Free Store?????

The idea of having a free store came up quite a few times during the JCP public consultation. It’s an idea that is close to  my heart having grown up in the bohemian margins where there was a free store in the ‘hippy house’ at the end of our block (in 60’s-70’s era Vancouver). I still remember the long, navy blue, tailored wool coat I got there – it was a score. Yesterday I just happened to pop into the Art Gallery of York U where they are having a show called incidental activism. The exhibit is a workspace, with artists working on social projects. There were some documents posted around from the Anarchist University (now in archive form) that looked amazing so I asked one of the women who was in the exhibit. Turns out she is in this new project: The Really Really Free Market (brilliant name).

Check out them out by the link below – it happens the first Saturday of every month in Campell Park – one hood over: Campbell Park is on Campbell Avenue, North of Wallace and South of Antler Street..

Really Really Free Market Toronto.


(Image from RRFM website)



La Ruche Art Hives – Montreal

CULTURE | SEPTEMBER 15TH, 2011      McGill Daily
Making art and community
St. Henri art space brings neighbors together with canvas and conversation
Written by Andrea Zhu | Visual by Afra Tucker

When it comes to art here in Montreal, we are undeniably spoiled. In any other city, just being artistic stands out on its own, but here, there’s usually something more. Handwritten signs, eclectic colors, and nifty décor are breathed into just about every corner of this vibrant city. The arts in Montreal have become the means rather than the end, usually paired with another grassroots movement or cause.

A more recent initiative – started April of this year – is a free community art space located in the revitalized borough of St. Henri, called La Ruche D’Art. It is open to anyone interested, at no cost, and provides a big studio space as well as a wide variety of materials to use for creative, therapeutic, or social purposes. The idea behind the La Ruche D’Art is to have an alternative space that is inclusive and accessible not only to artists, but to the general population.

When you first walk in the sunny entrance of the space, welcoming posters encourage you to “make good art” and to be part of the St. Henri Community. The studio itself is one large, open room with a spacious cluster of tables in the middle. A friendly mix of Francophones, Anglophones, and people of all ages gather around and chat while sewing, painting, doodling, and generally having fun. Along the walls surrounding the table, tall shelves are available to anyone looking for wool, tree bark, buttons, jars, pencil crayons, fabric, and almost anything else you could use to make art, all donated to the studio by community members. The other side of the studio is set up like a gallery, with a few installation pieces as well as paintings and photographs by La Ruche participants. In the back, the studio has a beautiful outdoor space called “the collective garden,” also free to use for art projects, gardening, installations, and general enjoyment.

For many art studios, the participants walk in with the intent of making art, and walk out with a much broader experience. What is unique about La Ruche is that most people that walk though its doors are not coming just for the art, but for the sense of community, whether it be in a listening ear, friendly faces, encouragement, support, or acceptance. Community members come in to talk about various current events or personal stories, as well as to teach and learn about arts and crafts in a nonjudgmental, informal setting, often walking out with a tangible piece of art.

Through this initiative, founder Janis Timm-Bottos and their business partner Rachel Chainey hope to overcome the social stratification present in Montreal. In a space free of differentiated social classes, participants can bond over shared food, collaborative pieces, and music. Bringing together experienced artists and amateurs alike, La Ruche provides the residents of St Henri and its neighbours with a space outside of work or school in which to express themselves.

For those interested in stopping by, there’s no need to bring anything but an open mind!

Town Hall Meeting

Town hall, Nov. 25, 2013

Junction Commons Project

Nov. 25 saw yet another instance of community engagement and interest in the Junction Commons Project (JCP) as an enthusiastic crowd of close to 75 people came out to a town hall, held at 3030 Dundas West.

The room was a mix of both people who are already actively following the JCP and those who found out about it more recently. Some had been to previous public meetings while others had participated in one of the neighbourhood charettes – creative brainstorming sessions – that took place in the Junction in November, to continue to gather ideas from local residents about what they want to see in the potential community hub on Mavety street, formerly a police station.

