Oh Ossington. How you’ve grown. Remember when we used to sing Vietnamese Karaoke together? Then you started dining out more, going to sexy parties, wearing really tight jeans, and getting into trouble with the law. Now you’re Toronto’s It Girl, and you don’t seem to have time for us any more.
Since she no longer returns our phone calls, Torontoist decided to visit Ossington in person. Our mission: to chronicle what happens when the booze isn’t flowing, the restaurant staff have yet to wake, and the denim and flannel are being worn by actual construction workers. Drama! Passion! And the distant sound of an old Portuguese man watering his sidewalk!
Meet the people of Ossington in the middle of the day.
After being shooed off by a Hemingway-esque elderly gentleman sitting on a bench just south of Dundas, we ran into Kelly, who seemed all right with us potentially selling his photos to pornography web sites.
Kelly lived on Ossington for seven years as an artist. His favourite part of the street: “the blandness.” Kelly was on his way to the hardware store to buy screws.
Following a delightfully tangential yet brief conversation with a young man in a black felt suit, wearing fake gold dollar sign necklaces and smoking a dollar-store cigar, we stopped by Hollywood Coin Laundry to talk to Heldra, the owner.
She’s been on the street for eighteen years and loves the new restaurants and bars on her street. Her thoughts on the loud party people spilling out of bars at 2 a.m.: “I have no problems. They’re happy…they sing and kiss each other.”
Dear Paul from Etobicoke: we love your non-ironic mustache. Paul was out for a walk taking pictures of interesting buildings when we bumped into him.
He used to be in construction and take the Ossington bus to work. Although he did have lunch at the Beaconsfield, which makes him slightly too hip for this article, we decided to feature him anyways. Then he started taking pictures of us, which led to a twenty minute discussion about the history of Kodak digital photography.
The Gaeeni family were walking past Rolly’s Garage at 124 Ossington Avenue on their way to Trinity Bellwoods Park, and we convinced them to let us take their photo. They’ve lived in the area for eight years and love it. Their dog’s name is Rocco, and the picture hides his intensely bad-ass demeanor.
Do you like baked stuff? We do. Do you like waking up early to make it? We don’t. Maria has been solving this problem for thirty years: She wakes up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to make all the delicious tarts and buns at Venezia Bakery.
While we were there, she revealed an ancient trick for dealing with straggling homeless customers—give them a tasty pastry and tell them to leave.
She’s very happy with all the new businesses, with one exception: stop leaving your crap in her flower bins. Seriously.
He loves the shirts at Jonathan + Olivia and gave us free Vietnamese coffee. Tuan, the owner of Pho Tien Thanh, has been in business for fourteen years and is probably the happiest guy we met in our journey (with the exception of that felt suit guy).
He’s there seven days a week, so next time you’re on your way to Sweaty Betty’s swing by and say hi.
So there you have it. There’s more to Ossington than luxury cuisine, dance parties, making out in alleyways, falling off your fixed gear bike into bushes, and waking up with twigs in your pants. So next time you’re stumbling out of that bar at 3 a.m. sending drunk texts to that guy you met at that coffee shop, just remember: Ossington does stuff during the day. And goddammit, she’s a street, not a strip.
Photos by Jacklyn Atlas.