An impromptu search for the perfect dress to wear to my book launch turned out to be an advertisement for Toronto as the best “livable” cities. Like a well-seasoned New Yorker, we found our treasures in out-of-the-way corners not likely found on a tourist map.
Ryerson Public School
First stop to pick up my shopping companion was outside one of Toronto’s oldest schools. On Dundas, just east of Bathurst, Ryerson Community School lies in the heart of Toronto’s Chinatown and on the edge of both Scadding Park and Kensington Market. Education guru, Egerton Ryerson, founded the school in 1877. Over 100 years ago, the public education advocate studied various systems in the USA, England and Europe. He combined the best of these to develop the foundation of the system we now use in Ontario. A cornerstone of his belief was to make good schooling accessible to all and not just the privileged few.
Our mission was to find the perfect dress for the launch of my book, Unstoppable: The story of asset-based financing and leasing industry in Canada. Walking own Denison to Queen, and then over to Bathurst heading south, we began at Freda’s. Freda’s has been a destination for women in the city since 1971, with garments designed and produced from the actual store. Unfortunately, the doors were locked—closed at 6PM. I recommend Freda’s but don’t plan to go after work!
Success at Comrags
So we walked north to the area known as Trinity-Bellwoods, stretching from Bathurst to Grace along Dundas Street West. Our destination was Comrags, a women’s label established in Toronto in 1983. The two designers met while studying fashion design at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (now Ryerson University). Yes, it is the same Ryerson mentioned above. Joyce Gunhouse and Judy Cornish began like all fashion designers, local, with a small, loyal following. Today their clothes are available across Canada. Their flagship store (with the clothes designed and made upstairs) is at 812 Dundas West (and the closing time on Friday is 7 pm).
I found the dress of my dreams in less than 10 minutes—perfect for the launch of a financial history— understated but with flair befitting a writer. The rest of the time was spent playing. I tried on whatever my daughter could pull off the rack before closing time.
Pancho y Emiliano tamales and tacos
Now close to 8 PM, we made our way to Kensington Market where two Mexican restaurants sat side-by-side, one full and the other empty. We took the clue and went into the packed one — Pancho y Emiliano at 200 Augusta Avenue—where where we ate the best and most authentic Mexican food I’ve enjoyed outside the USA. The fish taco was to die for. Apparently the co-owners are each from a different Mexican region, and bring their particular hometown’s specialties to the menu.
The final Toronto moment was taking the Queen street car back to Yonge and then home by subway (the original north-south line).