Several current organizing members of the project were on hand to answer questions (Lynn Bishop and Andrew Keenan), as well as two members of the consulting team putting together the JCP feasibility study (Peter Thoma of urbanMetrics, and Graeme Stewart from ERA Architects).

The room full of participants each received a small clicker they used to answer multiple-choice questions previously posted in the JCP online survey.  Thoma walked the crowd through the survey, projected on a large screen on stage. Answers from the crowd for each question were displayed alongside results from the online survey. A series of questions aimed at unearthing what services are high on the wish list of those who live in the community, what kinds of things they would like to see in the Commons if it goes ahead and also how they see it being funded. As with the charettes, many people seem to be looking for things like a community kitchen, green-friendly and socially responsible services, art programs and services that encourage community building and active participation.

Those who turned out on Nov. 25 were treated to a glimpse inside the old police station on Mavety as Stewart projected photos of a walk through of the site he and colleagues did earlier in the fall. The state of the heating and water infrastructure is still of some concern. But Stewart talked also about how open and full of light some areas are and how the set up of the different floors could allow for both services and offices. Among other things, the feasibility study is looking at refurbishing the current building versus demolition and a completely new construction.

Discussion and debate was encouraged during the town hall, with many questions from attendees focusing on concerns about how to make the hub financially sustainable, and how to keep any fees affordable to as many members of the community as possible.  The project is in the midst of the feasibility study to figure out what the options and costs for renovations to the site would be, so it is still too early to know what the first roster of social services or commercial tenants could look like. Many people expressed a keen desire to have the city offer direct financial support for the project in some way – with the feasibility study still ongoing, what costs would be and what support government support could materialize remains to be seen.

written by linda o. nagy

Townhall Meeting on November 25th

An architect’s perspective on the current 209 Mavety site

In case you weren’t one of the 72 people who saw Graeme Stewart’s presentation at the Junction Townhall …

As part of ongoing research and analysis of the Junction Commons Project site at 209 Mavety St, consultant Graeme Stewart of ERA Architects recently presented details of the site’s history at the JCP’s November town hall.

In the 1940s and ‘50s the block surrounded by Keele, Dundas, Annette, and Mavety was redesigned to function as a public services precinct for the Junction, complete with police, fire, and postal facilities. The Junction Commons Project seeks to carry forward this legacy in the form of a facility serving a broad range of public and community amenities for the Junction neighbourhood.

The building at 209 Maverty, formerly Toronto Police Station Division 11, has been vacant since 2011. It is a two-storey-plus-basement facility designed by Toronto-based architecture firm, Craig & Madill made up of partners, Henry Harrison Madill (1889-1988) and James H. Craig. Both men played a leading role in the University of Toronto’s faculty of architecture from the 1920s through the ‘50s. Other examples of Craig & Madill’s work include understated modernist buildings such as the Grand & Toy offices in Don Mills, and the YMCA Etobicoke. (See the full list at end of this article)

The building’s design is a good example of the civic modernism characteristic of many of Toronto’s post-war public schools, libraries, and other municipal buildings. It is a strongly rhythmic design in a varied material palette of flagstone, glass, brick, marble, concrete, and terrazzo.

The 25,974-sq.-ft. building was declared surplus by the City of Toronto, but the transfer of the property to Build Toronto for disposal or sale has been deferred to allow the Junction Commons Project to propose other community uses for the site.

ERA and urbanMetrics have been hired by the Junction Commons Project to develop a feasibility study that will help identify multiple ways the building can be reconfigured. Because it was designed as a police station, the challenge is to re-purpose the space so it fits the needs of the community and the yet-to-be-determined project budget. ERA and urbanMetrics are analyzing spaces such as the jail cells, offices, common areas, and exterior spaces such as the courtyard, to begin to define a set of productive constraints and opportunities.

