Updated: Jul 13
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? This Toronto walk includes a stop at one of Toronto's best second-hand bookstores Re: Reading + hidden corridors with murals in Greektown + honey balls + hilly Withrow Park.
Strolling along Danforth Avenue in the Greektown neighbourhood, I stopped at a second-hand bookstore I had not visited for years, Re: Reading (548 Danforth Ave). Boy, was I in for a surprise!
It was a vibrant feast for the eyes, with all the black shelves, white writing and red walls with splashes of blue and clearly identified sections, writings on the floors directing us to the nooks and crannies in the back of the long store.
Since March Break is around the corner as I'm writing this, I decided to point out a cool walk to do with kids around the bookstore to enjoy the area before of after treasure hunting gently used books (or videos).
The area is well served by three subway stations: Chester, Pape and Donlands.
A good March Break destination, considering all the options for decadent treats on Danforth!
Starting point: Chester Subway Station
There's a sort of hidden corridor just north of Danforth Avenue, which allows pedestrians to walk through parkettes and municipal parking lots, all the way to Donlands Station, further east. In addition, many lanes along the way are adorned with murals,
Those who arrive by subway will have the chance to admire the two amazing flower mosaics by Katharine Harvey before exiting Chester Station. There are two of them!
To start the walk along the hidden corridor, walk across the parking lot east of Chester Station. This walk will be better with older kids. With smaller kids, you could just stick to the triangle Re-reading, Withrow Park and honey balls at Athens Pastries (mentioned further down this post).
For those who stay with me: Past Arundel Avenue, you'll find the cute Logan Avenue Parkette. (Check the dead tree embedded in the link fence!)
Past Logan Avenue, you'll reach Logan Green Field. It included the lovely panels of The Magical Garden made years ago by the Broadview Community Youth Group, and superb murals featuring wolves by the lane. If you walk a bit to your right on Thomas McClintock Lane, you'll find a funny fish.
Walking through the next two parking lots, you will reach the cute Carlaw Avenue Parkette. Cute metal fences have been added in recent years. A good call to visually anchor the parkettes.
Landmark on The Danforth
Keep going, then turn right at Gough Avenue. I suggest you temporarily quit the corridor at this point to see The Church of the Holy Name, an architectural landmark along Danforth Avenue. (Have you noticed that street names are also indicated in greek?)
Last time I walk around it was a Sunday and I had the chance to enter the Catholic Church for the first time. It was completed in 1926 in the Romanesque style.
Continuing the hidden corridor exploration, turn left on Danforth Avenue, then left on Pape Avenue to reach Pape Subway Station. You'll see a passage leading to Eaton Avenue.
Walk through the parking lot to check the murales left and right along the next lane.
Then continue eastbound to Woodycrest Avenue and walk across Langford Parkette. You'll find many great murals along the lane which cuts through the parkette.
The parking lot past Langford Avenue is currently closed but you can walk through to the next lane. The blue woman has greeted us for years on Dew Lang Lane but I noticed a classy addition on this alley, the fist bump by Omen.
A lot is currently happening on Dewhurst Blvd, dur to the construction of a second exit for Donlands Station. Peeking through the cracks of a wooden fence blocking the access to Strathmore Blvd, I saw many condemned houses on both side of a whole where the street normally stands. From the information I could gather online, the owners were temporarily expropriated. To be continued...
Turning right on Dewhurst Blvd, you'll see a former Baptist church transformed into condos. Initially designed in Gothic Revival style in 1913, it was altered in 1925 in the Georgian Classical revival style.
Next door, I noticed the intriguing side entrance to what looked like a business with no signage. It's the home of Wood Bench, a furniture maker with a taste for reclaimed woods in the back of 888 Danforth Avenue.
Keep walking along Andy Masellis Lane to discover the original back entrance to The Only Café. It is right after the busy Coffe drinker on the turquoise garage door..
Yes, you can get in to peek inside! This is the outdoor patio of The Only Café. I love its cottage feeling. But I suggest you continue on the lane to Donlands Avenue . You'll notice the Donlands Station to your left, but turn right, and right again on Danforth to admire the facade of The Only Café. Three facades, actually! Because it's three businesses in one.
There's The Only Café espresso bar, the connected dark bar, and the only backpacker inn in town: The Only Inn! Which explains the twenty-something with suitcase hanging out is the café. It serves good coffee and many treats including a wide range of home-made cookies. And there is a lot to take in on the walls and all around.
You could stop the walk here and catch a subway ride at Donlands Station (on Donlands Avenue). But you would not get to visit Re-Reading! Or try one of the many restaurants!
I'm very intrigued by unassuming Japanese Sakawa Coffee (867 Danforth Ave), which gets great reviews.
Douce France (820 Danforth Ave) is packed with delicious European treats. (Just saying.)
Here and there, one can still see a few Greek-themed paintings on the sidewalk.
West of Carlaw Avenue is where you will find Re: Reading ((548 Danforth Ave, on the north side). It sits right next to Moss (home and garden store) and IQLiving (kitchen store).
Across the street is the Mexican-sushi restaurant Sinatoa Factory (551 Danforth). I went back with friends and we loved the look, the food and the staff. They have a kids menu... and cocktails. There are tacos on their menu but their specialties are breaded sushis. Our favourite was the Angie Sushi (filled with chicken, bacon, cream cheese and avocado, and wrapped in breaded seaweed topped with spicy shrimp sauce). The warm churros were filled with hot chocolate...
Before Logan is a must stop for the hungry ones in Greektown! Athens Pastries (509 Danforth Ave) makes amazing honey balls.
Weather allowing, the fun slope in the south end of Withrow Park is the perfect spot for tobogganing! With a bit of luck, you'll be able to find street parking nearby.
The park also includes two good playgrounds and an off-leash dog section. To access it, turn left on Logan Avenue and walk along the park (a good street to admire properties). Take the stairs up at the end of the park to get to the top of the slopes. Keep walking northbound to see the dog section from the trail. Lots of action!
Past Logan, a few sweet adresses to remember. Stacked Pancake & Breakfast House (425 Danforth Ave) opened a few months ago and is already a local fixture and a great family place. I've got to try their cinnabun pancakes! The Night Baker ( (405 Danforth Ave) sells decadent cookies.
If you cross at Chester Avenue, you'll be able to return to your starting point, the Chester Station.
This post is a complement to local author Nathalie Prézeau's walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. You already own this book? Check Nathalie's WEEKLY WALKS calendar available on her site www.torontourbangems.com/calendar. It's free, easily printable by season, and it includes page references which should help you enjoy urban walks year-round.
Nathalie's guides are available in Toronto’s major bookstores, on torontourbangems.com/shop and amazon.ca or indigo.ca. We also deliver or contact the author directly at email@example.com to arrange for a pick up with a discount at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville.