Monday, October 6th, 2014...2:12 pm

Explore the City: Annex

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One of the lessons I learned in my previous year in grad school is that you need to make quality time to step away from your books and your laptop.  I find I’m actually more productive when I do.  When I make time to step away from work, especially when I have many looming deadlines stressing me out, I’m more focused and rejuvenated when I return to it later.

The topic of rejuvenation is especially topical since October is Mental Wellness Month at U of T.  You may think it’s a little early to be introducing de-stressing strategies but its never too early to start being mindful about your work-life balance.  We’re all well-rounded people with interests, passions, and relationships outside of the school sphere.  Sometimes you may feel like a school robot who is a slave to all your readings and deadlines- but remember that “student” is only one part of your identity.

Here is a list of the many events going on at U of T this month as part of Mental Health Wellness Month. These events are focused around the goals of helping students learn how to balance responsibilities and relaxation, how to reach out and engage with your community, and how to slow down and be mindful about your experiences.

The main take away: Slow down, stop the “glorification of busy”, and strive for balance.


image borrowed from

My favourite way to slow down is to take a stroll through a thriving neighbourhood, grab a good coffee and a snack and head to a public park to read or hang out with friends.  I thought I’d highlight a neighbourhood close-by to campus for those of you who are new to Toronto and could use some guidance on where to take a super stellar stroll.

Added bonus: our upcoming Grad Escape is a group stroll through the Annex! There’s still space left if you’d like to join us explore the neighbourhood with us.  We’ll take a stroll and end the walk with a social at a restaurant or bar for a fun social as a way to connect with fellow grad students. You can sign up here. 

So, without further adieu, here are a few Annex highlights that make for a great stroll:

Honest Ed’s

image borrowed from BlogTO

image borrowed from BlogTO

Honest Ed’s has a long history in the neighbourhood of the Annex, and its storefront is iconic to that of the area.  Find out more about its history here.  But in the meantime, go check out its timeless and kitschy signs with awesome puns and slogans . Head inside to see a department store stuck in the past with countless strange oversized wall decorations and black and white signed portraits from celebrities.


The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

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Located at 506 Bloor St. West, in the heart of the Annex strip, this century old cinema is operated by Hoc Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. The theatre is always showing a range of interesting documentaries at reasonable prices, check out the schedule for what’s playing now.

Green Beanery

image borrowed from the GridTO

image borrowed from the GridTO

The Green Beanery is on the corner of Bathurst and Bloor and is a favourite local coffee shop in the city. They roast their own coffee and espresso beans on-site and offer a relaxed atmosphere with lots of tables and chairs to meet with friends or catch up on some reading.

Sushi on Bloor


Sushi on Bloor is one of many, many, many sushi restaurants in the neighbourhood and is likely to have a line-up out the door during the lunch and dinner time rushes.  However, as someone who prefers a bustling atmostphere, it’s still a personal favourite despite the wait times. The service is fast, the food is cheap and tasty, and the atmosphere is busy and friendly.

 Mirvish Village


Take a left off Bloor on Markham and you’ll find this hidden neighbourhood-within-a-neighbourhood that has lots of little shops and restaurants off the busy Annex strip.  It’s a nice way to end off your stroll, and head south down to Victory Cafe for a drink and some food. Go soon to take advantage of their stellar patio!


Hope you enjoy your journey through the Annex! Go check it out for yourself or join us in a couple weeks on our Grad Escape to check out these places and more together!

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