Toronto Delights in the Unique Nature of Cabbagetown
By John Stuggeon
Toronto is a walker’s city. Both the size and diversity of the place make it an ideal place to walk in. Within five minutes, you can find yourself transported from one era to the next and from one nation to another, and you’ll feel a shift in the energy in the air. Sadly, you will (probably) only stay in one place, and finding that perfect base camp is key for a walking city like Toronto.
Cabbagetown is one of the few neighborhoods in Toronto that has really kept the essence of its spirit as the world around it has changed. Most of the stores and restaurants are mom and pop stores, giving the whole area a quiet, community feel. Nothing proves the point more than the working farm you can find in the middle of Cabbagetown’s mix of Victorian homes and global cuisine.
It’s located in Toronto’s East End, so both the Beaches and Downtown Toronto are a short stroll away.
Toronto has over a hundred unique village neighborhoods - what are some of your favorites? One of mine is lush n' leafy Cabbagetown!!
I recently read an article that proclaimed Cabbagetown as being "drenched in character". Personally, I think it would be more accurate to say that Cabbagetown is "rooted" in character, anchored by a rich history that dates back to Toronto's inception. One might even say that the intangible 'something' that makes this enclave a desirable place to call 'Home' is in the very soil it's built upon - soil that played a large part in earning Cabbagetown its unique name!
The neighborhood's name - Cabbagetown - received it's moniker in the mid-to-late 19th century after the infamous Potato Famine (1845-1849) sent waves of Irish (and Macedonian) immigrants across the Atlantic to settle in Toronto. Large numbers of these immigrants located in the area south of Bloor, and west of Sherbourne. The story goes that families were so poor they utilized every available square foot of arable land to grow vegetables, which included cultivating the front gardens of their homes. It turns out that brassicas (of the cabbage vegetable family) tend to have very shallow root systems and only require a few inches of nutrient-rich soil to grow, so they were fairly easy to cultivate making them a popular crop. As you can imagine, it didn't take long for the neighborhood to be recognized for the abundance of mini makeshift family farms, and the prevalence of Cabbage. This distinguishing characteristic led to the neighborhood being coined Cabbagetown, and it stuck.
One of the most popular aspects of it is it's suburban "village" feel. Indeed there are parts of Parliament street's architecture that feel very 'small town Main Street'! Featuring the perfect balance of day-to-day shopping and design destinations, Parliament Street offers everything from the St. Jamestown Steak And Chops butcher or the baked goods of Jet Fuel, to Urbaneer's favourite candle stick purveyor at Spruce Home Decor. Feeling peckish? Try my favorite resto in the area - House On Parliament! Family-run Cranberries and The Irv are also worthy of a visit, on Parliament and Carlton respectively! Oh and don't forget Hey Lucy just around the corner! Looking for custom lighting? Check out Studio Lampcage. And, of course, all the basics for daily errands are nearby - grocers, cafes, an LCBO, a Beer Store, Shoppers, and even a convenient Starbucks!
Cabbagetown's eclectic and colorful evolution over the decades has instilled the area and its resident with a unique sense of community identity that makes it one of the most popular destinations for today's visitors!