Exploring Bloor, katherinepedia-style

WARNING: Wrote this in the fall. Still relevant. Enjoy.

Bloor has to be one of the most eclectic streets in Toronto. You go from hippie paradise to old school collegiate (ha) to playground of the wealthy to glass-panelled jungle. Yesterday, deciding that the first day of bitter cold this fall was the perfect opportunity to explore, I chose to walk back from Bloor and Bathurst (pretty far west) after hunting for the best mac and cheese in the city according to blogTO (Thanks for that, Victory Cafe; really warmed the soul). I figured it would cost me $3 to get back on the subway, or $3 at David’s Tea to warm my hands as I walked back. Guys, I will always go for the tea.

First stop was Honest Ed’s. Before today, I had never been in. Honestly. I get it’s a cultural icon for the city and get’s everyone misty-eyed with nostalgia, but I seriously don’t get it. It’s like a giant dollar store, with something that are more than a dollar. Maybe I’m missing something, but aside from 99 cent shampoo, don’t really see the appeal.

Nice sign, though.


You know what I did see the appeal of? Tiny shops EVERYWHERE. I missed so much by falling in the UofT trap of only hitting Brunswick House (affectionately nicknamed “The Brunny”) and Futures (it’s a bakery AND a bar). Looking for a store that sells original movie posters? It’s there. Looking for a wedding planner? It’s there too! Looking for a comic book store? They’ve got plenty. There was just so much to look at it, it was hard to decide where to venture.

Eventually this sign caught my eye:
titanic pic
K, you have to go in for something that funny and in such poor taste. Love it. Outer Layer was a super fun gift shop. We’re talking boutique scents like Tokyomilk, both light and dark, New Yorker note cards, recycled leather notebooks, mugs that look like they’re bleeding, and curtains with owls on them. In one word, fab.
Bonus: David’s Tea is right next door!

Why pay a subway fare when you can walk with tea?!

After all that mac and cheese, I needed something to soothe my achingly full tummy! And, you know, keep my hands from going numb. I didn’t think to bring mittens for September in Toronto. Apparently that was a poor life choice.

Moving on.
Across the street, Menchie’s and Yogurty’s are flanking either side of Lee’s Palace/Dance Cave, both vying for the business of post-show and post-dancing crowds past 11pm. Man, so much self-serve froyo on this block. It’s a bit cold for that, personally, but both were still crowded at 5pm today.

Speaking of food, Bloor West seems to have some form of sushi fetish. Like, one block I walked was literally 3 out of 4 storefronts sushi. SUSHI EVERYWHERE. DROWNING IN SOY SAUCE, PADDLING UP THE STREET USING A CHOPSTICK IN A SUSHI BOAT FILLED WITH MAKI AND SASHIMI.


Bloor West also seems to have an abundance of hippie-dippie health food shops and vegan eateries. I respect that. From the conventional Noah’s Health Foods (now with juice bar!) to Asian holistic shops and more boutique operations (hemp tshirt, anyone?), if you want it, you will find it.

Once you’re past Spadina, you’re practically in University of Toronto territory. Most notably, your walking by UTS, the high school that’s supposed to feed into UofT. Beautiful building. This is when things get older than the 70s. Churches, vintage-y store fronts, Bata shoe museum, and BROOKS BROTHERS FLATIRON SHOP. It only makes sense that there would be a Brooks Brothers on the main floor of a building owned by the University. Brooks Brothers, the unofficial wardrober of Trinity College.

Thanks, NOW.

By now, if you’re still walking, you should see a spaceship crashed into a neoclassical structure. That’s the ROM. Personally, I love the Crystal, err, the spaceshippy bit. The ROM is the Royal Ontario Museum, and one of the best places in the city. Dude, there are dinosaurs. And a room dedicated to diamonds. And a bat cave (ha). I just bought a membership for the year so that I can go anytime I want for free. Students, take note: it is only $54 with your ID, AND INCLUDES FNL. (More on FNL later.)

The mothership. Ha, get it? Spaceship joke? Oh, forget it.

The fancy part of Bloor starts once you cross Queen’s Park/Avenue Road. You’re greeted by a giant glass and metal Louis Vuitton and the iconic shade of Tiffany Blue on the left, and Club Monaco and North Face on the right. Something for everyone, with cash to burn, that is.

My favourite part of this strip? Sephora. I go in, play with stuff, get my makeup touched up, collect skincare samples, spray perfumes. It’s just so much FUN. It’s always bright and plays pop music. Holly Golightly had Tiffany’s, I have Sephora. But, seriously speaking, no one should leave me alone in there long. Not only does my credit card suffer, but this happens:
Yeah, exactly.

Once you get past the giant Indigo (the one where Heather Reisman herself shops) and Holt Renfrew (honestly, I’d imagine Heather shops there, too), Bloor gets different. Past Yonge street, it turns into condo towers and high rises and a Hudson’s Bay that’s far less worthy of your time than the one on Queen. Pretty much past this point, it belongs to companies and boringly dressed people in suits whose souls are probably owned by Ted Rogers. If I were you, I’d just avoid this area. Unless you work there, then congrats on having a real-adult job and so on and so forth.

See how dreary this is? It gets worse. YOU SHALL NOT PASS.

Now that I’ll be living outside of residence, I’m thinking I’ll do a lot more exploring. Any other areas you’d like to hear about? Let me know!

Until next time, mes amis!

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