Of coffee and cabbages

For most of my U of T career (so far), I’ve lived in Harbord Village. Being close to campus made life a lot easier. I was able to roll out of bed half an hour before class and stay at Robarts as late as I wanted. But in my fifth year, I decided it was time for a change and moved further away from campus to a new apartment that falls somewhere in between St. James Town, the Village, Cabbagetown, and Regent Park.

There are a lot of benefits to living a bit further off campus. Having to go home a bit earlier meant I spent a lot more time at home this year, appreciating my apartment and my roommates and the neighbourhood(s) we live in. Plus, when you move just a bit further away from a campus, you save on rent.

I’m moving for the upcoming year, so I’m currently in the midst of the dreaded Toronto apartment hunt. But before I go, I wanted to write about my favourite discovery since moving to the area – quirky, beautiful Cabbagetown!

A sign outside a store front that says  "I [picture of a Cabbage] Cabbagetown"
I cabbage Cabbagetown!
Here are some quick facts in case you’ve never heard of the neighbourhood:

  • Cabbagetown is so named because Irish immigrants who lived in the area used to plant cabbages on their lawns.
  • Cabbagetown has its own flag. I’ll give you a minute to guess what it looks like… Ready? It’s a cabbage.
  • According to the Cabbagetown Preservation Assocation, the neighbourhood has “the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing in all of North America.”
  • Cabbagetown fancies itself rather, well, fancy. But the neighbourhood is also surrounded by low income areas and homeless shelters, so there’s a bit of a tension there. (In fact, my roommate wrote about that tension for The Varsity Magazine this past year – you can check that out here if you’re interested!)

And with that, here are my Cabbagetown must do’s:

  1. Get a coffee: Jet Fuel Coffee is legendary for a reason. It’s bustling with locals, and you may feel like you’re not cool enough to try their brew. But you are. For a cozier option, across the street is Cabbagetown Brew, where the peanut butter latte is my go-to and the comfy cream chairs are my happy place.

    The Jet Fuel Coffee storefront.
    Rock and roll coffee for yuppies and hipsters. Sometimes I feel like a failure for adding sweetener.
  2. Explore Parliament Street and surrounding area. There are lots of cute shops and restaurants selling local goods, vintage everything, and amazing food in Cabbagetown. My highlights are Labour of Love, which I cannot spend less than half an hour in since there’s so much to look at; Taiwanese fried chicken at Kanpai that has brought me to tears; and non-dairy gelato that’s better than dairy gelato at Grinning Face.
  3. Check out Riverdale Farm and the Toronto Necropolis. I like to take my Sunday mornings with strolls past baby goats and the graves of great Canadians.

    Trees at Riverdale Farm.
    Tall trees at Riverdale Farm. Did I mention that there are baby goats here? They TROT. They trot around the barn and it’s the best thing ever.
  4. Aspirational house-hunting. Peruse all those Victorian homes and think, “who knows? Maybe some day…”

  5. Take a hike. There are lots of Don Valley trails that you can easily walk to from Cabbagetown. I like to walk through a trail to the Evergreen Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
"Watershed Consciousness" at Evergreen, a map of Toronto that's literally alive, covered with moss and plants. The head you see admiring it is my sister's. If you hike to the farmer's market, make sure to check out the full grounds! There's lot of art & heritage to see.
“Watershed Consciousness” at Evergreen, a map of Toronto that’s literally alive, covered with moss and plants. The head you see admiring it is my sister’s. If you hike to the farmer’s market, make sure to check out the full grounds! There’s lot of art & heritage to see.

Got Cabbagetown tips or questions? Chat with me in the comments or on twitter at @lifeatuoft.

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