Nostalgia Will Always Lie to You

Editor’s Note: The Following is an abridged version of a story written as part of a collaboration with the Globe and Mail. The story originally appeared on September 18, 2015.

I moved to Dawes Road in 1992 in the wintertime.

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When I was around 14 I started rapping here. A friend of mine inspired me. I spent a lot of time with others in the ‘cypher’ – the rap circle.

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I’m well guarded with those good memories, but things were never all good here.

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Nostalgia will always lie to you.

Thanks to Ian for sharing his story. Check out his new album, T.O. Noire!

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A Real Community

I met Ryan at Wet Bar on Richmond and Peter in 2007. This was back when the area was mostly clubs.

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At the time, we were both naïve in understanding who we were as people. I was in a stage of self-discovery, rebelling after a recent heartbreak, and Ryan was full of energy and confidence. He was also really charming.

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We partied all the time at Richmond and Peter, and we knew everyone at the clubs. It was a fun time in our lives, but we’re not interested in that lifestyle anymore.

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When I return to the area, I see that so much has changed. Back then, it was so rowdy, and there were police officers lining the streets to keep everything under control. But now it’s a real community, and it’s nice to see diversity downtown.

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It reminds me of how much we’ve changed since then. 

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Teaching and practicing yoga has given me a better understanding of who I am as a person, deep down.  

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Thanks to Miranda for sharing her story. Check out Acro Buddhas to see the amazing acrobatic yoga poses that she performs with Ryan!

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Step Back, Pause, and Recharge

I moved to Toronto in 2012, and I didn’t know anyone in the city.

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It seemed really hectic.

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So I was looking for a place where I could step back, pause, and recharge.

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I found the Spadina Museum House and Gardens on a list of historic Toronto sites.

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They have a very private garden. It’s a very intimate space. Not crowded or far away.

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One spring, I came here to see the cherry blossoms.

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I just happened to fall asleep.

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The wind had blown the petals off the trees, and I woke up covered in cherry blossoms!

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That was really nice. 

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Thanks to May for sharing her story. Check out her alternative modelling work!

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Clarity in High Park

I’ve been a city kid all my life.

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At one point in my life, I was labelled an ‘at-risk youth’. My life wasn’t going in the right direction.

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But a lot of people just need someone to believe in them. That was the case for me.

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I was hustling bad things in Toronto, around North America then Internationally. It was good money, but I knew it was wrong and wasn’t what I wanted to do. Took the things I learned from that and applied it to legitimate businesses.

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And two years ago my business partner and I started Blast Marketing, an experiential marketing company. This is my first business where I actually had the intentions of helping others and giving them jobs. Ironically it’s been my most profitable venture.

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I also work with the city’s homeless. This is something that’s very important to me.

So I’m a very busy guy, and I give a lot of myself.

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But sometimes I need to get away from it all.

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Coming to High Park has always been a pleasure for me. 

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I come here to get some clarity, look at the green space, and enjoy nature.

Thanks to Joshua for sharing his story. Check out Blast Marketing, his experiential marketing company, and make sure to check out his company selling remote control miniature tanks!

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A Nursery at the Barns

When I moved into the neighbourhood ten years ago, I was really missing my old neighbourhood down at College and Bathurst.

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But then the Wychwood Barns opened. 

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And the neighbourhood just came to life for me.

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I love coming to the farmer’s market on Saturday. And seeing all my friends and my kids’ friends.

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Having kids it’s been amazing to come here with them all the time. They can play in the park, check out the community gardens and use the pizza oven!

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I’ve been involved in some incredible things at the Barns.

Every year I volunteer at the Gluten Free Garage. And I helped to start the nursery school there – The Hélène Comay Nursery School.

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We were looking for a special place, that could house this special nursery school! 

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And this was the most perfect space.

Thanks to Alison for sharing her story! Make sure to check out Rethink Breast Cancer, the charity she co-founded, and check out her work in the medical marijuana field.

