Mini-walk for the CURIOUS minds in Toronto around Little Italy & Koreatown
Updated: May 29, 2021
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? The best little kitsch house in Little Italy and other quirky gems in Koreatown. Two good reasons to get out of the house!
I came across this little house by chance while walking in Little Italy. It is probably the most kitschy and fun facade in Toronto. Those who already know the Doll House in Leslieville will doubt you can find a house which beats that. You can! And it is found on Manning Avenue in Little Italy, next to Harbord Collegiate Institute (located at 266 Harbor Street).
A retirement project
It took us half an hour to look at and photograph all the details visible from the sidewalk, exclaiming every thirty seconds: “And this one! Have you seen it?". It’s a good thing we were able to muster the willpower not to enter the small front yard. Otherwise, the owner, Joseph Rauti, just returning from shopping, would have caught us in the act.
It is quite obvious that this original artist is used to visitors. Talking to him, we learned that he started this project as soon as he retired. There was a time when he liked to sit with a friend and have a little drink in the alcove he created under the bushes, admiring his work and thinking about the next addition.
We also learned that it was Joseph Rauti who has played the role of Jesus since 1968 in the Good Friday religious parade taking place in Little Italy! That's why we see so many religious references in his installations. He wore the same wig all this time and apparently always took his role seriously, fasting for three days before the event. He gave way to a new actor only a few years ago.
I really enjoyed including the Good Friday Procession in my family outing guide when I first attended the event, as a more spiritual Easter event.
Something nut, something messy…
Those who like quirky attractions will want to combine this visit with a little hop on Bloor Street West. East of Manning is the Korean pastry shop Hodo Kwaja known for its small cakes in the shape of walnuts.
The next option is not for sensitive souls. West of Manning, you'll come across the... Poop Café. Yes, it is what you think: a poo-themed cafe (made possible by the popularity of the Pile of Poo emoji) with chairs in the shape of toilet seats and any other irreverent ideas they may have thought of. I noticed this café at the beginning of the pandemic, when it was closed so I didn’t have a chance to check it out. The place has reopened with seating, following the new phase of deconfinement. It's hard to imagine a better destination for children, all of them emoji experts.
In Japanese, "e" means picture and "moji" means character. There is more than we think to the craze for the poop emoji, particularly relevant in these surrealist times we live in. From a psychological point of view, embracing a bad mood can make it easier to handle: “A University of California study found that those who were critical of their bad moods took on additional stress, while those who accepted their negative emotions went on to experience fewer emotional dives in the future, which lead to a stronger emotional resilience.”
If you combine this attraction with the butterfly alley described in an earlier post, you get a fun 1.9 km (30 minute walk) circuit from the Christie subway, down Grace Street to the alley south of Harbord Street, then from Harbord to Manning Avenue and back to Bloor Street West.
For your caffeine fix, there’s Sam James Coffee Bar (no seating) on Harbord, and the Coffee Pocket at 688a Bloor West, between Hodo Kwaja and Poop Café.
656 Bloor Street West
Hours: (as of September 22) Monday to Saturday from 9am to 8pm, closed on Sundays.
706 Bloor Street West
Hours: (as of September 22) open daily from 11am to 10pm. You can now sit inside.
This Toronto mini-walk is a complement to #28 in the #TorontoUrbanGems section in Nathalie Prezeau’s new walking guide Toronto Best Urban Strolls.)
To get the guide, visit www.torontourbangems.com.
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