The project represents an exciting challenge in the adaptive reuse of a modernist building, a practice we are only beginning to see today, as Toronto’s inventory of modernist architecture becomes available for reconsideration.


(works in Toronto)

  • FARMER BROS. PHOTOGRAPHERS, Spadina Avenue near College Street, store, 1912 (Toronto b.p. 35980, 12 July 1912)
  • FAIRVIEW BOULEVARD, near Broadview Avenue, residence for Dr. H. Armstrong, 1912 (Toronto b.p. 36503, 8 Aug. 1912)
  • CARHARTT-HAMILTON COTTON MILLS, Queen Street East near Sumach Street, factory, 1916 (Const., ix, March 1916, 98)
  • ASTLEY AVENUE, residence for Charles Fell, 1916 (inf. Toronto Chapter, Architectural Conservancy of Ontario)
  • ST. CLAIR AVENUE WEST, at Glenholme Avenue, block of stores and apartments, 1923 (Const., xvii, April 1924, 131, illus. & descrip.)
  • LYTTON BOULEVARD, at Heather Street, residence for David O. Roblin, 1923 (Const., xvii, April 1924, 121, illus.)
  • PLAYTER BOULEVARD, residence for George P. Price, 1924 (dwgs. at Univ. of Toronto, Fisher Library, Miller Coll., 578)
  • GLEN GROVE AVENUE, at Yonge Street, residence for Dr. Frank S. Park, 1924 (Const., xviii, May 1925, 163-4, illus. & descrip.)
  • INGLEWOOD DRIVE, residence for an unidentified client, 1924 (Const., xviii, May 1925, 162-63, illus. & descrip.)
  • GLEBE ROAD UNITED CHURCH, Glebe Road at Tullis Drive, 1925 (Centenary Anniversary of Glebe Road United Church 1850-1950, 4)
  • ST. CLAIR APARTMENTS, St. Clair Avenue West at Avenue Road, 1925 (Const., xix, May 1926, 156-9, illus. & descrip.; R.A.I.C. Journal, iii, May-June 1926, xvii, illus. in advert.)
  • THE 400 AVENUE ROAD APARTMENTS, Avenue Road at Edmund Avenue, 1926 (C.R., xl, 23 June 1926, 606-7, illus. & descrip.,; 17 Nov. 1926, 1101, illus.; R.A.I.C. Journal, May 1927, xvi, illus. in advert.)
  • INGLEWOOD DRIVE, residence for Maxwell C. Purvis, 1928 (C.H.G., v, Aug. 1928, 27, illus.)
  • NORTH YORK, Earl Haig High School, Princess Avenue at Kenneth Avenue, 1929-30; addition 1947 (Toronto Star, 26 Aug. 1930, 8, illus.; R.A.I.C. Journal, viii, March 1931, 80, 94, illus.; xxiv, Oct. 1947, 366, illus.)
  • PALACE PIER, in Sunnyside Park, Lakeshore Boulevard West, 1930; demol. (Telegram [Toronto], 12 March 1930, 11, illus.)
  • UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, Varsity Stadium, Bloor Street West at Devonshire Place, 1929-30 (Toronto Star, 8 Nov. 1929, 8, 12, illus. & descrip.)
  • UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, major addition and new facade for the Mill Building, for the Faculty of Applied Science, 1930 (Telegram [Toronto], 13 Sept. 1930, 10, illus.; Toronto Star, 19 Sept. 1930, 33, descrip.)
  • STRACHAN AVENUE, at Ordnance Street, City of Toronto Police and Fire Department Garage, 1932 (C.R., xlvi, l3 April 1932, 412; R.A.I.C. Journal, x, March 1933, 55)
  • NORTH YORK, Willowdale United Church, Kenneth Avenue near Church Avenue, 1932 (C.R., xlvi, 20 April 1932, 54, t.c.)
  • DOMINION PUBLIC BUILDING, WEST TORONTO, Keele Street at Annette Street, 1935-36 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xiii, Nov. 1936, 207-9, illus. & descrip.; xiv, Feb. 1937, 22, 24)
  • CANADIAN NATIONAL EXHIBITION, Bandshell, 1936; restored 1983 (C.R., l, 2 Sept. 1936, 775-7, illus. & descrip.; inf. Mr. H. Madill)
  • ST. PAUL’S PRIVATE SCHOOL FOR BOYS, Deloraine Avenue near Yonge Street, 1938 (Toronto Star, 17 June 1938, 30, descrip.)
  • NORTH YORK, Lansing United Church, Bogert Avenue near Yonge Street, 1949-50 (inf. United Church Archives, Toronto)