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Watching the East End Emerge

I’m an east-ender, through and through.

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I grew up in The Beaches. In the far east end of Toronto.

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When it came time to settle and buy a house, Leslieville was the right neighbourhood for my wife and I.

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Affordable, and kind of cool.

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Now we live there, with our two little boys – Emerson and Cooper.

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I’ve been very fortunate to be able to live in Leslieville and work in Corktown for the bulk of my career.

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It has always been important to me to be able to walk or ride my bicycle to work. I never understood having to drive two hours to get to work!

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Walking in this neighbourhood, I see new restaurants and shops opening up all the time.

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And almost every day, I come across interesting people with interesting stories.

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It’s been a fantastic thing to watch the east end emerge.

Joel Loblaw Thanks to Joel for sharing his story. Check out his firm’s incredible landscape design projects, and follow him on Instagram!

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By the Water

I was born in Jamaica.

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So I really love being by the water.

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The first time I came to the Beaches was a really happy memory for me.

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Canada Day 2005.

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It was with my wife on our first family outing. With a limousine stroller.

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Not every memory is easy for me though.

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I brought my kids here once, and they were riding their bikes. I was so excited to be that father. To have that moment.

I briefly couldn’t find one of my sons.

The anxiety I felt was awful.

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I felt like a fraud. Especially because of the work I do with black fathers.

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But I love this place.

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Being by the water gives me life. 

And reminds me of home.

Thanks to Brandon for sharing his story. Check out his organization, The Black Daddies Club, a group devoted to developing a support system and address issues facing black fathers,  and working with the media to promote alternative images of black fathers.

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A Stylist, Friend, and Therapist

When I first started working downtown, I remember feeling really overwhelmed.

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Everyone seemed so interesting and successful. It was hard to get used to the pace and hustle of the city.

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Everyone had a story.

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I love being a barber. It’s like being someone’s stylist, friend, and therapist.

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Now I work at Original Grooming Experts, a barbershop near Richmond and Spadina. I really enjoy working there and getting to know so many different people.

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I finally moved downtown, from Brampton. My commute used to be two and a half hours.

Living at Queen and John, it’s a seven minute walk to work. Now I can grab a coffee, people watch, and enjoy the nice weather!

Loraine Quinto

Thanks to Loraine for sharing her story. Follow her stylish adventures on Instagram!

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No Egos in Parkdale

When I moved downtown from Mississauga a few years ago, I moved to Parkdale.

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Just around the corner from The Rhino. 

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I rented a small house owned by a woman with really strict rules (no puppies allowed!).

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But I did what I had to do to be closer to work. Closer to downtown.

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When Tara moved in with me and we got our dog Marley, we needed to find a place where we could take her. 

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We used to walk around here a lot when we moved in. Carrying a puppy, we couldn’t get very far.

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The Rhino is one of the only dog friendly spots in Toronto.

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The first time we realized we could sit here with Marley, we sat here for a while, but she couldn’t walk back. I had to tie her in my shirt like I was carrying a small child!

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There are no egos in Parkdale. That’s what I love about it.

Thanks to Ash for sharing his story. Check out his adventures in Toronto on Instagram!

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Feeding the Squirrels

I moved to Toronto from Serbia when I was six years old.

Tamara Vojlnovik

It was 2003.

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Not knowing anybody except my family.

Tamara Vojlnovik

We decided to move to Yonge and Eglinton to be near our family who lived on Erskine.

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They moved back to Serbia, but they’re coming to visit. I’m really excited to see them!

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During the summer when I moved here, my grandfather used to walk me every day to my cousins’ place.

Tamara Vojlnovik

We would pick up a bag of chestnuts and feed the squirrels.

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Eventually, there was an abundance of squirrels! 

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Now, every time I see a squirrel, I think of my grandfather.

Tamara Vojlnovik

Thanks to Tamara for sharing her story. Check out her modelling work on Instagram!

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