of learning to play will be very satisfying, soothing and fun.

Blacks Adventure Outfitters and Sport Sewing Shop

Once again I am amazed as the uniqueness of our “hood”.This next write up is about a shop I noticed a while ago whose name seemed similar to a great outdoor store I used to frequent back in the eighties, located beside the fabled Maple Leaf Gardens (back when Toronto professional hockey was worth following). So I decided to enquire about the history of Blacks Adventure Outfitters and Sport Sewing Shop, just a few shops east of the Bandit Coffee Shop.

Sure enough, as you can read on their website, and as I found out through a very friendly chat with owners Allan and Karen Abbott, this is in fact the same organization. I won’t go into all the details of their history, as you can on their website (, but will briefly say that the company began “as a subsidiary of Blacks Outdoor Experts of Scotland, one of the oldest and best known providers of outdoor equipment and clothing in the world”. It actually goes back to the nineteenth century.

Being a fairly avid hiker and camper (while my daughter loves to climb), I was naturally attracted to the gear in their store (rope, crampons, backpacks and the like), not to mention the death defying posters of climbers risking life and limb hoisting themselves up sheer rock faces like El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California. (I’m not afraid to admit I live vicariously through pictures like that).

However, while they do they supply hikers, climbers and campers like me with equipment, most of their gear is specialized rescue and evacuation equipment for fire, police, and tactical military personnel, as well as for rescue and tactical trainers and theatre, film and stunt companies. In addition, about 50% of their overall revenue is through the sewing business, where they repair high-end clothing and gear, like Patagonia and Marmot, sent to them by retail stores across the country.

Nevertheless, the next time you have a backpack, tent, winter jacket, or any other like item in need of repair take it to Blacks Adventure Outfitters and Sport Sewing Shop. I’ve done so several times, and they do a great job.

Wayne Campbell Gallery and Frames

It’s amazing what lies “hidden” in your own backyard if you take the time to look. Lucky for me, I volunteered for this great search of the new Beach Hill Neighbourhood Association. It’s like forcing yourself to stop and smell the roses. So, next in my series is the Wayne Campbell Gallery and Frames shop at 1958 Gerrard St. (northeast block of Gerrard and Woodbine).

Wayne has been selling his wares in this area for almost 25 years; first on the south side of Gerrard a few blocks west (where Soft Options Upholstery currently exists), and now at the above-noted location. And his wares in this case are original artwork from a variety of mostly Ontario-based artists, as well as custom framing and installation.

Wayne started in this business by wholesaling art and custom framing back in the early eighties, but jumped into the gallery ownership side of things when asked to partner with a local artist, John Pryce, who wanted to paint more and have someone run and co-own the shop. Wayne eventually took over complete ownership of the business.

As Wayne described (and as I could see), most of the art in the shop involves landscape-based scenes, including urban streetscapes. The rest includes some “still life” based paintings, and photography. Most of the art is done in oil or acrylic, although there are also watercolours, with some very interesting“layered” watercolours. Finally, most are impressionistic in style, as opposed to “real” looking subject matter (like Robert Bateman).

While describing Impressionism could and has filled the pages of many books, I will humbly try to sum it up by saying that Impressionist painting includes: an emphasis on freely brushed colours that take precedence over lines and contours; an accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities; is often painted outdoors; focuses on overall visual effects instead of details and uses common, ordinary subject matter, movement and unusual visual angles as crucial elements.

And if that doesn’t make any sense, you’ll have to visit the shop, which you should do anyway…you’ll see what I’m talking about. We should all perhaps do more of this neighbourhood “discovery”. Believe me –you’ll be happy you did. Some of the paintings even include roses.

The Bandit Coffee Shop

As one of the newer businesses in Beach Hill,I wanted to write about The Bandit as soon as possible. Also, because... I really, really love a good cup of coffee - and a funky coffee shop to drink it in.

Someone has finally had the foresight and courage to start an edgy, modern, and high-quality coffee shop in Beach Hill. I haven't minded wading into the Beach, or even over to Main and Gerrard for a good cup of coffee, but now I only have to go around the corner.

The owners are Tracy Loyson and Kirk Stratakos, budding young entrepreneurs and friends for years, who until just over a year ago shared the dream of opening their own business (their one-year anniversary was on September 11 of this year).

Ironically, it was Stratakos mulling over what business they would start when he had an epiphany. He was standing in front of the place he had bought (the current Bandit location, 1925 Gerrard ) thinking he really needed to sit down and have a good cup of coffee to think about what their new venture would be when, yes, he realized that block needed a coffee shop. A few months later, The Bandit was formed. Talk about following your instincts!

As the name implies, it has an edgy kind of industrial atmosphere (all of its furniture has been reclaimed and refurbished). More importantly, it serves outstanding coffee of all kinds as well as snacks, sandwiches and various other items. The owners are meticulous about providing a high level of customer service, and have hired knowledgeable, engaging, and friendly people to work behind the counter. They also get their coffee from a local roaster which has enjoyed media exposure for a number of years.

They also have a dry-cleaning drop-off service that's very convenient for those on their way to work (and needing to stop for a coffee anyway). Loyson and Stratakos also want to add more "ready-to-go" snacks and other coffee-related and Christmas items like gift packs, candles, and hostess gifts in the near future.

However, my favourite thing about The Bandit is how I feel when I'm there: comfortable, happy, relaxed, and like I've just escaped the pressures of life for a short while, and am hiding out in my own personal little hideaway.

UK Halsey Sailmakers

One of the more unique businesses in the area, UK Halsey Sailmakers, run by Brian Chapman, sits three blocks west of the Gerrard Woodbine intersection on the south side of the street (1869 Gerrard). It’s the business with, yes, a sail flying out front. As its website ( indicates, “UK Sailmakers is one of the most established groups of sail lofts in the world with nearly 50 lofts and service centers worldwide.” ‘Lofts’ is sailing lingo for a business, office or manufacturing location, and this is one of the area businesses I’ve been wondering about for a while now (yes, because of the sail flying outside).

Established in 1946, UK Halsey Sailmakers is also one of the oldest groups of lofts in North America, and Chapman, as its international design coordinator, has literally been around the world designing sails for several lofts over the course of his career. UK Halsey Sailmakers has, over the years, been a dominant sail maker for several classes of boats, including those that have won the America’s Cup. They also do repairs of all kinds, whether the sail has been made by the company or not.

While this is not necessarily the kind of business that draws its business from local foot traffic, Chapman is nevertheless a big supporter of the BHNA. I interviewed him, and he told me that “UK Halsey Sailmakers has been in the area for about five years.” When I asked him why he settled here, he casually said that, “it was simply a convenient place at the time because I lived down the street. However, while I didn’t realize it at the time, the location has proven to be a very good one because there is a lot of sailing in eastern Toronto, and almost no business competition, which is almost completely in the west end of Toronto and Mississauga.”

So even though most of us in the neighbourhood are not about to purchase a sailboat in need of a new sail any time soon, people should check out the website as it is very interesting and extremely informative and educational, and the folks working there are very friendly…you’ll like the “cut of its jib.”