(works outside Toronto)

  • PEMBROKE, ONT., Collegiate Institute, 1925-26 (Pembroke Standard, 30 April 1925, 1, descrip.; C.R., xl, 8 Dec. 1926, 1158-9, illus. & descrip.)
  • NEWMARKET, ONT., York County Hospital, 1926-27 (R.A.I.C. Journal, viii, June 1931, 28, 32-3, illus. & descrip.)
  • WINDSOR, ONT., Windsor Court Apartments, Ouellette Avenue at Hanna Street, 1926-27 (R.A.I.C. Journal, vi, Feb. 1929, 68; March 1929, 101, illus.; dwgs. at Windsor City Archives, RG4-18)
  • NEWMARKET, ONT., residence for Frank Denison, 1927 (C.H.G., v, Jan. 1928, 30, illus.)
  • BEAVERTON, ONT., Public School, c. 1929 (Year Book of the Toronto Chapter-Ontario Association of Architects, 1933, 81, illus.)
  • KINGSTON, ONT., residence for Rev. John D. Ellis, Frontenac Street, 1929 (C.H.G., vii, March 1930, 32, illus.)
  • UXBRIDGE, ONT., Thomas Foster Memorial Temple, 1935-36 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xiii, Dec. 1936, 225-9, illus. & descrip.; xiv, Feb. 1937, 22)
  • STREETSVILLE, ONT., Public & High School, 1937 (C.R., l, 16 June 1937, 33)
  • BRAMPTON, ONT., Ontario Mental Hospital, Administration Building, 1938; Nurses’ Home, 1937-39 (C.R., li, 4 Jan. 1938, 28; dwgs. at OA, RG 15-13-2)
  • RED ROCK, ONT., school for the Nipigon School Board, 1946 (C.R., lix, Aug. 1946, 157)
  • BELLEVILLE, ONT., Hastings County Home for the Aged, 1950 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xxix, Dec. 1952, 362, illus.)
  • MARMORA, ONT., High School, 1950-51 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xxx, Jan. 1953, 20, illus.)

JCP does press conference and officially receives Trillium grant

The press was invited to report on the JCP as it receives it’s Trillium grant with political representatives in attendance:

November 11, 2013


Community centre study moves ahead in the Junction neighbourhood!

A collaborative grant for a feasibility study on 209 Mavety St. was officially launched on November 8th in front of 209 Mavety St.   The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) provided the funding through a joint application from the Junctions Commons Project (JCP) and Silver Circle – West Toronto Services for Seniors (SC-WTSS)

In 2011, the Toronto Police Service Division 11 moved from its former location at 209 Mavety Street to a new facility.  This unoccupied two-story building is approximately 60 years old and 25, 000 square feet.   In the latter part of 2012, a group of residents grabbed the opportunity to talk to the community about the future of the former Division 11 building.  They formed the JCP to help focus their efforts with the intent of converting the building into a community space that provides area residents a place to meet, work, play and participate in various community activities.

The Photo-Op  marked the official launch of the OTF funded feasibility study and to bring all levels of government together in their support of this project

“I would like to recognize the province for keeping the money flowing into our communities and West Toronto Services for Seniors for supporting this local initiative.”

Cheri DiNovo MPP Parkdale – High Park

From Left to Right:  Lynn Bishop – JCP taskforce, Brent Potts – Board member SC-WTSS, Thom Burger – Executive Director SC-WTSS, Jonah Schein – MPP Davenport, Peggy Nash – MP Parkdale High Park, Cheri DiNovo – MPP Parkdale High Park, Graeme Stewart – ERA Architects, Sarah Doucette – City Councillor Ward 13, Peter Thoma – Partner in Urbanmetrics Inc.

“This is the best kind of community project, where the community is on board from the beginning.   We need more public spaces for people to come together that are accessible and affordable and open to the community.”

Jonah Schein MPP Davenport

UrbanMetrics Inc, lead by area resident Peter Thoma, have been retained to lead the feasibility study and are already beginning to consult with the Junction community to assess the various services and activity needs and gaps in the area.

Work is already under way to consult with the Junction community to assess the various services and activity needs and gaps in the area.   Individuals can participate in an online survey through

” I’ve been very impressed with the outreach to the community and the dedication of the Junctions Commons Project group.”

Sarah Doucette, City Councillor Ward 13

“The Ontario Trillium Foundation funding is so significant. We needed someone with quite a breadth of experience to lead the study, and getting the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation allows us to hire this expertise which in turn means we can leverage the incredible volunteer energy in this neighbourhood for good purpose.”

Lynn Bishop, JCP Taskforce

“Kudos to the Junction Commons Project a group of engaged community members who care about their neighbourhood… and then using the levels of government- municipal, provincial and federal, to make the vision happen.”

Peggy Nash, MP Parkdale – High Park






First Community Charrette done!


About 15 people gathered at the Annette Library last night for the first of a series of public ‘charrettes’ – brainstorming sessions on what a community hub might be. We started out with the question: What would you like to find at a Community Hub? What would bring you there,   what would you like to have access to that you do not have in this community?

A lot of ideas got written down on sticky notes and posted on a sheet of paper and then we went around with markers and put dots  on the 5 ideas we liked the most. The top three  were:

Community Garden
Food and Kitchen
Community Arts

When asked to elaborate on each of these ideas a vision emerged that included a roof garden and a hydroponic set up in the basement where food was grown. A seed bank  where seeds could be traded. Also, a map of yards in and around the Junction where there was urban farming space available.  The food that was harvested could go to the community kitchen where people could come and make collective meals, eat together and maybe watch tv or a movie. Classes in nutrition, how to cook healthy on a budget and for a single person, or cooking classes for kids. Also, storytelling about food histories, and educational events on where food comes from. As for the arts, ideas ranged from renting affordable studio space, opening a gallery, having art drop in space accessible to all age groups… the art that was discussed ranged from visual arts to dance, music and the art of yoga!

The second question that was asked was: What ideas do you have for generating income to support the community hub?

The ideas touched on the three areas: community gardens, kitchen and the arts. Ideas for special events such as bringing in celebrity chefs to do cooking classes as a fundraiser, organizing Junction cook-offs where people pay to participate, or finding sponsors for the community garden. On the art side ideas ranged from renting live/work space to artists to developing a residency program that was funded by an arts council. Facilities such as a gallery or music studio could be rented out… these are just a few of the ideas that came up.


Welcome to Friday’s press announcement!

The public are invited to join the Junction Commons Project (JCP) and Silver Circle – West Toronto Services for Seniors (SC-WTSS) on November 8th at 209 Mavety Street in Toronto to share in the announcement of the Ontario Trillium Foundation support for the Junction Commons Feasibility Study!

WHEN:                    November 8, 2013          3 p.m. – 4 p.m.

WHERE:                  209 Mavety Street –the former Toronto Police Service Division 11 building

 WHO:                      Cheri DiNovo, MPP Parkdale-High Park
                                   Jonah Schein, MPP Davenport
                                   Sarah Doucette, City Councillor Ward 13